Funeral Service for Zenkei Blanche Hartman on July 10

Photo: Shundo David Haye

Blanche Hartman / Shunbo Zenkei
Spring Full Moon, Inconceivable Joy
May 8, 1926 – May 13, 2016

Sunday, July 10, 2016, at 10 am
Beginner’s Mind Temple
300 Page Street, San Francisco, CA

Sojun Mel Weitsman, Eijun Linda Cutts, and Rinso Ed Sattizahn will officiate.

The event will be Livestreamed.

On the day of the ceremony there will be very limited street parking, so if you plan to attend in person we encourage you to take public transportation or carpool to City Center. In the Buddha Hall, seating will be available on a first come-first serve basis, with reserved seating only for those with ceremonial roles. Overflow seating with livestreaming video will be available in the Dining Room and Sangha Room.

Zenkei Blanche Hartman died peacefully at 12:30am the morning of Friday, May 13 at Kaiser Hospital in San Francisco surrounded by her family. She was 90 years and five days old. All three Zen Center temples rang the densho bell 108 times and held ceremonies to acknowledge her passing over. Blanche’s body rested in the Buddha Hall at City Center for three days, according to her wishes, and her family, students, and friends came to sit with her, day and night. She was cremated on May 17 in a small private ceremony. We have been holding a weekly memorial service every Friday, as is our tradition. On Sunday, July 10, we will hold the final service in the Buddha Hall at City Center.

To post messages, see photos, read memorials, or make a donation in honor of Blanche, see also For Zenkei Blanche Hartman.


Zenkei Blanche Hartman Passed Away This Morning

ZenkeiBlancheHartmanWe are deeply saddened to announce that our beloved teacher, abbess, and great friend Zenkei Blanche Hartman died peacefully at 12:30am this morning at Kaiser Hospital in San Francisco surrounded by her family.

Please follow us to the memorial website, The Great Leap.


Health Update: May 12, 2016

Hello Friends,

Today Blanche has begun the process of moving towards the end of her life. We are waiting for the family to all arrive, which should be happening tomorrow, later morning or early afternoon. After everyone is here, they will remove treatment and Blanche will begin palliative care. Blanche will stay where she is for now. She is very much at ease and peaceful.

Again we welcome chants, offerings and blessings in her honor, but request no visitors outside the family at this time.

Deep bows,
Great gratitude,

The Hartman Family


A Letter from Blanche’s Family About Her Health

Dear Friends,

I am sure you have heard by now that Zenkei Blanche Hartman Roshi is in the hospital, and has been since her 90th birthday on Sunday May 8th. We wanted to give you an update and let you know that she is being well tended and cared for.

She has a bacterial infection which has become systemic (meaning not located in simply one place). There is some fluid in her lungs and she is being treated with a wide spectrum antibiotic and it is possible she will respond well and recover. As I am sure you are aware, when someone is elderly, things aren’t always simple. Right now we are in a “wait and see” spot until whatever is next.

The family is very involved, as are Daigan and Victoria. At this time we welcome all blessings and offerings made on Blanche’s behalf, and cards are always welcome. We do request no visitors at this time.

As things progress we will of course keep you updated as things change.

Deep Bows
Great Gratitude

The Hartman Family


A Book Reading of Zenkei Blanche Hartman’s Seeds for a Boundless Life

Friday, October 16, at 7:30 pm
City Center

Join us for an evening celebrating the teaching of Senior Dharma Teacher Zenkei Blanche Hartman. Zenkei’s dharma heirs, fellow teachers, students and friends will read passages from her book Seeds for a Boundless Life, where her clear transmission of Dharma comes through in a voice that few others can render.

BoundlessLife_cov_r1-1_600Read More about the Event

In a touching post on the Boundless Life blog, the editor of the book, Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, describes her personal experience of working on the project and what she has learned from her teacher. She says, “Many times I cried in the middle of her talks because it was just what I needed to hear at the time.” Zenju is a dharma heir of Zenkei’s whose transmission will be completed early next year.

Read Zenju’s Post

You’ll also want to see this excerpt from her book that was republished by Tricycle magazine, in which Zenkei describes an example of beginner’s mind in a child she encountered.

I think of beginner’s mind as the mind that faces life like a small child, full of curiosity and wonder and amazement. “I wonder what this is?…”

Read Excerpt

For more information about this book, see its info page on Or find it in Zen Center’s libraries and bookstores.


Update: August 25, 2015

Dear Friends,

In our last post, we mentioned that plans were developing for Blanche to move to a different assisted living facility where she could have a private room. Since that time, Blanche has talked further with her family and has decided she does not wish to move at this time.

From Blanche's 85th birthday (Photo: Daigan Gaither)
From Blanche’s 85th birthday
(Photo: Daigan Gaither)

After looking into it, she expressed concern about feeling isolated in a private apartment where she would spend most of her time. At AgeSong, where she lives currently, she feels she has made some good connections and enjoys her roommate. She said, “I have lived in community so long, that I want to stay in community.”

So, for now, Blanche will remain where she is. You may still send cards and letters to Zen Center, and we will see that she receives them. If you have any questions or concerns about Blanche or her current care, please contact Danielle Macias at 415.354.0378 or


Zesho Susan O’Connell
SFZC President


Update: August 11, 2015

Dear Friends,

We have received numerous inquiries from friends and students of our beloved Senior Dharma Teacher Zenkei Blanche Hartman about how she’s doing, especially from those who live outside the Bay Area. We created this blog to ensure that those who care so deeply for Blanche are kept informed and updated as changes occur in her health and situation.

I’d like to share with you parts of a recent conversation Blanche had with Danielle Macias, who manages our human resources and retirement program, so that you can hear from Blanche herself. They talked last month at Age Song, the assisted living facility where Blanche currently lives.

Blanche said she wanted you all to know about her current condition and how she is faring with the changes in her life and body.

(Photo: Dawna Leigh)
(Photo: Dawna Leigh)

She says:

–    I have received, and someone reads to me, the cards that people have sent. I can’t respond to all of them, but I miss being with you a lot, and I love you. Don’t forget that even if you don’t hear personally from me that I love you.
–    I try to keep physically active, exercising my body in whatever way I can find to do in my bed, but my age has caught up with me. It hasn’t yet overtaken me—but we should be prepared for that.

I think that’s enough (for now).

Zen Center’s leadership both in the temple and in administration has been closely involved with the Hartman family in making decisions to ensure that Blanche is safe and cared for in a way that honors how she has shared so much of herself with so many.

Blanche’s family is now making plans to move Blanche to another assisted living facility in San Francisco where she can have a private room.  We’ll let you know when that happens on this blog.

In the meantime, if you’d like to send a card to Blanche, we will forward it on to her. Please send your cards or notes to:

Zenkei Blanche Hartman, San Francisco Zen Center, 300 Page Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

If you have any questions or concerns about Blanche or her current care, please contact Danielle Macias at 415.354.0378 or


Rinso Ed Sattizahn
Abiding Abbot, City Center


Book Excerpt Published in Tricycle Magazine

BoundlessLife_cov_r1-1_600This is our work. Just to be here, ready to meet whatever is next without expectation or prejudice or preconceptions. Just ‘What is it? What is this, I wonder?’

So please, cultivate your beginner’s mind. Be willing not to be an expert. Be willing not to know. Not knowing is nearest. Not knowing is most intimate.

—Zenkei Blanche Hartman, Seeds for a Boundless Life

Yesterday, Tricycle magazine published a longer, article-length excerpt from Zenkei’s new book online: read full excerpt.

The recently released Seeds for a Boundless Life is now available at the Zen Center bookstores, or can be ordered online (visit Shambhala Publications).


About This Blog

Dear Friends of Zenkei,

Photo: Alison Bank
Photo: Alison Bank

It has been truly moving to see the outpouring of messages of support for Blanche, along with the vast collection of photos and memories accumulated here from you—Blanche’s community of family members, students and friends.

Soon we will invite you to use a new Facebook group that we will create to continue adding and sharing your personal photos and stories about Blanche with the sangha. Going forward, the Boundless Life blog will be used mainly as a forum for regular updates about Blanche’s health and well-being from San Francisco Zen Center and from others who are caring for her. We hope these two options will help keep the community informed, and also give us a specific forum to share updates about Blanche.

All the postings and photos already contributed on this blog will continue to be accessible. We are grateful to Daigan Gaither and Shosan Victoria Austin for mediating this blog. The posts attest to the great radiating warmth of the sangha towards Blanche.

For any other questions related to this blog, please write to communications(at)

San Francisco Zen Center



PHOTO: From Barbara Jewitt Byrum

Blanche at GGF
Blanche at GGF