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Lou Hartman

Photo of Blanche and Lou at Tassajara. Photo by Renshin Bunce.

Blanche and Lou at Tassajara. Photo by Renshin Bunce

Lou Hartman / Shu-un Mitsuzen
Bright Shadow, Empty Source
June 2, 1915 – January 20, 2011

Photo of Lou from SF Chronicle.

Lou Hartman Courtesy Rebecca Huenink, SF Chronicle

Lou’s Funeral

Sunday March 13 @ 2pm

San Francisco Zen Center
300 Page Street
San Francisco

Sojun Mel Weitsman will officiate, assisted by Abbot Ryushin Paul Haller and Kiku Christina Lehnherr.

The service will be available as a live video stream for family and friends of Lou unable to attend in person.

Parking will be available from 1:30 – 5 pm in the UCSF parking lot at 55 Laguna Street, approximately two blocks from City Center.

NOTE: March 13 is the beginning of Daylight Savings Time. Clocks will have been adjusted forward by one hour overnight.

Please contact the City Center office at 415-863-3136 for more information.

UPDATE: A recording of the live video stream is available: Video of Lou Hartman’s Funeral

Thoughts While Putting On My Robe in Stone Two at Tassajara

How smoothly the creek’s okesa
Folds across the shoulders
Of the rocks.
—Lou Hartman

Our dear dharma friend Shu-un Mitsuzen Lou Hartman died on January 20 at 3:45pm, surrounded by his wife of over sixty years, Zenkei Blanche Hartman, their children, a granddaughter, and great-granddaughter. Lou and Blanche have four children, eight grandchildren, and a growing number of great-grandchildren. Lou was a long term resident, priest, and practitioner at all three Zen Center locations. He and Blanche were ordained in a 24-person ceremony in September 1977 by Zentatsu Richard Baker. His deep love of practice, his wit and presence inspired us all.

Lou was a great storyteller. Blanche has said that what many people remember and appreciate about Lou is his choice to live as a monk, not as a Zen teacher.

A memorial service was held on the evening of January 20 in the Buddha Hall at City Center, officiated by Sojun Mel Weitsman. A transition service—a well being service for Lou’s passage—was held the morning of January 21 at 6:40am following morning zazen.

Friends and family sat with Lou at Zen Hospice through Sunday afternoon.  The Witnessed Cremation Ceremony took place  on Thursday, January 27.

Photo of Lou in City Center Courtyard by Shundo David Haye

Lou in City Center Courtyard - Photo by Shundo David Haye

Photo of Lou Hartman by Renshin Bunce

Lou Hartman by Renshin Bunce

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  1. barbara lindstrom / Mar 11 2011

    I was around Lou enough during my several extended stays at Green Gulch to appreciate what a lovely man he was. I’m so happy to have know him even a little.

    He was heart warming.

    Barbara Lindstrom
    A Student of Charlotte Selver

  2. Dennis Briskin / Mar 13 2011

    Always a marvelous father-in-law; so kind, helpful and caring. After retiring from success as a creative writer/journalist, he used the Dharma teaching to make a second, successful life serving others.

  3. Patrick Monk RN / Jan 18 2012

    Written sitting at GGF decades ago.

    Just breath
    Like waves
    No effort
    No motion
    Just body
    Sitting still
    Like deep waters.

  4. Gloria Elissha / Jan 18 2012

    I don’t recall ever having had a conversation with Lou, although we greeted one another at either Green Gulch or City Center for 20 years. Blanche was my teacher, and Lou was a presence. Years ago I was taking my regular exercise walk going towards the Marin Circle in Berkeley. I was moving along at a good pace, eyes slightly down, thinking about… whatever. Suddenly I saw a shape in the middle of the sidewalk. I stopped, looked up and there was Lou, hands in gassho. I stopped, we both bowed and smiled, we each stepped to our right and continued on our way. It still makes me smile when I think of that lovely moment. Thank you, Lou.

  5. Diane Miller / May 30 2012

    Hi Lou,

    I was at Tassajara earlier this month and of course I thought of you. One particular memory was from the fall practice period in either ’01 or ’02 – during work period you patiently, diligently, mindfully replaced stones on the steps to the zendo.

    You remain an inspiration,

  6. Diane Miller / Jan 21 2014


    Yesterday on the anniversary of your great leap, I re-read “Through the Privy Door”. I could see you smirk and hear you snort “…I have nothing else to say.”

    You wrote of visiting Alan Watts’ grave:

    If you must set up a stone for me,
    Please, let it be
    One native to this slope?
    Small, sun-checked and weather-worn,
    So that in little time,
    As such thing go,
    Nothing will be left to show
    That stone or man once tarried here.

    And now I answer: that time hasn’t come yet, there’s still so much to show that this stone and this man tarried here. There’s still so much I remember, so much I learned because of you. I miss you.


  7. Diane Miller / Jan 25 2015

    Dear Lou,

    Another year passes and I re-reading “Through the Privy Door”.

    You wrote:

    Silence is the sound
    Emptiness makes
    Going through its business.

    I remember us sitting together in a great quiet waiting for silence.

    My old dog died this year. More quiet. Miss you.


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