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Buddhadharma : Spring 2006
buddhadharma| 63 |spring 2006 Not long after completing my own Ph.D. in 1971, and only a half-dozen years after taking ref- uge in the Theravada Buddhist tradition under Venerable Bope Vinita at the Washington Buddhist Vihara, I visited Professor Francis H. Cook at the University of California at Riverside to discuss his contribution to my forthcoming book, Buddhism: A Modern Perspective, published in honor of my mentor, Richard H. Robinson. Near the end of our first day together at his home, Professor Cook began to stir up a pitcher of martinis and quietly told me that this was the one aspect of his Buddhist practice in which he didn’t carefully observe all five vows of the laity. Until that very moment, I hadn’t known that Frank Cook was a Buddhist, that his Buddhist name was Dojun, and that he was a serious student of Taizan Maezumi Roshi. From that moment on, our discussion switched from text chapters on Chinese Buddhism to how Cook lived so comfortably in his Buddhist identity in the midst of a very non-Buddhist university. By the time I left California, I was overwhelmed by what Cook had so easily shared with me. I had never met a man so at ease in his own skin, and so utterly comfortable with his Buddhist identity. To this day, he remains an elegant human being, and his inspiration gave me the courage to visibly and publicly change my own life. By the time I returned to my home and teaching position in Pennsylvania, buoyed by Frank Cook’s example, I was determined to do publicly what I had only done privately: “come out” as a Buddhist. Up until that point, only my wife knew of my Buddhist practice, the long hours of solitary med- itation, and time spent in retreats. On my first day back at the university, I walked into the office of Jeffrey Hopkins at the University of Virginia DougBurgess