Two Arrows Zen -- literally, a pair of arrows from opposite directions meeting in midair -- started out with two people meeting in similarly extraordinary circumstances. In 1995, Diane Musho Hamilton, who had begun her Buddhist studies at Naropa University a dozen years earlier, met Michael Mugaku Zimmerman, Chief Justice of the Utah Supreme Court, where both happened to be employed. Michael had first ventured into meditation following his wife's death in 1993, and at Diane's suggestion he attended an introductory class at Kanzeon Zen Center in early 1997. He knew he was on to something when his class leader said, "Buddhism, there is no hope" -- which Michael interpreted as not getting caught up in the past or the future, but instead living in the here and now. Michael found what he was searching for, and having found Diane as well, the two were married in 1998.
Around the time of the marriage, Michael had begun to study with Genpo Merzel Roshi who had developed Big Mind Big Heart, a process helping elicit the insights of Zen in Western audiences. Diane had also been studying with Genpo Roshi and was working with Ken Wilber and the Integral Institute in Denver, Colorado, during this time. Diane became a Big Mind facilitator and, in 2003, she and Michael received Tokudo and became monks together. It was shortly thereafter that Diane began holding retreats at a location she and Michael purchased in Torrey, Utah. What started as a dusty tent in the wind-swept shadow of Boulder Mountain became Boulder Mountain Zendo, which they eventually renamed Torrey Zendo to eliminate confusion associated with the unrelated cities of Boulder, Colorado, and Boulder, Utah.
By 2010 Diane was expanding the program at Torrey while Michael was teaching Zen in the basement of their home when he wasn't working or traveling. Busy with Torrey as well as her own traveling and teaching, Diane suggested that they needed to have another zendo closer to their home in Salt Lake City.
Big Mind was generating a lot of interest in Salt Lake at the time, so they looked around and found a possible solution through a friend who happened to be president of Salt Lake City's Artspace -- an affordable living and working space for artists, cultural organizations and nonprofits. By the end of February 2011 they had raised some money, remodeled a portion of the building and opened the Artspace Zendo.
By 2014, both Diane and Michael were attracting students in Torrey, Salt Lake City and internationally and fundraising began in earnest to build a permanent zendo and bathhouse in Torrey. In the summer of 2014, volunteer-members funded and built an outdoor kitchen to support seasonal retreats. By March 2015, work began on the water lines and septic system; the groundbreaking for the Zendo and bathhouse took place in March 2016. The generous support of donors and Two Arrows Zen members completely funded the cost of the Torrey Zendo building project. The Torrey Zendo was dedicated in the fall of 2017 in a ceremony officiated by Genpo Roshi and attended by Roshis from France and the Netherlands, along with practitioners from all over the world.
The Torrey Zendo property continues to be beautified with landscaping and additional projects. A Social Pavilion with dining and meeting space was completed in the spring of 2018. Future plans include decorative fencing of the property boundary to complement the Zendo, a temple bell and pergola with a donor recognition wall, and the dedication of the Tori Gate entrance honoring Ken Wilber.
Today, Two Arrows Zen has multiple meanings to its co-founders. Two people, two walks of life, two Sanghas, two zendos all coming together -- two arrows meeting in midair.
A History of Two Arrows Zen told by Diane Musho Hamilton Roshi and Michael Mugaku Zimmerman Roshi - Recorded Spring Sesshin, 2015.
The Meaning of "Two Arrows"
“Two Arrows Meeting in Mid-air” is from the Ts’an-t’ung-ch’i (Jap. Sandokai) or Identity Of Relative and Absolute, which is chanted daily in Zen temples. Composed by Zen Master Shih-t’ou Hsi-ch’ien (700-790 CE), this poem expresses “being one,” or unity as the true nature or intimacy of our existence. When Shih-t’ou was 15 years old, his Dharma grandfather, the Sixth Patriarch Hui-neng, passed away. He continued to practice with his elder Dharma brother, Ch’ing-yuan Hsing-ssu. Ch’ing-yuan asked him, “Where have you come from?” “From Hui-neng,” replied Shih-t’ou. “What have you brought with you?” Ch’ing-yuan asked. Shih-t’ou said, “I had it before I became Hui-neng’s student, and it has never been lost.” This “it” is the essence of two arrows meeting in midair.
The Ts’an-t’ung-ch’i consists of only 220 Chinese characters. However, it is said that the heart of all the voluminous sutras and discourses of the Tripitaka is concisely expressed in this poem on the identity of relative and absolute. This “identity” is the intimate unity in our very lives of these seemingly opposite aspects – oneself and others, subject and object, relative and absolute, Buddha and sentient beings, delusion and enlightenment, nothing and everything, ordinary and holy, and so on.
Two arrows meeting in “midair” is just this intimacy. It is also the intimacy of a teacher and a student. You may wonder how two arrows could actually meet in midair. It is virtually impossible, yet this analogy derived from writings of Lieh-tzu is very practical and real. A teacher Fei-wei, and a student, Chi-ch’ang, were two adepts of archery. Chi-ch’ang became more and more skillful and eventually believed that no one was better than himself. He went so far as to believe that if his teacher was dead, he, Chi-ch’ang, would be the best in the world. One day he tried to kill his teacher. They happened to meet in a field, and Chi-ch’ang shot an arrow at Fei-wei. Responding, Fei-wei shot back. The two arrows met in the air and fell to the ground. Chi-ch’ang shot a second and a third arrow and the same thing happened each time. But Fei-wei had only three arrows, and Chi-ch’ang had four. He shot the fourth arrow. Fei-wei picked up a branch and stopped the arrow with a thorn on the branch. After this encounter they mutually vowed to be father and son.
The symbolic and yet very real implication of these two arrows meeting in midair is precisely this taking of the teacher’s life as one’s own. This is true Dharma transmission – the student confirming this intimacy as his or her very own life.
Hakuyu Taizan Maezumi
Zen Center of Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California
From Two Arrows Meeting in Midair: The Zen Koan
By John Daido Loori. Dharma Communications
(Mt. Tremper, NY.), 2004