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Henrike Jishin Reef

January 29, 2021 by Yugen Lakey

Yugen Lakey Rev. Yugen Yugen Lakey
Yokoji Zen Mountain Center

Henrike Jishin Reef

It’s with a heavy heart that we share the news that Henrike Jishin Reef died on December 7, 2020. Jishin was a resident at Yokoji from 2009-2011 and served as Head Trainee in the spring of 2011.

Many of you who were present during that time will no doubt remember Jishin, her kindness and warmth, and all the nourishing food that she prepared for the sangha while serving as tenzo, or head cook of the temple. Even for those that only knew Jishin in passing, she was hard to miss as she was almost always wearing at least one article of purple clothing — even the kimono she wore under her monk’s robes was a deep shade of purple.

The one thing that stands out for me, is how caring Jishin was. I was looking back through the blogs I wrote during her stay at the center and found this entry from March 8, 2011:

Jishin is the head trainee and I think she’ll do a great job. She is the mother hen amongst the residents and is always the one to take food down to someone if they are ill or to check up on people when they aren’t doing so well. Jishin now has a whole group of trainees to take care of and we’re lucky to have her.

Jishin birthday

I remember it was a sad time when Jishin left, and she did so at the same time as another resident, Graham, who was also an important part of the residential community. During the Spring 2011 Training Period, Jishin wrote a number of blog posts for Yokoji. This is her first post, introducing herself. She posted about trusting your guts, her reflections before the Training Period started for which she was serving as Head Trainee, and talking about the koan she was working on for her Dharma Combat ceremony.

Jishin dharma combat

Jishin and Keizan Roshi, the leader of Stonewater Zen in the UK, shared a deep friendship over many years. Jishin was integral in helping Keizan Roshi set up the Liverpool Zen Group which became a much larger organization over the years as it transformed into Stonewater Zen.


Jishin passed away from cancer in her home county of the Netherlands. We miss you, Jishin.

May your vows be fully realized, and may we realize the Buddha Way together.


  • Deanne Shinzan Larsen:

    03 Feb 2021 20:29:00

    I was inspired and nourished by Jishin’s embodiment of practice and her service to our sangha. I had the good fortune to meet with her and talk about my practice, doubts with which I was struggling at the time, including some specific issues around women in Zen practice. Her clear thinking and empathic listening were so helpful to me. I, too, missed her when she returned to Europe. Her light will continue to shine.

  • Bill Butler:

    28 Feb 2021 12:50:00

    A lovely person. I had the good fortune to work in her kitchen many times.

  • Ken Genku Erickson:

    12 Mar 2021 11:31:00

    I have a pair of purple socks that I like to wear around the Zendo at home, always remembering the kindness (and good food!) shared with the Sangha by Jishin.

  • Amar Patel:

    24 Aug 2021 17:50:00

    Wow, the one month I spent at Yokoji was with her as Head Trainee 10 years ago. She was such a sweet, caring person and we had many laughs together. I still remember I was going through a breakup at the end of my time there and wanted to leave when she told me that times of turmoil are often the best to practice. That’s stuck with me. Her wisdom and love were such a blessing.

  • Aline Marie:

    04 Jan 2022 17:27:00

    Jishin was there the first year I started to hold yoga retreats and her warmth and kindness overflowed to all of us who attended. I was so nervous, as a young teacher and my first retreat she made us all feel so welcomed. There was warmth and mystery around her, like she kind of floated and made magic happen for every meal. She made a special carrot cake that was legendary. We requested it each year and even after she left the residents generously created it for us to celebrate the birthdays of those in attendance. Thank you so much for sharing this moving tribute. How fortunate are we all to get to walk this earth together at the same time and cross paths. I will always be grateful that I got to experience her smile and warmth.

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