Living Buddha Zen

Living Buddha Zen

by Lex Hixon
Larson Publications, Burdette, N.Y., 1995; paperback.

Alexander Paul Hixon, the "Greatheart," was born on Christmas Day and left this earth on All Saints Day, November I, 1995. His memorial was celebrated in New York on December 8, which was the Blessed Mother's feast day. Every important date regarding this extraordinary man seems to have poetic justice stamped on it, lie was 54 years of age when he died.

Those who knew Hixon understand the significance of what God in the aspect of the mother meant to him. He spent his life seeking the Divine in a myriad of spiritual traditions, but always connecting them to the Universal Mother-whether it was Mother Mary, Goddess Kali, Mother Earth, or Tara. In his book The Mother of the Universe (Quest Books), he writes: "The Great Mother is humanity's most primordial, pervasive, and fruitful image of reality. She expresses herself fluently through and within every sacred tradition." He goes on to comment on the phenomenon of recent sightings of the Mother: "The many authentic appearances of the Virgin Mary- in Mexico, Portugal, Gerabondal, Spain, Lourdes, France, and contemporary apparitions today in Egypt, Mejugorje, and America-are special revelations of her reality for the modern world."

Hixon’s latest book, Living Buddha Zen, was published by Larson shortly before his death following a long and futile bout with cancer. He was to receive transmission in December from his Zen teacher Bernard Tetsugen Glassman Sensei. Other books by Hixon include Mother of the Universe, Mother of the Buddhas, and Heart of the Koran (all published by Quest), and Coming Home (recently reissued by Larson).

Hixon made explorations in "researching the Truth" accessible to all. He was a blend of scholarly intellectual and mystic, able to stay current in four sacred traditions: Ramakrishna Vedanta, Orthodox Christianity, Vajrayana Buddhism, and the Sufi Dervish Order, in which he became successor to Sheikh Muzafer after visiting Mecca in 1980. His title was Sheikh Nur, and he guided Sufis in New York City, New Jersey, Mexico, and Boulder. The profound devotion and love his Sufi students expressed for him is something to see. At the wake, a large band of Sufis brought forest green fabric to cover his casket, threw fragrant flower petals, sang, and praised Allah that he was in Paradise at last.

Years ago under the guidance of Father Alexander Schmemann, Lex and his wife Sheila studied mystical Christianity at Saint Vladimir's Seminary. I attended a service once with them and felt enchanted by the depth of spirit in that church. Every Sunday they went to Saint Vladimir's, despite the fact the church did not agree on his involvement with other religions.

Hixon was exposed to many paths in part from his hosting of a radio broadcast in which he interview ed many of the world 's spiritual leaders, including the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, Krishnamurti, Bawa Mahaddin, Pir Vilayat Khan, and others.

I have been blessed to have had the guidance, inspiration, and education Lex Hixon gave me so steadily since I was sixteen and searching. He introduced me to my favorite teacher, Swami Aseshananda, a Hindu monk who looked like Yoda wearing a bow tie. The swami always welcomed Lex to lecture when he was in the northwest.

Everyone in Lex's circle was somehow inducted as a "spiritual debutante," unveiled to "spirituality-society." so to speak. His own spiritual path began with Christianity, under the guidance of Father Deloria, a Lakota Sioux Episcopal priest. Later Hixon converted to Orthodox Christianity, then discovered Zen through Alan Watts. Then he encountered the Gospel of Ramakrishna which led to a meeting with his Indian guru Swami Nikhilananda, with whom he traveled and studied in the last seven years of his life. He also studied Tibetan Buddhism and knew the Dalai Lama. But no path engrossed him more, I think, than the Muslim tradition.

Robert Thurman, a professor of Buddhist studies and a friend, said Hixon "had a genius for revitalizing the classics and a reverence."

Toward the end of his life, Lex seemed exhausted by the huge responsibilities he had undertaken. Friends stayed at his house, some for months, some for years. One such friend, who had stayed at his house in 1987, told me she had a dream that Lex got colon cancer and that she told him about it. He ignored the message. What is strange is that this was a man who analyzed everyone's dreams and took them seriously. I feel he had made up his mind to depart this realm for reasons beyond our understanding. He ignored a chance to heal the illness in the early stages. Nevertheless, he has left behind a legacy of great deeds which would fill a book. He gave unbelievable amounts of money to good causes, spiritual organizations, and friends. He built a retreat in the Catskills, with a temple to honor all traditions and open to the public (for information, phone 518/966-5140).

Stephen Levine has said that "Lex has looked into the eyes of the Divine and has burst into flame." In a letter to Lex during his final illness, the Effendi in Istanbul wrote, “The only way to avoid death is not to be born in the first place. In death there is union with the Beloved. The real skill is to reach the secret of death before dying. May Allah make us all obtain that sec ret."


Spring 1996