Lorna found Buddhism in the 1980s at Sidney Zen Centre, which was affiliated to the Diamond Sangha in Hawaii under Robert Aitken Roshi. He visited Sidney to lead sesshin. He gave her the precepts and the dharma name Kokai. Lorna went to Honolulu for sesshin with Aitken Roshi. Returning to England, Lorna found Genpo Roshi under whom she regularly sat sesshin, and also sat sesshin with Genno Roshi, Tenkei Roshi and with Tenshin Roshi at Crosby. Latterly she greatly appreciated Zoom Zen with Keizan Roshi.
Lorna was born in a small Northamptonshire shoe town, escaped to Teacher Training in London (at a respectable Church of England college where she was dissuaded from studying the works of Oscar Wilde). Lorna emigrated to Australia on a £10 passage, married, had a son and got divorced. She came back to England via trekking in Thailand, Nepal and India, returned to Australia via the USA, and finally came back to England via Argentina, Guatemala, Belize and Cuba.
Back home, Lorna looked after her ageing mother. After retiring from work, Lorna was active in a local community group, the U3A, and started a successful reading group. She supported Alasdair in forming StoneWater Northampton. Lorna enjoyed films ranging from arthouse (Fellini, Jodorowsky, Jarmusch) to Marvel blockbusters, and music from Patti Smith to symphony concerts.
Lorna and I first met when she joined the local rambling club – a rather odd figure who walked 1½ miles from Rushden to the meeting place in Higham Square, often half running the last uphill bit, in preparation for a 10-mile country walk (which in those pre-GPS days was often more like 12 – leaders didn’t want to put people off). She disappeared to ‘sesshin’ at intervals, returning with an altered, calmer, more perceptive mind. She invited me to join her for meditation which led to my first sesshin at Hengrave Hall (1996) led by Genpo Roshi with a hasty Dave Scott as Jisha.
It was a privilege to have known Lorna Kokai.
Will Hozan Lovell