Albert Low was born in London, England, on December 16, 1928. During the period of 1947 – 1949, he served two years in the Royal Navy. He left England with his wife Jean in 1954, and emigrated to South Africa. There he was employed by the Central News Agency, a company that held the monopoly for the sale and distribution of all reading matter including books, magazines, and newspapers throughout Southern Africa, which then included South Africa, Rhodesia, Mozambique, and South West Africa. Eventually, he became the senior personnel executive and reported to the CEO. During this time, he gave many seminars on creativity and organization for managers at all levels for the National Development Foundation of South Africa. While in South Africa, his children Anita, John and Stephen were born.
In 1963, he left South Africa as he could not agree with the political policy of apartheid, and moved to Canada. He settled in Chatham-Kent, Ontario, and was again employed as a personnel executive, this time with a large utility that was at that time called the Union Gas Company. He was in charge of salary administration for all levels of company, as well as for organization and staffing. He developed an original theory on creativity, organization and management. Eventually, he wrote a book based upon his researches: Zen and Creative Management, which has since sold more than 75,000 copies. During his time at the gas company, he continued to give talks and seminars on the subject of management, organization and creativity — the latter a subject he has spent considerable time studying, and which is very closely connected with Zen practice.
In 1955, he became interested in Zen Buddhism, and had a strong intellectual interest for about ten years.
In 1966, he met the Japanese Zen Master Haku’un Yasutani and practiced Zen, first with him, and then for twenty years with Philip Kapleau, who had himself been a disciple of Yasutani’s until the latter dissolved their relationship. In 1976, he resigned from the Gas Company and went to the Rochester Zen Center for three years, where he served as editor of the Center’s journal. In 1979, he relocated to Montreal as a probationary teacher. In 1986, he finished his training and was authorized by Kapleau to teach as a Zen master.
Dr. Low made a study of human nature throughout his life. He drew on his prolonged meditations on creativity and the human condition, his many years of providing psychological and spiritual counseling, and a wide-ranging knowledge of Western psychology, philosophy, and science — including a deep interest in evolutionary theory. He gave many talks on CBC radio and CBC television.
He wrote eleven books, and contributed to three. Many of his books have been translated into three or more languages. He also translated Dr. Hubert Benoit’s “Let Go!” and Thich Nhat Hanh’s “Zen Keys” from French to English. His latest book, “The Origin of Human Nature: a Zen Buddhist Looks at Evolution”, was published by Sussex Academic Press.
Albert Low was the teacher and director at the Montreal Zen Centre until his passing in January 2016.
Jean Low now contributes to this blog using Albert’s books and teishos for inspiration.