Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 9:09AM

Last Sunday was the final day of the Fall Practice Period (see Fall Practice Period 2012) at the Empty Hand Zen Center. There was an intensive retreat (sitting, lunch, and more sitting) followed by a Shuso Hossen ceremony. I was given a beautiful fan (shown above), walked to my seat in a formal procession with gongs (inkin), clappers, and moktok, and presented a copy of Mumon's The Gateless Gate.  I read "Case 19: Ordinary Mind is the Way" from the book and gave a short Dharma Talk (go here for a translation of Case 19 from the Mumonkan; scroll down to Case 19). 

I was next given the Dharma staff by Jion Susan Postal, walked with it (and the fan) slowly back to my seat, and then, one by one, proceeded to answer the questions (Zen questions) posed by every person in the room. Each question began with the exclamation "Shuso!" (to get my attention). I answered as best I could, and then made a loud thump on the floor with the staff to receive the next query. After all the questions were finished, I apologized for my mistakes during the Practice Period ("they fill heaven and earth, leaving me no place to hide..."), returned the staff to my teacher, and then, with feelings of great relief and elation, joined the procession back to the dokusan room.

Powerful ceremony. Transformative practice period. Little by little. Day after day. The never-ending, concerted, keep your eye on the ball, continual practice of Ordinary Mind. [NOTES: Bows of gratitude to Susan and the entire EHZC sangha (thx, guys). Photo by J. Jacobson].

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