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Entries in dokusan (2)



Wellness altar in the dokusan room (see Dokusan Bell) at the Empty Hand Zen Center. Photo shows Susan Jion Postal and Dennis Shofu Myozan Keegan (see Myozan). Last year was a tough one health-wise for both of these dear teachers, and the altar provides an opportunity to offer a bow and some petal incense to their continued health and well-being. And it seems to be working. Both are doing much better and it's great to have our teachers back in the zendo again. [NOTE: The large statue next to the photo is a Medicine Buddha, the little white statue to the right is Avalokiteshvara (see Avalokiteshvara and Quan Âm), and the petal incense in the offering and receiving bowls is made from dried rose petals. Petal incense is offered because a few sangha members are allergic to incense smoke]. 


Dokusan Bell

Dokusan is a Japanese word that means "going alone to a respected one". In the Rinzai school, and, to a lesser extent in the Sōtō school, dokusan is a private meeting between Zen student and teacher. A chance for the student to present his/her understanding, ask questions about practice, discuss difficulties, or reveal who they are at that moment. A powerful, transformative, at times uncomfortable, space.

Image above is from the dokusan room in the Empty Hand Zen Center. Lower left is the little bell used to call the student to dokusan - or to signal that the interview is over. Sometimes the space between these two rings can be quite brief. [NOTE: The wooden stick, or kotsu, with the inscription "May All Beings Awake" was given to Susan Postal by her teacher, Darlene Cohen, as part of her dharma transmission in the Sōtō lineage of Shunryu Suzuki].