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HomeZenShosan Ceremony: Awakening the Archive, Tape 23

Shosan Ceremony: Awakening the Archive, Tape 23

To take heed to this speak, “Shosan Ceremony,” see the Suzuki Roshi Audio Archive the place it’s listed on the precise facet.

This speak was given by Suzuki Roshi at Tassajara in the summertime of 1968.


Suzuki Roshi and others at ZMC

Taizan Maezumi, Mitsu Suzuki, Shunryu Suzuki, Phillip Wilson, and Richard Baker at Tassajara in 1967. Photographer unknown.

This was the final of the three 5″ reels that gave the impression to be from the summer season of 1968, however there have been no visible clues past the notice “feels like ZMC” (Zen Mountain Middle, another title for Tassajara), which it actually does, with a loud backdrop of crickets. The audio tells us extra: the tape begins with the sequence of ceremonial devices from the procession and starting of a shosan ceremony – a proper query and reply session, the place every college students comes up in flip to ask a query about follow (every scholar bows off to the facet earlier than and after their query which accounts for lots of background noise on the tape). Suzuki Roshi begins by mentioning that that is the tip of a seven-day sesshin.

The Wind Bell which covers that interval makes no direct point out of the sesshin, however there’s a report (p12) of a go to by a variety of eminent Zen lecturers in July, who introduced with them Nyogen Senzaki’s ashes (a pioneering trainer within the early a part of the twentieth century); sadly no report of the talks given throughout this go to appear to have survived. However there’s a passing point out: “the ashes remained on the altar till two full moons later. Then, on the night of the third day of summer season sesshin, Suzuki Roshi, Chino Sensei and the scholars drove as much as the place that they had watched the moon rise earlier than … and there enshrined the ashes.” Additional sleuthing work confirms the date as September 10.

Fortunately, we have now a variety of recordings of shosan ceremonies—half-a-dozen from the primary couple of years at Tassajara, plus the transcript however not the audio from the one held after the primary sesshin in 1967. The format, and the truth that it historically takes place on the finish of a sesshin, permits for a deeper and extra thought of trade than the same old questions and solutions that generally came about after a lecture; maybe that explains why Suzuki Roshi solely held them at Tassajara and never at Sokoji or Metropolis Middle. Listening to them provides an actual, intimate glimpse into how his college students had been absorbing his teachings on the time.

Not each scholar asks a query; at 1:23:22 on the tape, there’s a fearsome scream—a not-untypical prevalence within the Zen custom—and others simply specific gratitude or say nothing. Essentially the most transferring trade is with Trudy Dixon, who was engaged on enhancing the transcripts for Zen Thoughts, Newbie’s Thoughts, and who had been recognized with the most cancers that killed her the next yr on the age of 30. She says, “Docho Roshi, let me see who I’m. [Pause] To die every second to be reborn is the nice freedom of the dharma. I’m like a small fish, I swim out and in of massive dying.” (27:55). Suzuki Roshi launches into an impassioned response, recognizing that her follow within the face of her sickness is the essence of what he has tried to convey to his college students: “Dharma is the factor to which each and every one in all us have been striving for, and can attempt for. … It isn’t solely you, however all of the patriarch and sages have been striving for it, and you’re one in all them. And you have to be pitiful for the individuals who don’t attempt for it, who haven’t good likelihood to comprehend the need of striving for it. To comprehend the need of striving for it’s the level to which we’re making our greatest effort. There’s no different level to attempt for. Since you’ve gotten realized the need of striving for it, you’re already one of many patriarchs and also you gained that state. Don’t assume Buddha and patriarchs had been fairly free from beginning and dying. They’re nonetheless striving for it within the title of varied sentient beings. It’s most respected factor that you simply realized the need of striving for it.” (29:14)

It’s generally mentioned that Zen follow is a technique to put together us for our personal dying, clarifying “the nice matter of beginning and dying” as it’s typically phrased. Right here was an instance of a faithful scholar vividly coming face-to-face with this. Suzuki Roshi typically subsequently referred to her as an impressive disciple.


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