Andre Elsen is Shuso


We are delighted to announce that our dear friend Andre Elsen has been invited to be the “shuso” (head student) at Black Mountain Zen Centre for the upcoming The Path to Liberation practice period. Being shuso is a practice gate for a mature student, their first chance to give dharma talks and enter the path of becoming a teacher. As shuso, Andre will lead two retreats at Black Mountain, one on Saturday, June 22 & Sunday, June 23 and one on Sunday, July 21. His term as shuso will culminate with the five-day sesshin in Benburb from August 27 to September 1, during which he will sit beside Paul Haller, symbolically sharing the teacher’s seat. As shuso, he will give talks during the one-day sittings, meet informally with practitioners for practice discussion, and ring the wake-up bell every morning during sesshin. The confirmation of his having entered this gate is the shuso ceremony (traditionally called hossen-shiki) which will take place on the afternoon of Sunday, September 1. During the shuso ceremony, each member of the community is encouraged to ask a question that comes from the heart, and Andre will respond with a brief answer that expresses his understanding of the dharma. These ceremonies can be wonderfully electric and unpredictable, and we expect Andre’s spontaneous responses to the high-energy event to manifest the kindness and clarity that we have appreciated over many years.

Our First Practice Period

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The Path of Liberation, June 23 – September 1, 2019

The essence of Zen practice is being present and experiencing what’s happening. This straightforward practice reveals to us how to heal our suffering and how to open to the vitality of life. Our life blossoms as we learn to meet what’s being experienced in each moment. In our first practice period at Black Mountain Centre, The Path of Liberation, we will discuss and engage traditional Buddhist and Zen practices that promote presence, attention, integrity and the openness of Beginner’s Mind. The practice period will begin with the one-day sitting at Black Mountain Zen Centre on Sunday, June 23, followed by a second one-day sitting on Sunday, July 21, and end with the sesshin at Benburb Priory from Tuesday, August 27 to Sunday, September 1. During the practice period, we will be offering a “small group” meeting at 7:30 pm on Friday evenings (after one period of zazen at 7 pm), when we will have an opportunity to connect and share our week with Paul Haller, shuso Andre Elsen and resident teacher Djinn Gallagher. Paul and Andre will be joining us by Skype for some of the meetings, and it will be possible to participate remotely if you can’t make it to Belfast. The opportunity to practice in this way is a new step for our growing sangha at Black Mountain, and we hope it will deepen and strengthen our connections. We invite everyone to be part of this practice period; please email here to register.

  • The suggested donation to join the practice period is a sliding scale from £10 to £25.