Our First Shuso Ceremony

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Andre holding the traditional shuso fan, left, with our teacher Paul Haller, for whom the ceremony was the culmination of many years of guidance at Black Mountain Zen Centre

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Back row: Garret, Esther, Deirdre, Pauline, Joe, Djinn, Andre, Mary, Paul, Pat, Billy, Jonny, Jimmy, Tony, and Alastair. Front row: Sean, Eilis, Nuala, Suzan, and Steve

Last weekend, on Sunday, September 1, 2019, the sangha of Black Mountain Zen Centre gathered in the meditation hall at Benburb Priory for our first Shuso Ceremony. This ancient ceremony is also know as “dharma combat”, or “hossen shiki”, a lively question-and-answer between the head student – the shuso – and the assembly that confirms the shuso as being ready to teach the dharma. Kogen Doin Andre Elsen, who has been shuso during the practice period this summer, took the seat and gave a really good series of answers that manifested his thoughtfulness and wisdom and his deep tenderness for the Black Mountain Zen Centre sangha. Despite living in Germany, Andre has been practising as part of our sangha for many years and has been teaching us in many ways, both through his upright practice and his understanding of Zen forms, gained through his time in Tassajara, the monastery in California. The shuso ceremony last week was a confirmation of the position that he has unofficially held for so long, and an official acknowledgement of his role as a teacher and a practice leader. Great congratulations and many deep bows from all of the sangha, far and near.

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Visiting teacher Myozan Kodo Ian Kilroy, front, in brown robe, joined us for the ceremony

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Andre celebrates!