Shuso Hossen Ceremony

Today was the ceremony that marked the completion of  my year of training to become a senior Zen student at Heart Circle Sangha in Ridgewood, NJ. In attendance were about a dozen people who braved the aftermath of a dramatic thunderstorm–closed roads, downed power lines, and branch-strewn streets–to witness and help me perform the ceremony.

The centerpiece of the ceremony was a round of “dharma combat” where the participants tested my understanding of Zen. First I gave a talk based on a koan (a Zen teaching story, in this instance, “Mazu’s White and Black”). Then everyone in attendance had the chance to ask me a question based on the koan. Authenticity is essential in this context so I answered questions as spontaneously as possible. Most questions were serious but one involved a childhood riddle (an an obsolete one, too, now that newspapers are no longer black and white).

Thanks to Sensei Joan Hoeberichts and all the Sangha members who made this a special day. Special gratitude to Joan’s husband Jef for keeping the electrical generator working during the ceremony, to keep the zendo dry during the severe weather.

About Alan

I've been an active meditator for over 10 years with Heart Circle Sangha, a warm and supportive Zen practice center in suburban New Jersey. Led by our teacher, Joan Hogetsu Hoeberichts, the Sangha offers a place to start a meditation practice and then to deepen that practice over the years.
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