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December 10, 2013


Signs of a Shuso: Milestone Ceremony for Deaf Head Student Keith Baker

In our Zen tradition, a shuso ceremony represents a certain culmination of a student’s training. Longtime resident Keith Baker was selected to be shuso, or head student, for the Fall 2013 Practice Period at City Center, with Keith’s teacher, Ryushin Paul Haller.


Photo: Shundo David Haye

Because Keith had become profoundly deaf as an adult in 2010, his term as shuso brought with it particular challenges and joys. Interpreters, real-time captioning, and various electronic devices all facilitated communication during the practice period so that Keith would be able to participate and to share his own experience and understanding of the Dharma with the hearing sangha.

The shuso ceremony on December 7 was, again, challenging and joyful, but also inspirational. A slideshow below offers a few highlights. In addition, Keith has been chronicling his reflections on the practice period on the shuso’s blog, in which the latest post gives a review from his perspective of the event and the close of the practice period.

More on Deaf Practice:

Slideshow: Clicking on the image increases the advancing speed.
Photos by Shundo David Haye

[slideshow id=5]


1 Comment Post a comment
  1. Virginia Abblitt
    Dec 11 2013

    Dear Shuso Keith,

    What a delightful ceremony! You appeared to be having so much fun, and so were we. I had to leave early to catch a plane home, but I want you to know how much I appreciated your presence at the Sesshin, particularly your smile when I was having difficulty serving you oryoki. My question would have been, “Where’d you get that fabulous smile?’

    With an affectionate and grateful bow, Virginia


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