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April 7, 2014


The Head Monk Becomes a Teacher: Shuso Ceremony April 2014

A Story in Photographs by Shundo David Haye

For the fifty or so monks who have been living at Tassajara for this†ango,†or practice period, the Shuso Ceremony marks the culmination of three months of intense training together. For the dozen or so former shusos who make the drive down from San Francisco or Green Gulch, it is a chance to revisit the beloved monastery, and to see how the practice has been manifesting there.

This recent practice period has been a little unusual in that it has been co-led by Senior Dharma Teachers Sojun Mel Weitsman and Rysuhin Paul Haller, who have shared the teaching. The†shuso,†or head monk, has been Lucy Xiao, long-time City Center resident, and for many years Paulís†jisha,†or ceremonial attendant. In becoming shuso, she was accepting the responsibility of sharing the teachersí seat, and their responsibility for taking care of the practice at the monastery.

Being head monk is the first chance for a mature student to give dharma talks and subsequently, to teach classes and workshops, and to give one-on-one practice discussions. At Tassajara, being head monk also means ringing the wake-up bell every day for three months (at†3:45 am†on regular days), cleaning the bathrooms, managing the trash and recycling, and taking care of the kitchen compost, as well as meeting each student in the practice period for tea.

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6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Lee Lipp
    Apr 9 2014

    How wonderful that we can have sense of the beauty and dedication of the shuso. Thank you to all who supported her. Thank you for all who have supported those of us not there to see the beauty of this time.

  2. Jim Hollingsworth
    Apr 10 2014

    Congratulations Lucy! We’ve missed you at City Center these months. Deep gratitude to all of our teachers, including Rev. Xiao. Many thanks to Shundo for capturing the spirit of this beautiful ceremony for us. Bows to all.

  3. Gita Gayatri
    Apr 10 2014

    Congratulation dear Lucy….sending deep sense of gratitude – 9 bows in 10 directions…May the sustaining Dharma of practice and interdependence bring forth the in dwelling nature of simplicity, harmony and humility. Sojun Roshi & Ryushin Roshi – Gassho and deep bows of reverence for your untiring invisible guiding hands that support and carry many across on the empty boat of Returning Home…Aum ~

  4. Gita Gayatri
    Apr 10 2014

    Thank you Shundo for sharing this lovely period of 3 months at Tassajara that I really and truly missed…Deep Gratitude and Blessings of Arunachala from Thiruvannamalai India…

  5. Great congratulations Lucy!

  6. Lee Brewster
    Apr 24 2014

    Congratulations on being Shuso, Lucy. So happy for you…


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