At the close the Community Meeting Friday evening — for David, for us, in David’s memory — Renshin Bunce read outloud the poem David had composed and read for the closing ceremony of practice period at Tassajara in 2007, when he was benji and she was shuso. (Thanks to Tim Kroll for thinking to print it out and having it at the meeting ready to hand!)
Shundo has posted it to The Ino’s Blog and provides this explanation:
As a bit of context for those not familiar with the set-up, the benji is the attendant – I think side-kick might sum it up best in David’s case – to the shuso, the head monk for a practice period. They work together, cleaning toilets, at Tassajara taking care of the trash, recycling and compost, and perform ceremonies together. … At the end of the practice period, the shuso ceremony is the chance for the shuso to meet every student’s question with dharma words. It is always a special occasion, and the benji pretty much kicks off the proceedings with the poem, which are designed to encapsulate the intimacy of the preceding months.
— “The Benji Poem,” at The Ino’s Blog