With the onset of summer, our Spring Ango training period came to a close with multiple displays of dedication and playful inquiry. First, on May 17 and 18, art presentations were held at the Zen Center and at the Monastery, giving ango participants the chance to share their work. Over the course of the ango, we took up the Karaniya Metta Sutta as an entry point for creative explorations. The results came in photos, poems, sculptures, video, watercolors, collage and in just about every size and shape you could imagine. (Medium, short, small, or otherwise!)
Shuso Hossen sesshin was held the following week, culminating in a ceremony that ushered the ango’s chief disciple into her new role as a senior student in the Mountains and Rivers Order. Valerie Meiju Linet began practicing at Fire Lotus Temple and Zen Mountain Monastery when she was still in her teens. Today she makes her home just a few miles from the Monastery and works as a therapist and social worker in the Hudson Valley.
With a large gathering present for the occasion, Meiju delivered her first formal talk on a koan that had been assigned to her that week by her teacher, Shugen Sensei. The koan involved a student asking Master Caoshan about falling into the dualistic mind that clings to outcomes. A very appropriate topic indeed for someone tasked with sharing her understanding of the Dharma in front of a sizable crowd for the first time!
Unsurprisingly to all who know her, Meiju flourished under pressure. Following the talk, she engaged in spirited and insightful exchanges with sangha members who questioned her on the koan’s meaning and usefulness for their own lives. Finally, a number of monastics and fellow students offered congratulatory poems.
See below for more photos from the elaborate shuso hossen ceremony, including Meiju’s talk and dharma encounter. You can find audio of both by clicking HERE.