11/13/2019: Interview - Shuso: Part 2 - Rinsen and Do'on's Experiences as Shuso Candidates

Get up there and challenge BTT's first homegrown Shuso this Sun. Nov. 17, 2019 at our first Shuso Hossen Ceremony.

Rinsen and Do'on's Experiences as Shuso Candidates

 

Rinsen and Do'on when they were acknowledged Shuso students, wearing dark blue Shuso rakusu.

Rinsen and Do'on when they were acknowledged Shuso students, wearing dark blue Shuso rakusu.

"I used Bankei’s Unborn Mind as my topic. I read a chunk of Bankei and expressed it. Then Myotai encouraged [Sangha members] to come and connect with me about it. She was very aggressive about [encouraging them], almost goading them in her way: “He’s throwing down the unborn mind! Do you know what it is or not? Get up here and challenge him…” 


This post is based on interview on Sunday, October 20 where novice Zuisei and Revs. Jay Rinsen Weik and Karen Do’on Weik Osho chatted about their experiences with Shuso students, and becoming Shuso students, as well as their work guiding Shokai through the Shuso preparation process this Ango, and what it will be like for BTT to have an acknowledged Shuso student after the ceremony. 

Read the second part of the interview, about the Rinsen and Do'on's Experience as Shuso Candidates in this post. The rest of the interview will be published throughout the week leading up to the ceremony.


Zuisei
What was your personal experience of becoming a Shuso student like? How did you find out that it was time to start preparing and how did you work with your teacher being remote from Sangha? 

Rinsen: 
I became a Shuso under Myotai Sensei's guidance and direction, and I was her first Shuso. To my knowledge, I think am only Shuso she trained. It was a feature of Hermitage Heart Sangha at that time that everyone was a remote student. Myotai Sensei held sesshin once a season, and if you weren’t at sesshin, you really
weren’t part of the community. In a way, that made it easy: Do’on and I just did every sesshin. I think I was there for every event she ever held. So I was a distance member, but everybody was a distance member, and so we were completely embedded in all the experience of the community because that's what the experience was.

Rinsen: 
[One day,] Myotai Sensei just kind of put it on me: “Next Sesshin, you're going to be the Shuso."  
And, I'm like, "Oh, wow! Okay. Thank you. Yes. My practice is yes.” And then, “What is that? How does that work here?” 
And she says, "Well, we'll see."  

Rinsen:
Myotai Sensei was of the same spirit, and yet a very different manifestation in her teaching. At the next sesshin when we gathered it was very clear the whole retreat that I was the Shuso. The night before [the ceremony], she encouraged me to stay awake through the night and ponder what was going to happen. It turned out I was very sick with a cold and sore throat, and Isabella was five or so, and was there with us too. So that was fun. 

Rinsen:
And yeah, I did the thing. I stayed awake all night and Myotai had me play some music when dawn came over -- an artistic rendering of enlightenment, whatever that was. I played, and then the Sangha came in and she just said, “Speak.” So I talked. I used Bankei’s Unborn Mind as my topic. I read a chunk of Bankei and expressed it. Then Myotai encouraged people to come and connect with me about it. She was very aggressive about [encouraging them], almost goading them in her way: “He’s throwing down the unborn mind! Do you know what it is or not? Get up here and challenge him…” 

Rinsen:
I have no memory of the actual Dharma combat. Sitting here right now, I can't remember if it was great or if it was sucky or what. I remember the result was very affirming, whether that is charity or true, I can't recall. I can't really remember anything about it. [Do’on,] do you remember anything about it?  

Do’on: 
It was great, of course. It was great. 

Rinsen:  
Apparently, I was great…  

[group laughter] 

Rinsen: 
But that was the first time I'd ever spoken in a Zendo in anything like that capacity. This was nothing like when I would hang out with people, and they would ask stuff, and I’d answer off the top of my mind. Being empowered and initiated into this sacred space [as the Shuso at Dharma Combat] unlocked or gave me access to certain kinds of intelligence and capacities that wouldn’t have been born otherwise. 

Rinsen:
The karma of timing is very interesting. Myotai Sensei acknowledged me as a senior student and encouraged me to start giving talks [back in Toledo], and Diana -- one of our Toledo sangha members at the time -- was interested in podcasts and she had the idea we could record the talks and make them available for people who couldn’t hear them in person. I was really interested because I thought that Myotai Sensei could listen and give me feedback and correctives. So back in 2007 my original idea for the Drinking Gourd podcast, which is now the Buddhist Temple of Toledo podcast, was just to document what I was doing so my Teacher could hear what was going on, and secondarily people that couldn’t make it could check it out. 

Rinsen:
Myotai Sensei told me to get to know the ancestors by working through the Roaring Stream anthology for my talks. She said, “start at the beginning and work through it.” And I said, “Yes Ma'am,” and so that is where my talks [and so the podcast] started. 

Rinsen:
Then a few months later at the next sesshin, Myotai Sensei had us take the precepts with her [for the second time, having taken them before at ZMM with Daido Roshi] and gave us the Dharma names Rinsen and Do’on. And it turns out that was the culminating moment for that iteration of Hermitage Heart Sangha -- the last sesshin Myotai Sensei did. After that, her health worsened and eroded her ability to facilitate sesshin, and over the next couple of years it became clear that this had been the final moment of that version of her teaching. So, I am really grateful to Myotai. 

Rinsen:
And, I am very pleased that she has emerged anew and has a new form of teaching that works for her and that we are happily in touch again [now as peers].  

Zuisei: 
Osho, will you share a bit about your experience becoming a Shuso? This was a few years later. After Myotai Sensei had paused teaching due to her health, and you and Rinsen Roshi had become students at Boundless Way. 

Do’on:  
I don’t remember much! I remember Josh Bartok coming out for the Shuso Hoseen ceremony, and I remember people asking questions, and I remember one person coming up and talking about how completely broken hearted they felt and myself just responding in kind. 

Zuisei:  
Did you have to travel out [to Boundless Way] during the preparation phase? 

Do’on: 
We were a little bit of an anomaly. I traveled all the time to be with my teachers. Fortunately now I just have to roll over in bed and say “hi.” 

[Group laughter] 

Zuisei: 
A very short dokusan line. 

Do’on:  
It’s a short dokusan line and I have 24-7 access. 

[More laughter]

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