Of course the thing about being ino, apart from sitting plenty of zazen, and generating large amounts of paper, is the chance to be involved in many rituals. This is a particularly rich time for that; apart from the entering ceremony we did on Monday, and the one we did yesterday for one of the students who couldn't make it on Monday, and the recent tokudo, and the upcoming tokudo at Green Gulch, not to mention the jukai that will happen here in two and a half weeks, we have a wedding coming up in a couple of days, featuring our dear friends Djinn and Richard, who currently live at Tassajara. If you have been following this blog for some time, you will know that Greg was always excited about weddings. I am excited about this one - not that I am going to officiate, Abbot Paul is doing the honours, but I was asked to be the best man, which means I not only get to set up the ceremony, but I get to give a speech afterwards, and I suspect I will take some photographs too at some stage. I certainly haven't written anything down, but some ideas have been percolating for the last week or so, which is when I remembered that I would have to say something. Since I am getting quite used to standing up in front of a hundred-odd people to make announcements after lecture, I am not especially worried, and because Djinn and Richard are such a fabulous couple, I don't think it will be difficult to find the right words for the occasion.
This past weekend also saw the first session of the Coming of Age Program, which is also in the realm of ritual; I had to make some opening remarks to the parents and the boys, as we stood getting cold on the pool deck at Green Gulch, and I observed how there are rituals for most of the transitions we make in life, birth, graduation, marriage and death, but the one for children coming of age has been mostly lost in our society. This first session was mainly a chance for Jim, my fellow mentor and I, and the boys to all meet each other, and over the next nine months we can build on this introduction to create a safe container for the boys to explore who they are, to find themselves, and to start discovering the roles they will play in the world as they grow up. It was immediately clear how each of them is their own person, with their particular energy and attitude, and I soon felt how exhausting it can be to keep a dozen twelve-year-olds focused for a couple of hours, but hopefully we will all get used to this. Unlike those of us who live at Zen Center, the idea of ritual is pretty new to most of them right now.