Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Corridors of Power

"The Holy Hallway" is another piece of City Center jargon, that won't mean much to many readers. It is the south wing of the second floor here, where you will find the dokusan room and the Abbot's office, Blanche's dokusan room and office, the tanto's office and the ino's office, as well as the echo han.
One of my favourite parts of the ino's job is heading up to the hallway before lecture to check to see if the lecturer and jiko or jisha are ready, so I can signal the doan, who will signal the shoten to start the second rolldown on the densho, which is our way of saying something is about to begin.
I have really come to appreciate sharing those few backstage moments with a teacher who is about to speak, who may be a little nervous, or very focused, or plain relaxed, especially when it has involved Paul and Lucy, as anything can happen, though it usually involves one of us getting teased. On Saturday, before the last talk of the sesshin, I found them making additions to a picture of Bodhidharma that hangs on the open door to the ino's office, before Paul asked me to take it downstairs and leave it by the platform; he presented it as part of his talk on the way we ascribe meaning to appearances - was it Bodhidharma or Santa Claus, or both?
Right before this morning's ceremony, after I had explained the intricacies of circumambulation to the assembly in the Buddha Hall, I came up to the ino's office to put on my bessu (ceremonial white footwear), and to check on the readiness of the procession, and was greeted by the spectacle of Paul appearing in a red Chinese ceremonial okesa, which definitely only comes out on the most auspicious occasions. My first reaction was "Where's my camera?", but luckily Roger, who was the jiko in the procession, had his phone with him, and this is one of the pictures he took. Members of the procession were encouraging Paul to have the hossu (ceremonial whisk) doubling up as a beard (just as it has doubled up for hair in the past), and calling him Bodhidharma, or Santa Claus, or both. Maybe you had to be there, but I'm glad I was.
Paul in the red ceremonial okesa - photo courtesy of Roger

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