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Dojo jobs

Dojo jobs

Postby Jugglesaurus on Fri Feb 22, 2013 5:44 pm

How do you guys divide up dojo/ceremony jobs? Do you have a rota for who is directing zazen or is it always the same person? Do you choose different people for ceremony and dojo jobs like the bell or kyosaku each time, and do you have formal training sessions on a regular basis? Do you have different expectations of people depending on ordination? I am curious!

Where I sit, there is one person who mainly directs, but there is also a pool of people who direct on certain days according to a rota. We swap ceremony and dojo jobs around, mainly. People learn to do things like the wood and mokugyo after they have been coming regularly for several weeks, depending on interest level shown.
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Re: Dojo jobs

Postby Nonin on Fri Feb 22, 2013 6:20 pm

We're a fully functioning Soto Zen Buddhist temple, with a resident abbot, me. That's my job and all it entails. However, we schedule what we call a doan, a person who opens the temple for daily zazen morning and evening, sets up the zendo altar, and times the sitting. There's a different doan for each morning and evening zazen sitting on a specific day, and these positions are permanent, or at least until the person can no longer do it. Some have done it for a couple of years or more.

We also have people assigned for our weekly Open Services on Sunday mornings. Not only is there a doan, but also a jisha, the abbot's attendant, and a shoten, the person who sets up the buddha hall altar for service. These jobs rotate every month, and our ino, who oversees all temple activities and assigns jobs, rotates new people into them as soon as they start attending regularly. These Sunday jobs are rotated every month.

We also have what we call Temple Jobs, which I assign to people, and they run for three months. Then, they rotate. These jobs take from one to two hours per week. Currently, the jobs are Treasurer (This one is permanent until the person needs to give it up.), Ino, (who manages practice activities), Flowers (The altars' flowers are changed every week.), Office Work (I do most of it, but this person helps.), Odd Jobs (whatever needs to be done), Gardens and Grounds (In Winter, this means snow-blowing the driveway and the walks.) Altar Cleaning, Bathroom Cleaning, Zendo and Buddha Hall Cleaning (There are at least two people assigned to this one.

We have a small membership, about thirty people, with about fifteen of them attending a couple of times a week. Twenty to twenty-five people attend our Open Services on Sunday mornings. All regular attendees help keep the temple going on a daily basis.

I hope that this is helpful.

Hands palm-to-palm,

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Re: Dojo jobs

Postby Carol on Sun Feb 24, 2013 12:50 am

Excerpts from Barbara's blog over at About.com

The Dance of Two Truths

By Barbara O'Brien, About.com
February 21, 2013

[...]
Japanese Zen includes a lot of bowing. The beginning of a sitting period is like a dance of bowing. Before sitting, the student bows to the meditation pillow, then turns and bows toward the row of students on the other side of the room. Other students, facing the bower, bow back. The officiating teacher or priest, called the doshi, also bows and receives bows, and everyone bows to the Buddha. By the time meditation begins, everyone in the zendo has bowed and been bowed to multiple times.

This is bowing with hands in the gassho position, which signifies nonduality. The gesture acknowledges that our appearance as separate beings is an illusion.

This formality can be a bit like the "Rubin Vase," those pictures that look either like a vase or two faces, depending on how you focus. If you look at it one way, you see a hierarchy, with a doshi, attendants, and senior and junior students. Looked at another way there is no hierarchy, no distinctions. Just practice. It's a dance of absolute and relative, or two truths.

The bowing procedure also underscores that we're all engaged in something together. It is not a room full of individuals who are each doing his own thing, but a sangha engaged in practice together, giving and receiving strength and teaching from each other. And in this sense, the distinctions are only those of function. There is han striking, time keeping, candle lighting, incense offering. No one possesses the hands doing these things.

[...]
You might ask, then why not just do away with the positions and the robes and whatnot? I have a couple of answers to that. One is that emptiness is form, and in the relative world their are hierarchies, authority figures, submissive figures. Throwing the robes out doesn't change that. Second, the formalities -- the choreography, if you will -- creates a kind of neutral container that doesn't belong to any one person. The functions are carried out according to tradition, not according to somebody in charge.

Like it or not, forming hierarchies appears to be hardwired into human behavior. Put together any group of people, and sooner or later they will sort themselves into leaders and followers. The traditional formalities, if properly honored, create a structure in which functions are not assigned according to who is most assertive or intimidating or charming, but according to what is traditional and needed at the moment.

In time, shy people are nudged out of their comfort zones; assertive "I'm in charge" people learn the virtue of sitting down and shutting up. If properly honored, the formalities are a great equalizer in a way that isn't obvious at first. I'm saying "if properly honored" because I'm sure there are Zen centers in which individual egos have taken over and killed the true spirit of the formalities, but I've been fortunate to have seen very little of that.

The dance of two truths is a means to make sunyata more than a concept or an intellectual exercise. It is reality. It is your body, the teacher's body, the incense bowl, the bow.

[...]
Many people practice by themselves, but a truly solo practice is not a Zen practice. (Indeed, I would argue that "solo Zen practice" is an oxymoron.) Especially if you keep yourself cut off from the tradition because you have issues about hierarchies, and not because you are too far from a Zen center, it's not a Zen practice. Why? Because your practice is built around maintaining an illusion of a separate self. Plugging into the tradition even a little bit, by doing a couple of weekend retreats a year, can make a world of difference.
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Re: Dojo jobs

Postby Jugglesaurus on Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:37 pm

Thank you both.
It's interesting that your place has a doan setting up the altar, Nonin - I think it's the kyosaku who does that at our temples, under the supervision of the shuso. I might be wrong, though.
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Re: Dojo jobs

Postby Hosei on Thu Feb 28, 2013 12:54 pm

Jugglesaurus wrote:Where I sit, there is one person who mainly directs, but there is also a pool of people who direct on certain days according to a rota. We swap ceremony and dojo jobs around, mainly. People learn to do things like the wood and mokugyo after they have been coming regularly for several weeks, depending on interest level shown.


- well. not quite .. people can lead zazen at our group ("direct") if, and only if, they are approved for that duty by me and by our guiding teacher. And that applies also to other responsibilities like kyosaku. (Yes, that means that I've had conversations about you... worried? :-) .) And some responsibilities are not swapped - remember - I made you responsible for altar cleaning - including teaching other people to do it. ;-) And I tried, but to no avail, to get someone else responsible for flowers <sigh>, maybe it's time to try again. :-)

Carol wrote:There is han striking, time keeping, candle lighting, incense offering. No one possesses the hands doing these things.


I love this :-)

-hs
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Re: Dojo jobs

Postby Jugglesaurus on Thu Feb 28, 2013 1:18 pm

Hosei wrote:
Jugglesaurus wrote:Where I sit, there is one person who mainly directs, but there is also a pool of people who direct on certain days according to a rota. We swap ceremony and dojo jobs around, mainly. People learn to do things like the wood and mokugyo after they have been coming regularly for several weeks, depending on interest level shown.


- well. not quite .. people can lead zazen at our group ("direct") if, and only if, they are approved for that duty by me and by our guiding teacher. And that applies also to other responsibilities like kyosaku. (Yes, that means that I've had conversations about you... worried? :-) .) And some responsibilities are not swapped - remember - I made you responsible for altar cleaning - including teaching other people to do it. ;-) And I tried, but to no avail, to get someone else responsible for flowers <sigh>, maybe it's time to try again. :-)

-hs


Well ok, I was ALMOST right. But to be fair, by "pool of people" I did mean "pool of people approved to do so." And I do let other people do the altar... as long as it's done.
I am going to clean it SO HARD tonight.
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Re: Dojo jobs

Postby Nonin on Thu Feb 28, 2013 4:17 pm

Jugglesaurus wrote:Thank you both.
It's interesting that your place has a doan setting up the altar, Nonin - I think it's the kyosaku who does that at our temples, under the supervision of the shuso. I might be wrong, though.

Jugglesaurus,

The names that we use for specific roles in Soto Zen Buddist practice mean different things in different places. "Doan" means something different in our temple than in some other places, for we've combined the traditional doan role with another practice role. Also, we don't have a "shuso." Specifically that name means "head monk," a senior ordained person in a monastery, and that role is only performed during three-month practice periods. I've never heard of the role of "Kyosaku," so I don't know what that person does at your practice place. The only definition I know of "kyosaku" is "the stick sleeping monks and nuns get whacked with when they fall asleep during zazen!"

Hands palm-to-palm,

Nonin
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Abbot and Head Teacher, Nebraska Zen Center / Heartland Temple, Omaha, Nebraska, USA
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Re: Dojo jobs

Postby Hosei on Mon Mar 04, 2013 7:33 pm

Nonin wrote:The names that we use for specific roles in Soto Zen Buddist practice mean different things in different places. "Doan" means something different in our temple than in some other places, for we've combined the traditional doan role with another practice role. Also, we don't have a "shuso." Specifically that name means "head monk," a senior ordained person in a monastery, and that role is only performed during three-month practice periods. I've never heard of the role of "Kyosaku," so I don't know what that person does at your practice place. The only definition I know of "kyosaku" is "the stick sleeping monks and nuns get whacked with when they fall asleep during zazen!"
Nonin


As you say, specific roles are different in different places. :-)
In our lot, we normally use the term shuso where others would use the term ino - and the term Ino we use almost exclusively for the person who leads all the chanting. So for us, the shuso is the person who is in charge of the practice in the zendo (for which we usually say 'dojo').

For us, the kyosaku person (or kyosaku for short - and which 30 years ago we called the 'kyosaku-man' - but of course don't any more) are 1 or 2 people who assist the shuso and who also use the kyosaku - which we use - but only on request. Additionally, the kyosakus will normally act to light incense and candles and such for the service (or ceremony as we would call it), strike the han before and after zazen, drum the hour at the end etc. If there are 2 kyosakus - the 2nd will play the mokugyo for ceremony. When we use the term 'doan' it means the person who hits the bells during chanting - but we normally just say 'bell'. We don't usually use the word 'chiden' - but if we do, it means the person in charge of cleaning and maintaining the altars, a job which we normally call 'person in charge of altars' :-) . The person who rings the hand bell might be called 'inkin' .. but more likely 'hand bell' or 'clochette' in French. And the person who rings the big bonsho bell at the temple we usually call the ' gross cloche' - since our temple that has one.. is in france :-). At our temples and at sesshins we also will have other people who sit facing inwards in the dojo - we call them the 'pillars' - they arrive first and leave last.

On a side.. we also use the word shuso for the formal roll of the head monk who does the hossen shiki ceremony and is the head monk for a practice period, but our organisation has only recently started doing those, and only in some of our temples. :-)

cheers
-hs
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Re: Dojo jobs

Postby Meido on Mon Mar 04, 2013 9:29 pm

To add to the mix, Rinzai-line places may use some different terms for various roles. Anyone interested in these can find many of them here: http://zen.rinnou.net/whats_zen/terminology.html

As an example, the person leading sitting is the jikijitsu. This translates to something like "sincere-daily", and is a rotating position i.e. the "sincere person of the day" chosen from among those senior enough to perform that role's duties skillfully.

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Madison Rinzai Zen Community/Ryugen-ji [機山龍源寺]: http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
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Re: Dojo jobs

Postby Nonin on Mon Mar 04, 2013 10:28 pm

To further complicate matters, many places are using English words instead of their Japanese, Korean, or other language equivalents. For instance, at Tassajara Monastery, the work leader is called "work leader," instead of the Japanese equivalent, which I've forgotten.

Hands palm-to-palm,

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Re: Dojo jobs

Postby Gregory Wonderwheel on Mon Mar 04, 2013 11:13 pm

Nonin wrote:To further complicate matters, many places are using English words instead of their Japanese, Korean, or other language equivalents. For instance, at Tassajara Monastery, the work leader is called "work leader," instead of the Japanese equivalent, which I've forgotten.

Hands palm-to-palm,

Nonin


The Sanskrit equivilent is the "karmadana" (lit. giver of actions). Some people say this karmadana role is the Ino in Japanese context, but there is terminology cofusion because some say the Ino is the supervisor of the sodo while others say the Jikijitsu is the supervisor of the sodo. As long as the roles and duties are assigned, the titles are relatively unimportant and can vary from sangha to sangha.

Generally, there is no universal requirement of the number of officers of the assembly, but as a practical matter depending on the number of participants there will be three to seven primary officers, with assistant officers to the primary officers as needed based on the number in the assembly.

Usually the officers are divided into two groups based on those who have interastions or dealings with the public (such as the cook when buying food and the bursar dealing with vendors) and those who exclusively deal with the training of the participants (such as the karmadana work leader and the zendo leader). The abbot of course will have both kinds of duties.

There is the koan response used by Zen abbots when questioned too closely and used as an indication of enough said, ""I'm an old monk in residence managing numerous affairs."

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Re: Dojo jobs

Postby Nonin on Mon Mar 04, 2013 11:23 pm

Gregory, et al,

The senior moment has passed and the Japanese work for "work leader" has arisen in me. It's "shissui"

Hands palm-to-palm,

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Re: Dojo jobs

Postby unsui on Tue Mar 05, 2013 12:09 am

We have merged areas of responsibility.

The head monk, shikaryo/shika (but the assigned person doesn't have to be ordained) takes care of administration and work assignments.

The jikijitsu/jiki is responsible for the atmosphere in the zendo and timing sittings, as well as for leading ceremonies conducted in the zendo. If a keisaku is to be used, the jiki will announce "junkei" in connection with the name of the person to patrol. Jokei is the jiki's assistant, so to speak, having several responsibilities in the zendo. We have a jisha and a jisha assistant, who we often call the host(ess) or mother, as jisha takes care of both residents and guests, serves the tea (and sweet), keeps an eye on how the zendo presents itself, and the like. There is also an inji, taking care of the Zen master and a tenzo, (both the kitchen and the person), whose practice is preparing food.

If we had a Dharma Hall, we would also have an ino to lead sutras and recitations, using the bells, and a gyorin playing mokugyo (the wooden fish), but since we don't, the jisha and jisha assistant double as ino and gyorin. These are also densuryo, who among other jobs, take care of the altar.

Just the past few years, all these jobs have been fused into one - and this has been interesting!
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Re: Dojo jobs

Postby So-on Mann on Tue Mar 05, 2013 12:30 am

People rotate ceremonial roles, partly because people's lives change over time, but mainly because it is a training position that has value, and that value needs to be shared among many.

Some are chosen based on their efficacy- for instance, the sacristan (who does the flowers and incense) is always someone who has at least some talent and experience in flower arranging, and the chant-leader is probably not going to be someone who is totally tone-deaf. But we don't find "the best person for the job" necessarily, in order that the benefits of training be shared.
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Re: Dojo jobs

Postby unsui on Tue Mar 05, 2013 10:21 am

For the first years, we rotated all the officers' jobs. But, there was suddenly a whole lot of resistance to taking responsibility for anything (outside of official training periods). This resistance manifested itself by people not learning to correctly do even the simplest jobs (liking timing sitting periods and hitting the bell) as well as through direct protests. So, Denko instituted the rule that these jobs were open by "application" for those sangha members who had taken jukai. After that, the "requirements" for being accepted for jukai were also stepped up quite a bit. This has been one of the major surprises for Denko, he has said --- that people in our country do not/will not open their heart in the same way he had experienced in the States.

Actually, nobody applied for training the officer-jobs, and since the consequence of this was no more sesshin, I said that I was sure I could do everything, if we simplified stuff a bit, so I wouldn't have to be 2 places at once; this could be my practice for our sangha. I have been really grateful for these 2½ years of very intensive training, but during the last 2 sesshins, I literally physically broke down - the last time the night before sesshin ended. So, I had to look my own selfishness in the eye and request that others step in. As the sangha has seen that this training isn't scary and as they have examined their motivation for practice, a group has applied for intensive training.
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Re: Dojo jobs

Postby espeno on Tue Mar 05, 2013 2:13 pm

unsui wrote:For the first years, we rotated all the officers' jobs. But, there was suddenly a whole lot of resistance to taking responsibility for anything (outside of official training periods). This resistance manifested itself by people not learning to correctly do even the simplest jobs (liking timing sitting periods and hitting the bell) as well as through direct protests. So, Denko instituted the rule that these jobs were open by "application" for those sangha members who had taken jukai. After that, the "requirements" for being accepted for jukai were also stepped up quite a bit. This has been one of the major surprises for Denko, he has said --- that people in our country do not/will not open their heart in the same way he had experienced in the States.
...


Since we in Norway usually consider Danes more open than we are, things should be really tough here :)
For training events such as sesshins or zazenkais we have people officially appointed by our local lay monk in agreement with our teacher. Thismeans jikijitsu with an assistant (joko), shoji (the one serving tea, taking care of matters and people outside the zendo, hitting the han, lighting candles and so on) with an assistant sho-shoji, ino (leading the recitations), tenzo with assistant shoten and someone yo hit the mokugyo. Some of these roles may be combined if necessary. But the jikijitsu/joko- and shoji/shoshoji-pairs usually change duties so that they have one day on, one day off the main duties. And the keisaku is usually carried by the jikijitsu.

I don't know why, but I seem to mainly have ended in the "soft" roles: I was tenzo at sesshins three years in a row and then shoji.
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Re: Dojo jobs

Postby unsui on Tue Mar 05, 2013 3:49 pm

espeno wrote:
unsui wrote:For the first years, we rotated all the officers' jobs. But, there was suddenly a whole lot of resistance to taking responsibility for anything (outside of official training periods). This resistance manifested itself by people not learning to correctly do even the simplest jobs (liking timing sitting periods and hitting the bell) as well as through direct protests. So, Denko instituted the rule that these jobs were open by "application" for those sangha members who had taken jukai. After that, the "requirements" for being accepted for jukai were also stepped up quite a bit. This has been one of the major surprises for Denko, he has said --- that people in our country do not/will not open their heart in the same way he had experienced in the States.
...


Since we in Norway usually consider Danes more open than we are, things should be really tough here :)
For training events such as sesshins or zazenkais we have people officially appointed by our local lay monk in agreement with our teacher. Thismeans jikijitsu with an assistant (joko), shoji (the one serving tea, taking care of matters and people outside the zendo, hitting the han, lighting candles and so on) with an assistant sho-shoji, ino (leading the recitations), tenzo with assistant shoten and someone yo hit the mokugyo. Some of these roles may be combined if necessary. But the jikijitsu/joko- and shoji/shoshoji-pairs usually change duties so that they have one day on, one day off the main duties. And the keisaku is usually carried by the jikijitsu.

I don't know why, but I seem to mainly have ended in the "soft" roles: I was tenzo at sesshins three years in a row and then shoji.

Ha! Tenzo! Soft? No way! :lol2:

But maybe, Espen, you could come here for sesshin and let others learn from your participation? The group in Oslo seemed more "solid" than ours (at least when I visited) - I think because our largest group is in Aarhus and not here on Bornholm, where we maybe only are about 8 who regularly sit. We had talked about my moving temporarily to Aarhus, so that these sangha members could train - and I am sure that would help matters...
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Re: Dojo jobs

Postby Hosei on Tue Mar 05, 2013 9:07 pm

@unsui - briefly off topic but do you know of any groups near Copenhagen - I have friends in Helsingør I've been meaning to visit....

back on topic - we've also got a person who strikes the densho bell and does alternating roll-downs with the hand bell before ceremonies at our head temple.. but for the life of me I can't remember what they're called.. shosu? no.. um.. but something like that.

:-)

-hs
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Re: Dojo jobs

Postby unsui on Tue Mar 05, 2013 10:02 pm

Hosei wrote:@unsui - briefly off topic but do you know of any groups near Copenhagen - I have friends in Helsingør I've been meaning to visit....

back on topic - we've also got a person who strikes the densho bell and does alternating roll-downs with the hand bell before ceremonies at our head temple.. but for the life of me I can't remember what they're called.. shosu? no.. um.. but something like that.

:-)

-hs

OT: @Hosei: Helsingør - that was my last hometown! Denko and I took care of a small temple there before we moved to Bornhom, just 3 hours from Copenhagen. There is a One Drop Zendo in Copenhagen - http://www.onedropzendo.dk/ - and a Zazen group meeting Wednesday evening (http://www.zenbuddhistiskforening.dk/). Say "hey" from me, if you join them.

Here, it would be gyorin on densho...
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Re: Dojo jobs

Postby Jugglesaurus on Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:03 pm

Nonin wrote:Gregory, et al,

The senior moment has passed and the Japanese work for "work leader" has arisen in me. It's "shissui"

Hands palm-to-palm,

Nonin


I think we call that person "the samu guy".
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