Red Cedar Zen Community, 1021 N Forest, Bellingham Washington

JISHA NOTES (Sesshin at the Dharma Hall)

Before each period opens you will prepare the dokusan room. Make sure the candle is lit and the cushions are in place in both the room and in the hallway waiting area. Straighten out cushions in both at the end of the evening. 

You will assist with the offering to open the first period of early morning zazen. Following the robe chant, you will go with the doshi to the lobby altar, bow to Buddha, and pick up the copper bowl of cedar sprigs; hold it with both hands at approximately shoulder level. After the Doshi steps up to the altar and bows, offer her the bowl. After she takes the sprig, stand holding the bowl while the offering is made; then bow with the doshi, replace the bowl on the altar, snuff the candle and continue with offerings in the library, the dokusan room and finally the main altar. Then return to your cushion.   

The first service in the early morning has 2 offerings. After the opening verses (repentance and refuges)*, head to the altar, bow to Buddha, and pick up the copper bowl.  As before, present the bowl to the Doshi and bow when he or she bows after the offering.  Replace the bowl on  the altar and return to your cushion to participate in the service. 

There will be two or three chants, then  a dedication. When that reaches…”All Buddhas…” you will go to the altar to assist with the second offering.

The services before lunch and dinner have only one incense offering right at the start of service.  

You will also assist with the offering to open the zendo after breaks.  At the start of the Han, you can get the copper bowl from the main altar and meet the Doshi in the lobby. You will assist again with the four offerings (lobby, library, dokusan room and main altar)

Before the dharma talk, go to the altar to assist with the offering in the usual way.  After doshi and sangha do three prostrations, slide her/his cushion in place in front of the altar. When the teacher is settled, bow and present the lectern with the books etc. on it.  When the dharma talk is over, move the lectern out of the way and after the 3 bows, return the teacher’s cushion to its place, and leave with the teacher, carrying his/her books and notes. Hand these over outside the zendo followed by a bow to each other.

At evening refuges no jisha is needed as there is no offering, but all do three bows together. Exit at the end of the evening behind the priest.

Dokusan - Before sesshin begins, check to see how dokusan will be offered. (Usually everyone is invited) The priest may sit for a while after the offering before starting dokusan, but whenever you see or hear (you will probably be facing the wall) the priest get up to leave the zendo, invite the first two people to the waiting area in the hallway.  You can check the seating map to see where the person is sitting.  The priest will ring the bell when he’s ready for the next person.

If the person has never been to dokusan, instruct them on the form. (One gassho bow when entering the room, one full prostrations to the altar and one standing bow in front of his cushion to the teacher) Once that person is in the dokusan room, go to the zendo and invite the next person.

When it’s time for service, you may have to knock on the door to alert the priest.

To summarize:

I. You’ll prepare the teacher’s dokusan room, putting cushions in place in the room and lighting the small candle. You will  also make sure that cushions are set up in the  dokusan waiting area.

II. You’ll help the priest with cedar offerings at these times:

    Opening the zendo at all four sessions. (early morning, mid-morning, afternoon and evening).

    At all services, two incense offerings at early morning service and one at noon and in the evening.

    Before Dharma Talk. You will also see that the teacher’s cushion, lectern and   notes are in place.

III. You’ll bring people to the teacher for dokusan and provide instructions on dokusan form to those who need it.

IV. You’ll exit behind the teacher whenever she leaves the zendo with the exit bells. 


*The timing of the opening verses will be changed beginning Practice Period 2018. The offering will be done first, as it is at the noon and evening service. 

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