Mountain Seat Ceremony

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SF-03587
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After intermission; at tape turn: Linda: Knock, knock - Darlene: Who's there? - Linda (quickly): Darlene. [laughter]

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Mountain Seat Ceremony (2000)

Transcript: 

It's a very short story, I'll stop at the beginning of the second round, it's a bit of a stretch, I don't want to do it all at once. This is the beginning of the second round, I'll stop at the beginning of the second round. I'll start at the end of the second round. It took too long. You're going to have to stay calm because you're not going in.

[01:58]

They could get you. You're going to have to stay calm because you're not going in. You're going to have to stay calm.

[03:04]

You're going to have to stay calm. You're going to have to stay calm. You're going to have to stay calm.

[04:34]

You're going to have to stay calm. You're going to have to stay calm. You're going to have to stay calm.

[06:04]

You're going to have to stay calm. Incense for the road. Incense for the road. Do I wait until you...? No, I offer first. Okay, thank you. It's okay. This linen robe of 11 panels, each panel made of two long and one short piece, comes down

[09:01]

to me from one unbroken thread of traditional sewing of Buddha's robe. I'm so grateful to Reverend Maya Wender, who with kindness and skilled hands, sewed this robe with the help of many, many people, including Abba Zenkei Blanche Hartman. I also thank Reverend Galen Godwin, who coordinated the sewing of the bowing cloth at Tassajara. This generous gift of the sangha is received with great appreciation. I take refuge in the three treasures and vow to wear this robe with the mind and body of its sacred meaning. I take refuge in the three treasures and vow to wear this robe with the mind and body

[10:47]

of its sacred meaning. I take refuge in the three treasures and vow to wear this robe with the mind and body of its sacred meaning.

[12:10]

I take refuge in the three treasures and vow to wear this robe with the mind and body of its sacred meaning. I take refuge in the three treasures and vow to wear this robe with the mind and body

[13:44]

of its sacred meaning. I take refuge in the three treasures and vow to wear this robe with the mind and body of its sacred meaning. I am very pleased to be here and to offer my support for Linda Ruth as she embarks upon this new stage in her journey and as Zen Center continues to grow in wisdom. This is a great experiment in shared responsibility, both for those who are the current abbesses

[15:10]

and those abbots and abbesses that came before and will come after. I applaud Zen Center's vision in this matter to have the power and responsibility of leadership successively shared among its senior students. I am happy to be here as part of the larger Sangha community to participate in this historic moment and process. The position of abbess is one of being in the center of the mandala. In this case at Zen Center, we have two overlapping mandalas and now to be two abbesses at the center. In taking her place as abbess, Linda Ruth Kutz moves into a central holding position in the mandala. In many ways, although by its very nature, the position of spiritual and community leader

[16:20]

is beyond gender in the very nature of the Dharmakaya. Within the manifest realm, it is very fitting to have women moving into this role because it is the very nature of the feminine to hold, nurture, and lovingly contain other beings. This is the age-old role of the mother. This is a position in which students and colleagues will look to Linda Ruth to manifest compassion and wisdom. It is Linda Ruth's job to provide a sane, gentle, yet firm ground for the mandala of students and colleagues. The manifestation of a dharma mandala is also the shared responsibility of all those involved. And in the larger picture, we are all held by the mother emptiness, the prajnaparamita.

[17:26]

Linda Ruth's style very much reflects the feminine way of being. She feels a profound sense of connection to all the beings of this particular mandala as well as to beings everywhere. Not in a personal sense, but in the sense of a bodhisattva who cares deeply about those around her as well as those far away. Linda Ruth's style is less that of a visionary and more like that of the buddhatara, whose activity is to respond quickly to whatever is needed in the situation, a moment-to-moment compassionate response to whatever is arising. In America, we have had the joy of different sanghas participating and working together

[18:30]

on various projects. For many of the women, from whatever tradition they practice in, the buddhatara has been particularly meaningful and important. Tara serves as a role model. She was a human woman who attained full enlightenment. She serves as an inspiration of the embodiment on a sambhogakaya level of the six paramitas. And perhaps most importantly, her blessing and transmission of the awakened feminine has been healing and transforming for many of us, both men and women. But most particularly for the women in the West who have not often had mothers or female teachers to show the way of the spiritually liberated feminine.

[19:32]

So now, on behalf of Linda Ruth, I would like to invoke Tara's blessing and transmission of awakened mind. I invoke Tara in the sky above us to come be here with her wisdom presence, to appear actually here with us, and to stream down her blessings of amrita, of purification, of transcendent non-dual awareness, stream down into Linda Ruth to bless and to transmit to her all that is needed in the coming time ahead. Om Tare Tu Tare Ture Soha. Om Tare Tu Tare Ture Soha.

[21:05]

On behalf of the staff, the Ryoban and the Sangha, I have the honor to speak at this time. In a few moments you will ascend very few steps and yet an enormous height. And we, the staff, the Ryoban, the Sangha, will stay close. Hopefully we'll learn when it's too close and when it's not close enough. That will be part of the wonderful adventure. I'm very excited and look forward to the next times together. And I wish, in fact, that I would be here longer to do the specific of being in this role with you in that role. But since I won't, I will then get the opportunity to join the Sangha at large and watch you

[22:08]

in what I know will be a blossoming present center, and I assume a blossoming for yourself. Thank you very, very much for taking on this enormous role. My dear friend, I think you first led me more than 25 years ago when you drove the blazer over the dark and snowy Tassajara Road to my first practice period at Tassajara. And yours and Deborah Madison's heads were shining in the front seat from your first ordination that very night. Since then, you've guided Zen Center many, many times, sometimes in the front seat, sometimes in the back seat.

[23:09]

It seems to me that all the time you've used your practice to find your very special kindness and clarity and something I call integrity, but I experience as I don't think I've ever heard you carelessly say something negative about someone. And your rather quirky creativity. Still, when I think of this mountain, I have some images of Psyche chained to her mountain waiting for she knows not what to, what. May you meet love and may you teach it to us. In this ceremony, we carefully open the spice tree buds.

[24:13]

Although it's not at all necessary, it's our way of participating in letting your spring teaching spread over the branches of the world. Thank you so much for being willing to do this with us and please let us know how we can help you. It's unusual for me to speak at this occasion, but as you know, I invited Pema Chodron to be here to offer a supporting statement. She regrets deeply that she could not come and she asked me to read this to you. Reveal your inner thoughts. Approach what you find repulsive. Help those you do not want to help.

[25:19]

Anything you're attached to, let it go. Go to places that scare you. If you do not grasp with your mind, you will find a fresh state of being. This was the advice given to the Tibetan yogini Machig Lopdroma and it has so inspired me throughout the years that I pass it on to you. The gift of Dharma on this auspicious occasion. Ma, ho, how amazing that today you take your seat and further dedicate your life to alleviating the suffering of this world. With respect and love to Linda Ruth Cutts from her Dharma sister, Pema Chodron.

[26:27]

Thank you. Want to go to the foundry right here? Yeah. Although this mountain has been climbed many times before, there are no tracks, no traces. I hear it gets stormy up there and there's often an alpine glow. Owls return. Pure white mountain lions show me the way to this jewel flower throne. Thank you.

[28:11]

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

[29:46]

I offer this incense to Shakyamuni Buddha source teacher. To Bodhidharma, transmitting the mind seal. To A.H. Dogenzenji, 800 years of thundering practice realization. And to all Bodhisattvas, Mahasattvas. May your presence and compassion be with us now on this joyful day. May the fruit of the whole practice be dedicated to peace in the world. May all beings in the ten directions live in harmony with themselves and with each other. May we care for one another with big, joyful, motherly, fatherly mind. Watching over the plants and animals and our beautiful earth. May this offering for peace enfold the universe, leaving nothing untouched.

[30:49]

Thank you. This incense is offered to all the ancestors, known and unknown, in this whole precept vein lineage. Continuing this teaching through the ages to our compassionate founder, Shogakushinryu Daisho. And entrusted to each and every one of our former abbots. Did you hear my poem to Suzuki Roshi upstairs? Was that her? Thank you. I gratefully acknowledge and thank former abbot Zentatsu Myoyu Richard Baker, my ordination teacher who first gave me the precepts. I thank senior Dharma teacher Sojin Mel Weitzman, whose love of practice reaches everywhere. And to senior Dharma teacher Zouketsu Norman Fisher, whose wild and graceful spirit will never cease from Tikkun Olam, repair of the world.

[32:49]

And to Abbot Zenkin Blanche Hartman, who inspires me thoroughly with her wholehearted practice. This bloodline flows unceasingly. Thank you. I offer this incense to all the Sangha members and their families in the ten directions.

[34:02]

To all the supporters and donors of these practice places, without whose generosity we would be unable to continue. To the deceased practitioners and benefactors of these temples and of the world, your contributions are beyond measure. Turning the Dharma wheel and turning the material wheel, together we realize Buddha's way. Thank you.

[35:24]

This incense is for my root teacher, Tenshin Zenki Daiyosho, for Reb. Red heart, overflowing with Dharma devotion. From the very beginning, you taught me to just be myself and sit upright. Under the Mississippi, one blood jewel. Only non-attachment is worthy of offering. Thank you very much. Thank you.

[37:02]

Thank you. [...]

[39:16]

Thank you. [...] GOSHU BOKAN DAICHI!

[40:56]

Dragons and elephants, let us bring forth the Dharma. Please bring me your questions. Light of compassion, practice is one of deep friendliness.

[42:49]

We can feel one another's bodies smiling. One body, one smile, one Sangha treasure. How can this spread far and wide? Off you go to do that very thing, far and wide, and it's right there, you're taking Congratulations. Great congratulations. There's another room full of people over there. Please hold the mic, point it towards your mouth so they can give you a question.

[43:55]

Light of compassion, with what mind do you ascend the mountain seat? With the mind of great gratitude. No regrets. Your light shines beautifully. It's a very much help to me. Thank you. You are a big help to me. Congratulations. Great congratulations. Thank you. Light of compassion. Conventionally, we think of friends,

[45:07]

as someone to go to the movies with, someone to go shop for lipstick with, someone to have a drink and tell our problems to. What is a friend in this practice? A friend is telling the truth and not running away. Sometimes friends are silly with each other too. Would you share a knock-knock joke with me? Do I have to start it? Yes. I do? You. Perhaps it's so. Only Darlene is here.

[46:11]

But also you, my good friend, are here. Congratulations. Great congratulations. Thank you. Light of compassion. Tell me, what is Buddha's heart? Night sky studded with stars going on forever. And what of the fear of jumping in?

[47:13]

That too, Buddha's heart. Nothing outside. Going on forever? And ever. Together. Thank you. Congratulations. Great congratulations. Light of compassion. In Zen Mind Beginner's Mind, Suzuki Roshi used the phrase the most important thing many times for many things. What do you think? To live a life of freedom, to follow the light of compassion, what is the most important thing?

[48:16]

Zazen. The real mind of Zazen. We've heard it before. How do you do Zazen? Don't do it. Thank you. Congratulations. Great congratulations. Light of compassion. Dogen Zenji asks us, are there any who are not beginners? Here, in the heart of Hoshinji, I ask, will the light of compassion

[49:20]

reveal the beginning of beginner's mind? Thank you. Congratulations. Great congratulations. Thank you. Light of compassion.

[51:00]

Light of compassion. Light of compassion. Light of compassion.

[52:01]

It's called teiko, backbone. The backbone, strong and flexible. How come it is so difficult to say it? I trust Zazen, the wisdom of the whole body, the suchness of mind and objects. Everything that arises is Buddhadharma. It is not some kind of mistake. It is not some kind of mistake. Precepts show us the way to go home to the source. As Suzuki Sensei Oksan once said, all of Buddhism is just taking care of people. Thank you. With bowed head, I wish to thank my Dharma uncle,

[53:11]

Hoitsu Gyuhaku Suzuki Roshi, who traveled from faraway Japan to help us today by proclaiming and sealing the teaching. I am grateful to you for your unwavering support of me and Zen Center through the years. Your gifts are countless. Thank you for being a good and true teacher and friend. May health and happiness embrace you and your family. Thank you. I came to practice at Zen Center and never looked back. A stone woman learning to dance.

[54:15]

My understanding is not thorough or deep, and yet I have great confidence in our practice. Through the support of my teachers and Dharma brothers and sisters, I am here. With love and devotion, I honor and thank my husband, Steve, life Dharma companion. Two oxen yoked together, plodding along in the mud. Especially at Green Gulch today. And our children, Sarah and Davy, whose teaching never ends. And I thank my son, Jonathan. How happy I am that he could be here today. I walk slowly, slowly along,

[55:19]

seeing my way clear with no grand vision. Wondrous Dharma abounds. I wish to give everything with nothing held back. Body exposed to the golden wind. Here's an old story. Originally, Old Master Dushan was a lecturing monk expounding the Diamond Sutra. He was well versed in the commentaries and no other lecturer could match him. One day here he heard that in the South there was a supreme Dharma

[56:23]

teaching mind itself is Buddha. At this, Dushan became angry beyond endurance and crossed rivers and mountains on foot carrying his sutras and commentaries straight to the South to see about this. On the way, he stopped for a rest. An old woman came along and she too stopped for a rest by the side of the road. Dushan asked, What kind of person are you? The old woman said, I'm an old woman who sells rice cakes. Dushan said, Will you sell some rice cakes to me? The old woman said, Why does the Master wish to buy rice cakes? Dushan said, I would like to buy rice cakes to refresh my mind. The old woman said, What is that great load you're carrying? Dushan said,

[57:24]

Have you not heard? I am Shu, king of the Diamond Sutra. I have mastered the Diamond Sutra. There is no part of it that I do not understand. This load I am now carrying is commentaries on the Diamond Sutra. The old woman said, I have a question for you. If you can answer it, I'll give you some rice cakes to refresh your mind. And if you can't, you'll have to go somewhere else to buy. Just ask, said Dushan. The old woman said, I have heard it said in the Diamond Sutra that past mind cannot be grasped, present mind cannot be grasped, and future mind cannot be grasped. Which mind do you now intend to refresh somehow with rice cakes? Dushan was speechless. Later on, old Buddha Dogen Zenji Daisho said about the matter,

[58:25]

mind cannot be grasped means cheerfully buying a painted rice cake and munching it up in one bite, in one mouthful. If I had been there and the old woman had asked me about this, I would say the mind of compassion, unhindered. Over half my life lived within the sound of the Han. Struggles, there are many. Priest or lay householder, what do you see? Practice spun chrysalis of form and emptiness.

[59:27]

Now I fly, completely supported, completely released. Still myriad specks of pollen all over my wings. My effort, just this, meeting directly each spring flower. Please help me. Ho, ho, [...] Nyozen! I want to thank everyone for coming to the ceremony today,

[60:55]

coming out in this rainy, stormy day. And some of you travel from very far away. Thank you very, very much. I wanted to thank my sister and her significant other Bill for coming. I'm very happy you're here. And there's other people who weren't able to make it. My mother, my other sister, Catherine Thannis, wasn't able to make it due to ill health and others. So I remember them. Oksan also. The city center really needs to be congratulated for taking care of these two beautiful ceremonies yesterday and today and doing such a wonderful job so carefully done with valet parking and everything. And I wanted to thank Rev for being a wonderful master of ceremonies and helping everyone enter the ceremony

[61:58]

and express the ceremony. Thank you all very, very much. I have some words from Stephanie Kaza that I've been asked to read. I think horizontal they say works better. Like this? Is this better? Okay. From Stephanie to you. Dear Linda, big day this weekend. I've been thinking of you all week, really ever since the ZC calendar arrived. I imagine you in your beautiful robes stepping publicly into your new role. Full spirit. Alert presence.

[63:03]

Radiant with generosity. I know you know this role is more than an honor. It will be hard work and plenty of it. Hardship at times. It is a sobering challenge. Many will help you, help make your leadership possible. Many from the wider community you cannot see or even know of. Especially on this occasion, I want to stand with you along with all the women, students, and ancestors who have come before you. This work you take on is a very big gift from all of us present today. May we keep the gifts flowing in return as we walk together into this next millennium. We cannot know what will be asked

[64:05]

of all of us. Please feel my own heart of gratitude touching yours. Always, Stephanie Kaza. Linda, I have in my hand a copy of a letter from Brother David Stenderrost. He writes, Dear Linda, All good wishes to you and to all of Zen Center on this important day of your Mountain Seat Ceremony. Mountain Seat Ceremony. It has a ring of awe, but I think I can hear a tongue-in-cheek chuckle of whoever coined that term. Isn't the abbot expected to be teacher, physician, shepherd, steward, and loving parent to the community?

[65:05]

What a mountain of responsibilities. Any one of these roles would keep you hopping. If anyone lacks time for sitting on a throne, it's an abbot. And the mountain is likely to be on your shoulders, not under your seat. And yet, Linda, I trust that your wisdom as a teacher, your compassion as a physician, your caring as a shepherd, your trustworthiness as a steward, and your affection as a parent to the community will all spring from your sitting firm as a mountain. For this, I pray with brotherly affection and with a deep bow. David. Jiko Ajahn,

[66:08]

homage to the perfection of wisdom, the lovely, the holy, may all beings be happy, healthy, and free from suffering. The perfection of wisdom gives light. Unstained, the entire world cannot stain her. She is a source of light. And from everyone in the triple world, she removes darkness. Most excellent are her works. She brings light so that all fear and distress may be forsaken and disperses the gloom and darkness of delusion. She herself is an organ of vision for she has a clear knowledge of the own being of all dharmas, and she does not stray away from it. The perfection of wisdom of Venerable Jiko Ajahn sets in motion the wheel of dharma. I offer this verse in praise and congratulations.

[67:10]

Great congratulations. Rejoicing that you take the mountain seat, whether it's above or below or all around, this verse befits you, expresses your name, your heart, and your way, a source of compassionate light, an organ of clear vision returning again and again to fulfill the path of practice realization. Now, like a dragon sporting in the water, like a tiger at home in the forest, may you not conceal your light or your true nature, but let it shine most luminously for the benefit of all beings. Thank you very much. Congratulations.

[68:19]

I have been living in this building since June last year. Though I don't have much occasion to practice with this sangha, I have been quietly watching how people are practicing. And through my observation, I really feel that the seeds of wondrous Dharma Suzuki Roshi brought from Japan have been really growing and they are matured sweet fruits. I'm really impressed about this and I hope this sangha continues to grow and bear the sweet fruit of Dharma. And I'm very sorry

[69:24]

about the robe you ordered to Japan through my office. The robe shop made a mistake and they sent you a black robe. That's why you wear this. You know, that kind of thing happens. But please try us again. I'd like to work together with all people in this sangha to develop the seed of Dharma further and grow endlessly. Thank you very much and congratulations. Thank you. I wanted to read you a poem. It's called Wild Geese by Mary Oliver.

[70:24]

You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about despair yours and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on. Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes over the prairies and deep rivers. Meanwhile the wild geese high in the clean blue air are heading home again. Whoever you are no matter how lonely the world offers itself to your imagination calls to you like the wild geese harsh and exciting over and over announcing your place in the family of things. I wanted to read this poem mostly for the first two lines about not having to be good and not having to walk on your knees because I feel like you have

[71:26]

all the things that you need to have in order to be the abyss. You don't have to do anything superhuman or beyond your capacities. Your compassion and your courage are all that you need to fulfill that. I also wanted to tell a little story a really little one just about that time that we were going to see the movie the Star Wars movie Me and You and Davy and our car broke down on the Corte Madera grade and we were in the middle of the road with all these cars rushing at us and it was just an ordeal and finally we got over to the side and we're walking to a phone and a police car pulled up asking us if we needed help and we told her what was going on and not only did the police woman let us leave our car on the side of the road during the movie and not pick it up till afterwards but she actually gave us a ride to the movie and we got there on time and I felt like this story kind of illustrates it seems like

[72:28]

these kind of things are always happening to you but because of the clean and clear way that you live in the world and I think that in being Abbess you will continue to give to the world and the world will continue to give to you Congratulations I love you Light of compassion Linda Sweet Heart We've been through a lot together From the first time we met characteristically you've remembered it in great detail How you came to the door

[73:33]

in the fall of 1971 That door right there I was on duty as a desk person for the evening and opened it for you Never having met before in our lives you later told me that the thought that went through your mind at that moment was I could marry that guy And going through our practice years together at Tassajara I'll get through this

[74:39]

And in the city and at Green Gulch And going through the anguish Thanks of the Richard Baker upheaval And through re-finding the son who had been lost to you whose absence was a hole in your soul And through the deeply amazing gift of our two children I first thought to say some of this on December 21st in 1998 a little over a year ago You had just completed giving lay ordination

[75:44]

to a group of people When you came home like a true super monk you quickly removed your brown okesa and robes and threw on your sweats To take, Dave to the emergency room for the problem that he was having at that time Through our years together your devotion and constancy shine forth Constancy comes from a Latin root that means to stand firm And in Zen Mind Beginner's Mind Suzuki Roshi says

[76:44]

constancy is only the unchanging ability to accept things as they are Constancy is our way of continuous practice You always stand firm You're always there Ready This quality a mainspring of your own cultivation in the Dharma and an endless resource in our life together is a beneficent gift you bring to your work as leader of this Sangha And devotion Devotion is defined as ardent heart affection

[77:44]

and dedication and comes from a Latin root that means to vow You have lived your life by vow You live your life in ardent affection and dedication to Buddha Dharma and to those around you This is thoroughgoing practice True like ice like fire I'm with you all the way The great earth rejoices as you're ascending the mountain seat bell

[79:37]

bell

[80:23]