Usually the Hossenshiki ceremony nominates a shusso as the first disciple or front line monk following the traditional three month sesshin period called Kessei Ango.
The recent evolution in Soto Zen school rules now enables us to organize this ceremony, and it will be officially recognized by Soto authorities. This ceremony literally means “Dharma battle ceremony” during which the shusso confirms his/her maturity by answering Dharmic questions. These “Dharma battles” take place frequently in many Buddhist schools and their tradition dates back to ancient times.
Before the ceremony, the base (first) koan is written with its commentary on a sign which is then attached to a pole in the Dharma hall. Here is the base koan and it’s commentary. This koan is from the mondo between emperor Liang and Bodhidharma.
The emperor: What is the sacred truth of Buddhism ?
Bodhidharma : Infinite emptiness and nothing sacred.
The emperor : Who is in front of me ?
Bodhidharma : I don’t know.
It is fortunate that these rites for Dharma transmission, recognized by the whole Soto Zen school, may take place in Europe. It was one of the wishes of Master Deshimaru and is finally coming true.
We hope this will give greater force to his successors and their disciples for the continuation of Buddha Dharma transmission, thus contributing to the joy and liberation of all beings.
Tags: Roland Yuno Rech