For the next six weeks, I will be sharing this blog with sangha member Susan Spencer. Susan will be installed as the shuso (head student) at the fall practice period led by teacher Darlene Cohen. The practice period begins tomorrow with a one-day sit at the Berkeley Zen Center, and her induction, and ends with the final shuso ceremony at Russian River Zendo on Oct. 31, following a three-day sesshin at the Black Mountain Retreat Center. In between, Susan will teach two classes on the precepts, host practice teas with everyone signed up for the practice period, do weekly work practice at the zendo, and make daily entries here in the Russian River Zendo blog.
The theme of the fall practice period will be Shila Paramita, or "Uprightness" and its importance to the practice of considering our state of mind as primary. The focus will be looking on the precepts as a way of cultivating a calm and steady mind.
Susan moved to California from Minneapolis in 1998. She met her teacher, Darlene Cohen, at San Francisco Zen Center where she practiced until moving to Sebastopol in 2001. She presently practices at Russian River Zendo, where she participates in the life of the sangha in many ways, including acting as head gardener.
My own introduction to Susan was through her work as an artist. Susan is the marvelously talented and whimsically playful ceramicist that invited all of us into her studio last year to plunge our hands into clay, to make jizo figures for the zendo garden.
Here's how it will work: Susan's posts will appear each day with a main headline that says "Susan's Shuso Blog:...." with a secondary headline for the day. Each of her posts will also be accompanied by her photograph. I will still be acting as "blog master" - she plans to send me the text each morning by 10 a.m., and I'll post as soon after that time as I am able.
My own posts will continue as usual, about three times a week, interspersed between Susan's blogs. You'll know they're mine, because they WON'T have her photograph, or the "Susan's Shuso Blog" header.
Comments welcome, remember. I know that Susan would love feedback. This is her first time doing something like this.
Clear as mud? OK, let's go!