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Buddhadharma : Fall 2012
64 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY FALL 2 0 1 2 abbot’s seat has been reorganized. It’s because the agenda of an abbot of Zen Center is really huge. Everything is part of the practice; everything is part of the spiritual life. So spiritual authority is involved in every aspect of Zen Center life. STEVE STÜCKY: I think spiritual authority has three primary aspects. First is one’s own realization, which comes from deep practice and study of dharma. Second, it comes from one’s teacher, which we formally and publicly recognize through dharma transmission. And the third source of spiritual authority is the sangha, as Blanche was saying. The sangha actually recognizes the faith, dedication, and commitment of a person’s practice. The mountain seat ceremony, in which we install an abbot or abbess, is a kind of an empowerment from the sangha. Without these three, it doesn’t feel that someone has a complete basis for the authority that they’re teaching from, living from, and acting from. BUDDHADHARMA: Many of you have lived, practiced, and worked together for decades. There are probably no secrets about anybody’s strengths and neuroses. I don’t imagine anybody can pull the wool over people’s eyes to get into a position of authority. NORMAN FISCHER: That’s a great point, and it’s one of the facts of life of Zen Center that makes it interesting and unique. We do have many people who have practiced together day by day by day, side by side, for decades. And even though the generation of us for whom that’s true is slowly fading away, I think there is a new generation who will have the same experience. That’s a level of engagement, authority, and dharma that doesn’t appear in any of the official documents but is a major part of what Zen Center is about. Transmission and Succession BUDDHADHARMA: The issue of transmission and succession is particularly important now as the baby boomers—sort of the founding generation of American Buddhism, who were taught directly by Asian teachers—prepares to hand over the reins to younger people. What does the future look like for Zen Center and the dharma lineage of Suzuki Roshi? STEVE STÜCKY: I’m excited by the number of people at Zen Center in their twenties and thirties who are really dedicated and beginning to take on leadership. It doesn’t mean that the future is guaranteed, and it doesn’t mean that we don’t have a lot of work to do to support their training, but I do see a number of people I’m really excited about as potential future leaders, teachers, and abbots of San Francisco Zen Center. BLANCHE HARTMAN: Yes, I also see some very promising young people who have a lot of enthusiasm for practice, and I feel confident that this lineage will continue. BUDDHADHARMA: As I understand it, dharma transmission and the Zen Center training program are how the practitioners, teachers, and leaders of the future are developed. BLANCHE HARTMAN: For me, dharma transmission means someone has clearly taken on the bodhisattva vow as the basis of their life and has sufficient understanding to be able to help others take on that vow. NORMAN FISCHER: It’s a requirement to be abbot of Zen Center that you are a priest in the lineage with dharma transmission. I think we all agree with Blanche that dharma transmission is not a matter of having a certain kind of experience in meditation or lecturing brilliantly on texts. It has to do with really being solid in your practice and bodhisattva vow. It is hard to make our membership and our wider sangha more diverse. It requires a deep mindfulness to keep diversity or inclusion issues on the front burner. —Mary Morgan ©ANDREAC.ROTH (Top) Nenju ceremony at the end of a practice week at City Center (Left) Steve Weintraub gives a dharma talk at City Center ©ALISONBANKPHOTOGRAPHY