|Ren the shuso - and photographer - and David the benji after the shuso ceremony|
Sunday, July 24, 2011
The Benji Poem
Friends and family continue to leave moving comments on the various posts from the last few days, and I encourage everyone to read them. I am happy to be able to offer this as a forum for people to express themselves, and today I would like to share this - the benji poem that we referred to on Friday, which was passed on to me. As a bit of context for those not familiar with the set-up, the benji is the attendant - I think side-kick might sum it up best in David's case - to the shuso, the head monk for a practice period. They work together, cleaning toilets, at Tassajara taking care of the trash, recycling and compost, and perform ceremonies together. The shuso meets every student for tea, one by one usually, and the benji prepares the tea and bakes the cookies or other treats - Ren was commenting on the beauty of David's tea arrangements a day or so ago. At the end of the practice period, the shuso ceremony is the chance for the shuso to meet every student's question with dharma words. It is always a special occasion, and the benji pretty much kicks off the proceedings with the poem, which are designed to encapsulate the intimacy of the preceding months.