The Mountain Seat

Last weekend at Zen Center was, as expected, quite the occasion. I spent many hours there over the three days – from the Stepping Down ceremony for Ed and Fu on Friday afternoon, Hoitsu’s dharma talk on Saturday morning, the main part of the Mountain Seat ceremony with Mako and Jiryu at City Center on Saturday afternoon, and the remainder of the ceremony at Green Gulch on Sunday morning. I had bought myself a new umbrella for the weekend, and was glad that I did not need it as much as the forecast had made me anticipate.

The ceremonies are quite familiar to me now; since I was taking photographs, I did not have to stay in one place for long periods of time. I got to float around the building a little, and capture various moments both of high ceremony and of more behind-the-scenes action. I also found the ceremonial parts, wonderful as they are, less meaningful than the exchanges that happened during the course of the question-and-answer sessions, and the statements that the new abbots made at various points of the proceedings.

It was also an amazing chance to catch up with old friends, dharma acquaintances and even new folk. I had the chance to speak with someone who had been at Zen Center since the beginning of the pandemic and got the perspectives of someone in that position.

It was, of course, wonderful to see Hoitsu one more time. I thought, as I thought last time, that perhaps we might not get so many more occasions to see him in San Francisco, so I was making the most of this one, and we will probably post more photographs on Patreon.

Between the many ceremonies, and the travelling, and the clocks going forward, it was quite an exhausting weekend  – it took me most of the week to recover. I managed to take more than 1500 photographs and I shared about 100 of them with the main protagonists, and other folks at City Center. Here are just a few of those. 

And even after the damp weekend, we had another atmospheric river on Tuesday, which made for a very wet and dispiriting commute. After which the weather somehow turned. It has got much warmer and the sun has been shining, so  finally it is starting to feel like spring. I am glad of that, and I think everybody else here is as well.

Susan O’Connell with a statement of appreciation for Ed and Fu on Friday.
Probably my favourite shot, of Mako and Jiryu waiting to process into the Buddha Hall.
Colin and David congratulating Mako after the ceremony.
The scene at Green Gulch.
During photos after all the ceremonies. We also cajoled a three-abbot and five-abbot shot.
Hoitsu at Green Gulch.
It was my first spring visit to Green Gulch since 2020, and I got around the gardens before the rain set in.

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