I’m deeply sorry about not being able to come down to be with all of you in person, and also sorry that we won’t be able to hold our follow-up ceremony for Jeff’s ordination for a while longer. Hopefully these safety measures won’t be necessary in the months to come, and we’ll be able to come together, perhaps even maskless, once again. I am, however, looking forward to our three-day retreat, and to reconnecting through Zoom.
And in terms of this sesshin, and most likely on into the future, I’d like to propose something new in terms of Jeff’s training. For those who aren’t aware, throughout the pandemic he and I have continued to work on koans and other training issues on a weekly basis, and to explore a range of teaching issues as well. At this point my feeling is that it would be very helpful for Jeff to be able to sit in on the dokusans that I’m conducting, as a silent partner in the process so to speak. Jeff has already joined me in a number of the group dokusans I’ve conducted with the sangha, and this would be a natural next step. It seems to me this would be the best way for him to see something of how I work in a one-on-one context, and perhaps incorporate some of those things into his own style. Anything that came up would be treated with the same level of confidentiality we always abide by.
As a sidenote, Roshi Kapleau got much of his own training by sitting in on dokusans with Yasutani Roshi as a translator. It clearly helped him to become the fine teacher he was. Also, much of my own psychotherapy training has involved viewing video tapes of actual sessions, and processing them with others. Over the years I’ve seen hundreds of hours of tapes, all of which has been an essential component of all my work; in a therapeutic setting people allow their sessions to be shared because they come to understand how helpful it can be to others.
The truth is that for some time now I’ve been thinking about making audio recordings of dokusans for teaching purposes, and have even considered the possibility of videotaping them. I’m not quite there yet, but possibly soon… (Obviously any kind of recordings could only be done with written permission; I’m not suggesting that for this sesshin.)
But for now I’d like to ask those attending this sesshin to let me know how you feel either way, in other words if you’re ok with Jeff sitting in or not ? Also, for those not attending this sesshin I’d like you to consider the possibility for the future. So you know, you can change your mind about Jeff’s being there at any time, and if for some reason things are coming up that feel too threatening or personal to share, you can easily say that too.
As you might imagine, the larger purpose of this suggestion is to help foster more of a collaborative teaching style for the Clearwater sangha, and to give Jeff an increasingly active teaching role as we move ahead.