We are pleased to announce that Fukutoku Annmarie Morishita will be installed as shuso on Sunday, August 27, 9 – 10:30 am. Her shuso closing ceremony will be Saturday, December 16, 7 – 9 pm. As Fuku’s teacher, MyoOn Susan Hagler is the lead teacher for these ceremonies.
Shuso, or “head monk,” is a traditional role in a Zen monastery or Zen Center that dates back to at least 1103 in China. When a priest-in-training or lay teacher-in-training has progressed enough in their practice to be an example for others, her teacher may ask her to serve as shuso. Fukutoku will be a model of practice and set an example for all other students. In the past at Clouds, our shusos served for the duration of Fall or Spring practice period. This year, we are changing the format and having the shuso serve for a four-month time period that will include practice period and other offerings. During that time, Fuku will be the Lead Ino (temple coordinator) for Sundays, sesshins and ceremonies. She will serve as assistant teacher to her teacher and other teachers. Fuku will also take on other practical responsibilities to support the community, including cleaning the bathrooms and taking out trash – so-called lowly jobs that are traditional duties of the shuso. This is a position of responsibility but not authority, as the shuso is still a trainee. After the shuso installation ceremony, Fuku will sit in the front of the Zendo in the Ino seat. At the conclusion of the shuso period, she will undergo a public question-and-answer ceremony to test her understanding. Fuku will then return to take a regular seat with the sangha. In our center, after a person has completed shuso, they can begin meeting one-on-one with students as a teacher-trainee.