Message from the Tanto: Introducing the Boundless Mind Temple Practice Roles

July 30, 2022

Dear sangha,

I would like to take a moment to introduce and celebrate the people holding the practice roles at Boundless Mind Temple. Some of these folks have been in their roles since the temple opened in March and some have just started. We have now filled all these positions, and so I feel a few words are called for to hold these people up and to articulate the spirit of their service.

We have two people each sharing the three roles of ino, shika, and shissui (workleader). Our two co-inos are Erica Essner and Gerardo Dexter Ciprián. (Yoko Ohashi also served as an interim co-ino during the spring.) The inos care for the practice in the meditation hall (zendo) and train the doanryo, who lead the chanting and play the instruments during service. They help oversee the ceremonial and ritual aspects of the temple. The inos and the doanryo also set up the zendo every Saturday.

Our two co-shikas are Radha Radkar and Kristen Davis. In a monastery, the shika is the guest manager. At Boundless Mind, the shikas—along with a team of greeters—help greet and orient guests and newcomers. They are also in charge of setting out the tea and refreshments that we enjoy at the end of our Saturday program.

Our two co-shissuis (or workleaders) are Matthew Menzies and Amy Holderness. The shissuis lead the periods of soji (temple cleaning) on Saturdays and the longer work periods during retreats. They help care for our physical space and for the practice of work itself, which in our tradition has the spirit of zazen in activity.

I would also like to acknowledge the role of jisha (or teacher’s attendant). As you know, Julia DeWitt became Kosen’s jisha after Ryan became director earlier this year. Inzan Rose will now be taking on the role of Laura’s jisha (as Kristen has transitioned into the shika role). The jisha role is unique in that its responsibilities—from personally attending to the teacher to coordinating and scheduling practice discussions and other events—often straddle both Boundless Mind and Ancestral Heart temples.

It would be very easy to see each of these roles as having a different area of responsibility—and they certainly do—but I would rather like to frame these as areas of care. The inos, shikas, shissuis, and jishas are helping care for different aspects of the temple; they are simultaneously being trained and helping to train others in developing a capacity of care. As we all learn to care for the cushions, for the brooms, for the cups, and for each guest who walks in the door, we begin to develop a new relationship to things and to each other. This capacity for care is cultivated gradually and the practice is also available immediately in this moment. Over time of course, guests become hosts. The practice of sangha is endless. 

Our situation at Christ Church is unique in that we have to build the temple anew each week. For our staff, I feel that this calls for an extra dimension of devotion, faith, and commitment than if the temple were ready made.

Please join me in celebrating their devotion and care.

With gratitude,

Kidō Ian Case
Tanto, Brooklyn Zen Center