Dokusan is the Japanese term for “going alone to a respected one;” a formal and private face-to-face meeting with a Dharma-Transmitted Zen teacher. A full authorized Zen teacher has one who has received Dharma-Transmission from another fully Dharma-Transmitted teacher, which confers permission to guide students independently and to ordain and transmit priests, as well as offer the precepts to lay students.
Dokusan sessions are ritualized formal meetings in which the student offers prostrations to the teacher before and after sitting down. The format and length of the meeting varies with the teacher. As a general rule, dokusan is focused on the student’s personal practice and experience. Meeting in dokusan is a critical element of Zen training and an important part of sesshin practice. Face to face meetings are encouraged (rather than by video).
See also Practice Discussion.