The Doanryo is a dedicated group of practitioners (called “Doans” generically) who have received training in the various ceremonial roles of the temple and who compose the orchestra of the meditation hall in our daily services. Not only do they keep the instruments and other implements of our ceremonial life clean and well-tended, they also care for each person who comes to practice at AZC by exemplifying our zendo forms and by cultivating connection within the community of practitioners. Read more…
Basic DOANRYO Instructions:
Jiko: ceremonial attendant; carries the incense for and attends to the officiating Priest.
Fukudo: plays the Han (wooden block) or Densho (big bell) calling people to the zendo for zazen, ceremonies, & lectures, and plays drum or mokugyo (wooden fish) during service to keep the beat.
Doan: keeps time, rings bells during service/zazen & begins/ends walking meditation (kinhin) w/clackers (kaishaku).
Kokyo: chant leader who announces & leads the chant and invokes the dedication (eko).
Soku/Server: the Soku leads the serving crew for oryoki meals in the zendo
Chiden: takes care of altars and ceremonial implements; from dusting altars to sifting ash to making flower arrangements.
Hitting the Bell
Most great Zen masters have been monks who had a difficult time in their early life. One example is Morita Zenji, who became an abbot of Eihei-ji Monastery in the great Meiji Period. Morita Zenji went to Eihei-ji Monastery when he was very young. At the time, his father was extremely ill, and he knew he could not take care of the boy, so he persuaded him to go to Eihei-ji Monastery. As you know, life in Eihei-ji Monastery is not so easy, especially for a boy thirteen or fourteen. His father must have been a very good teacher to realize how important it was for the boy to continue his practice. When the boy was leaving, his father told him that his first duty at the monastery would be to collect garbage or collect radishes or to hit the big bell. You should know that to collect garbage is the most important duty in the monastery. The older students will gather the leaves and the garbage at a certain time and place, and the young monks collect it. So you are doing half of the work, and the other monks with many heads and hands will do the other half. The other task, to hit the bell, means to give birth to, or to make a path for Buddha. So each time you strike the bell, Buddha will appear. Each time you strike the big bell at Eihei-ji, you make a bow. His father told him that striking the bell should be done with this kind of spirit. In this way, his father instructed him. The first morning when the boy hit the bell, the old abbot was sitting in his room and asked his attendant to go and see who had hit the bell. And here came this small boy. He thought that some well-trained monk would appear. But just a small boy appeared. So he asked him, “With what kind of feeling did you hit the bell?” The boy told him that to hit the bell was to give birth to Buddha, as his father had told him when he left home. The old abbot was very much impressed and took good care of the boy until years later when he became a Zen master.