Two Arrows Meet in Mid-Air – Suigen Sensei

John Suigen Kenworthy received Dharma Transmission (Shiho) from Keizan Roshi on 31st March 2021. Suigen Sensei is Roshi’s second successor after Shinro Sensei who received transmission in December 2020.

Roshi conducted the ceremony at the Lakes Zendo with the assistance online of Hank Yoshin Sensei from the Netherlands. There was also meticulous support from Stephan Shigetsu and Giles Busshin. The event was very well attended online by the Sangha and Suigen Sensei’s family and friends.

The process of Dharma Transmission essentially confirms Suigen as an authentic Zen teacher in the White Plum lineage. Suigen wrote this poem to mark the occasion and as a thanks to Roshi and everyone for their support.

In the morning,

A new lake covered the Butterwick fields,

The Lowther, swollen by

an unrelenting Atlantic storm,

had stretched wide overnight,

corralling the huddled sheep,

onto a patch of higher ground

beneath that bare oak.

Just two days later,

Water vanished and fields drying out,

In garden chairs we sat,

Basking in the warm spring sun.

Twenty years ago,

on another river

a first zen encounter at

South Ferry Quay on the banks of the Mersey.

Six of us squeezed into a living room,

furniture stacked to make space

for our earnest efforts

to tackle the Great Matter.

“Wet meet on alternate Tuesdays”

said our leader.

‘That will do nicely for me’ I thought.

Then, only a few weeks later,

“We shall now meet every week,

On Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

And some mornings.

We shall move to a place called Dojo

And we shall do twenty seven bows

Before each sitting.”

“Is this really the place for me?” I wondered.

Twenty years and much water

Under many bridges,

Many sittings, sesshins, dharma talks

Ceremonies and services.

Our inspired leader became Hoshi,

became Sensei, became Roshi.

Friendships and Sangha grew,

forged in silence, pain and laughter

Some now have passed to another shore

And some have gone in search of other paths.

Remaining, no other place to be,

Eventually, surprisingly,  a sensei I became.

Two arrows met in mid-air,

“This is still the place for me”, I thought.