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Mountain Seat Ceremony- Part 1

Shin San Shiki - Abbess Installation Ceremony

Kiku Christina Lehnherr

Beginner's Mind Temple, San Francisco Zen Center

February 12, 2012

jimon mod: Good afternoon and welcome to San Francisco Zen Center at livestream.com. We come to you live from the Buddha Hall, where we will be airing the Mountain Seat Ceremony (Shin San Shiki). 

This special ceremony marks the installation of a new Abbess, Kiku Christina Lehnherr, whom after thoughtful consideration by Zen Center Elders and Board members has been invited to serve a seven-year term at City Center.  

The ceremony consists of two major parts: In the first part, the new Abbess (Shinmei osho) enters the temple and is welcomed. In the second part, the incoming Abbess Kiku Christina Lehnherr presents her teaching.


The ceremony has begun at Zen Center's Conference Center, next door to our main temple building. There, the incoming Abbess (Shinmei) rests and receives visiting teachers from other temples.  

A fifteen-minute densho bell has begun and as the assembly takes their seats in the Buddha Hall and Dining Room, the procession gathers at the Conference Center. 

After the third round on the densho, barely audible in the Buddha Hall, an inkin roll-down and three strikes indicate the procession bowing together before starting the procession. 

A procession of fourteen officers representing the administrative and practice aspects of the temple (Ryoban) lead the incoming Abbess, followed by her five attendants, from the resting place to the temple building. 

Incoming Abbess Kiku Christina Lehnherr pauses at the front door where an altar has been set up while the other members of the procession file into the main lobby. 

At the front door, Christina offers incense and makes a statement. 

(She's wearing a wireless mike, so while we can't see her, her statement can be heard.)    

The procession continues downstairs to the Meditation Hall (Zendo). 

There the incoming Abbess offers incense and does three prostrations to the altar. The Ino bows and leads Kiku Christina Lehnherr in a jundo around the zendo. The circumambulation concludes with the ion inviting the incoming Abbess to the Abbatial Seat. 

The procession is expected to visit the Buddha Hall next, where the assembly has settled. 

The procession enters the Buddha Hall. 

Board Chair Mary Morgan invites Kiku Christina Lehnherr to serve as Zen Center's next Abbess. 

The incoming Abbess offers incense, bows, and makes a statement to Shakyamuni Buddha at the main altar.

jimon mod: At the side altars, incoming Abbess Kiku Christina Lehnherr addresses Daigen Shuri Bosatsu (Great Protector of the Practice Principle), and Bodhidharma (the first Zen Ancestor of China, representing all the Ancestors).

UFGatorSEC: [Livestream is] perfect in South Carolina

RuthG: Stream is lovely and clear (complete with Page Street traffic) in Dublin, Ireland :-)

The people in the front row that you're seeing represent the "practice side" showing their support.

The procession exits the Buddha Hall and continues upstairs to the Founder's Hall.

While we will remain live during this time, our equipment set-up limits our view to the Buddha Hall. Sorry to not be able to show you more at this time! 

This portion of the ceremony is expected to last app. 20 mins. The bulk of the ceremony taking place in the Buddha Hall is yet to come! 

App. 20 mins meaning events resume in the Buddha Hall at app. 4:35pm PST

Upstairs in the Founder's Hall, the incoming Abbess offers incense, bows, and makes a statement to Shunryu Suzuki-roshi, Zen Center's founder.

Ryan  DR: The Shinmei should be making her statement in the Founder's Hall soon, correct?

jimon mod: Guess we couldn't hear her statement in the Buddha Hall.

The procession continues to the Abbot's room. There the incoming Abbess makes a statement. She and the officers of the temple exchange bows and formal greetings, sign documents, and inspect the temple seal.

Honoring tradition, the privacy of these events is being maintained for this portion of the ceremony. Thank you for understanding.


The Ino estimates that Part 2 will start in app. 5 or 10 mins--i.e. 4:40 or 4:45.

Ryan: I just restarted the browser here in the dining room. We'll see what happens in part 2!

jimon mod: Same here, Ryan!

jimon mod: We'll be restarting the stream momentarily, so expect to see the screen go black for a minute. The Buddha Hall really isn't as still as it looks!

jimon mod: We're back...

Latrippi: And we're back. :)

jimon mod: The Ino strikes the bell to ask the assembly to take their seats.Latrippi: "We'll begin again when the Shinmei is ready, which should be pretty soon."

jimon mod: Shinmei=incoming Abbess Kiku Christina Lehnherr

In the front row, we see former and current Abbots: Zoketsu Norman Fischer, Zenkei Blanche Hartman, Ryushin Paul Haller, Eijun Linda Cutts, Myogen Steve Stucky. 

There’s Christina's partner Marsha Angus in the pale green rakusu

Visiting teachers in the front row.