The exact moment of my ordination, September 7, 1992, at the Temple of the Sixth Patriarch, Guangzhou, People’s Republic of China.
In this gesture, the Teacher brushes some water on the ordinand’s head, and then will tap the head three times with the flat side of a knife (being handed to him there by the American monk, Dae Kwang Sunim). This symbolises the Teacher cutting the hair of the postulant, and releasing him from the bonds of the world and into the Order. It is truly miraculous, in a way, that the photo was snapped at exactly this moment of “crossing over” — this is, quite literally, the precise moment of crossing from lay life to the monastic path.
This event was arranged as a “secret” ceremony in the temple, since in order to get visas to enter China we had all signed a promise “not to engage in any religious activities while travelling in the P.R.C.” Of course, my Teacher agreed to these conditions. And he also didn’t care. He was a Zen master, after all.