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convocation (jōdō 上堂)

Literally, to "go up" ( 上) to the "hall" ( 堂). The reference here is to a dharma hall (hattō 法堂), where all the residents of a monastery (and outside visitors as well) gather to hear the abbot give a sermon or engage members of the assembly in debate (mondō 問答). It is not clear whether the verb "go up" refers to the entire assembly that enters a dharma hall, or just the abbot, who mounts a high seat (kōza 高座) on the Sumeru altar in a dharma hall for the occasion. In Chinese Buddhist monasteries of the Song dynasty and the medieval Japanese Zen monasteries that were modeled after them, convocations in a dharma hall were among the most solemn, formal observations held on a regular basis. The words of the abbot, who was understood to speak in the capacity of a flesh-and-blood buddha, were recorded for posterity. Abbots belonging to the Zen lineage were often asked to comment on "old cases" (kosoku 古則) (i.e. koans), or raised such cases themselves to test their followers in the audience. →"dharma hall."