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Jukai ceremony coming up!

BarraBarra soto zenniewandering in a cloud in beautiful, bucolic Victoria BC, on the wacky left coast of Canada Veteran
I belong to a small but committed Soto Zen group in Victoria, British Columbia (Canada). Our teacher was a monk for 30 yrs at the SFZC. His preferred method of teaching is to concentrate on seated and walking meditation. We do not incorporate much of the formal Zen business of bowing and prostrations etc (though I wouldn't mind, myself. I like that stuff). So imagine our surprise earlier this year to learn that 11 members of our group had independently confided to our teacher that they would like to take vows! Me included! This is a first time occurrence for the group. So, in the time tested Zen tradition, armed with unintelligible instructions, along with video instruction from the world's most patient monk, we set about to sew our own rakasu's. As the most, no the only, experienced sewer in the group, I took on the role of sewing teacher. They are pretty much all done now, including the envelopes, which I enjoyed making so much that I made several for the most sewing-challenged in the group. We are now starting to plan the actual ceremony, which will take place in the spring, with Norman Fisher officiating. Looking for a venue, making lists of who to invite, arranging billets for out of towners........ I am becoming awe struck. This is starting to feel like a really big deal!


  • Invincible_summerInvincible_summer Heavy Metal Dhamma We(s)t coast, Canada Veteran
    That sounds fantastic! Keep us updated!

    PS: I wonder if your sangha is affiliated with the Mountain Rain Zendo here in Vancouver? I know they also have Norman Fischer as a guiding teacher.
  • BarraBarra soto zennie wandering in a cloud in beautiful, bucolic Victoria BC, on the wacky left coast of Canada Veteran
    Yes I guess you could say we are a sister sangha. Several MR members will be coming over for the event.
  • BhikkhuJayasaraBhikkhuJayasara Bhikkhu Veteran
    if you could spare some explanation for a Theravadin it would be appreciated. What vows are these? I know there are a variety of vows and precepts in Zen that I'm not very familiar with and could use some educating :).
  • howhow Veteran Veteran
    edited December 2013

    The Jukai vows that one usually accepts in Soto Zen are the Sixteen Bodhisattva Precepts.

    The Three Treasures Precepts:
    I take refuge in the Buddha.
    I take refuge in the Dharma.
    I take refuge in the Sangha.

    The Three Pure Precepts:
    Cease from evil.
    Do only good.
    Do good for others.

    The Ten Great Precepts:
    Do not kill.
    Do not steal.
    Do not covet.
    Do not say that which is not true.
    Do not sell the wine of delusion.
    Do not speak against others.
    Do not be proud of yourself and devalue others.
    Do not be mean in giving either Dharma or wealth.
    Do not be angry.
    Do not defame the Three Treasures.

    Different zen schools may place harder or softer adjectives in front of each vow depending on the emphasis of their teachings.
  • BarraBarra soto zennie wandering in a cloud in beautiful, bucolic Victoria BC, on the wacky left coast of Canada Veteran
    There are two members of our group who have not finished sewing their rakasus. I hope that they will bring them to "church" tomorrow so I can get them going on the last stages. Once they are all done, our teacher will send them to the Roshi in California, with recommendations for our Buddhist names. These will be calligraphed on the back of each one. The next time we will see them will be during the ceremony when we will get our rakasu, our Buddhist names and our lineage papers.
  • BarraBarra soto zennie wandering in a cloud in beautiful, bucolic Victoria BC, on the wacky left coast of Canada Veteran

    Well we had our jukai ceremony on a sunny May 1, 2014.

    For me to describe the ceremony, I need first to introduce you to my sangha. Our little group - the Middle Way sangha - is a Soto group, led by our teacher Wayne Codling, who traces his involvement to the very early days of the San Francisco Zen Centre in the early 70's, when he was the only Canadian there. He has maintained a diligent practice - as a monastic most of that time - and moved to Victoria BC a decade or so ago. He chose not to be ordained as a priest, preferring to be a low-ranked teacher, and as a teacher he focusses almost soley on meditation. We have dharma talks, but virtually none of the formalities of bowing, chanting, and prostrations. So it came as a surprise to him (and me) when twelve members of our group, unknown to each other, all made it known to him that we wanted to take vows. This started an interesting planning journey on "how to do it", given that we would have to have some other high official sanctify the event. After some emailing back and forth with an old friend, Soketsu Norman Fisher agreed to spend the day with us prior to going to Vancouver to lead a retreat the next weekend. Then we spent the better part of a year sewing our rakasus (the vestige of Buddha's robe, worn by Soto practitioners. We decided to preface the ceremony with a full day sesshin (retreat) and were joined by other friends from "overseas" (we live on an island) representing the Mountain Rain sangha in Vancouver, the Red Cedar sangha in Bellingham Washington, and the Saltspring Zen Circle (Dogen scholar Peter Leavitt). We chose to hold in in a lovely sun drenched side room of a local United Church, and did our kinhin (walking meditation) in the church's meditation garden. A couple of our members prepared meals for us, which were presented in a makeshift "orioki" style, using mismatched pastel crockery from the kitchen cupboards. The ceremony took place in the community meeting room next door, to which we walked single file, chanting, to find a room full of friends and familiy and camera flashbulbs going off. It was all very moving, ten creaky middle aged people nervously taking pinches of incense and figuring how to get upNow we open Buddha's robe/A fi to a standing position while holding our lineage charts carefully in our hands.

    Now we start our Sunday sitting periods by putting our rakasu's on our heads while chanting the Robe Chant - Now we open Buddha's Robe/ A field far beyond form and emptiness/ The tathagata's teaching for all being.

    Now we have taken our vows, and look at life slightly differently. Still starting from zero every day.

    Enjoy the photos!

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