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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