2019 Jukai Applications Welcome

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Dear Students of the Way,

I am now accepting applications for Jukai, the ceremony at which one is given the Buddhist precepts by one’s teacher. The deadline is December 21, 2018. Jukai will be held on the last day of Nyogen Senzaki Sesshin at Dai Bosatsu Zendo (DBZ) May 4-10.

Requirements for being accepted into this upcoming Jukai group are as follows: consistent Zen practice at and support of the Zen Studies Society’s temples (New York Zendo Shobo-ji and Dai Bosatsu Zendo) or the Zen Center of Syracuse Hoen-ji; memorization of sutras and dharanis chanted in morning service, as well as the Ten Important Precepts; participation in a curriculum of study through dokusan and group meetings with me; participation in at least two past sesshins, as well as upcoming sesshins at DBZ, New York Zendo, or Hoen-ji, in addition to this May’s Nyogen Senzaki Sesshin; sewing a rakusu or arranging to purchase one; and reading books on the recommended reading list, especially those that have been starred. I will reflect upon a suitable Dharma name for each student, which will be inscribed on the rakusu and presented at the ceremony.

If you have not already requested to join this upcoming Jukai class, you may do so by submitting a letter of request to abbotassistant@zenstudies.org.

“Ju” is a synonym for “kaku,” “to realize.” “Kai” is “Precepts,” but it is also a synonym for Buddha-nature. So in the most profound sense, Jukai means “to awaken to ultimate freedom.” What keeps us from realizing this freedom is the very thought that it lies beyond our present condition. “We seek it far away,” Hakuin Zenji says in “The Song of Zazen”; “What a pity.” The Precepts are far more than a set of guidelines for leading an ethical life. They are not a panacea by which we can feel cured of our ills, but rather an outline of the work ahead.

The commitment to live by the Buddhist Precepts, and to enter into Jukai, is a crucial and indeed revolutionary step. Practicing with assiduity and earnest motivation, we can embrace the challenges and obstacles that confront us as our best teachers. The diligence and devotion mandated by the Jukai process brings the understanding that we can awaken to who we truly are right in the midst of our struggles.

Although we speak of “taking” or “receiving” the Precepts, what is necessary is to give up that usual way of thinking—that mind of taking and getting something—and shift to the mind of giving, purely and without any expectation of reward. Then indeed, we can affirm Nyogen Senzaki’s words: “Bodhisattvas seek to realize the truth not only for themselves, but for the sake of all beings…You and I are here to learn to be bodhisattvas, with no desire for other ranks at all.” (Eloquent Silence, “The Ten Stages of Consciousness,” p. 259).

Gassho,

Date: 
Fri, Dec 21, 2018 (All day)
Program fee: 
None