Friday, March 19, 2010

Zen Buddhism El Paso / Juarez (3/20/2010) y Upcoming Shukke Tokudo

Yes, we will be sitting Saturday, March 20, 330pm at 711 Robinson. I hope you can make it. Also, we are making plans for the Shukke Tokudo Ceremony on April 3rd. We will have a potluck celebrations afterwards. And, for those of you who wish to sit with us, the day's events will start with a modified Zazenkai beginning at 9am. John Fortunato is the man in charge of both events. If you plan to attend one, the other or both, please get in touch with John so he can make appropriate arrangements.

Shukke Tokudo

On Saturday April 3 at 3:30pm at a gathering of the Both Sides / No Sides Zen Community Harvey Daiho Hilbert Roshi will perform the Shukke Tokudo Ceremony to ordain me as teacher in the Order of Clear Mind Zen. I will receive the 16 Bodhisattva Precepts. These are the same precepts that I recited for the Jukai Ceremony but this time I receive them for a different reason. And I will exchange my black rakusu for a brown rakusu. I’m taking one little shortcut. I’m buying my new brown rakusu. The black I made myself.

The Shukke Tokudo ordination marks the passage from layperson to monk, nun or priest. I prefer to use the word “teacher.” Several years ago Harvey Daiho Hilbert Roshi asked that I take these vows. I treaded water. I didn’t want to be a priest. I enjoyed being a Zen layperson--staring at the wall and reading the books and participating in a Sangha. Of course I was happy with having received the precepts during the Jukai Ceremony. And I was happy with my Buddhist name Hen Shin, which he bestowed upon me on April 2, 2005. Ha! It will be five years minus one day. Hen Shin means transformation or rebirth. I liked that idea. For the occasion I made my black rakusu. I had sewed the thing together with my own hands. That was a task. In the evenings and on Saturdays I sat there at the dining room table and sweated and even bled over that rakusu. Nothing makes a man more mindful than jabbing a needle into his clumsy fingers. Lucky for me I had my wife Lee to give me advice with the pattern and even did some of the sewing for me when I thought I might weep. I was content with the black rakusu, I told Daiho. Besides, I said, I’m not comfortable with the robes or some of the language like disciple or master.

He smiled. “Words and robes, what are those?” he said.

In the meantime I started the Both Sides / No Sides Zen Community here in El Paso to give people interested in Zen and zazen here in our community a place to come together for practice. Time passed, as it always does. We collected dana in the dana bowl and we added zafus and zabutons. For a year plus some we sat at the Black Tortoise Acupuncture Clinic thanks to Richie Barajas and Briana Armendariz. Then we moved into our space on Robinson thanks to John Fortunato where we’ve been for two years. Many times we have sat with just two or three people, a couple of times it was just me, and now we are happy our little Sangha began to grow. Every week the bell rang, we chanted and beat on the wooden fish with its eyes that never close, we lit incense, we sat on zafus and practiced zazen, we did the silent kinhin dance, we sat some more, we chanted the Heart Sutra in Sino-Japanese (our voices so much stronger after sitting), and we had our tea. It was good. Then late last year, one of the men who has been practicing with us for some time told me that he wanted to receive the Jukai Precepts. I was delighted for him. But I said, “You’ll have to go find a teacher to practice with.” He looked at me and said, “I think I already have.” I was both startled and honored. After much thought I went up to Las Cruces. I told Harvey this story and asked him if he would ordain me.

“Of course,” he said, laughing so hard I wondered if he would fall off his zafu.

Tokudo means ceremony, and Shukke is leaving home. Thus, “The Leaving Home Ceremony” or “Home-leaver’s ceremony.” In the old days monks-to-be left home and went into the monastery. Not so much anymore. Especially for American Zen Buddhists. Here Zen is much more a householder practice. But “leaving home” is still a very important concept. I like to think of “leaving home” as leaving that comfortable place called home or the ego to serve something greater than ourselves. In a way we all leave home, we leave the ego, when we do our home practice, the wall in front of us, alone with our breath and the universe in which we live. No separation—the absolute, the universe, the breath, breathing together in and out. We do this too when we come together to sit and practice as a Sangha. And we do this when we climb off our zafus and take our practice out into the city, the place of our life. I now vow to practice and to teach others, if they so wish, the Way of the Dharma as I understand it. I commit my life and practice to the understanding and lineage that comes from Shakyamuni Buddha and Dogen that flows down through all the Ancestors through Harvey Daiho Roshi and his teacher Ken McGuire Roshi.

I vow to appreciate my whole life as the life of the Three Treasures—the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, and I vow to serve Family, Sangha and Community and to practice right livelihood. Daiho Hilbert Roshi has composed the vows of Clear Mind Zen as follows:

I take Refuge in Everything That Is (Buddha)
I take Refuge in Reality and its Teachings (Dharma)
I take Refuge in the Order (Sangha)
I vow to cease creating evil
I vow to do good
I vow to work to create abundant good for all beings,

These too are my vows. I hope you can join me on April 3rd.

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