Several years ago Mike was in El Paso to do research at William Beaumont Medical Center and Fort Bliss. He was staying at the home of John Fortunato where our sangha was practicing at the time. Mike sat with us one Sunday and he immediately started walking down his own path of dharma practice and the study of self. For several years he studied with me personally through phone and Skype conversations, and he received the precepts at a Jukai Ceremony concluding a sesshin at the Clear Mind Zen Temple in Las Cruces. His Buddhist name became Inmo. I chose Inmo because it's rhythm has a certain manliness about it, and, if you know Mike, he has the presence of an athlete. When I first met him he was concluding his active career as a martial artist (free-style), but he still trains students. "Inmo," literally, means "it," as in "That's it!" or "Do you get it?" But the way Dogen and other Zen teachers use the term, it has come to mean reality or truth. I thought it a perfect fit for Mike.
Later he and his wife Elizabeth honored me by asking me to serve as the priest in the celebration of their marriage. Mike Inmo, as part of his practice, began the Long Leaf Zen Center at their home in Enterprise, Alabama. On the way to their wedding celebration, it was my honor to sit with them one night and to offer a teisho.
From the beginning Mike Inmo knew how to bow. This might sound strange and insignificant, but usually when a person first bows in a zendo during all the rigamarole of Zen services, the bow is accompanied with all sorts of personal baggage--hesitation, embarrassment, pride, whatever we come with. It's interesting to watch over the weeks, months and years as a person's bow evolves. But with Mike Inmo it was different. From the first, he bowed with presence and authority. At the time I said to him he came from Alabama to teach us how to bow. My feeling is that he learned to bow in his practice as a martial artist--respecting his opponent, respecting the act of fighting, respecting himself. He's strengthened this understanding as he continues to sit and stare at a wall and as he shares his understanding with others. I am proud and delighted that he's taking this next step.
May he be a blessing to his family, his community, his Sangha and to us all.
To send Inmo your congratulations, his email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Here's his announcement:
Please mark on your calendar Saturday, February 18th. I will be going through a lay ordination ceremony called Zaike Tokudo. Zaike Tokudo means "remaining at home and attaining the Way" versus Shukke Tokudo which means "leaving home and attaining the Way." With Shukke Tokudo leaves home... and you often see the monk shave his or her head. Luckily, I already do this :)
Zaike Tokudo symbolizes and reinforces a path in life devoted to practice. Zaike Tokudo is the penultimate ordination prior to ordination as a novice priest (the first initiate ceremony being Jukai). In essence, I will receive official status as a disciple of the Silent Thunder Order under the purview of Taiun Michael Elliston Roshi.
The day will start with a morning of sitting meditation (zazen) and liturgy. We will break for tea and prepare for the ceremony which will start at 1pm. All of this will be held at the Wiregrass Zen Center, 610 Mitchell Street, Headland, AL. A special thanks to Frederic Ji Ryu Lecut for hosting the event. Those of you that live closer to Enterprise where we practice can follow us from my house or meet us along the way. If you cant make it for the morning session, you can just attend the ceremony. After the ceremony we will have a potluck style luncheon. I will send out a sign up list for those that want to bring a vegetarian dish.
It would be a great if everyone could make it for the ceremony. For the last several years I have undergone mentorship (with Rev Bobby Kankin Byrd and Rev Harvey Daiho Hilbert out of Texas and New Mexico, and most recently with Taiun Michael Elliston Roshi from Atlanta Soto Zen Center/Silent Thunder Order), academic study (and sewing two rakasu's), and rigorous zazen/shikantanza from various cushions locally and at various locations (El Paso, TX; Las Cruces, NM; and Atlanta, GA).
For me, this ceremony is something I want to share with all of you, which I am very grateful for having crossed paths with, and without hesitation, consider my Sangha (community) and my family. Without the Sangha, there is no refuge in the Three Jewels. For it is the Sangha that brings about abundant good. Similar to what they tell you in football games... there is no "I" in Sangha :)
Michael Inmo Dretsch
Experimental Psychologist/Soto Zen Buddhist