Recent cyber events raised a few issues as well as questions.
There was some questioning of Jundo's credentials by the folks over at e-sangha. Something along the lines of his ordination being a lay ordination and therefore lesser than their "higher" variety. I am relatively ignorant of the various levels of ordination in schools of Buddhism and how they might compare to one another (if that is even possible). So, my questions are very open ones: "What is ordination in Soto Zen and how does one receive it?" "What use is it?" "Are other Buddhist traditions more strict in their demands for ordination?" "How do these older traditions of certification fit into modern times and Western culture?" etc.
Now a comment: I have a significant amount of training in music (this is honestly not something to brag about). I have three music degrees (Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate) and my students call me 'doctor Swann,' my profession demanded those of me if I wanted to teach, and they have helped lend clout to my opinions from time to time. BUT, ultimately it is a bit of a con-game. I learned a great deal in my schooling, but I learned as much or more playing for 20 years as a professional musician (which did not earn me any sort of title). I know plenty of posers in academia who have great credentials but cannot teach, don't contribute to a body of scholarly knowledge, aren't good people in general, etc and so on. I still have to walk the walk. I still have to teach what I have learned. And if my teaching is irrelevant or untrue to my students then it is my fault and not theirs. My point here is that my experience tells me that the proof is in the pudding. A title such as "Lama so and so" will buy a person a bit of a listen from me but they better deliver the goods quickly or they will lose my interest and any consideration I might have had for their ideas. I don't really give a shit about the titles of Buddhist teachers other than them giving me a quick way to appraise their level of education/training in that field.
Lastly, if the choice is between a monk/geshe/lama who spends their life in the walls of a monastery or a lay-ordained teacher who has learned to apply Buddhism in everyday life, I will choose the latter. How relevant are words about renunciation from a person who has nothing to renounce (my idea here is that it is actually easier to renounce things when they are separated from you than when you are immersed in them)? I prefer Soto Zen precisely because these dudes were IN THE WORLD, not living idealized, cloistered lives.
So, I don't negate the value of ordination, but it is not a pass to avoid answering questions or enforcing dogma. I will indulge the ideas of a high lama for only marginally longer than anyone else before I turn on the 'bullshit detector.'
So, all that being said, I would like to know a bit more about ordination in spite of my skepticism toward it.