Every year around the beginning of winter we do the ceremony of Jukai in the sangha. It is the primary initiation ceremony of zen. The great inner initiation of zen is enlightenment, but meanwhile we do outer initiation ceremonies like Jukai, which have a deep meaning. In Jukai you receive the rakasu, which
represents the robe of the Buddha, and your connection to all the
ancient lineage of people who have walked the Way and suffered
for wisdom and also gained wisdom. You share in their light and
their effort. You take on a Buddhist name, identifying yourself
in the tradition in that way.
You engage with the precepts of the Bodhisattva. There are
sixteen of them. Pretty much they are common sense undertakings.
"I take up the way of not killing," "not stealing," "not lying,"
"not undertaking sexual misconduct," "not misusing drugs."
Things like that, simple things. "Not indulging in anger," "not
praising myself while abusing others." And as well as that there
is taking refuge as part of the precepts. "I take refuge in the
Buddha." "I take refuge in the dharma." "I take refuge in the
sangha." Which is the primary act, I suppose, really. To say
that I trust that there is a Way and I commit myself to it.
A ceremony is like a wedding, I think of Jukai as being something
like a wedding, in a way, in that you do something--you
acknowledge something that was already going forward inside you.
You make it public among your friends and in your community. So
it has that value. And it's kind of like a wedding in that there
are some times when you shouldn't do it, and there's a time when
you should even if you're hesitating. So, you need to judge
that--whether you shouldn't do it or whether you should--and be
faithful to that choice. But if you've really decided that this
path is for you and you're walking it, then there will come a
time when you will do it, I think, because it is to acknowledge
to yourself the importance of wisdom in your life, the importance
of the inner work.
http://www.boundlesswayzen.org/teishos/ ... jukai.html