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Thread: Jukai

  1. #1

    Jukai

    i would like to know how does one take a jukai and what does it involve?

    what one must do before and how does one come to take it?

    p.s.

    i dont have a teacher in my country, so is it possible for me to take it?

  2. #2

    Re: Jukai

    Hi Zen (What a name!),

    I have been planning this for many months, and I am thinking to go ahead soon after I return from Vietnam. The Jukai ceremony (meaning, "Undertaking the Precepts") is just a celebration of one's living the Precepts right now and now and now. The Precepts, I believe, all come down to this:

    Live as you can so as not to harm others, not to harm yourself ... and to know that there is ultimately no separation there.


    If you are living like that, you have already "undertaken the Precepts", I think. But the Jukai also represents a commitment to your Zen practice of Zazen and to our tradition and its history running back to the Ol' Buddha himself.

    We will have a special course of study of the individual Precepts in the coming months, sew a Rakusu (a short form of the Buddhist robe that you can usually see me wearing on the "Sit-a-Long" netcast), and then the Jukai ceremony. It will be, as far as I know, the world' first cyber-Jukai. Although all will be online, the Jukai will be done with great care and attention. There will be nothing left out, no corners cut, merely because we are to undertake it all over the internet.

    Yes, anyone who is part of this Sangha and feels their heart interested in this is welcome. New or old folks. In fact, there is no reason that folks who have previously taken Jukai cannot do it again ... in Japan, I have met folks who take Jukai every year. There is no reason you cannot do it again with Treeleaf if you have already taken it with another Sangha.

    As for the Precept studies: I am thinking that it will run something like the book club, with special readings and discussions ... a Precept at a time over a series of weeks. Perhaps a Precept each week. Everyone undertaking the Precept studies will be obligated to make a daily posting, not just weekly (as with the book club). It will be an opportunity for study and reflection.

    For sewing the Rakusu: there is someone in my lineage who is truly an expert on Rakusu and Kesa sewing, and I am hoping that I can persuade him to teach that part. He is a little shy right now. The sewing instructions would be partly in writing, partly video, partly a section of the forum where people can offer tips and advise.

    There will be a multi-day "Sesshin" leading up to the ceremony. It would be in the format of a simulcast from our Treeleaf Zendo, netcast "live" 24 hours, on a multi-day basis, from the sitting room. Of course, people will be sitting at home, and in different time zones. So, I would post a sitting schedule and upload talks, plus work assignment and the like. Meeting with me by video during the Sesshin, several times, will be encouraged. People would follow the schedule at home, and listen to the talks and perform the work assignments, on the honor system. For working folks, it would be a "commuter's Sesshin," meaning that it would work around, and incorporate, existing work and family obligations. I am thinking, as much as possible. to make it a silent retreat, however, and to ask people to cut out an non-essential entertainments for the week (tv, hobbies, newspaper reading, etc.). Also, we would have a special study of Oryoki eating and other Sesshin practices.

    The ceremony itself would be a simulcast, live (as you know, I have the capacity for that), with all members in the same room. Yes, some folks will probably have to do it at 3am their time. It would be recorded for others (non-participants) to view later.

    I am sorry that I have waited with this. I have wanted the community to develop and continue to jell first. However, I am determined that this community will come to have everything that a wood and bricks Zen Center has, so we will figure out together how to do this well, as a Sangha.

    Finally, for those of you who have not read one of my descriptions of the Precepts, I include one below.

    Gassho, Jundo


    I consider the Precepts signposts or guides for life in a harmless and healthful manner.

    Our Zen practice teaches us that we are free to act at each moment. We are free to harm others and/or harm ourselves (same thing ultimately), or we are free not do harm and to be helpful. It really is up to us. The Precepts guide us toward conduct that, generally, will not cause harm.

    The Precepts both naturally arise from, and facilitate, our Buddhist Practice. For example, one who meditates will tend to be less angry and clutching at material goods, thus less prone toward overstepping the Precepts on anger, stealing etc. On the other hand, someone who lives so as to avoid anger, stealing etc. will find a certain equanimity cultivated within themselves by that lifestyle which will, in turn, facilitate their Buddhist Practice.

    The Precepts are more like frameworks or guidelines than "Commandments" in the Judeo-Christian meaning. First, the details within the guidelines are left rather open ended in our Zen Practice (e.g., one should not kill, but what about to protect society?? Should one tell a white lie if telling the truth will hurt someone's feelings, or are all lies wrong? ... the Precepts provide few hard and fast answers.). There is no particular belief that a god or the universe handed us the Precepts as "Commands", and they are viewed more as matters of human "common sense" lifestyle. We go to a kind of heaven and hell sometimes due to breaching the Precepts (although the Karmic ramifications are far from mechanical and clear), but that "heaven" and "hell" is viewed as a psychological realm within us.

    Other sects of Buddhism interpret the Precepts in different ways, and we will study that too. For example, some believe that the Precepts and our actions have Karmic effects which, very literally, determine our rebirth after death (that is not something I teach). Other, very traditional strains in Buddhism (as in all religions) impose hundreds and hundreds of very strict and detailed Precepts (especially for Priests over lay people, and worse for women than men). However, in Zen tradition, our Zen Precepts have been boiled down to a common sense few.

    And again, in my view, each and all of the Precepts come down to this variation on the Golden Rule:

    Live, as you can, so as not to harm others, not to harm yourself ... and to know that there is ultimately no difference.

    It is the manifestation of Wisdom in life, and Compassion toward others.

    Gassho, Jundo

  3. #3

    Re: Jukai

    Zen, thanks for bringing the question up and Jundo, for replying with such detail.

    I had a similar question but really have not come to any decision having this internal fear that I would want a formal commitment more than a commitment in heart and spirit, that I would be drawn to the romantic, exotic side of it. I think studying the meaning of precepts is the way to start.

    Sewing over Internet would be fun! :-)

    Gassho,

    Irina

  4. #4

    Re: Jukai

    thank you Jundo for the replay.
    i am curently a student of and am studying for my last big test ( RN - Registerd Nurse ) over the next few month.
    yet i am very interested in doing the Jukai, i have been thinking of it for quite some time now. i do believe it is a serious matter not to be taken lightly, and have contemplated it for quite some time. with that said i do wish to study and know all about it and to truely understand it not only intellectually but also deeply and truly know it ( i think i lack the words to explain, and after trying to find a word in the 3 languages i know, i have to say it is beyond words ).

    p.s.
    please let me know if there anything i can do to help with the preperations i would be more than happy to do so if i am at all able

  5. #5

    Re: Jukai

    Yeah....

    I'm really waiting for this online Jukai....

    Gassho....

  6. #6
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: Jukai

    Hmm... Would it be wrong of me to say that I have no desire to do this? While I am certainly interested in studying the precepts, and already do my best to live by some or most of them, the idea of a formal ceremony to make me an "official" Buddhist turns me off. Will I be looked at differently because I don't want to? :|

    Kirk

  7. #7

    Re: Jukai

    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc
    Hmm... Would it be wrong of me to say that I have no desire to do this? While I am certainly interested in studying the precepts, and already do my best to live by some or most of them, the idea of a formal ceremony to make me an "official" Buddhist turns me off. Will I be looked at differently because I don't want to? :|

    Kirk
    Oh, but Kirk ... if you don't do the ceremony, you won't learn the secret handshake. :cry: Also, you don't get the "official Buddhist" discount at the local cine.

    Well, if you are not wanting to do the ceremony for the reason you describe ("already doing your best"), then I for one consider you already to be an "official Buddhist". Sorry. You are already "Jukai" whether you want to be or not.

    Gassho, Jundo

  8. #8
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: Jukai

    That's not fair! :-)

    Kirk

  9. #9

    Re: Jukai

    :lol: yeh I reckon you're snookered Kirk :lol:

    To me precepts are just a way of getting it witnessed that you want to hold the precepts and follow the 8 fold path. Like confirmation in the catholic church, something I was forced to do as a child grrr....

    In truth your actions will show whether you're a Buddhist or not, not a ceremony, and 'the kingdom of death must be entered by oneself alone with nothing for company but our own good and bad karma'.

    For the record, I'm not sure if I'll be doing it, I'd like to, but family commitments etc might make it difficult to join in everything.

    In gassho, Kev

  10. #10

    Re: Jukai

    i agree with Jundo if one does his best to live a life in which he does not harm people he has already taken the jukai.

    i dont care what it takes from me. it is important to me and i feel so i will do it. even though it doesnt matter at all since its only a formality

  11. #11

    Re: Jukai

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    For sewing the Rakusu: there is someone in my lineage who is truly an expert on Rakusu and Kesa sewing, and I am hoping that I can persuade him to teach that part. He is a little shy right now. The sewing instructions would be partly in writing, partly video, partly a section of the forum where people can offer tips and advise.
    Sooooo.... ops: ....is it "cheating" if I ask my wife to sew the rasuku? :?:

  12. #12

    Re: Jukai

    Quote Originally Posted by chicanobudista
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    ....is it "cheating" if I ask my wife to sew the rasuku? :?:
    YES!

    This is Practice, like Samu or Oryoki eating, an opportunity for mindful action, with each stitch being one by one by one, instant by instant by instant. There will be many mistakes and misses, but there will be no mistakes or misses ...

    You can ask your wife for guidance ... but you must do the sewing yourself.

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS- This is another reason that I am trying to get clarification from Nishijima Roshi on his meaning when he wrote on his blog this week that he does not approve of "mindfulness" ... because he and Rev. Taijun, a priest who is his long time student, held many many classes for our Sangha on Rakusu and Kesa sewing, and there it was always emphasized that Rakusu sewing is a mindful practice in the manner I describe. Not to mention that Shobogenzo is full of passages that encourage mindful action in regard to the Kesa and all manner of daily events. From working on translation with him a long time, and having this occur before in his way of speaking, I think Nishijima Roshi''s meaning might be rather subtle and lost a bit in his English ...

  13. #13

    Re: Jukai

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by chicanobudista
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    ....is it "cheating" if I ask my wife to sew the rasuku? :?:
    YES!

    This is Practice, like Samu or Oryoki eating, an opportunity for mindful action, with each stitch being one by one by one, instant by instant by instant. There will be many mistakes and misses, but there will be no mistakes or misses ...

    You can ask your wife for guidance ... but you must do the sewing yourself.
    Thanks for the clarification.

    I am veddy, veddy bad with sewing. So. I might end up with a hankie. :mrgreen:

    Gassho.

  14. #14

    Re: Jukai

    same here....dont know how to saw. but i think we will all manage

  15. #15

    Re: Jukai

    Hello Folks!

    Just my two cents regarding Jukai. As Jundo knows very well, I am eagerly (but not too eagerly) awaiting the time of our Jukai, basically because I have found rituals like this to be very helpful, or rather to be upaya/ skillful means that help me with keeping up a certain level of commitment and discipline. Do I think one needs Jukai in order to be a good buddhist boy or girl? Not in the least, but I consider these things to have great value on a relative level, for people who are thus inclined.

    One doesn't have to get married either in order to truly love someone, but I chose to and would do it again if for some reason it turned out that there was something wrong with the paperwork back when I married.

    May I humbly suggest, that everyone (including myself) should ask him/herself again and again in the weeks leading up to the Jukai, whether they really want to take the precepts in this particular Buddhist school/ Soto lineage. Some people on this forum (I am only guessing here) may really like this Sangha but may be so new to Buddhism and its different manifestations that they may think it's great to do the Jukai here, only to discover three months later, that the Karma-Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism is the real deal for them.

    I guess that'd be no real problem at all, however I am a bit of a conservative fellow when it comes to people committing to "the next best thing" that feels right instead of committing to "the thing that one truly feels is best for oneself after loads of careful experience and thorough research". Ultimately not my personal problem to be honest, however if Jukai became the equivalent of "since you're around, why don't you do just it", there seems little point in setting it up like a special ceremony that served as an important part of Soto-Zen for quite some time now in the first place.

    Seriously I am not trying to put anyone off the Jukai (well...maybe a little bit)....but I am reminded of some of my own past mistakes here, where enthusiasm won against careful consideration with dubious results.


    Gassho,

    Hans

  16. #16

    Re: Jukai

    i think this is a great idea Hans thank you for suggesting it.
    i too think that taking the jukai is not to be done lightly and people should think very very well before committing to such a thing.

  17. #17

    Re: Jukai

    May I humbly suggest, that everyone (including myself) should ask him/herself again and again in the weeks leading up to the Jukai, whether they really want to take the precepts in this particular Buddhist school/ Soto lineage. Some people on this forum (I am only guessing here) may really like this Sangha but may be so new to Buddhism and its different manifestations that they may think it's great to do the Jukai here, only to discover three months later, that the Karma-Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism is the real deal for them.
    Or Adashyanti, or the Big Mind team (enlightenment in 1 hr, dude!), or Hare Krishna, or what the ... is mu, or scientology, or a polygamous sect.

    Regarding mindfulness, is it possible that we're just talking about being the action in the instant (or, as Obi Wan would put it, "let the force guide you so you won't sew your finger to the rakusu"), as opposed to consciously trying to concentrate on being mindful?

    There's a couple of plain questions implicit in this discussion. 1) How do you know when it is the right time to take the precepts? 2) Is there really a bad time to take the precepts?

    IMHO: 1)when you have no doubts about it, and 2)I don't know. It's not like you need to be a pure human, achieve satori or cut all delusion to go ahead.

    Let the wise ones talk:

    ______________________________ (fill in the blanks)

  18. #18

    Re: Jukai

    Quote Originally Posted by Hans
    .
    May I humbly suggest, that everyone (including myself) should ask him/herself again and again in the weeks leading up to the Jukai, whether they really want to take the precepts in this particular Buddhist school/ Soto lineage. Some people on this forum (I am only guessing here) may really like this Sangha but may be so new to Buddhism and its different manifestations that they may think it's great to do the Jukai here, only to discover three months later, that the Karma-Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism is the real deal for them.
    I am pretty much sold on Soto Zen since I was 18. :wink: But your point is a great one. What are the comparative lineages in so far as Soto Zen?

  19. #19

    Re: Jukai

    Quote Originally Posted by Alberto


    Or Adashyanti, or the Big Mind team (enlightenment in 1 hr, dude!), or Hare Krishna, or what the ... is mu, or scientology, or a polygamous sect.
    Ooooh. Do we have an option for a la carte Zen? :mrgreen:

    I'll have the Soto Zen combo with three wives, two malas, one dorge, and a monthly kensho. :mrgreen:

  20. #20

    Re: Jukai

    Hi All,

    Hans' point is very well taken. Yes, the Jukai should be done seriously and with great reflection.

    Personally, I do not consider it quite the same as getting married (for one, no alimony later if you change your mind), but it is certainly not to be undertaken unless the person truly feels it is right to do so in their heart.

    (I will say the following at the risk that it may make some people a little uncomfortable, but please understand the real meaning in what I am saying): It is much like taking a Baptism, in that you can do it any number of times, and it is just a little water and some mumbled words ... but it does mean something profound and should be taken that way by the people involved.

    Personally, I do not consider that, by receiving Jukai, you are bound in any way to either me or my particular Lineage of Soto Zen. Again, I would love everyone to be a part of Treeleaf for a long time, and to be part of my Lineage and to feel committed to what we do here, but their are no chains around anybody. On the other hand, it is a commitment within your heart to follow the ways of Buddha, Dogen and Shikantaza, I feel. So, yes, you should make sure it is "right" for you. I suppose that it is a commitment that, so long as you are around Treeleaf, you will follow the ways I teach here ... but I hope you can see by now how I handle that: Many folks practice in a couple of places, with a couple of teachers. As well, In Soto Zen, we generally tend not to chase people to come in, and we do not chase after people who want to leave.

    One sure difference from Baptism is that, if you break your commitment later, or do not abide by a Precept, there are no hell fires awaiting you. (At least, I think that there are no hell fires later, being an agnostic on the subject as described on another thread. However, I can not fully guarantee that you will not come back reborn as a fox ).

    Folks can take the Jukai training with me and decide at the last minute if they want to go ahead. That is fine with me too.

    Finally, Hans' point about not running around from religion to religion, and teacher to teacher, is well taken. Folks should not do this as the flavor of the month. Neither should they be afraid that "something will happen to them" as a repercussion for doing this and changing their mind later.

    Yes, taking the Precepts is a serious thing, linking the recipient in a long line of Zen Ancestors, right back to all the Buddhas. It means that you have chosen to follow this Way of life and the teachings of this school. Yes, if you hang around Treeleaf, you should listen to Jundo more often than not ...

    ... but the meaning of doing this is, ultimately, the meaning you give it inside you. I think.

    Did I muddle the situation more?

    Gassho, Jundo

  21. #21

    Re: Jukai

    Jundo thank you for the clarification.

    i personally have given it a lot of thought. at least a year before i ever came to a decision on the subject.
    regarding zoto zen, i guess i always felt more akin to soto than rinzai. i think that just being is pretty much what i belive in. just sitting. just walking. just eating. just.... " justing "

  22. #22

    Re: Jukai

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    One sure difference from Baptism is that, if you break your commitment later, or do not abide by a Precept, there are no hell fires awaiting you. (At least, I think that there are no hell fires later, being an agnostic on the subject as described on another thread. However, I can not fully guarantee that you will not come back reborn as a fox ).
    Sorry. Trivial question. What is the symbol or meaning behind this statement that I have seen in other Zen forums? I know the Zen story. But. What's wrong with returning as a fox**? :?:



    **Being human is cool. But, if reborn, fox doesn't sound that bad. :mrgreen:

  23. #23

    Re: Jukai

    Quote Originally Posted by chicanobudista
    What's wrong with returning as a fox**?
    I, personally, like foxes. But I think in Japan, they have rather a bad rap.

    Gassho,

    Linda

  24. #24

    Re: Jukai

    Quote Originally Posted by chicanobudista

    Sorry. Trivial question. What is the symbol or meaning behind this statement that I have seen in other Zen forums? I know the Zen story. But. What's wrong with returning as a fox**? :?:
    In China and Japan, they were generally looked upon as intelligent and tricky fellows, often possessing magic powers. In Japan, they were said to possess folks, requiring an exorcism. If you are a Chinese/Japanese fox folklore fan, this is the website for you:

    http://kitsune.org/kitsunedotorg.html

    Let me also mention that you have stepped into the tangled, arcane, jargon heavy and (I think) often misguided web of academic debate about Dogen's several citations in Shobogenzo of the "Pai-chang's Fox" Koan (Mumonkan Case 2), and the messy, obscure, sometimes tortured theories of scholars regarding exactly what Dogen thought about Karma and Rebirth. Whole books and papers have been written on the subject, several by my friend Prof. Steve Heine, and still nobody knows for sure ...

    I will put a couple of citations, but PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK. A good headache may result (making a reading of Zizek look like Dr. Seuss).

    The bottom line, I believe, is that, (1) Dogen at heart may well have believed in a pretty traditional and mechanical view of Karma (2) although he usually cited rebirth stories on a more symbolic and inventive level typical of Dogen's jazzy style (3) and he was more interested in Karma in the here and now, than questions of "Rebirth" (4) but whatever the case, his opinions floated around quite a bit over the years, seemingly toward the more literal and traditional as he got older (5) however he might have talked in a literal way about rebirth more to a popular audience than to his monks, perhaps as a way to make his ideas more understandable and attractive, but he spoke that way to monks too (6) in any event, it was not the centerpiece of his philosophy (7) I do not think he knew for sure about such things, and I think he was just a fellow living with a 13th century world-view spitting in the wind about these subjects, and (8) like I said, but will repeat, it is not so important to the heart of his teachings.

    http://www.nanzan-u.ac.jp/SHUBUNKEN/pub ... g%2014.pdf

    http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-PHIL/putney1.htm

    Enjoy!

    Gassho, Jundo

  25. #25

    Re: Jukai

    Thank you Jundo - I would like to do this. As you say we would have to find a way to balance work & family life whilst undertaking this task.
    Kind regards
    Jools

  26. #26

    Re: Jukai

    I am looking forward to Jukai, too.

    Gassho,

    Linda

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