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Thread: Jukai and Shoken

  1. #1

    Jukai and Shoken

    Hello friends,

    I have a question, and looking through the forums, cannot find it asked (or answered) before. If it has been, I apologize.

    As I understand it, Jukai is the "conversion" ceremony (although I think that word is something like an octagonal peg in a round hole...announcement ceremony, maybe?) and Shoken is formally becoming the student of a teacher.

    Are they treated as one and the same here? Or is that something that is more personal, between Taigu or Jundo and the student in question?

    Thank you for your time,

    Perry

  2. #2
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Jukai and Shoken

    Hi Perry,

    There are many here who can answer your question much better than I, but they are not the same. Jukai (receiving the precepts) is a declaration to live your life according to the dharma. I have never heard of Shoken, but Shukke Takudo (home leaving) is priest ordination, at least the beginning of it. Three sangha members (Fugen, Shohei, and Mongen) were the first to undertake such a journey with Jundo and Taigu earlier this year.

    Hope that helps!

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  3. #3

    Re: Jukai and Shoken

    Hello Dosho,

    I thought that it might have something to do with Shukke as well, until I researched it a bit further. This is what I found:

    In his first Notes entry, Keizan Sensei talks about the shoken ceremony, during which the student-teacher relationship is formally established. If you are considering doing shoken with Sensei (it's not too late, even if you did jukai ages ago!), please speak to him personally.

    Shoken is a private ceremony in which a practitioner formally asks a teacher if they may become their student. The ceremony is short and normally takes place in the interview room. It marks a mutual commitment between the two. The student will not always be accepted and may have to ask more than once. It is important to reflect on why you want shoken and what, for you, it implies both for yourself and the teacher.

    The request for shoken is always left to the student to initiate. The teacher’s job is to allow the student to develop and mature along the Buddhist path and to provide a vehicle for spiritual and psychological development. Basically the teacher ‘holds the seat’ for the student. The student commits to walking their own path, step by step, and accepting full responsibility for their own actions.

    ‘Entering the Way’ intrinsically involves, for all of us, change and especially personal change. This will for most people, at some point, lead to resistance to that change and a possible, potentially difficult relationship between student and teacher. Shoken carries with it the agreement on both sides to allow this process, if it arises, to happen and to clarify it without (or before) walking away.

    On a personal level, if somebody asks me for shoken and I agree then there are certain general expectations I will have of that person. I would want them to support the sangha and to occasionally do some physical work e.g. in maintaining the zendo, preparing equipment for sesshin, helping in the making of mats and cushions. Or I would want them to support the sangha in other ways, such as administrative work, helping with the website, accounts, charity status etc. I would expect them to attend the zendo at least once a week ( if they live in Liverpool), to see me in interview at least once a month, preferably more, to do an absolute minimum of one sesshin a year and one retreat at the Lake District zendo. I may also ask a practitioner in an explicit or implicit way to take on a task or change their behaviour towards a particular situation in some way and part of the practice is to pick up on that without it being spelled out.

    (Note: Many folk in StoneWater Sangha have trained with me for a number of years and the need to ask formally for shoken has in a way passed. Our relationship is now understood through the reality of our shared practice, however, if you are in this position and would like to formalise our relationship then I would encourage you to ask.)

    OK, that’s shoken – incidentally, in the Zen tradition in the West there’s a move away from using these Japanese words, so you can think of it as a “personal commitment” to me, as opposed to shoken. Does anyone have any comments or questions?

    Keizan SenseiQ: So it’s formalising what we do already?

    It’s formalising what you do already, yes. And I think the formalising is important.

    Q: There’s a much greater depth than I previously appreciated.

    OK, this is why I want to say it, because it’s not normally said. It’s one of those things that you’re supposed to absorb, the awareness of what these things mean, which is the way I learned! But I like it that you know what it’s all about, I prefer it.

    Q: So why don’t we do this, generally?

    Because you haven’t asked! [Laughter] That’s all it is! To be fair, I haven’t asked you to ask, and I haven’t clarified what it means, but traditionally there’s always been a kind of obliqueness, and ‘hazy moon’-ness to this whole practice. It’s not a conscious obscurity, there’s a sense that you find out what you feel you need to know.

    Q: Over the years, people have talked about shoken, and I’ve asked, “What is it?” and I’ve learned about it that way.

    Right, you learned from asking other folk. It’s a bit like when you’re 12 and you ask about sex from your mates! [Laughter.] You cannot always be sure you got the right info.

    Q: Does shoken necessarily come first in the order of say shoken, jukai, shukke tokudo etc

    It doesn’t necessarily come first. As a person who’s received shiho, I have a certain obligation to give jukai to people if they ask me. I don’t always – didn’t we have someone who wrote in via the website and insisted I gave them jukai? Alasdair wrote to them and said it might be nice if you at least came and met him! So there are sometimes that I will say ‘no’, to jukai. Shoken is personal and private and between only me and the person who asks.

    Q: So have we missed the opportunity [if we’ve already done jukai]?

    No, not at all. They’re two different things. You can do jukai, and traditionally – well, not traditionally but by practice, when folk have done jukai, they have usually considered themselves as a student of the person from who they’ve received the precepts. But that’s only by habit and practice, traditionally, jukai doesn’t bind you or tie you to a particular teacher. It’s just that you’ve chosen to enter the Way. You’ve chosen to say in public, “I am entering the Way.”

    Q: Does that mean, regardless of whether we’ve taken tokudo or jukai or whatever, at any stage you could ask for shoken?

    In normal circumstances, I wouldn’t do tokudo with somebody unless they’d asked me to do shoken. However, my situation is slightly different because we’ve had an established sangha here even before I received hoshi and became a dharma holder. After receiving Shiho would be the usual place to start. (Incidentally, I don’t know if you’ve noticed that shoken is the opposite of kensho, it’s the other way around to kensho. Kensho is seeing into your own nature, and shoken is to see into one another’s nature, there’s a flip). So, in a way, what’s happened with StoneWater Zen Sangha vis-à-vis these various ceremonies is an outcome of the sangha’s history , rather than conscious decisions that we’ve made, it’s just fallen out that way.


    Scott, K. (2010, July 7). Shoken – committing to a teacher. Retrieved from http://www.stonewaterzen.org/sw-notes/2 ... -a-teacher

    BOLD added by me for emphasis.
    So, it looks to me like it's a formal commitment to the teacher, as opposed to the Sangha or the Buddha-Way (which is covered in Jukai, no?). As he says "the need to ask formally...has passed" because of the length of practice, but he also says "I think the formalising [sic] is important."

    So, it's a different ceremony for a different commitment, I think.

    But I don't know for sure.

    Metta,

    Perry

  4. #4
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Jukai and Shoken

    Hi Perry,

    Very interesting! Hopefully Jundo, Taigu, or one of our more experienced sangha members can elaborate further on the subject and say if it pertains to Soto or only the White Plum lineage.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  5. #5

    Re: Jukai and Shoken

    Quote Originally Posted by AtomicSpud
    Hello friends,

    I have a question, and looking through the forums, cannot find it asked (or answered) before. If it has been, I apologize.

    As I understand it, Jukai is the "conversion" ceremony (although I think that word is something like an octagonal peg in a round hole...announcement ceremony, maybe?) and Shoken is formally becoming the student of a teacher.

    Are they treated as one and the same here? Or is that something that is more personal, between Taigu or Jundo and the student in question?

    Thank you for your time,

    Perry
    Hi Perry,

    Well, every Sangha has a bit of its own flavor on questions like this. Let me tell you my view (I hope Taigu will too).

    I do not see Jukai as a "conversion" ... except, of course, we are constantly "converting" and changing in every atom of life every moment. Each instant is new. "Jukai" (Undertaking the Precepts"), in my view, means a few things:

    First, the Precepts are arrows and guides pointing in the direction of choices and actions seeking to avoid harm to self and others ... and that are healthful, peaceful and beneficial for self and others ('self and others' are not two, by the way). This supports our Buddhist Practice and a balanced life, and also manifests the fruits of our Buddhist Practice (we naturally want to live in a gentler, less grasping way as a result of Practice). The question is how we actually live each day by the Precepts before the ceremony and after, and the ceremony itself is a symbol of that. Of course, the ceremony is just for a moment ... and the real question is how we live each day.

    Second, the Jukai ceremony marks our continuing to learn from the Buddhist Teachings and our aspiration to make them a vital part of our life. One does not need the Jukai to do that, and the ceremony again marks that fact (much as one naturally grows and matures, and the birthday cake and a party simply celebrates that fact). I do not know if I would call this a "conversion", for all the weight that word seems to have in some other religions. I might call it a "dedication" perhaps.

    Next, one is dedicating themself to a particular Sangha and Lineage of Teachers ... and one receives a "Lineage Document" as part of the Jukai in which that line is drawn out, from Buddha and all the Ancestors, from Taigu or me, to you ... and back to the Buddha again. As Taigu as eloquently explained, the Rakusu/Kesa also manifests that which wraps us all together. Now, different Sangha are different (same, but different). Here, I do not feel that someone needs to formally bind to Taigu or me as their "one and only Teacher". Rather, have countless teachers ... learn from the wisdom of children, the experience of the elderly, from the mountains and trees, from many religions and philosophies. I also feel that one can undergo Jukai with many Sangha and teachers who are vital in one's life (I have undergone Jukai 3 or 4 times with various teachers who had meaning in my life). However, it is also good to eventually settle down with one "main teacher' if there is that special chemistry there in what is taught.

    So, I am someone's Teacher when that is felt to be so. No ceremony is really necessary to make that firm. (As Dosho said, 'Ordination' or later 'Dharma Transmission' as a priest takes a lifetime commitment to a Teacher traditionally, much like a marriage relationship between a couple, and thus needs to be more formalized, binding and monogamous. However, just to feel that someone and some place is one's Teacher and Sangha is more a matter of the heart, as far as I am concerned).

    I believe the "Shoken" ceremony (or "Shokan", literally "seeing one another") is not so common in the West outside the White Plum and certain other Sangha in the Rinzai tradition (White Plum is very much Rinzai influenced.). However, I will confirm with the "Zen Teachers grapevine" at the SZBA and AZTA and report back.

    Taigu, anything to add?

    Gassho, Jundo

  6. #6
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Jukai and Shoken

    Yes and no,

    I share Jundo's understanding. Just wanted to add that a student may have different teachers in a lifetime, receive jukai with one, tokudo with another and denpo with another one...
    Indeed, there is not such ceremony in our Soto tradition, although if the student wants to study with a particular teacher, he may ask him or her in a casual, informal way. Sometimes what Dogen calls Menju happens, the meeting of two minds. Just like Ejo and Dogen. And, it is not only in the good old stories.

    gassho

    Taigu

  7. #7

    Re: Jukai and Shoken

    I asked through the Zen teachers 'grapevine' at the AZTA about Shoken (the ceremony) ... and it seems, like so many things in the Zen world, nobody is exactly clear on the origins of the Shoken ceremony. A teacher in the Harada-Yasutani Lineage wrote to me, and it is practiced there ... although it is not clear if it is a Rinzai tradition that they incorporated sometime in the past.

    In any case, "Shoken" means "encountering" in one possible translation ... the encountering of Teacher- Student and Student-Teacher (and the student-student and teacher-teacher too 8) ) ... and that is not something that happens just by being created in a ceremony. Rather, the ceremony celebrates and marks the encountering (rather like wedding nuptials in that way). So, I wrote this back ...

    Of course, this "encountering" happens all the time, and the encountering of Teacher and Disciple is all through Master Dogen's writings. And, of course too, the ceremony just speaks of that and lets us encounter that real fact of encountering.

    Gassho, Jundo

  8. #8

    Re: Jukai and Shoken

    Hello friends,

    Thank you for all of your input, clarification, and research.

    Whatever the origins, I'm glad I "encountered" all of you!

    Metta and Gassho,

    Perry

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