JUKAI! JUKAI! JUKAI!

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Well, the day has arrived for our JUKAI (Undertaking the Precepts) CEREMONY ...


... our first ever for Treeleaf Sangha ...


... and (we believe) the first Jukai Ceremony ever conducted fully online since, well, Buddhism began!!


There is more about the meaning of "Jukai" below. But first, here is the record of our ceremony held today, and we hope you will celebrate with us ...





What exactly is "Jukai"??

Jukai literally means "to receive" or "to undertake the Precepts". It is the ceremony both of one's formally committing to the Buddhist Sangha and to the Practice of Zen Buddhism, and of one's undertaking the "Sixteen Mahayana Bodhisattva Precepts" as guidelines for life. Traditionally for Jukai, one receives from a teacher the "Rakusu", which represents the robe of the Buddha, the "Kechimyaku", a written lineage chart connecting the recipient to the Buddhas and Ancestors of the past, and a "Dharma Name" selected by the teacher and representing qualities of the recipient's personality and practice.

My teacher, Nishijima Roshi, has written this ...

When a Buddhist seeks to commence upon the study of Buddhism, there is first a ceremony which should be undertaken: It is called 'Jukai,' the "Receipt of the Precepts", the ceremony in which one receives and undertakes the Precepts as a disciple of the Buddha. ... Master Dogen specifically left us a chapter entitled 'Jukai,' in which it is strongly emphasized that, when the Buddhist believer first sets out to commence Buddhist practice ..... be it monk, be it lay person, no matter ..... the initial needed steps include the holding of the ceremony of Jukai and the undertaking of the Precepts ...

Nishijima Roshi also offers this description of the Precepts ...

The rationale of all of the Buddhist Precepts, the Mahayana Boddhisattva Precepts ...... is as a pointing toward the best ways for us to live in this life, in this real world.... how to live benefiting both ourselves and others as best we can.

Daido Loori Roshi of Zen Mountain Monastery has described "Jukai" this way:

The Buddhist Precepts are one of the most vital areas of practice for students... In essence, the Precepts are a definition of the life of a Buddha, of how a Buddha functions in the world. They are how enlightened beings live their lives, relate to other human beings and this planet, and make moral and ethical decisions while manifesting wisdom and compassion in everyday life.

The Soto Sect's "Shumucho" (Religious Affairs Office in Japan) reminds us ...

[T]hough people approach it with different motivations, all participants must realize that in Jukai-e they inherit the life and quintessence of Buddhism as passed down correctly by generation after generation of Ancestors since the days of ancient India.

Taiun Michael Ellison says:

[We] hold the Jukai or lay Zen Buddhist initiation ceremony for those wishing to receive (ju) the precepts (kai or sila) and formally confirm entering the Buddhist path. This is an important and powerful event in the life of a practitioner and in the life of the Sangha. This ceremony, historically known as "entering the stream," has been performed continually since the time of the Buddha. In the Soto Zen tradition, the ceremony continues to be offered exactly as set down by Master Dogen in his text Kyojukaimon (Instructions on Giving the Precepts) more than 800 years ago.

[It] is available to anyone who has been practicing steadily for several months and who wishes to deepen and formalize their commitment to practice and to the Sangha. So the ceremony is at once both a beginning and a confirmation of something that has already occurred.

John Tarrant Roshi offers this perspective ...

Every year around the beginning of winter we do the ceremony of Jukai in the Sangha. It is the primary initiation ceremony of Zen. ... In Jukai you receive the Rakusu, which represents the robe of the Buddha, and your connection to all in 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." ... [It is] to say that I trust that there is a Way and I commit myself to it.


Barry Magid of Ordinary Mind Zendo writes ...

[W]hat does Jukai itself mean? That's a question I don't intend to answer, but leave for each individual to decide for themselves.

                                                          PLEASE JOIN THE CELEBRATION!

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