Sit-a-Long with Jundo: A Married Monk?!?

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My wife and son have joined me on these "sit-a-longs" from time to time, and this has caused a few folks to write me expressing some surprise."Hey, how can a 'monk' have a wife? I thought Buddhist priests were all supposed to be celibate?"

(Click through for more, and to "Sit-A-Long" with today's video.)

Most Buddhist priests in Japan marry, in Zen and other denominations.  Buddhist clerics marrying is nearly unheard of in the rest of Asia. There is a long history behind how that happened in Japan, which I shall briefly explain. Having married Buddhist clergy is a major break from Buddhist tradition, there is no doubt. It has, unfortunately, sometimes been a point of misunderstandings between Japanese and other Asian Buddhist priests.

In the West, more and more, Zen clergy have come to resemble Protestant Christian Ministers, married with family and, very often, with outside jobs to pay the bills, yet leading a congregation.

That's why calling many of us "Zen Monks" is kinda funny, excepting those periods of months or years when Zen clergy live and train in a monastery, usually in a celibate situation. (Then, the name "Zen monk" is appropriate). After that, most live in temples, with their families -- wife and kids. So, maybe "Zen Priest" is a better term, or "Zen Minister"... or perhaps just "Zen Teacher"or "Zen Clergy"...

So, we are not really, most of the time, "Zen Monks" in a "monastery." Some of us have come out into the world. And I think that is a very good thing!

Today's Sit-A-Long video follows. Remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells; a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended.



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