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  1. #1


    Dear All,

    I am very content to make this announcement, on behalf of Taigu and myself, and ask everyone sitting with our Sangha to join in its celebration. In the coming months, OUR SANGHA WILL WELCOME THROUGH 'Home Leaving' ORDINATION TWO NEW NOVICE-PRIEST TRAINEES, well known faces around here ... Kyonin Barros and Yugen Kemos. They will join our present Novice-Priest Trainees, Shohei, Fugen, Mongen, Dosho and Myozan. Kyonin and Yugen will be Ordained by Jundo as Novice Priest-Trainees sometime in the late Spring.

    From time to time, after undertaking Zen practice for many years, a person may feel in their heart a certain calling. They may wish to train in our traditions and embody them in order to keep this way alive into the next generation as clergy. They may feel a calling within themselves to live as a servant and minister to the community, to the Sangha and to all living beings.

    Traditionally, in India, China, Japan and the other Buddhist countries of Asia, one was expected to leave one’s home and family behind in order to begin the necessary training and practice of an “apprentice”. Thus, the ancient ceremony of ordination in Buddhism became known as Shukke Tokudo, “Leaving Home to Take the Way”. Now, in modern Japan and in the West, one of the great changes in the nature of Buddhist clergy has been that most of us function more as “ministers” than “monks”, with family and children, often with outside jobs as “Right Livelihood” supporting us, while ministering to a community of parishioners. This, in keeping with changes in cultures and society, has done much to bring Buddhism out from behind monastery walls. While, now, we may be living in a monastic setting for periods of weeks or months (and thus can be called “monks” during such times), we then return to the world beyond monastery walls, where these teachings have such relevance for helping people in this ordinary life. We are not bound by monastery walls, dropping all barriers separating "inside" from "out". Thus, the term “leaving home” has come to have a wider meaning, of “leaving behind” greed, anger, ignorance, the harmful emotions and attachments that fuel so much of this world, in order to find the “True Home” we all share. In such way, we find that Home that can never be left, take to the Way that cannot be taken.

    Someone’s undertaking “Shukke Tokudo” is not a “raising up” of their position in the Sangha, it is not an honor or “promotion” into some exalted status, not by any meaning. Far from it, it is a lowering of oneself in offering to the community, much as all of us sometimes deeply bow upon the ground in humility, raising up others and the whole world above our humbled heads.

    It is to volunteer and offer oneself as the lowest ‘sailor on the ship’ at the beck and call of the passengers' well-being and needs, a nurse to help clean soiled linens, a brother or sister to sacrifice oneself for a family, a friend offering to help carry a burden. One must be committed sincerely to serve and benefit others, and one must not undertake such a road for one’s own benefit, praise or reward.

    What is more, the undertaking of “Shukke Tokudo” is not the end of the road of training, not by any meaning. Far from it, it is but the first baby steps. Perhaps, years down the road, the person will find that that they still have the inner calling to continue this path … and, perhaps, years down the road, they may have embodied this Tradition sufficiently to continue it and be certified as full “priest” and a teacher … but there is no guaranty of any of that. For this reason, one undertaking “Home Leaving” is not yet recognized in the Zen world as truly a fully ordained “priest” for many years, and is called an “Unsui”, meaning “clouds and water”. The best translation in English is “apprentice priest” or "novice priest" or “priest trainee”. Perhaps, years down the road, some trainees will be felt to have embodied these traditions sufficiently in order to function independently as teachers … but not necessarily. For now, they are just school children expected to learn … with the future not assured, and no promises about future promise. (Of course, we are all beginners, all children … all learning from each other … teachers learning from students too).

    We hope that, in the coming years, other people will feel this same calling. It must be by mutual decision. It is not something that should be rushed into, nor rushed through. Although people are all different, maybe a good time to first consider such a thing would be only after practicing for 5 years or longer, and then it should be deeply thought about (and non-thought about) for longer still before first taking on the responsibilities of being an apprentice student-priest.

    For now, I am pleased to announce that Yugen and Kyonin will be our next “class”, joining Mongen, Shohei, Fugen, Myozan and Dosho in a great experiment here. The reason is that, given the nature of our Sangha, the coming years of training will have to be done in some traditional ways and some very new, innovative ways. If anyone wishes to download and read a very long and detailed statement of the ‘goalless goals’ of training that these people are expected to follow and come to embody … here it is (33 pages, PDF).

    These “Treeleaf Sangha Guidelines for Training Soto Zen Buddhist Clergy” are based, as closely as we can, upon guidelines for priest training established by the Soto Zen Buddhist Association (SZBA) of North America. The process of training, with no guaranty that it can ever come to flower, will take several years. As our Guidelines state:

    These Guideline seek to address four main topics for individuals wishing to train as clergy and teachers of Soto Zen Buddhism within the Treeleaf Sangha:

    1. Purpose – What are we training priests for? How should a priest trainee gain necessary skills to function when out on their own, and how are they expected to function and conduct themselves both during and after training?

    2. Standards – How do we train priests? What do we expect from a priest after ordination? What areas of work are essential?

    3. Elements – What are the specific activities, events, and processes that make up priest training?

    4. Stages – What do we expect of a person before ordination (shukke tokudo)? What, if any stages should priests pass through after ordination?

    However, these Guidelines, and our Sangha’s program of training, are necessarily works in progress, and an ongoing endeavour, and thus subject to great experimentation, constant adjustment, flexibility and change throughout their unfolding.


    The purpose of priest training is to prepare individuals for a life dedicated to exemplifying the Dharma with integrity via empowering them to extend Buddhist teachings and Soto Zen practice out in the world, all in keeping with the traditional teachings of Soto Zen Buddhism and the philosophy of our Lineage.

    Priest training encourages the continuing unfolding of the Bodhisattva ideal characterized by the Six Paramitas of giving, ethical conduct, patience, energy, meditation, and wisdom. Yet the heart and flowering of our way is always Shikantaza, sitting and moving in stillness without grasping or rejecting any of the constantly arising and changing phenomena of life as-they-are, the life practice of the Buddhas and Ancestors manifesting and realizing the Genj-kan, the fundamental point actualized through this life-practice

    Although much of the training and experience-gathering to be acquired, by necessity in our Lineage, must occur at a distance, with some ingenuity and in small steps and pieces, all must be part of an unbroken whole. It is the quality of the results which matter most, and the maintenance of integrity throughout, more than the traditional road followed to arrive at the destination. In this training, both teacher and student must use care, employ great effort and creativity, overcome any hurdles and pay constant attention to detail such that no aspect of training is neglected.

    Training, sometimes in a residential setting and sometimes not, sometimes in a group with others and sometimes by the student's own endeavors, will be based on the following perspectives …

    The period of formation that follows upon novice ordination (shukke tokudo) may continue for any number of years prior to possible (although never inevitable) Dharma Transmission, but truly continues as a lifelong endeavor that will sustain individuals dedicated to exemplifying the Dharma and the the Bodhisattva ideal. Completing formal priest training will mean that an individual has internalized the tradition, is capable of transmitting it, and vows to devote her or himself to a life of continuous practice and service.The individual’s dedication to the elements of priest training must enable him or her to maintain a regular, disciplined zazen practice, to instruct and guide others in their practice, to present and discuss the history and teachings of Buddhism and Soto Zen, to perform services and ceremonies in the Soto style as appropriate and required in the circumstance, and to actively nurture and serve both Sangha and the larger community and society.

    In addition, priest training must make the individual aware of the highest ethical standards which must always be maintained by a member of the clergy, thereby assisting him or her in maintaining such standards in his or her personal life at all times. Training will also enable the individual to demonstrate personal qualities that inspire trust and confidence and encourage others to practice. Finally, training will enable the individual to clearly understand – and communicate to others – the relationship of Zen teaching and practice to everyday life.

    We hope that you will join us in wishing Kyonin and Yugen well in their start on this long undertaking. Most of you will know them very well from their almost daily participation here over several years, and the energy, wisdom and compassion they always bring to our community. They will be Ordained by me, Jundo, sometime in the late Spring. That ceremony is planned to occur much as our prior Ordination Ceremonies, across oceans using all means of modern media, dropping all thought of place and time.

    As in all we undertake in our Sangha, the ceremony will not be limited to a specific location, much as our annual Jukai here at Treeleaf … and we hope that you will all join us for the ceremonies when the time comes.

    Gassho, Jundo (and Taigu)
    Last edited by Jundo; 03-11-2013 at 03:21 AM.

  2. #2
    Awesome, Kyonin and Yugen! I am very excited for you both!
    If I'm already enlightened why the hell is this so hard?

  3. #3
    Deep Bows and much respect , Kyonin and Yugen.

    More gems at Treeleaf.

    Gassho, Daizan

  4. #4
    Amazing! I hope both of your journeys goes well Kyonin and Yugen!


  5. #5
    Treeleaf Engineer Seimyo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Yuba City, California, USA
    Such a wonderful announcement. I will be honored to witness my friends and sangha-brothers make this step in what is a huge commitment.


    明 Seimyō (Christhatischris)

  6. #6
    Great news!!! What courage it takes to make this commitment. Many bows to my dharma friends.



    (Jack K.)

  7. #7

  8. #8

  9. #9
    Dear Kyonin and Yugen,
    Deep bows. I wish you the best in your preparations for this auspicious day.

  10. #10
    Kyonin and Yugen,
    A deep bow to you both with my respect! Thank you for your practice and commitment!


  11. #11
    This is wonderful news,

    Deep bows Kyonin and Yugen,



  12. #12
    Wonderful news, I am very happy for you both
    There's no doubt you'll do great !!
    gassho, Shokai

    仁道 生開 / Jindo Shokai

    "Open to life in a benevolent way"

  13. #13
    Great news! Thank you for your commitment to the Way.
    Sat today

  14. #14

    deep bows to you for your commitment from Germany. To quote a folk song "I'm sure it's a road, and it'll lead to somewhere"

    Gassho and thank you all for your support,

    Hans Chudo Mongen

  15. #15
    Gassho for your commitment to us


  16. #16
    This is wonderful news ... I am very happy, as Kyonin and Yugen are both wonderful and compassionate dharma brothers.

    Deep bows,

  17. #17


  18. #18
    Congratulations Kyonin and Yugen!



  19. #19
    Rock on, guys!



  20. #20
    All the best to both of you, Kyonin and Yugen!


    no thing needs to be added

  21. #21
    Gassho, Kaishin
    Kaishin (開心, Open Heart)
    Please take this layman's words with a grain of salt.

  22. #22
    Treeleaf Unsui Shugen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Redding California USA
    Congratulations Kyonin and Yugen!

    Meido Shugen
    明道 修眼

  23. #23
    Deep bows my brothers...congrats!


  24. #24
    Deep bows to you both for this undertaking.
    Gassho, Jakudo Hiinton
    Gassho, Shawn Jakudo Hinton
    It all begins when we say, I. Everything that follows is illusion.
    "Even to speak the word Buddha is dragging in the mud soaking wet; Even to say the word Zen is a total embarrassment."

  25. #25
    Wonderful news! Warmest wishes to both Kyonin and Yugen as you deepen your practice! We're always here to support you and help you with anything you should need.


  26. #26
    Fantastic news! Congratulations Yugen & Kyonin!


  27. #27
    Congratulations guys. I am sure you will be amazing.

  28. #28
    Fantastic news, my best wishes to Kyonin and Yugen!

    Alan / Heishu

  29. #29
    Congrats guys!



  30. #30
    Wonderful news. Congratulations Kyonin and Yugen. Gassho.
    Heisoku 平 息
    Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home. (Basho)

  31. #31
    Congratulations Kyonin and Yugen!!!!

    Deep Gassho

    Thank you for your practice

  32. #32
    Kyonin and Yugen thank you for your commitment and congratulations!

  33. #33
    Gassho friends,
    I deeply admire your courage!
    Take care,
    In a spring outside time, flowers bloom on a withered tree;
    you ride a jade elephant backwards, chasing the winged dragon-deer;
    now as you hide far beyond innumerable peaks--
    the white moon, a cool breeze, the dawn of a fortunate day

  34. #34
    Deep bows to both of you


  35. #35
    Congratulations to you both!

    Deep bows


  36. #36
    Wonderful news! Very brave you guys!
    Many bows,

  37. #37
    Wonderful news guys! Thanks for your commitment to the Dharma!


    We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.
    ~Anas Nin

  38. #38
    Thanks, guys - and congratulations


  39. #39
    Congratulations Kyonin and Yugen!


  40. #40
    Deep bows and much respect, Kyonin and Yugen!



  41. #41
    Dear all,

    Thank you for you kind comments.

    It's a big change in my practice, but it feels right.

    Please be patient with me because I'm sure I'll make a lot of silly things along the way. Slap me when I need it :P


    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  42. #42
    Don' t you worry. I have got my kyosaku just ready



  43. #43
    Greetings all,
    Thank you for your kindness and words of support. This is a big step, and I am quite in awe, and humbled. Your practice sustains me.

    Deep bows,

  44. #44
    This is great to hear Kyonin and Yugen. Thank you for your commitment!


  45. #45
    As always, we are here to support you as you are here to support us.


  46. #46
    Wonderful news! Congratulations to both!


  47. #47
    Awesome news! Many congratulations to Kyonin and Yugen!

    Ho (Dharma)
    Yu (Hot Water)

  48. #48
    Thank you, thank you all


    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  49. #49
    What my brother said......

    I am so grateful for your support, and your presence. You are all my teachers.

    Deep bows

  50. #50
    求道芸化 Kyūdō Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

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