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Thread: Ordination / Priesthood - what's it all about?

  1. #1

    Ordination / Priesthood - what's it all about?

    I would like to ask, due to my insatiable curiosity, and my fascination with the topic --

    What is the ordination / priesthood process with TreeLeaf like? How do people know they are right for it? What is it all about? What is the life like? What does it mean? I've read the forum descriptions but that only made me want to know more.

    I am ask these questions and I haven't yet completed Jukai or Ango, but the questions haunt me. I research these subjects personally, about general information on monks and priests in all cultures of Buddhism -- ordination, daily life, etc. -- because it fascinates me.

    But TreeLeaf is very special, and I am so curious -- thank you in advance.



    gassho
    kim
    st lh
    i speak from my own practice only. i am not an expert. gassho.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by allwhowander View Post
    I would like to ask, due to my insatiable curiosity, and my fascination with the topic --

    What is the ordination / priesthood process with TreeLeaf like? How do people know they are right for it? What is it all about? What is the life like? What does it mean? I've read the forum descriptions but that only made me want to know more.

    I am ask these questions and I haven't yet completed Jukai or Ango, but the questions haunt me. I research these subjects personally, about general information on monks and priests in all cultures of Buddhism -- ordination, daily life, etc. -- because it fascinates me.

    But TreeLeaf is very special, and I am so curious -- thank you in advance.



    gassho
    kim
    st lh
    Hey Kim,

    Have you seen these interviews that we did back in the day?

    Unsui/Priests answer the tuff () questions: https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...Novice-Priests

    Gassho
    Shingen

    Sat/LAH
    RINDO SHINGEN
    倫道 真現

  3. #3
    Hi Kim,

    It is lovely to discuss. What we are doing here is very simple, very ancient, yet part of a great experiment.

    In Asia, there are many kinds of Buddhist Ordained folks: There are celibate monastics in monasteries, hermits in the mountains, and married Japanese priests who maintain a temple catering to parishioners. In the west, the central focus tends to be the "Zen Center" and Zazen, rather than a temple performing memorial services for ancestors as in Japan, and the priests are also often married (often with an outside job in the ordinary working world to support themselves and their family). In Asia, some priests are teachers or Sangha leaders, but others just perform other jobs, such as temple cook, temple accountant, temple building maintenance, university teacher, doctor or nurse, gardener and the like.

    In all cases, the Ordained person undertakes a role of service upon Ordination. He or she is no longer just a recipient of the services of the Sangha, but is the servant of the Sangha.

    That said, our Treeleaf Sangha is an experiment in two main ways. First, we are attempting to bring these teachings outside of monastery walls, and into the world. That philosophy is summed up in the Obiturary I wrote for Nishijima Roshi when he died:

    I believe that these eight changes which Nishijima symbolizes will have lasting effects on the future of Zen in the West; and Treeleaf Sangha, where I am one teacher, is dedicated and committed to their furtherance.

    1 – STEPPING THROUGH THE TRADITIONAL FOURFOLD CATEGORIES OF PRIEST & LAY, MALE & FEMALE: Unlike most Buddhist clergy in Asia, Japanese priests typically marry and are not celibate. Some look at this as a great failing of Japanese Buddhism, a break from 25 centuries of tradition. In Japan and the West, even some Japanese lineage priests and lay teachers themselves are unsure of their own identity and legitimacy, and of their roles compared to each other. With great wisdom, Nishijima transcended all such questions and limiting categories. He advocated a way of stepping right through and beyond the whole matter, of finding living expressions where others saw restriction, and of preserving the tradition even as things change. While he was a champion of the celibate way (Nishijima Roshi, although married, turned to a celibate lifestyle for himself upon ordination), he never felt that celibacy was the only road for all priests. Nishijima advocated a form of ordination that fully steps beyond and drops away divisions of “Priest or Lay, Male or Female”, yet allows us to fully embody and actuate each and all as the situation requires. In our lineage, we are not ashamed of nor try to hide our sexuality and worldly relationships, nor do we feel conflicted that we are “monks” with kids and mortgages. When I am a parent to my children, I am 100% that and fully there for them. When I am a worker at my job, I am that and embody such a role with sincerity and dedication. And when I am asked to step into the role of hosting zazen, offering a dharma talk, practicing and embodying our history and teachings and passing them on to others, I fully carry out and embody 100% the role of “Priest” in that moment. Whatever the moment requires: maintaining a sangha community, bestowing the Precepts, working with others to help sentient beings. The names we call ourselves do not matter. In Nishijima’s way, we do not ask and are unconcerned with whether we are “Priest” or “Lay”, for we are neither that alone, while always thoroughly both; exclusively each in purest and unadulterated form, yet wholly all at once. It is just as, in the West, we have come to step beyond the hard divisions and discriminations between “male” and “female”, recognizing that each of us may embody all manner of qualities to varying degrees as the circumstances present, and that traditional “male” and “female” stereotypes are not so clear-cut as once held. So it is with the divisions of “Priest” and “Lay”.

    2 – FINDING OUR PLACE OF PRACTICE AND TRAINING “OUT IN THE WORLD”: For thousands of years, it was nearly impossible to engage in dedicated Zen practice except in a monastic setting, to access fellow practitioners, teachers and teachings, to have the time and resources and economic means to pursue serious practice, except by abandoning one’s worldly life. By economic and practical necessity, a division of “Priest” and “Lay” was maintained because someone had to grow the food to place in the monks’ bowls, earn the wealth to build great temples, have children to keep the world going into the next generation. Although Mahayana figures like Vimalakirti stood for the principle that liberation is available to all, the practical situation was that only a householder with Vimalakirti’s wealth, leisure and resources might have a real chance to do so. Now, in modern societies with better distributions of wealth (compared to the past, although we still have a long way to go), ‘leisure’ time, literacy and education, media access and means of travel and communication across distances, many of the economic and practical barriers to practice and training have been removed. This is the age when we may begin to figuratively “knock down monastery walls”, to find that Buddha’s Truths may be practiced any place, without divisions of “inside” walls or “outside”. For some of us, the family kitchen, children’s nursery, office or factory where we work diligently and hard, the hospital bed, volunteer activity or town hall are all our “monastery” and place of training. We can come to recognize the “monastery” located in buildings made of wood and tile as in some ways an expedient means, although with their own power and beauty too. There are still times when each of us can benefit from periods of withdrawal and silence, be it a sesshin or ango, or the proverbial grass hut in distant hills. Yes, this Way still needs all manner of people, each pursuing the paths of practice suited to their needs and circumstances, be they temple priests catering to the needs of their parishioners, hermits isolated in caves, celibate monks in mountain monasteries, or “out in the world” types demonstrating that all can be found right in the city streets and busy highways of this modern world. Nishijima, a zen priest yet a working man, a husband and father most of his life, stood for a dropping of “inside” and “out”. He was someone that knew the value of times of retreat, but also the constant realization of these teachings in the home, workplace and soup kitchens.
    The other aspect of our experiment is to train priests in our ways through maintaining a Sangha that is primarily online. That means that we have unusual priests who often could not easily Ordain in a standard setting, for example, priests with a physical disability, working people, elderly people.

    As far as I am concerned, there is room in Buddhism for all kinds of priests, so long as they are good people, dedicated, knowledgeable in our ways, serving the Sentient Beings, keeping these wonderful Teachings and Zazen alive for the next generation.

    Let me add that I only begin first discussing the topic of Ordination seriously after l have come to know someone around here for several years and have a high degree of trust in who that person is. Our training program takes several years with no guaranty of completion.

    Very simple.

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah

    PS - We have to do more of those video interviews with our other priests who came after.
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-25-2019 at 04:14 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  4. #4
    Member Hoseki's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    St. John's Newfoundland, Canada.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi Kim,

    It is lovely to discuss. What we are doing here is very simple, very ancient, yet part of a great experiment.

    In Asia, there are many kinds of Buddhist Ordained folks: There are celibate monastics in monasteries, hermits in the mountains, and married Japanese priests who maintain a temple catering to parishioners. In the west, the central focus tends to be the "Zen Center" and Zazen, rather than a temple performing memorial services for ancestors as in Japan, and the priests are also often married (often with an outside job in the ordinary working world to support themselves and their family). In Asia, some priests are teachers or Sangha leaders, but others just perform other jobs, such as temple cook, temple accountant, temple building maintenance, university teacher, doctor or nurse, gardener and the like.

    In all cases, the Ordained person undertakes a role of service upon Ordination. He or she is no longer just a recipient of the services of the Sangha, but is the servant of the Sangha.

    That said, our Treeleaf Sangha is an experiment in two main ways. First, we are attempting to bring these teachings outside of monastery walls, and into the world. That philosophy is summed up in the Obiturary I wrote for Nishijima Roshi when he died:



    The other aspect of our experiment is to train priests in our ways through maintaining a Sangha that is primarily online. That means that we have unusual priests who often could not easily Ordain in a standard setting, for example, priests with a physical disability, working people, elderly people.

    As far as I am concerned, there is room in Buddhism for all kinds of priests, so long as they are good people, dedicated, knowledgeable in our ways, serving the Sentient Beings, keeping these wonderful Teachings and Zazen alive for the next generation.

    Let me add that I only begin first discussing the topic of Ordination seriously after l have come to know someone around here for several years and have a high degree of trust in who that person is. Our training program takes several years with no guaranty of completion.

    Very simple.

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah

    PS - We have to do more of those video interviews with our other priests who came after.
    Hi Jundo,

    Weíre the priests who didnít teach at the monastery full priests? Or were they still priests in training?

    Thanks,

    Gassho
    Hoseki
    Sattoday


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  5. #5
    Hi Kim

    For me when you ordain you step into a path of service. You can still do that without but ordination is a public signifier that you are there to serve the sangha and wider community.

    I noticed this straight after Shukke Tokudo that when I logged into Treeleaf I was looking around the forums for where I could give a helpful answer or see if someone was struggling. It was no longer about me and my needs.

    Of course, we learn about Zen ritual, history and Mahayana philosopy in some detail. This is also in order to serve. Some of those things I like learning, some less so but I understand I need them all in order to act as a Zen priest and lead zazenkai and practice periods, give talks and answer any questions someone might have.

    So, a desire to serve is, for me, the essential part of requesting ordination. Also consistency of practice and longevity. We are always looking at the sangha to see who might be considered for priest training - who offers to help out, who is ever-present on the forum (which does not mean every day but a regular contributor), who comes up with ideas, who is there at each zazenkai, who has real interest in the deeper parts of our Zen way. Those are the people most likely to be considered for ordination but anyone who has been around for some time and expresses a genuine wish in serving Treeleaf would be seriously considered I am sure.

    One thing I am grateful for is that poor health is not considered prohibitive to ordination at Treeleaf and Jundo is to be commended for that attitude in my opinion. It is considerably rare elsewhere.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Hoseki View Post
    Hi Jundo,

    We’re the priests who didn’t teach at the monastery full priests? Or were they still priests in training?

    Thanks,

    Gassho
    Hoseki
    Sattoday


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Oh, it varied on the place and time, but the monastery populations were quite complex. There was the Abbot at the top, who often was a kind of sacred figure said to embody Buddha. There were temple officers, such as the Kan'in who was the actual Chief Operating Officer, the Tenzo in charge of cooking, the Shissui in charge of labor and building maintenance, the Ino in charge of guests and general monk supervision. All were full priests. However, not all were necessarily recognized as Zen Masters (depends where and when). Then there were the Unsui, who were the monks in Training. There might might have been children who were just being raised in the monastery, and were a kind of "pre-monk" called Shami. There may have been priests who were ordained, but perhaps they were really just laborers. There may have also been lay workers in the kitchens and elsewhere.

    The Sixth Ancestor, Hui-neng, one of our most cherished Ancestors in the Zen traditions, was said to have been a lay worker in the kitchen when he was made the "Sixth Ancestor" by the Abbot. He only became Ordained years later.

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah

    PS - The Soto-shu in Japan still maintains a series of steps and ranks in the career of a Zen priest. For the most part, this is for inheritance of a temple in Japan, and the majority of Zen Lineages in the west (especially America) do not follow this (although they may have Unsui, Shusso for someone who was an Ango leader, and then the Dharma Transmission steps). At the SZBA, we also have had a "Dharma Heritage Ceremony" (I had that in 2004)which was originally meant as a kind of Zuise in the west, and Daiho Hilbert Roshi gifted me with a "Roshi" ceremony two years ago in his lineage from Matsuoka Roshi.

    Last edited by Jundo; 06-27-2019 at 10:18 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  7. #7
    Someone just wrote me to ask about the process of Ordination at Treeleaf, the nature of Training and the "cost."

    There is no "cost" as such, as far as anything I or Treeleaf charges, which is Zero (In fact, the Robes and Bowls cost something to acquire from the Robe sewer and bowl supplier, but that is not through Treeleaf). However, the real "cost" is also the greatest "reward," because one must be willing to dedicate oneself to being of service to the Sangha community. The "cost" there is time and dedication. The "reward" .... I do not say.

    My teacher, Nishijima Roshi, and his teacher, Niwa Zenji who was the Abbot of Eiheiji, believed that working people with kids and jobs should train at the heart of that life, out in the world sometimes, working personally with one's teacher sometimes, or joining in Sesshin in the monastery sometimes. (I posted about that above). However, Ordination in our Sangha takes waiting for several years, and I must first really know the person well. If I know someone well for several years, they feel at home in our community, and I feel at home with them, then after a few years we would consider to first start talking about Ordination. (I am asked about Ordination quite frequently, and this is always my response.) Then, Ordination is itself just the first step on many years of training that may or may not result in anything. Our Training consists in studies of our Zen history, doctrines and Traditions (yes, even a Zen person needs to crack the books a little), and practical instruction in how to put on those Robes, open those Bowls, Bow and Light incense, chant and ring bells (even ceremony minimalists such as our Lineage need some of that, for a Zazenkai, a funeral or a wedding and the like). Then, we learn to oversee a Sangha Community, even one like ours that meets from afar, dealing with all kinds of issues ranging from the spiritual to difficult to joyous to the mundane, from Koans to dealing with member personal problems to how to do a Baby welcoming ceremony if somebody requests to buying a vacuum for the Zendo ... all the Great Koan.

    Being Ordained does not make one a full priest, only a Novice in Training, and that Training will take many years without any guaranty or promise that the person will eventually become a Priest. So, we take things very slowly.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  8. #8
    We’re the priests who didn’t teach at the monastery full priests? Or were they still priests in training?
    Hi Hoseki

    I found the book Eat Sleep Sit by Kaoru Nonomura to be an interesting insight into the workings of a modern day Zen monastery in the form of Eihei-ji, one of the two main Sōtō teaching centres.

    It is the perspective of one man but I believe it gives a flavour of how Zen training works and how the monastery is organised and monks take on different tasks of monastery function.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday/lah-
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post
    Hi Hoseki

    I found the book Eat Sleep Sit by Kaoru Nonomura to be an interesting insight into the workings of a modern day Zen monastery in the form of Eihei-ji, one of the two main Sōtō teaching centres.

    It is the perspective of one man but I believe it gives a flavour of how Zen training works and how the monastery is organised and monks take on different tasks of monastery function.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday/lah-
    Another zen book to add to the list!

    gassho,

    Neil

    StLah

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by EnlistedHipster View Post
    Another zen book to add to the list!

    gassho,

    Neil

    StLah
    lt is boot camp, and a marine would fit right in!

    An old review, and an passage from the book:

    ===============

    Daikan wasn’t the only one to earn the instructors’ wrath. “No! No, no, no! Come on!” As the meal progressed, the yells grew steadily louder and more menacing. The sound of slaps rang out ceaselessly

    “What’s this? You don’t want to eat? Fine, then don’t!” Tenshin had mistakenly laid his chopsticks across his still-empty bowl. The servers passed him by without stopping.

    Enkai had the opposite problem: miso soup being poured into his bowl spilled over the edge and ran down onto the tatami while he watched aghast, not knowing what to do.

    Doryu got punched in the stomach and dropped his bowl.

    Daikan finally managed to lay out his bowls properly by copying his neighbor, but from then on his every move earned him another slap or punch. In the end, he was grabbed by the scruff of the neck and dragged down off the platform. As he lay on the floor in fright, the instructors kicked him.

    Yuho, Kijun, and Choshu somehow managed to keep up with the servers, but their bodies were rigid with effort, their eyes wide open and unblinking as they hurriedly crammed food into their mouths and gulped it down without chewing.

    For all of us, the acts of eating and drinking were carried out in a state of abject terror. The least mistake brought an instant cuff from one of the eagle-eyed senior trainees standing watch. The food had no taste; there was no sense of enjoying a meal. The pace was fast and it took intense concentration to keep up. Now the chopsticks. Next the lap cloth. You had to confirm each step mentally before you could act.

    If you paused to savor the food, before you knew it, second helpings were being served and you had to rush to get your share. If you took time eating that, next thing you knew the servers were coming around with tea, then hot water. Even after we’d memorized exactly what to do and the routine grew familiar, there was never any time to linger over our food.
    There are aspects to it precisely like boot camp or a college fraternity 'hazing' ... a building up by breaking down. Group consciousness is created, inner strengths are found, the selfishness of ego is left at the door. ln such style, there is a time for a bit of "tough love" (emphasis on the 'love' part), and some folks benefit from the marine drill instructor. Not my style so much, and for some folks it just backfires. However, there is a time to push push push some folks forward to attain that 'no where to attain' ... However, we have to be very cautious ... because sometimes a well meaning "spank" can turn into teasing and abuse and power trips, as sometimes seen in that book." In fact, all all too often ... which is one reason we prefer to maintain a soft and gentle atmosphere ... yet just as sincere toward Practice.

    I have heard that the fact that Nishijima Roshi is a strong critic of places like Eiheiji, by the way, is one of the main reasons that Niwa Zenji ordained him and gave him Dharma Transmission. At the same time that Eiheiji Abbott Niwa was at the heart of Eiheiji, he wanted Nishijima and his students ... Sangha like this one perhaps ... to be a "kick in the shins" to the rusty system.

    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    lt is boot camp, and a marine would fit right in!

    An old review, and an passage from the book:

    ===============



    There are aspects to it precisely like boot camp or a college fraternity 'hazing' ... a building up by breaking down. Group consciousness is created, inner strengths are found, the selfishness of ego is left at the door. ln such style, there is a time for a bit of "tough love" (emphasis on the 'love' part), and some folks benefit from the marine drill instructor. Not my style so much, and for some folks it just backfires. However, there is a time to push push push some folks forward to attain that 'no where to attain' ... However, we have to be very cautious ... because sometimes a well meaning "spank" can turn into teasing and abuse and power trips, as sometimes seen in that book." In fact, all all too often ... which is one reason we prefer to maintain a soft and gentle atmosphere ... yet just as sincere toward Practice.

    I have heard that the fact that Nishijima Roshi is a strong critic of places like Eiheiji, by the way, is one of the main reasons that Niwa Zenji ordained him and gave him Dharma Transmission. At the same time that Eiheiji Abbott Niwa was at the heart of Eiheiji, he wanted Nishijima and his students ... Sangha like this one perhaps ... to be a "kick in the shins" to the rusty system.

    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH
    This all sounds very familiar. I have 'fond' memories of the contents of my locker being emptied out the second floor window by a drill sergeant who seemed personally offended by my inability to iron straight creases in everything.

    I was inspired when I heard about Nishijima Roshi's route to ordination in his 50s, I've a while to go until that point but who knows what the future holds!

    Gassho,

    Neil

    StLaH

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post

    PS - The Soto-shu in Japan still maintains a series of steps and ranks in the career of a Zen priest. For the most part, this is for inheritance of a temple in Japan, and the majority of Zen Lineages in the west (especially America) do not follow this (although they may have Unsui, Shusso for someone who was an Ango leader, and then the Dharma Transmission steps). At the SZBA, we also have had a "Dharma Heritage Ceremony" (I had that in 2004)which was originally meant as a kind of Zuise in the west, and Daiho Hilbert Roshi gifted me with a "Roshi" ceremony two years ago in his lineage from Matsuoka Roshi.

    Fake news. There's nothing after "Death." ;-)

    Gassho,

    Kirk who may have once been a hot dog in another life.
    I know nothing.

  13. #13
    Thank you for these responses, they are so very helpful ..... more than I can explain.

    I hope to read more.

    Deep bows to all.

    gassho
    kim
    st lh
    i speak from my own practice only. i am not an expert. gassho.

  14. #14
    Member Hoseki's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    St. John's Newfoundland, Canada.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post
    Hi Hoseki

    I found the book Eat Sleep Sit by Kaoru Nonomura to be an interesting insight into the workings of a modern day Zen monastery in the form of Eihei-ji, one of the two main Sōtō teaching centres.

    It is the perspective of one man but I believe it gives a flavour of how Zen training works and how the monastery is organised and monks take on different tasks of monastery function.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday/lah-
    Awesome thanks! I'm going to add it to the list.

    Gassho
    Hoseki
    Sattoday/lah

  15. #15
    Shingen, thank you for the link to the interviews. I don't think I have seen them. I hope more will follow.

    Jundo, your explanations of how the process works is precious and informative. I now have a better understanding of why I feel comfortable at Treeleaf. I'm glad that some things in this fast-paced world still take a long time to explore and develop.

    Kokuu, I appreciate learning your perspective of things. From your sharing I realized that certain traits that are natural for me, but are not often valued in western society, would be useful here. Bringing ideas, service, helping, being present, etc. -- traits that I learned to restrain elsewhere -- could be useful here. Not for self-gain but for service to the greater good of community.

    I've been reading, thinking, and re-reading responses, each time seeing something new. I also have been building a small Zen library. This discussion is helping me to see my rudimentary practice in a different way.

    Thank you all for opening my eyes and my mind to what can be; this beautiful world is truly priceless.

    Gassho
    Kim
    St lh

    Sent from my SM-G930U using Tapatalk
    i speak from my own practice only. i am not an expert. gassho.

  16. #16
    I came across this thread several months after the last post and found Jundo's answers to be very helpful and insightful.

    I have been studying and practicing the Buddha-Dharma for nearly two decades and have given a lot of thought to the idea of ordination. Like many who investigate this topic, in the beginning I saw it as a kind of way to escape the world but came to realize that it's exactly the opposite of that. The more I thought about that, the more I saw how much healthier and beneficial this is. When we are in pain we instinctively try to move away from what we think is causing us pain, but sometimes the correct thing to do is to move closer to it and soften our heart and make friends with what we think is our source of pain. I did that and have come far and I stopped looking at ordination as an escape and now I see it as a tremendous opportunity to be of benefit to others.

    It is not enough for one to be concerned with one's own happiness. We are not lone islands unto ourselves. We are living, breathing parts of humanity and the world as a whole. It is simply not possible to escape. To see more clearly how we are a manifestation of nature, of the universe, is beneficial to everyone. Dropping the separation of 'self' and 'other', seeing helping others as the same as helping yourself.

    When a part of our body is sick or injured, the whole body suffers. When someone outside of ourselves suffers, we suffer too. When we help others, we are helping everyone because we are part of a singular wholeness that pervades all of reality across time and space.

    Ordination is, in my mind, a kind of affirmation of that fact. Committing to the service of others is a natural consequence of understanding that deeply; when we see this fact of the way things are, our actions naturally align with helping others since helping others is the same as helping ourselves, and accepting help is the same as giving help. Ordination can, I think, help one to really focus on this - even though it's not at all necessary. It doesn't hurt to not ordain, you don't really miss anything necessarily, but ordination is a kind of dedicated recognition by our sangha and our own inner witness of what we understand life to be all about.

    At least these are the kinds of thoughts I've had over the years. Perhaps, in time, I may seek ordination myself but this time with a proper motivation and understanding.

    I am really fascinated by Nishijima-roshi's perspectives on this topic. He always seemed to be a man born out of time; so forward-thinking, so progressive.

    Gassho,
    Sen
    SatToday

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Sen View Post
    I came across this thread several months after the last post and found Jundo's answers to be very helpful and insightful.

    I have been studying and practicing the Buddha-Dharma for nearly two decades and have given a lot of thought to the idea of ordination. Like many who investigate this topic, in the beginning I saw it as a kind of way to escape the world but came to realize that it's exactly the opposite of that. The more I thought about that, the more I saw how much healthier and beneficial this is. When we are in pain we instinctively try to move away from what we think is causing us pain, but sometimes the correct thing to do is to move closer to it and soften our heart and make friends with what we think is our source of pain. I did that and have come far and I stopped looking at ordination as an escape and now I see it as a tremendous opportunity to be of benefit to others.

    It is not enough for one to be concerned with one's own happiness. We are not lone islands unto ourselves. We are living, breathing parts of humanity and the world as a whole. It is simply not possible to escape. To see more clearly how we are a manifestation of nature, of the universe, is beneficial to everyone. Dropping the separation of 'self' and 'other', seeing helping others as the same as helping yourself.

    When a part of our body is sick or injured, the whole body suffers. When someone outside of ourselves suffers, we suffer too. When we help others, we are helping everyone because we are part of a singular wholeness that pervades all of reality across time and space.

    Ordination is, in my mind, a kind of affirmation of that fact. Committing to the service of others is a natural consequence of understanding that deeply; when we see this fact of the way things are, our actions naturally align with helping others since helping others is the same as helping ourselves, and accepting help is the same as giving help. Ordination can, I think, help one to really focus on this - even though it's not at all necessary. It doesn't hurt to not ordain, you don't really miss anything necessarily, but ordination is a kind of dedicated recognition by our sangha and our own inner witness of what we understand life to be all about.

    At least these are the kinds of thoughts I've had over the years. Perhaps, in time, I may seek ordination myself but this time with a proper motivation and understanding.

    I am really fascinated by Nishijima-roshi's perspectives on this topic. He always seemed to be a man born out of time; so forward-thinking, so progressive.

    Gassho,
    Sen
    SatToday
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  18. #18
    Member Getchi's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Between Sea and Sky, Australia.
    @ Sen - absolutely and yet he is still a man talking in a way fairly consistent with Dogen's words.

    No time, yesterday, tomorrow and the rest of us together.


    Gassho
    Geoff.

    SatToday
    LaH.
    Nothing to do? Why not Sit?

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