Treeleaf Zen

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 BuddhistSangha and to the Practice of Zen Buddhism, and of one’s undertakingthe “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’spersonality and practice.

My teacher, NishijimaRoshi, has written this …

Whena Buddhist seeks to commence upon the study of Buddhism, there is firsta ceremony which should be undertaken: It is called ‘Jukai,’ the”Receipt of the Precepts”, the ceremony in which one receives andundertakes the Precepts as a disciple of the Buddha. … Master Dogenspecifically left us a chapter entitled ‘Jukai,’ in which it isstrongly emphasized that, when the Buddhist believer first sets out tocommence Buddhist practice ….. be it monk, be it lay person, no matter….. the initial needed steps include the holding of the ceremony ofJukai and the undertaking of the Precepts …

Nishijima Roshi also offers this description of the Precepts …

Therationale of all of the Buddhist Precepts, the Mahayana BoddhisattvaPrecepts …… is as a pointing toward the best ways for us to live inthis life, in this real world…. how to live benefiting both ourselvesand others as best we can.

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

TheBuddhist Precepts are one of the most vital areas of practice forstudents… In essence, the Precepts are a definition of the life of aBuddha, of how a Buddha functions in the world. They are howenlightened beings live their lives, relate to other human beings andthis planet, and make moral and ethical decisions while manifestingwisdom and compassion in everyday life.

The Soto Sect’s “Shumucho” (Religious Affairs Office in Japan) reminds us …

[T]houghpeople approach it with different motivations, all participants mustrealize that in Jukai-e they inherit the life and quintessence ofBuddhism as passed down correctly by generation after generation ofAncestors since the days of ancient India.

Taiun Michael Ellison says:

[We]hold the Jukai or lay Zen Buddhist initiation ceremony for thosewishing to receive (ju) the precepts (kai or sila) and formally confirmentering the Buddhist path. This is an important and powerful event inthe life of a practitioner and in the life of the Sangha. Thisceremony, historically known as “entering the stream,” has beenperformed continually since the time of the Buddha. In the Soto Zentradition, the ceremony continues to be offered exactly as set down byMaster Dogen in his text Kyojukaimon (Instructions on Giving thePrecepts) more than 800 years ago.

[It] is available to anyonewho has been practicing steadily for several months and who wishes todeepen and formalize their commitment to practice and to the Sangha. Sothe ceremony is at once both a beginning and a confirmation ofsomething that has already occurred.

John Tarrant Roshi offers this perspective …

Everyyear around the beginning of winter we do the ceremony of Jukai in theSangha. It is the primary initiation ceremony of Zen. … In Jukai youreceive the Rakusu, which represents the robe of the Buddha, and yourconnection to all in the ancient lineage of people who have walked theWay and suffered for wisdom and also gained wisdom. You share in theirlight and their effort. You take on a Buddhist name, identifyingyourself in the tradition in that way.

You engage with theprecepts of the Bodhisattva. There are sixteen of them. Pretty muchthey are common sense undertakings. “I take up the way of not killing,””not stealing,” “not lying,” “not undertaking sexual misconduct,” “notmisusing drugs.” Things like that, simple things. “Not indulging inanger,” “not praising myself while abusing others.” And as well as thatthere is taking refuge as part of the precepts. “I take refuge in theBuddha.” “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 myselfto it.

Barry Magid of Ordinary Mind Zendo writes …

[W]hatdoes Jukai itself mean? That’s a question I don’t intend to answer, butleave for each individual to decide for themselves.

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