• Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts
  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39454


    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 FOUR NEW NOVICE-PRIEST TRAINEES, well known faces around here ... Dosho (Scott), Soen (Ian) and Shinkai (Allison). They will join our present Novice-Priest Trainees, Shohei, Fugen and Mongen.

    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, Taigu and I are pleased to announce that Soen, Shinkai and Dosho will be our next “class”. Perhaps, it would be better to say “our next test subjects”, joining Mongen, Shohei and Fugen 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 Genjô-kôan, 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 Shinkai, Soen, Dosho well in their start on this long undertaking. Soen's Ordination by his Teacher, Rev. Taigu Turlur, is planned to occur during our upcoming Winter Retreat in Belgium in December. Dosho and Shinkai will be Ordained by me, Jundo, sometime in the early Spring. That ceremony is planned to occur much as our last Ordination Ceremony, on Three Continents simultaneously using all means of modern media, dropping all thought of place and time.

    I include brief information on each of our prospective Ordainees below, although 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.

    What is more, we hope that they will be merely the most recent among other folks to follow in the years to come. I will write more about that below. 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

    * Soen (Ian Kilroy) - Ian began to meditate as a teenager in the 1980s but only started a regular, daily meditation practice in the late 1990s. From 2000, Soen sat regularly with the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order in Dublin, Ireland, where he lives, and then with various Zen and Tibetan groups, until finally settling on Soto Zen practice as the way he wanted to follow. He took the precepts, with Paul Haller Roshi of San Francisco Zen Centre, in the lineage of Suzuki Roshi, in 2010, and that same year discovered Treeleaf, where he is the student of Rev. Taigu Turlur. Soen is married to the lovely Isabelle, from Toulouse in France, and they have two beautiful young boys. A writer and former journalist, Soen now teaches journalism in DIT’s School of Media, in Dublin.

    * Shinkai (Allison 'Al' Baxter) - Al has been practicing meditation since she was a child when her dad taught her how to calm herself in times of stress. In 2006 She became intensely interested in Buddhism after she attended a talk by Thubten Chodron at the University of Texas. In 2007, she discovered Treeleaf Zendo, and took Jukai with Jundo in 2009. In daily life, she is married to her partner of 8 years and works at Facebook. She says that she is honored to be serving the sangha.

    * Dosho (Scott Morgan) - Scott is a stay at home dad to two sons, age 6 and 2. Scott is 36 years old, and has now been married for 10 years. Scott wants to mention that, "without the 3 of them and their love, support, and patience, I would not be here I am quite sure." Despite what Scott describes as his "shy" nature, he fast became a warm and caring heart of this community, always offering a wise and helpful word to those in need.
    Last edited by Jundo; 02-09-2013, 03:34 AM.
  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39454

    Re: ANNOUNCEMENT: Our 2012 Treeleaf “Home-Leaving Ordinations

    As I mentioned in the foregoing announcement ...

    What is more, we hope that they will be merely the first among other folks to follow in the years to come. I will write more about that below.

    If there is anyone who has been sitting with our community for some time, has read the above description of Ordination and of the role of a Priest, and feels in their heart some calling to the Path for the future ... please feel free to privately contact Taigu or me, Jundo, and we can begin a slow and careful discussion and reflection on such possibilities.

    Not for this year, or for next year ... as these things, like any calling and commitment, should not be rushed ... but for perhaps somewhere down the road. One must carefully weigh these matters, see if one has the 'Right Stuff' ... and sit with these questions deeply and lovingly. However, there are many good hearts around this community who may have the makings ... perhaps ... someday ... of good Soto Zen Clergy, Good Ministers and Good Teachers of the Way. On the other hand, such things are not the road for most or even many, not even the right road for many who may feel drawn that way.

    We would be happy to discuss such questions with anyone at any time, and see what doors may open somewhere down the road.

    Gassho, Jundo and Taigu


    • Al
      • May 2007
      • 400

      Re: ANNOUNCEMENT: Our 2012 Treeleaf “Home-Leaving Ordinations

      So thankful to be celebrating this step with the sangha.

      Leaving home
      I vow with all beings
      calling, commitment
      all bring me back to the source.
      Gassho _/\_


      • Myoku
        • Jul 2010
        • 1487

        Re: ANNOUNCEMENT: Our 2012 Treeleaf “Home-Leaving Ordinations

        it moves my heart, to you you four going this way,
        thank you so much and all the best


        • Shokai
          Treeleaf Priest
          • Mar 2009
          • 6391

          Re: ANNOUNCEMENT: Our 2012 TREELEAF “Home-Leaving ORDINATIONS

          Dosho (Scott), Soen (Ian), Shinkai (Allison) and Heitetsu (Chris), my sincere best wishes to the four of you. You are to be commended for taking this gigantic first step into the role of serving. Let me just remind each of you that if ever i can assist in anyway, please, just call.
          gassho, Shokai

          仁道 生開 / Jindo Shokai

          "Open to life in a benevolent way"


          • Dosho
            • Jun 2008
            • 5784

            Re: ANNOUNCEMENT: Our 2012 TREELEAF “Home-Leaving ORDINATIONS

            Hello all,

            I am extremely grateful to Jundo, Taigu, and my families, both my wife and sons as well as the folks here at Treeleaf that have made all this possible. It is with a very joyful heart that I shall continue to serve the sangha I have come to love. And my deep congratulations to my fellow priests in training!

            Deep bows to you all.


            Originally posted by Jundo
            Scott is 33 years old
            But I am most grateful to Jundo who, through a miracle, has managed to shave 3 years off my life!

            I was 33 when I began at Treeleaf, but alas I am now an infinitely older and wiser 36.


            • Myozan Kodo
              Friend of Treeleaf
              • May 2010
              • 1901

              Re: ANNOUNCEMENT: Our 2012 TREELEAF “Home-Leaving ORDINATIONS

              Thank you for having me as part of this wonderful Sangha. I am very happy and grateful to my teacher Taigu, to the founder of this Sangha, Jundo, and to you all here for Treeleaf and its continued growth and flourishing. I hope I can in some small way contribute positively to our shared and endless journey. And what company to share that journey with: Shohei, Fugen and Mongen; Dosho, Shinkai and Heitetsu; and each and every one of you that follow this way with Jundo and Taigu.
              Deep bows all,


              • Shohei
                • Oct 2007
                • 2854

                Re: ANNOUNCEMENT: Our 2012 TREELEAF “Home-Leaving ORDINATIONS

                Exciting news indeed!!
                Congratulations Dosho, Soen, Shinkai and Heitetsu!!
                Let the Hazing I mean ...



                • Jiken
                  • Jan 2011
                  • 753

                  Re: ANNOUNCEMENT: Our 2012 TREELEAF “Home-Leaving ORDINATIONS

                  Best wishes and good luck to you guys. Thanks for making the commitment to serve at Treeleaf.


                  • andyZ
                    • Aug 2011
                    • 303

                    Re: ANNOUNCEMENT: Our 2012 TREELEAF “Home-Leaving ORDINATIONS

                    As someone who has been thinking of making a more serious commitment to Zen I applaud you guys for making this step and taking on more responsibilities towards helping yourself and the others in front of the Sangha. Wish you all the best and we will be watching you!! :twisted:


                    • Shugen
                      Treeleaf Unsui
                      • Nov 2007
                      • 4535

                      Re: ANNOUNCEMENT: Our 2012 TREELEAF “Home-Leaving ORDINATIONS

                      Congratulations and Good Luck!

                      And, Thank You of course!

                      Meido Shugen
                      明道 修眼


                      • Hoyu
                        • Nov 2010
                        • 2020

                        Re: ANNOUNCEMENT: Our 2012 TREELEAF “Home-Leaving ORDINATIONS

                        This is AWESOME news!!!! Heartfelt congratulations to Dosho, Soen, Shinkai and Heitetsu! _/_ _/_ _/_

                        Ho (Dharma)
                        Yu (Hot Water)


                        • Rev R
                          • Jul 2007
                          • 457

                          Re: ANNOUNCEMENT: Our 2012 TREELEAF “Home-Leaving ORDINATIONS

                          Good luck to the new "old folks"!



                          • Ekai
                            • Feb 2011
                            • 664

                            Re: ANNOUNCEMENT: Our 2012 TREELEAF “Home-Leaving ORDINATIONS

                            Congrats to all of you. Very exciting news!



                            • Kaishin
                              • Dec 2010
                              • 2322

                              Re: ANNOUNCEMENT: Our 2012 TREELEAF “Home-Leaving ORDINATIONS

                              Wonderful to hear! All of you have been very helpful and encouraging during my year here at Treeleaf. You all have unique perspectives, but share a strong commitment to the Sangha. I know you will all be model unsui-- Looking forward to the ceremony!

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