Two sangha members of the Buffalo Zen Dharma Community completed their training requirements and took Jukai on April 23rd of this year. Scott Forster and Deborah Hovland, who are formal training students in the Mountains and Rivers Order of Zen Buddhism centered at Zen Mountain Monastery in Mt. Tremper, NY, spent the week prior to taking Jukai at the monastery furthering their training, meeting frequently with the abbot of the monastery, and hand-sewing their rakusus (the black bib-like cloth worn in the picture above). The rakusu is a symbol of the Buddha's robe and is also the symbol of the person taking The Precepts which are the moral and ethical teachings of Buddhism. To formally become a Buddhist, one has to take The Precepts. If one has accepted the moral and ethical teachings of another religion (Christianity, Judiasm, Hinduism, Islam or any other religion) that person can also take Zen spiritual training and even complete formal Zen training and teach Zen to others. In the MRO tradition there are sixteen precepts:
1. Taking refuge in the Buddha
2. Taking refuge in the Dharma
3. Taking refuge in the Sangha
4. Do not create evil.
5. Practice good.
6. Actualize good for others.
7. Affirm life'--do not kill.
8. Be giving--do not steal.
9. Honor the body--do not misuse sexuality.
10. Manifest truth--to not lie
11. Proceed clearly--do not cloud the mind
12. See the perfection--do not speak of others' errors and faults.
13. Realize self and other as one--do not elevate the self and blame others.
14. Give generously--do not be withholding.
15. Actualize harmoney--do not be angry.
16. Experience the intimacy of things--do not defile the Three Treasures.
At the Jukai ceremony, Scott and Deborah both got Dharma names:
"Jo" means to proceed carefully, and in a steady fashion.
"Kai" means to unravel or untie
So, the meaning of these two words together is, in Scott's own words, "Carefully, and steadily progressing in the unraveling the obscurations that the perceived self and eons of ignorance have blinded true untainted reality of the way."
"Kyo" means mirror referring to the mirror-mind or mirror of samadhi. It is the mind which sees things without favoring or rejecting. It is the mind that reflects just what comes before it. Even when covered with dust, the mirror remains clear and bright.
"Shin" means heart-mind are unified, one reality, one person. There can be compassion and kindness in thoughts and ideas; there can be intelligence and incisiveness in feelings and emotions. Wisdom reveals the true Dharma body, free of qualities and attributes. Compassion expresses this true body through its characteristics and various aspects. To put it another way, "To cultivate the natural peace that is the nature of every person, and to offer this mirror to all."
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David Kozen Williams, MRO has been a formal student in the Mountains and Rivers Order since 1997.