Becoming a Buddhist
Although it is not necessary to take vows to practice with us, many find that they strongly resonate with the Buddhist path and wish to make a formal commitment. Expressing our intention publicly and having it witnessed deepens our practice. The 16 Bodhisattva Precepts are guidelines that inform our intention to live in an awakened way and realize our true nature. The Precepts call attention to areas of life where we falter and offer dharma gates to liberated action in the complex settings of modern life.
Receiving Buddhist precepts requires active membership and participation in a class series that begins every January and culminates in a ceremony called Jukai. Vows include acknowledging past harm, taking refuge in Buddha, dharma and sangha. Precepts guide us to cease from harmful action, do good for others, and in particular, forgo killing, stealing, lying and other unskillful activity. It is not possible to keep these precepts perfectly and we recognize our limitations. They are intended to provide an orientation and reflection on to how we live moment to moment, and offer a pathway to align with our deeper heart. Their spirit is one of encouragement, not punishment.
In the Dharma Cloud lineage tradition, an initial Jukai ceremony indicates that a student has taken refuge and formally entered the Buddhist path. A second ceremony called “Zaike Tokudo” (lay student ordination), includes renewing precepts for those who wish to make a formal commitment to this particular sangha, its teacher and lineage. EFZW members who wear a wagesa, a strip of cloth with a Buddhist knot, have taken Jukai. Those with a rakusu, a larger bib-like square that symbolizes the Buddha’s robes, have undergone Zaike Tokudo. This is a longer discernment process that takes years to develop and is not required for most activities at our center. Considerations for Prospective Formal Students
If you have questions about this process or are interested in studying the precepts, please talk to Seido. Regardless of formal commitment, the Buddhist way of life and its ethical teachings are open to all.