Becoming a Buddhist
Although it is not necessary to formally take Buddhist vows to practice with us, many people find that they strongly resonate with the Buddhist path and wish to make a formal commitment. In order to deepen practice by expressing our intention publicly, members may choose to study and receive the Sixteen Bodhisattva Precepts with us. Precepts are guidelines that inform our intention to live an ethical life and wake up to our true nature. Those who wish to take up the path of Zen take refuge in Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha and vow to do their best to foster good in their lives and cease from harm.
Receiving Buddhist precepts requires active EFZW membership and participation in a five part class series offered every new year that culminates in a ceremony in March called Jukai. Vows include acknowledging past harm, taking refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, and ceasing from harmful action, doing good for others, and in particular, forgoing 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, and 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), which includes renewing precepts and more responsibility, is for those who wish to make a formal commitment to a teacher and this particular lineage. EFZW members who wear a wagesa, a strip of cloth with a Buddhist knot, have undergone the former. Those with a rakusu, a larger bib like square that symbolizes the buddha’s robes, have entered a formal relationship with the teacher and the Dharma Cloud lineage. In Zen, the transmission of the way happens face to face, warm hand to warm hand, and is traced back from teacher to student to the historical Buddha. Considerations for Prospective Students
If you have questions about this process or are interested in studying the precepts, please talk to Seido or another member who has received precepts to explore the meaning of this transition. Regardless of formal commitment, the Buddhist way of life and its ethical teachings are open to all.