In ceremony we come to understand the teachings in an immediate holistic way. Embodied ritual both celebrates and expresses spiritual truth through collective movement and voice. Contemporary adaptation of traditional ceremony helps connect us to their ancient wisdom. Below are significant rituals we perform throughout the year. All are welcome to attend. 


Jukai means “giving and receiving the precepts,” which are the Buddhist ethical vows. The ceremony involves atonement, taking refuge in Buddha, dharma and sangha, and upholding the three pure precepts and the ten grave precepts. Jukai marks formal entry into Zen practice as participants become Buddhists.

Zaike Tokudo

Zaike Tokudo translates as “accomplishing the Way while remaining at home,” reflecting the vow of committed lay practitioners to awaken in the circumstances of life. This ceremony is for someone becoming a formal student. Formal students take additional vows beyond precepts to care for the sangha, engage the teacher-student relationship, and uphold the Dharma Cloud lineage.


Wesak celebrates the Buddha’s birth. The Buddha’s life story is often read during meditation, followed by group reflection. During the ceremony, it’s traditional to pour sweet tea over the baby Buddha’s head to honor the birth of wisdom in the human world.


This is a ceremony for atonement and the renewal of vows. Participants reflect on ways their actions have not aligned with their intentions in the recent past and renew their commitment to be guided by vow. All are welcome, even if one has not formally received precepts.


This lively ceremony opens with noisemakers and offerings made to all unresolved karma, an activity understood as “feeding the hungry ghosts.” During the close, all of the merit lists from the previous year are burned, symbolizing release and purification.

Founder’s Ceremony

This ceremony commemorates the teachers who came before and offered their lives to the dharma. September marks the passing of our founder, Kyogen Carlson, former abbott of Dharma Rain Zen Center, who died in 2014. The sangha devotes this time to remembering Kyogen’s deep insight into the dharma, faith in his students and delightful sense of humor.