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Jukai Lay Ordination Ceremony January 5, 2002

After months of preparation sewing the rakusu (the ceremonial monk's robe traditionally worn by Zen people), four Mountain Source Sangha members were lay ordained by Zen Priest, Taigen Dan Leighton. The "Ceremony of Staying Home and Attaining the Way" is a formal step in Buddhist practice that signifies one is "taking refuge" in the Three Jewels: Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. It is an expression of intention to practice the Bodhisattva Vows.

Sangha members interested in the rakusu robe sewing work closely with their teacher, Taigen, and a sewing teacher in the Soto Zen lineage. Various sewing teachers from the San Francisco Zen Center (including Blanche Hartman, John Renworth, Stuart Travis, and Vicki Austin) guided the students through the robe sewing steps. The rakusu robe sewing usually takes three to six months, depending on the student's situation. The idea is not to complete the robe sewing within a certain amount of time, but rather experience the robe sewing as a process in deepening one's practice. Throughout the sewing, the chant, "I take refuge in Buddha" is recited with each stitch, creating a patchwork of fabric pieces often likened to a rice paddy in the finished product.

The culmination of the rakusu sewing was the actual ceremony held on January 5, 2002. Following an abbreviated 1-day sitting schedule, Sangha members set up the hall (zendo) for the ceremony and guest seating at St. James Church in San Francisco. A low, square table with candles, flowers, incense, and wisdom water was positioned at the head of the room. Four zabutons and zafus were placed in a row facing the table; Taigen's seat behind the table was facing outwards towards the Ordainees.

At 3:00 PM the ceremony commenced with the Preceptor Procession into the zendo accompanied by the striking of the inkin bell. Ordainees then offered incense, bows and chanted the names of Buddha. As a traditional symbol of cutting attachments, Taigen, assisted by Jisha Liz Toumi, cut off a piece of hair from each Ordainee's head. At the prescribed time in the ceremony, each student was presented a Soto Lineage Paper, their individual Serene Name Card and their blessed rakusu. After putting on their rakusus, Ordainees again offered incense and took the Bodhisattva Precepts. Taigen spoke closing words for the newly ordained and a recessional out of the zendo ended the formal ceremony

Buddhist names given by the teacher to each student often reflect qualities of the person, present and future, providing a personal koan for each student.

The Buddhist names of the Ordainees are:
-Rose Scarff - Josen Kose; Constant Stream Radiant Offering
-Adrian Campbell - Shinzan Myoshin; Faith Mountain Wondrous Diligence
-Stephen Damon - Korin Ninsho; Ancient Forest Patient Illumination
-Miriam Damon - Shokan Rensho; Upright Regard Lotus Song

In the spirit of Sangha, a reception and photo session of teacher, students, and guests ended this memorable event, the first Jukai Ceremony of the Mountain Source Sangha.

Written by Val Szymanski, Mountain Source Sangha Vice President

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