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Lay Community

The Way of the Lay Member

Lay practitioners have always been a vital part of Zen-Buddhism. The history of lay practice goes back to the time of the Buddha and the great lay practitioner Vimalakirti. Seijaku Roshi designed a path to "lay-ordination" which recognizes the valuable contribution laypersons make toward spreading the Dharma of Loving-kindness and Compassion.

Formal Student Training 


This program is available to those who have attended Jizo-an Zen Community programs for a minimum of one year and have established a familiarity with our guiding teachers, community and the practice of Zen meditation. One of the key aspects of Zen meditation practice is the student-teacher relationship. Practicing under the guidance of a teacher has been the traditional path of seekers of the Way since the beginning of Zen in China centuries ago. 


The Path to Lay Ordination


In the Zen tradition, dedicated lay practitioners may decide to receive the Bodhisattva precepts. This is known as lay ordination. Lay ordination is appropriate for those who feel called to make a deeper commitment to their practice and the monks of the Jizo-an Zen Community. The precepts (vows) are transmitted to the practitioner by the abbot in the formal ceremony of Jukai. The ceremony of Jukai represents a commitment in front of the monks and lay community of one’s intention to live their life in accordance with the sixteen Bodhisattva vows. Requirements for Lay Ordination include being an active member of the Jizo-an Zen Community for a minimum of two years, are currently a formal student and have completed the precepts class.  


The Path of Service


This path is available only to the most serious of formal students who by their actions have demonstrated a genuine interest in giving back to the Jizo-an Zen Community. Students accepted into this path are expected to have mastered temple etiquette and liturgy. They will be called upon to take on the various service positions such as sounding the han and temple bell, handing out sutra cards, greeting guests, assisting the tenzo, arriving earlier than guests and staying after the guests depart. They may also be called upon to sound the gong, lead zazen and kinhin. Requirements for The Path of Service include having received the precepts, are currently a formal student and have been an active member of the Jizo-an Zen Community for a minimum of three years.  A student in this path will wear a brown robe.

The Path to Full Ordination

To be ordained in the Order of The Great Lights is to serve the teachers and sangha as a vocation. It is a lifelong commitment, providing a unique opportunity within spiritual life. Monastics in the Order maintain the Zendo and facilities for current practitioners and for generations to come.

The process leading to full ordination is long and demanding. Requirements include at least four years of training as a formal student, with a minimum of two years as a Lay-Monk. This graded approach allows students to find out through experience whether monastic life is right for them, revealing the difference between the reality of committing one’s life to the Buddhadharma and any romantic notions about Zen training and monastic life.

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