Practice Paths

The Practice Paths of Clear Mind Zen

The following is a brief outline of the formal practice path within the Clear Mind West Zen school:

Kie Sanbo: Taking Refuge in the Three Treasures

Kie means devotion to, or taking refuge in, sanbo means ‘the three treasures.’ The ceremony exists to accept the student as a Zen Buddhist. By taking refuge in the three treasures, the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha, the is committing to a life of living the perfections of the Buddha. These are lay precepts. A beginning step, if you will along the Great Way. Other steps will follow as he/she grows and matures in the Buddha-dharma.

Jukai Tokudo

Jukai Tokudo involved a ceremony in which a student repents past harmful actions, has their head ceremonially shaved (really just a small lock of hair), takes refuges in the three treasures and vows to uphold the 13 Bodhisattva Precepts.

What does this mean?  To take these wonderful precepts as one’s own does not mean to apply them as you see fit.  What this means is that to take the precepts is to drop the self and become the precepts so that there is no difference between yourself and the precept.  In short, you are the very embodiment of the precept.  In doing so, one takes the very first step in becoming a buddha. One’s life becomes a light for the world, a shining example of the Four Noble Truths and Buddhadharma.

When one receives Jukai, a black rakasu is presented to the student.

Unsui “Cloud and Water” Tokudo

Cloud and Water, Un Sui, the phrase used to describe novitiate priests has particular significance.  It is a description of the depth of that tremendous step to enter the path to priesthood. The disciple becomes a person free of encumbrances, like a cloud passing overhead. Yet is still, like water, taking in what comes along the way. A Disciple in our tradition is one who has been accepted as a formal student. The Disciple trains hard and with great diligence. He or she is a Priest in Training and is entitled to be referred to as “Reverend.”  The Disciple will be asked to learn, practice, and master all of the services performed by priests in our Sangha.

“Shihō” / Dharma Transmission

In this ceremony the Unsui finishes their priest ordination path to become a full Zen Priest and receives Dharma Transmission with the mandate to uphold and pass on the lineage of Dogen Zenji. With this ceremony a priest is given a brown okesa and rakasu.

Transmission of Light Ceremony

In this ceremony a Dharma Transmitted priest is awarded the title “Roshi” (the equivalent of Inka Shomei in other zen schools). It is presented to someone who has shown a deep commitment to practicing and transmitting the Buddha way.