Monday, May 09, 2011

Precepts at Deming Zen Center

On Saturday, May 7, Deming Zen Center held its first precepts ceremony.

Sometimes people who have been practicing for a while decide to solidify their commitment to practice at a public ceremony. Precepts are vows which are used in Zen practice as guidelines for conducting ones daily life in a clear, compassionate direction. To do this, the precepts cannot always be taken as literal commandments. Using the precepts becomes a practice of applying spontaneous wisdom in weird situations.

In our school, one takes five precepts at first. Those five precepts are:

I vow to abstain from taking life.
I vow to abstain from taking things not given.
I vow to abstain from misconduct done in lust.
I vow to abstain from lying.
I vow to abstain from intoxicants, taken to induce heedlessness.

The person taking precepts then receives a Buddhist name. One of our members took five precepts this weekend and received the name Hye Chung, meaning "Wisdom Sky."

In later years, it is possible to take more precepts. In our school, when you take more precepts you are also taking on responsibilities for helping the Zen Center by leading practice, learning to give meditation instruction to beginners, and so forth. There are 10 precepts, and later 16 precepts.

At this ceremony, our abbot took on an additional 48 precepts to make 64 precepts. These bodhisattva precepts are very old lay precepts in Buddhism. In our school, one who takes these precepts is called a "Bodhisattva Teacher." Their responsibilities include teaching and leading practice, giving consulting interviews (similar to daisan in Japanese Zen schools), and giving public talks on Zen.

Our precepts teacher was Judy Roitman, JDPSN, who is also the guiding teacher of our baby Zen Center.

When our group photo comes back, we will be sure to post it.


Barry said...

Congratulations to your abbot on becoming a bodhisattva teacher! Now what?

Nathan said...

Congrats! Enjoy the ride...