One Pine Hall Newsletter 6-3-12




A Community of Soto Zen Buddhists in Seattle Washington

Issue 27                                                                                                                       June 3, 2012


Hello friends,


Alive so alive

Here now this very moment

Simply so alive


The gray overcast sky allows the various colors of green of the grass, moss, tree leaves and so on, to shine forth today.


This summer on Sunday August 19, we will celebrate Nat’s receiving of the precepts.  The fundamental step in becoming a child of Buddha in the Soto Zen tradition.   It is talked about in the Shushogi that we have been chanting and Dogen wrote about it in the Shobogenzo chapter entitled Jukai.


I have been fortunate to have formally received the precepts 4 times in Japan.  The first time was during a O’ Jukai which is a large ceremony last 5 days.  The ceremony was officiated by Zenji Newa Roshi.   A large group of us lived at a local temple for the 5 days sleeping in the Buddha hall.  We participated in the services daily.  The noon service was always dedicated to a patron who had donated for our lunch on behalf of a dead parent or child.  Every morning we did a jundo, a procession to each altar and shrine in the temple grounds to offer incense and bow.  Then we worked.    It was in the spring during the spouting of new bamboo so we dug bamboo shoots most days but we also cleaned toilets, and raked leaves on the grounds.   Each afternoon we heard a lecture on the precepts from different teachers.  We all wore white vestments with a protection  amulet written on the back.  On the 4th night we entered a maze with a list of our past karma written on paper that if we made it past the fearsome guardians of the Dharma we could burn in the fire tended by a bodhisattva.   The next day being made pure the night before we received the precepts and then were given a linage chart and a Dharma name to begin our new life as children of Buddha.  After which there was a mondo where the various monks were able to ask the Zenji questions.  It was quite an experience, hopefully one day we can celebrate an O’jukai here in the United States.


The next Jukai or Zaike tokudo (staying home and taking the precepts) was a small intimate ceremony between me and my teacher Suzuki Hoitsu Roshi with my elder brother Koki san assisting.   Paul Descoe and a group of men from the San Francisco Zen Center were also present as they were at Rinsoin to practice for a few of weeks.  I remember being touched by being anointed by the wisdom water and then the water being offered to beings in the 10 directions.   After the ceremony we all ate noodles, which are a favorite food of my teacher.


I received the precepts when I was ordained or Shukke tokudo (leaving home and taking the precepts).


And lastly I received the precepts again during the transmission ceremony.


Making a vow is a powerful and dynamic action.  Unlike making a statement or a promise which if we do not follow through with we are left with the disappointment but when making a vow we incur the consequences of stating our intention to act in accordance with the vow for all beings to hear and witness.  If we do not live up to our vowed intentions we will experience mountains and rivers blocking our way.  We come to the decision to accept the precepts after some reflection and consideration.  I would suggest that it is not something we do lightly or on a whim.


Please join us in celebrating Nat’s decision to accept the precepts this summer




One Pine Hall


425 23 Ave S. #114

Seattle WA 98144



7:00pm – 8:30pm

40 minute period of sitting, 20 minute talk, short service, and tea


Please call to let me know if you are planning to attend

Robby Ryuzen Pellett




Also consider sitting with Seattle Soto Zen Center in Fremont.  They have sittings on Sunday mornings from 9:30 to noon.


Or with Bellevue Zen Center, who have sittings on Saturdays mornings 7:30-9:30am.

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