(Shoken) Tokudo

“Vast is the robe of liberation, a formless field of benefaction;

I wear the Tathagata’s teaching, saving all sentient beings.”- Dogen Zenji

 

The act of becoming a Zen Disciple is called shoken tokudo. The Zen Discipleship consists of learning the Zen liturgy, rites, rituals, and their meanings; along with academic study of the various Buddhist scriptures related to Zen and other Buddhist schools, their histories, psychology and philosophy. The Zen Discipleship program also involves visiting and studying at other Buddhist centers and temples as directed by Reverend Thompson.

Please note: This SZC Discipleship Program is only available for those sangha members who have received the Zen discipleship ordination ceremony from Reverend Thompson.

Tokudo literally means, ‘to cross from this shore of birth-and-death to the other shore of Nirvana’. When Gautama embarked upon the Way, he shaved his tresses and said; ‘In cutting off my hair, may I, together with all beings, be freed from evil passions and hindrances’. Receiving a set of robes from a hunter, he continued, ‘Even as these clothes cover me, may I enfold all beings in compassion and free them from evil passions’. It is in accordance with this rite as established by Shakyamuni, that tokudo comprises a tonsure, the wearing of robes and the recitation of the Three Refuges. Tokudo is a solemn promise to rise above all temptations, to refrain from egotism and to diligently pursue the way of the Buddha.

At a certain point in your spiritual training, it will become valuable for you to clarify which approach resonates most deeply with what you find personally liberating in the Dharma.

If you wish to make a formal spiritual commitment as a member of the Sarasota Zen Center you may wish to talk with the Osho (spiritual director) in dokusan about shoken.

Becoming a formal student clarifies the teaching relationship in both directions, in a variety of subtle ways. It is traditional to offer some small token gift to the teacher at the time of making your formal shoken request. You will also be encouraged to write a statement of spiritual autobiography, which can range in form from a haiku, to an essay, to a more massive work—as suits you. The third element of the Shoken ritual is to discuss with the teacher your plan for exploring the Dharma for the next year.

During the formal Zen Shoken Ceremony you will be given your second Zen Name, in addition to receiving your Buddhist sash, the Rokusu.

Before and after shoken, you are always welcome and indeed encouraged to go for dokusan.

The few practical implications of shoken are these: if you at any time wish to be ordained as a Zen priest- Joza,  it will be your shoken teacher who ordains you; if your path leads to your being authorized as a Dharma teacher in SZC it will be your shoken teacher who suggests to the Sangha that you receive this authorization; and in the event you follow the Zen path long enough to become a lineage holder yourself, your lineage will flow through your shoken teacher. Please contact Reverend Daito Zenei Osho if you are interested in becoming a formal Zen Disciple.