Jukai: Taking Refuge and Entering the Zen Path

Course Description

Since the time of the Buddha, entrance into practice has been marked by the ritual of taking refuge in Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Connected to this is the receiving of precepts, the behavioral guidelines that protect our practice. And finally, in the Mahayana traditions, we stress above all the arising of bodaishin (bodhicitta) – the aspiration to liberate not only oneself, but others – and the taking of the Four Bodhisattva Vows. In this course, Meido Roshi discusses various aspects of this initiation for laypersons, which in Japanese Buddhism is called zaike tokudo (“staying at home-attainment”) or less formally jukai (“receiving precepts”). After introducing the Three Refuges, Five Lay Precepts, and Four Vows, he then actually conducts the jukai ritual for the viewers. By participating in the course, you therefore have the opportunity to formally enter the Buddhist path. Though it is preferable of course to do so face to face (and one must also eventually find a teacher, in any case) Roshi explains that there is no barrier to taking refuge and beginning to work with the lay precepts from a distance in this way. The course is therefore a precious opportunity to formally enter the Zen Buddhist path and, in fact, to change the direction of your existence completely.

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Course Lessons

1. The importance of taking refuge and entering the path

In this introductory lesson, Meido Roshi gives an overview of the course and talks about the importance of taking refuge and formally entering the Zen Buddhist path.

2. Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha

In this lesson, Meido Roshi talks about the surface and deeper meanings of taking refuge in the Buddha (enlightened one), the dharma (teaching), and the sangha (community). These are also known as the Three Jewels or the Threefold Refuge.

3. The Five Lay Precepts

In this lesson, Meido Roshi talks about the five lay precepts: to abstain from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, false speech, and intoxicants. Just as with the refuges, the precepts have several layers of meaning. Here, Roshi points out what is the deeper function and the more profound meaning of each of these precepts.

4. The Bodhisattva Aspiration and The Four Vows

To finish off the first half of this course, Meido Roshi talks about the Bodhisattva aspiration and vows. As he states: “The four vows are something you can take yourself if you have the aspiration in your practice for it not simply to be of benefit to you but to encompass all beings you’re practicing to become liberated, not so that you can be safe from suffering, but so that you can actualize and manifest the inconceivable, endless, skillful means to help all beings”

5. The ritual recitations and their meaning

In this lesson, Meido Roshi chants the Jukai ritual recitations and explains their meaning.

6. Preparing for taking refuge: body, speech, and mind

In this lesson, Meido Roshi talks about preparing for the Jukai ceremony.

7. Sanpai, the manner of bowing during the ritual

In this lesson, Meido Roshi explains and demonstrates the manner of bowing during the ritual.

8. Jukai Ritual (Viewers may participate)

In this video, Meido Roshi conducts the Jukai Ritual for viewers. encourages everyone to participate. Though it is preferable to participate in the ritual face-to-face, Roshi explains that there is no barrier to taking refuge and beginning to work with the lay precepts from a distance in this way.

9. Going forward

In this final short session, Meido Roshi talks about what means to have gone through this ceremony, renewal of vows, and other parting thoughts.

Meido Moore

Meido Moore

Meido Moore is the abbot of Korinji, a Rinzai Zen Buddhist monastery in Wisconsin, and the guiding teacher of the international Korinji Rinzai Zen Community. Meido Roshi began Zen practice in 1988 and trained under three teachers in the line of the great 20th century Rinzai master Omori Sogen Roshi. He has completed the koan curriculum of this lineage, and in 2008 received inka shomei: recognition as an 86th-generation Zen lineage holder empowered to transmit the full range of Rinzai Zen practices. Aside from Zen, Meido is also ordained in the Mt. Koshikidake tradition of Shugendo.

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