Names of Liberation

My weekend at Wilbur was shorter than usual as I had an event to get to in Berkeley on Sunday afternoon: a jukai with Zenju as the preceptor and my friend Shalamah (who I know from Tassajara and Wilbur) as one of the three ordinands.

Traffic on the way down was mercifully non-problematic, so I arrived in plenty of time, and had a chance to chat with a few people I knew from Tassajara and Zen Center, as well as Shalamah’s friends and family I had met at the tea a few weeks ago where we helped Zenju’s deliberations on suitable dharma names (I wrote about this event on Patreon).  I took my seat in the zendo early, and then watched as it filled up, and kept filling; the usher managed to squeeze everybody in somehow.

Apart from the Zen Center folk, and Zenju’s sangha members who were running the ceremony, I imagine that no-one in attendance had been at a jukai before, but Zenju welcomed everyone and led proceedings both with gravitas and a loving touch, especially when she went around the room with the wisdom water.

I was moved several times during the ceremony, at moments when murmurs of approval went around the zendo: as each name was revealed to the ordinands (the names were all obviously apt to their friends); as each ordinand stood to offer personal vows in addition to the sixteen Bodhisattva precepts they had recited with their teacher, all deeply open and heart-felt; as Zenju unrolled a scroll invoking Daikokuten and Daikokutennyo, the powerful deities of great darkness; and most particularly when she spoke about the ordinands new dharma names as names of liberation, not names of oppression. I was also happy that Blanche, Zenju’s teacher, was brought into the room as well. I remember her at several jukai over the years, always happy to more newly-minted Bodhisattvas in the world.

DSCF8518.jpgZenju went around all corners of the room with the wisdom water.

DSCF8546.jpgZenju holding up her Daikokuten scroll .

DSCF8601.jpgNot the formal shot of the group, but probably my favourite – Zenju with Ashara, Shalamah and Aja.

DSCF8646.jpgZenju with members of her sangha.

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