Zenju Earthlyn Manuel

‘It wasn’t until I officiated my first Jukai ceremony—lay initiation for students—that living a life of vows came into full view. It wasn’t about me, name or no name. Through tears, I saw my black students move with so much courage, hand in hand, heart to heart, enacting and embodying liberation through vows. Not liberation from something, but liberation into being the body of nature, being the earth, that they are.

It was difficult to stop crying during the ceremony as I said these words: “Abiding according to the ten grave precepts, even after realizing buddhahood, will you continuously observe them?” To which the initiates replied: “Yes, I will.” Hearing their devotion to awakening, I was deeply moved to stand at the gate and usher in those who want to live free, filled with love, and be protected from harm in doing so. The gateway need not be Zen or Buddhist; it can be any gateway of freedom that emerges in one’s life. Whatever you are devoted to is what you are living as your vow. Devotion means “of vow.”’ (from Lion’s Roar)

Having attended that ceremony, I can attest that it was a moving occasion.

Zenju with her initiates and students after the jukai ceremony in Berkeley


One thought on “Zenju Earthlyn Manuel

  1. Living out our vow in our everyday lives that is our true jukai ceremony. When I was lay-ordained I felt the gravity of my vow and yet the whole damn thing was so beautiful. Later when I went for a visit at Tassajara I felt strangely peaceful even though the horse flies were biting. It was summer guest season and we were treated like Buddhas, one and all.

    Liked by 1 person

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