I saw this interesting post over at monkey mind, and i had some things i'd like to emphasize..
It's called A Modest Call for A Reformation of Ordained Zen Leadership in the West, and right from the onset it got me.
First, as i am working with and am going to be one of those i thought it worthwhile.
But i don't like being called a leader or what i do a leadership.
If anything, call it companionship, as i am a companion on the way.
Even if i am only an companion to one.
Now he brings up some really good things in the article.
Some i agree on some i don't.
But let's begin.
Today in Japan Zen clerical leadership is roughly more analogous to Anglican parish ministry than to the monasticism of any tradition, where clerics are responsible for the rites of the community, particularly funerals and related memorials.
This is true in most cases, but not all.
There still is some who practices the monastic way or a variant of that in Japan.
What he's talking about here is organisations like, for instance, the soto shu, which are more or less "corporations", in lack of a better word.
Instances, which in some cases, are hereditary and serves a function in the community while at the same time is run lika any corporation.
I see no harm in maintaining that way, as long as you serve your function.
If you lose sight of that, it becomes another matter entirely.
He then goes on talking about how we in the west picked up on this ordination to ministry rather than monasticism and has expanded on it.
And although we have done so continue to use monastic terminology.
Here is another point i agree on.
If you have an banana, call it a banana.
If you have an orange call it orange.
Otherwise it gets confusing and misleading.
The belief that one's best training happens in close proximity to a teacher, is, in my understanding somewhat flawed.
Somewhat because it depends on what you call a teacher.
Please see earlier post for thoughts on teachers...
And if you only think that training happens when you do retreats, zazenkai's and such, you miss the point.
The difference between the ”lay” and ”monastic” way, is somewhat of a hot bun.
More in some traditions than in others.
Let me just quote another master on that one.
No different! Only different in your mind.
On practice in laycommunities he says this.
Still, when people do throw themselves into the practice, it turns out do just fine. It works. Living at home, alone or with a partner, practicing daily and participating in one, three, five and seven-day retreats as one can is enough.
Lives are transformed, people grow deep and wise.
And the many beings are saved.
Is that enough?
He also brings forth a point when he says
What I suggest for us in the West, is that unless one feels a call to an actual cloistered life and wishes to become a monastic in the traditional celibate sense, if one feels called to ordination, one’s ordination path should be seen as an adjunct to practice, rather than as some special or more intense form of practice.
There is no deeper practice than practice. Water does not get wetter.
And this is an important point.
I wrote earlier about practice, and where is that if not here.
Doing what you do.
And if you can help others at the same time, what is that?
Thats good practice.
Now what should we start with?
He gives an notion to that one to.
And let our priests become ministers, where ordination is about a calling to service. Heaven knows, we need such ministers, such priests.
Acknowledging this we can shift the focus of training beyond the primary disciplines of Zen meditation, which we all share, from the cycle of monastic liturgy to professional pastoral training. Let us look to the Western seminary tradition and see what we can learn. Let our priests in training learn a little about pastoral counseling. Let’s require clinical pastoral education units of our clerics in training. Let clerical aspirants learn how to organize a spiritual community and a religious education program for our children. Let them learn how to read a financial statement.
What he proposes is that we bring forth these ”leaders” to help out in every way they can.
Not just sitting there, but doing.
I think he says it best himself, when he says
Let our Zen clergy do some of the many things that might actually help as Zen takes root here in the West.
And out of all this let these priests go into the world establishing sitting groups while also working in the fields of need.
Could do a world of good.