What is the meaning of “Shukke tokudo”?
Shukke Tokudo is the ceremony of ordination marking the passage from layperson to what we call a monk, nun, or a priest (the japanese term of is Unsui- cloud and water). Tokudo means ‘ceremony,’ and Shukke is ‘leaving home.’ so in a sense it's a homeleaving ceremony, although there is no home to leave and more in the lines of coming home...
So how does it work? What do you do?
The ceremony is supposed to be composed of three parts, or so i've been told.
One known by all, one known by the teacher and one ”unknown”.
And it really was all of it.
My brother came by train from gothenburg early in the morning, and from there the circus was on.
Before long i had had the head shaved, been interviewed by both radio and the newspaper, gotten the outfit on and off a couple of times, standing barefoot before a computer all clad in white and hearing the words ”the ordination ceremony...”
As for the ceremony settings, it was just me, my brother and a computer as we were doing the ceremony online.
We did some ceremonies, some bowing, some chanting.
It was more or less like anything you do in life – ordinary, simple.
The ceremony itself wasn’t so impressive.
Or maybe it was.
Maybe that was what made it so special.
Because we deem it so special and important, made it special and important...
The ordination ceremony itself went well, some minor glitches is supposed to be in to perfect it even more.
I don't think what had been done really hit me until put on skype after the ceremony and there was maybe 20 people trying to call me all at the same time...
The reception in the evening was another thing all together.
We had an reservation on the local chinese restaurant, and it was just an short walk for me and my brother to get there.
When we got there, there were a lot of pictures taken, some hugs and some congratulations.
All in good order.
When we got in, it was another thing.
Suddenly i had almost the whole restaurant staff standing there, wanting a photo and everything.
All chatting excitedly in chinese...
The next day i went to gothenburg, to see my brothers lifepartners first dangraduation in aikido (she passed).
Luckily enough i went early in the morning.
As i found out later the frst radio transmission had taken place at 15.30, my time, and the first customer asking for me had come in to the bookshop were i work part time 5 minutes after that.
And it had continued to come in more customers on friday and on saturday i was in the papers...
Luckily i missed all that commotion, but thank you for the kind gestures.
The thing about Shukke Tokudo is not the ceremony itself, that’s just the “end of the beginning of the journey”.
And it isn't really about the ceremony, that's just a ceremony.
Even if i hadn't done the ceremony, if the lightning had struck out my connection or whatever, i would still be here doing this.
In my lineage we were supposed to sew our own Kesa and study texts, as well as have showed some deepened comitment.
It’s not just to step up and take a ticket.
It’s hard work, and it has only begun.
And don't get me wrong, i think it should be, in some sense.
This is all part of the practice.
I'd like to end this post with a quote from my article about Jukai, please replace jukai with ”Shukke Tokudo”.
I learned more from the journey towards Jukai than I have leaned during the rest of my “life as a Buddhist”. The question is if it will change anything.
Now, I may anger some people by saying that taking Jukai isn’t such a big thing. It was not for me. It doesn’t involve earthchanging moments, no strikes of lighting to the head or anything dramatic like that. It just confirms what you already know and do. For me it’s not a big thing, but for some it might. Ultimately, the real significance of Jukai will be that which every recipient finds for him/herself.
But in the end what does this make me?
I see myself as a humble Ordained Zen Priest, and not an authority of any sort.
Please respect that, and don't make me something i'm not.
May the force be with you