Saturday, March 23, 2019

Ceremonies for joining the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist school

Question: What kind of lay ceremonies are offered for those who wish to enter Jodo Shinshu?

Answer: The following is only a short answer without entering into details.
In Jodo Shinshu lay people can receive: 1) confirmation ceremony – kikyoshiki or 2) refuge ceremony - kieshiki.

1)      Kikyoshiki (confirmation ceremony) can be given only by the Monshu-sama (Head Priest) of Nishi Hongwanji main temple in Japan, by the retired Monshu (Zenmon-sama), or by somebody appointed by them

2)      Kieshiki (refuge ceremony) is given at local temples or by various priests. I also offer kieshiki for those who accept The Three Refuges as explained and taught at Amidaji (click here for details)

Generally speaking, in both ceremonies the Three Refuges are recited and a Buddhist name is given, so in fact, both are refuge ceremonies, just as I explained above, one is refuge with the Monshu-sama or Zenmon-sama and the other is refuge with a local priest or teacher.
We may say that kieshiki is like ceremonially entering the general Jodo Shinshu Buddhist school, and kikyoshiki like a link to Hongwanji branch of Jodo Shinshu and the Monshu (or Zenmon-sama).

Kikyoshiki is usually received in Japan, at European Conferences (once in two years) or wherever the Monshu –sama or Zenmon-sama are present. Although Hongwanji officials would like that every new member receives kikyoshiki, many people chose kieshiki because they cannot have direct access to Hongwanji or simply because they cherish the connection they already formed with their personal priest and teacher. At Amidaji I have people who received either kikyoshiki or kieshiki -  however, if they wish to be members of Amidaji, they must accept the meaning of the Three Refuges as taught here.

Before ending this short article I would like to tell you that even without formally receiving the Three Refuges with the Monshu-sama, Zenmon-sama or a personal teacher and priest, if one says  the Nembutsu, entrusting wholeheartedly to Amida Buddha (click here to read about the eight elements of genuine faith), wishing to be born in His Pure Land after death, one automatically accords with the Three Refuges. Simple Faith (shinjin) is enough because faith fulfills The Three Refuges. However, because this tradition of the Three Refuges started with Shakyamuni (historical) Buddha himself, and continued with Shinran who mentioned the Three Refuges in his Kyogyoshinsho (see the quotes he used in the article on refuge), we also do it at Amidaji.

This ceremony and the promise of always taking refuge exclusively in Amida Buddha, exclusively in Amida Dharma (Jodo Shinshu) and exclusively in the Sangha of those who have genuine faith in Amida, can help the mind of beginners (especially if they are not stable in faith, but wish to receive faith) to focus on the essentials of this Path and abandon other practices, teachings and wrong views.

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