Membership and No-Ranks

Chobo-Ji welcomes everyone, making no exceptions regarding sex or sexual preference, race, color, religion, parental status, disability, age, prison record, or any other factor that might meet with discrimination. Buddhism is a practice and a way of life, with zazen (meditation) at its core, which is intended to foster peace for ALL beings. Also, in our experience, it does not conflict with—but supports—many religious practices of other traditions, Judaism and Christianity being examples. Membership, posts and ranks serve to support the temple practice, but, as you will read below, it is our goal never to be attached to rank, possition, or even belonging to the “club.”

Membership consists of filling out an application then bring it to to the temple, mail it to the temple, or copy and email it to, and deciding on a monthly dues level that works for you ($75/month is suggested; however, you may pledge more or less depending on your circumstances). Your membership request will be reviewed and approved by the Board of Trusties within a month of your application. To maintain active status in good standing one must continue with monthly dues or a quarterly or annual offering of monthly dues and abide by the temple’s Conflict Resolution and Ethics Policies.

Jukai (受戒 – Precept Receiver) candidates need to petition in writing to the Abbot at least one month prior to the ceremony. Jukai candidates usually have attended regular zazen at Chobo-Ji for a minimum of six months (including at least two weeklong sesshins), taken two precept classes or completed a course of equivalent study, must be regular financial supporters of the temple, and feel ready to give themselves to the Three Treasures (Buddha, Dharma & Sangha), working to live our Great Vow to care for all beings great and small, animate and inanimate.  At the ceremony candidates take the Precepts and Four Bodhisattva Vows, and receive a rakusu and a dharma name.

Unsui (雲水 – Cloud and Water Person – Novice Zen Priest) candidates must be members in good standing who have done Jukai, they must submit a petition in writing to the Abbot at least one year prior to ordination (Tokudo ceremony), attend at least four consecutive quarterly weeklong sesshins after their petition has been accepted, vow to continue to attend consecutive weeklong sesshins until at least 40 weeklong sesshins in their lifetime have been reached, and vow to serve in the role of a Zen priest for at least 30 years.  Unsui are taught to lead the form and rituals associated with our tradition including giving Jukai and being the celebrant for marriages and funerals.

Sensei (先生 – Teacher) candidates must be lay members in good standing who have completed at least 40 weeklong sesshins or an excess of ten years of practice with Chobo-Ji, served as the lead in every temple post at least once or served for many years supporting a satellite meditation group associated with Chobo-Ji, done Jukai, attend at least one weeklong sesshin a year, and be prepared to renew and deepen their vows in the Sensei ceremony. Sensei may give dharma talks and in a pinch lead rituals in the absence of an unsui or Osho.

Osho (和尚 – Harmonious Priest) candidates must be unsui in good standing that have completed at least 40 weeklong sesshins, served as the lead in every temple post at least once, attend at least two weeklong sesshins a year, and be prepared to renew and deepen their vows in an Osho ceremony. Oshos are fully qualified temple priests who can give dharma talks, dharma interviews and ordain unsui.

Dharma Heir (印可 – Inka – seal of succession) candidates must be either a Sensei or Osho, completed the full Hakuin – Rinzai Zen koan curriculum  (Mumonkan, Hekiganroku, Rinzairoku, Tozan’s Five Ranks, Precepts), be fully committed to and considered capable of transmitting this lineage to the next generation, and pass the the “Five Gate Dharma Combat” examination. Dharma Heirs are qualified to give teisho, offer dokusan and confer Sensei and Dharma Heir rankings.  If ordained themselves they may also confer Osho status.  Lay Dharma Heirs may also give Jukai.

Roshi (老子) means “Old Offspring” and is an affectionate honorific that may be used when referring to an Osho in good standing with their practice sangha who has held Inka for at least ten years and is at least 60 years old.   See The Term Roshi and Its Use for a more in depth examination.

True Person with No Rank (真人無位) is a saying of Zen Master Rinzai that points to the sage within all of us that transcends all rank and position.  A sort of holy-fool, having no attachment to rank, role or position, that “goes in and out of our face” all the time, which means it is always there, but not always seen.  There is nothing to attain, and anyone who takes any rank or position too seriously is seriously deluding themselves.