Receiving Buddhist Name

by Rimban Katsuya Kusunoki

Gomonshu (the head priest and leader of Hongwanji) Kojun Ohtani is visiting the Northwest District in September, 2019. He is going to visit the Seattle Betsuin and conduct the Kikyoshiki Confirmation Ceremony. “Kikyoshiki” is the important ceremony for Buddhists to receive their Buddhist name and affirm the Buddhist path as their path to walk. It is a once in a life chance opportunity to receive your Buddhist Name directly from Gomonshu here in Seattle. On this very special occasion, please receive your Buddhist Name.

There are different ways to live as a Buddhist. Today, I would like to introduce four ways to live as a Buddhist. These are: becoming a member of Buddhist temple, receiving a Buddhist name, receiving a Tokudo ordination, and receiving a Kyoshi certification.

The first one is to be a member of a Buddhist temple. Becoming a member of a Buddhist temple means that the person respects the Buddha’s teaching and supports a Buddhist temple and the Buddhist minister to spread the Buddha Dharma. There are different ways to support them. These are: making donations, cleaning up the temple, attending the service, helping with the temple activities, and introducing Buddhism to non-members. Our temple also asks our members to send their membership fees to maintain the temple.

Next, the second one is to receive a Buddhist name. Our mind is fluffy, unsteady, and uncertain. People need something to rely on or something to be the core of their life. People rely on a religion, money, status, their family, their friends, and /or a well-know person. Receiving a Buddhist name means to take refuge in Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha and make Buddha’s teaching the core of their life. As Jodo Shinshu followers, we make Namoamidabutsu, which Shinran Shonin revealed, the core of our life.

The third way is to receive Tokudo ordination. Receiving Tokudo ordination means to live as a Buddhist minister/monk. People have to take several hours of trainings to become a Jodo Shinshu minister. After they have completed this training, they are allowed to attend the Tokudo ordination. In the Tokudo ordination, they are given a yellow Okesa (special outer garment) by the Gomonshu. These people are officially allowed to wear the Okesa. The Okesa is the official and proper attire for Buddhist ministers. Receiving Tokudo ordination means to be responsible to wear Okesa and enter the Naijin (altar area). The ordained ministers are responsible to serve the Buddha, which means to keep the Onaijin clean, offer candles, flowers, incense, and sutra chanting, and participate in Buddhist services/rituals in the Naijin.

The last way is to receive Kyoshi certification. Kyoshi means teacher and master. So, receiving Kyoshi certification means to be responsible to teach, introduce, and spread the Buddha Dharma. The person who received Kyoshi can be a resident minister. The resident ministers have a role to convey Buddhism, Jodo Shinshu, to their Sangha (temple members) and people who live near there. The ministers who have Kyoshi are the models of Buddhism. The members follow and listen to their guidance.

I was born and raised at my family temple. Therefore, I have been a member of the temple since I was born. I received my Buddhist name and Tokudo ordination at the age of 21. I went to Kyoto to study Buddhism and received Kyoshi certification at the age of 28. To be honest, I was just getting aware of what it means to receive a Buddhist name, Tokudo ordination and Kyoshi certification after I was assigned to Buddhist Churches of America as Kaikyoshi minister at the age of 32. I am still an immature minister and repeat one trial and error after another. But, I, as a Buddhist minister, enjoy serving for Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple.

These are just different ways to live as a Buddhist and there is no superiority or inferiority among them. Please think about which way fits you to live as a Buddhist. I hope more people will become members of our temple and received a Buddhist name. You can find the application form of the Kikyoshiki confirmation ceremony in this newsletter. Please let me know if you are interested in receiving your Buddhist name.

Gassho, Rev. Katsu

From the May issue of the “Wheel of the Sangha” newsletter. Sustaining Membership forms are available from the temple office or available online