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Treeleaf Zendo was designed specifically as an online practice place for Zen practitioners who cannot easily commute to a Zen Center due to health concerns, living in remote areas, or work, childcare and family needs, and seeks to provide netcast Zazen sittings, retreats, Jukai, discussion, interaction with a teacher, and all other activities of a Zen Buddhist Sangha, all fully online and without charge.
But, really, we are a Sangha just about like any Sangha, and the place feels like a small, intimate group of people who sit together and support each other in practice. That is the way it should be.
Since 2012, Treeleaf has ordained several novice priests in the United States, Mexico, Canada, the UK and Europe in ceremonies which occurred simultaneously in each country joined by netcast over the internet. Largely in response to this,. Soto Zen Buddhist Association passed a resolution rejecting online ordination for new members wishing to join that organization, requiring the ceremony to be conducted in one place at a time in the same physical room.
Based on the belief that it is necessary and reasonable to require that the primary relationship between teacher and trainee contain significant physical face-to-face meetings, which is the basis for evaluating a student’s readiness for ordination and eventually membership in the SZBA, the Board believes that the Tokudo ordination itself be performed face-to-face, in the same physical room. This format will be the basis for membership in the SZBA.
Given the serious nature of priest ordination, the dedication and commitment that should be required of the priest trainee, and our tradition's emphasis on face-to-face transmission of the Dharma, we conclude that tokudo ceremonies are most appropriately conducted in person except under rare and extenuating circumstances, such as a deathbed ordination. Exceptions should be made in consultation with the SZBA Board. By extension, transmission ceremonies should likewise be conducted in person.
Jundo Cohen has expressed his intention to continue online ordination ceremonies at Treeleaf despite the opinion of some in the SZBA. Jundo has stated, "beyond any ceremony, the real test and responsibility will be the training and education as clergy, ministers and teachers that it is our responsibility to now provide these novice priests. In order to do so, we are about to embark on a road which will take years of hard and sincere effort, also combining traditional ways and some very new, innovative ways of education" and "We expect the training period will require several years, and there is no promise or expectation of the outcome. The “goalless goal” is the creation of priests who have profoundly penetrated into the way of Zazen, who are ethical, who can serve the community and people who come to them for guidance, and who embody the ways of their Lineage. No corners can be cut, and nothing should be rushed, for we would risk giving birth to clergy and teachers who are ill equipped, ill informed and ill prepared for their roles."
To compromise with the SZBA, in 2014 Cohen conducted in the United States a special "face-to-face" ceremony with several Treeleaf novice priests residing in North America, and each of those novice priests has now been admitted as an associate member to the SZBA.
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- "Treeleaf Zendo". Soto Zen Buddhist Association. Retrieved May 10, 2012.
- "BG 053: Virtual Zen: Dropping Here and There". Buddhist Geeks. Retrieved May 10, 2012.
- "Jundo Cohen interview". Sweeping Zen. Retrieved May 10, 2012.
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- "Jundo Cohen Bio". Sweeping Zen. Retrieved May 10, 2012.
- "Treeleaf Zendo conducts Shukke Tokudo via the internet". Buddhadharma: The Practitioner's Quarterly. Retrieved June 21, 2012.
- "Ordination Tribulation". Treeleaf.org. Retrieved June 21, 2012.
- "Shambhala SunSpace » Welcome to the future: Zen priest ordination performed simultaneously on three continents". Shambhalasun.com. Retrieved 2013-11-17.
- "Shambhala SunSpace » Sit-a-Long with Jundo: Priest Ordinations at Treeleaf". Shambhalasun.com. Retrieved 2013-11-17.
- "SZBA Associate Members".