Please welcome the following eight new members of the Silent Thunder Order / Atlanta Soto Zen Center Sangha; they undertook Jukai Initiation after the annual Precepts Retreat on Sunday, July 17th. Initiation (Jap. Jukai), is open to anyone who is sincerely interested in practicing Zen. This is a personal choice, not a formal stage of training, but is considered a prerequisite for undertaking further steps along the formalized Practice Path. Below listed are the initiates' dharma name and meaning, in order from left to right:
So Fumon - "Universal Gate"
So Gyoji - "Protecting Practice"
So Kunin - "Empty Suffering"
Yusui Ni - "Deep & Quiet"
Komyo Ni - "Wisdom Illuminating Reality"
So Daijo - "Great Vehicle"
So Daikan - "Great Mirror"
So Sorin - "Dignified Monk"

Dharma names are carefully selected by the Abbot. The dharma names for this group were selected from Dogen Zen, by Shohaku Okumura et al.

As a part of the Jukai ceremony, initiates take refuge in the Three Treasures, of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. For the Silent Thunder Order, this is an especiallly important celebration of Sangha, the community of practitioners. Okumura-roshi explains: 

I think that of these three, the sangha is most significant to us today. Of course, the Buddha and the Dharma are the basis of Sangha. However, without Sangha, a living community of people, the Buddha is someone who lived in the past, and his teaching is something printed in a textbook. Because there is a community of practitioners who follow his teaching and manifest reality in their daily activities, the Buddha and the Dharma come alive right now, right here. I have been a monk-priest for about twenty-five years. I don't think that I could have lived the Buddha's teaching and practiced by myself for so long. With the help of my teacher, my dharma brothers, and the people who practice with me, I can pracitce. A sangha of practitioners is most important. We really have to take refuge there. This vow brings Sangha vividly alive.

Excerpted from Living by Vow: A Practical Introduction to Eight Essential Zen Chants and Texts, by Shohaku Okumura et al.

We would like to recognize all initiates from the greater STO Sangha, therefore we ask all affiliate practice leaders to update the master roster, or send their initiate information to Tesshin Jim Smith.