Clergy and Sensei Training Program — Updated

Hongaku Institute for Buddhist Studies

Hongaku Jōdo Compassionate Lotus Tendai Lineage (HJCL) Clergy and Sensei Training Program

Seminary Information:

Basic Clergy and Sensei Training Program

Shaku Mui Shin Shi Ajari and Staff

Ordination and Sensei Training introduces basic concepts of Pure Land, Zen and Tendai Buddhism as defined and presented by various authors and Buddhist Masters. Concepts defined in the various forms of Pure Land as found in the Mahāyāna practices are explained. Such phenomena as Emptiness, Original Mind, Noumenon and Phenomena, Light, Life and other key concepts of Buddhism will be explored in the training.

HJCL Basic Requirements

101: Mind-Seal of the Buddhas (in depth study)

102: Life of Buddha

Teachings of the Buddha presented by Narada plus additional primary sources sources

103: Supplemental Reading

Fundamentals of Buddhism

Buddhism of Wisdom and Faith

Buddha of Infinite Light (Suzuki)

River of Fire (Uno)

Bits of Rubble Turn to Gold (Uno)

104: Introduction to Tendai

Nembutsu and Lotus Sūtra Introduction: Zhiyi

105: Introduction to Bodhisattva Concepts

Brahma Net Sūtra

106: Historic Zen and Pure Land Practices

Pure Land Zen-Zen Pure Land Letters of Yin Kuang

107: Sūtra Study

Amitābha Sūtras, Small and Large

Amitāyus Sūtra

Heart Sūtra

Lotus Sūtra Studies

Saṃdhinirmocana Sūtra

108: Yogācāra Studies

109: Madhyamaka Studies

110: Elective Studies

111: Special Project

*Other texts may be substituted at the discretion of the HIBS staff

General Study Requirements:

Jukai — Lay Ordination: 101, 102, 103, Buddha of Infinite Light (Suzuki) and additional work as designated

Shami — 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, Small Amitābha Sūtras, additional work as designated

Sensei — Must complete all studies, 101 – 111

Ajari — Acharya Must complete all studies and as discussed below

In addition the candidate must have also completed the one-year practice of the Amitāyus Sūtra Sādhanā, Meditation and Visualization under the supervision of the Spiritual Director/Abbot.

Students preparing for ordination within the Hongaku Jōdo organization will interact and work directly with their teacher/mentor/facilitator (herein called “teacher”). Completion of the required course of study, based on the approval of the facilitator/mentor will be required before a student is considered to any level for ordination as listed above.

Assignments will be submitted by the student to the teacher.

The teacher may request from the student whatever additional written or verbal work is felt necessary to insure that the subject matter covered in the current assignment is understood completely.

Students may be asked to contact their teacher for scheduled interviews at arranged times during the course of study.

All work is encouraged to be submitted by email.

HJCL Line of Ordination — Attainment

The line of ordination in HJCL is in keeping with the general historic traditions of Tendai. The terms used are Japanese.

Jukai — Lay Ordinate; Upasaka (male) Upasika (female) in Pāli

Shami — Novice Priest/Monk; Sramana in Pāli

Sensei — Teacher

Shamana — Fully ordained Priest/Monk

Ajari — Priest/Monk becomes and Ajari after taking Vajra empowerments; Acharya in Pāli

Expectations for these levels of attainment


Lay ordination might be seen as a sort of “baptism” in some respects. It is the welcoming of a serious disciple into the community of the Greater Sangha where they take on additional commitment and practice beyond what a casual observer might make. This is the first and very serious movement towards lifelong Buddhist practice.


Study with any qualified HJCL clergy to complete at least one of training in the areas of Pure Land Practice, Classical Buddhism, a basic T’ien T’ai and Tendai introduction, and HJCL basic rituals.

To take refuge the five lay precepts should be taken. Additional vows may also be taken such as the Mahāyāna Eight Vows also called the Anāgārika Vows. Those vows require an additional interview to discuss them.

1. I undertake the training rule to abstain from killing. Pāṇātipātā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi.
2. I undertake the training rule to abstain from taking what is not given. Adinnādānā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi.
3. I undertake the training rule to avoid sensual misconduct. Kāmesumicchācāra veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi.
4. I undertake the training rule to abstain from false speech. Musāvādā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi.
5. I undertake the training rule to abstain from fermented drink that causes heedlessness. (I undertake the training rule to abstain the causes of heedlessness) Surāmerayamajjapamādaṭṭhānā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi.

The Jukai lay practitioners do not function as a monk, nun or priest in any capacity. They are home dwelling laypersons that practice daily as much as any ordained clergy. Within this area the Lay Sangha members are encouraged to minister as HJCL affiliates in such personal capacities as they are qualified in positions of chaplaincy in medical, correctional, or military organizations, in pastoral counseling, or in other general social interactions wherein an “official” status within Hongaku Jōdo might be helpful as determined on an individual basis.

Historically, many Buddhist scholars have been designated as Lay Buddhist Clergy, usually with the designation of Upasaka or Upasika, or as the eight-vowed Anāgārika, and have contributed greatly to the well-being of their chosen traditions.

Lay designation is a time-honored position in Buddhism.

Shami Ordination (Novice Monk, Priest or Nun)


The Shami ordination usually occurs after a minimum of one (1) year as a Jukai member and having additionally completed a required course of study preparing the candidate for the Shami ordination.

The following vows are required:

  • RefugeThe
  • Ten Vows of a Novice, which include the Five Vows of a Jukai plus
  • The Four-Part Bodhisattva Vows

Within this arena of practice the Shami is not authorized to wear the kesa (outer robe of      a monk/priest)

The Shami is not authorized to teach “formally”.

The Shami is authorized to lead services, etc.

Sensei (One who Teaches)


  • Shami Attainment
  • Refuge
  • The Ten Vows of a Novice, which include the Five Vows of a Jukai plus
  • The Four-Part Bodhisattva Vows
  • Additional specific study preparing the candidate to teach general Buddhist, Tendai, and
  • the  Hongaku Tradition.

A fully qualified Sensei is authorized to help train Jukai and Shami candidates when done under the directions/authorization and approval of a senior HJCL leader.

Shamana (Senior HJCL Monk/Priest/Nun)


Training leading to this level of attainment requires 3 to 5 years of training in the Ordination Line.

  • Renew Refuge
  • Affirmation of one’s devotion to the HJCL tradition and lineage
  • The Sixteen Permanent Vows of a Shamana, which includes the Ten Novice Vows
  • Reaffirm the Four-Part Bodhisattva Vows
  • The Extended Bodhisattva Vows

A Shamana is permitted to teach, train, organize HJCL affiliated Temples and Sanghas and to transmit Dharma to qualified students.

Ajari Attainment (Acharya)


To have served as an ordained HJCL Priest/Monk/Nun for at least 3 years, being approved by an Ordaining senior HJCL teacher/Ajari.

  • Reaffirmation of Shamana Vows
  • Samaya Vows for Training
  • Vajrayana Training
  • Vajrayana Empowerment — Given after completion of training and sādhanā practice

With the approval of the HJCL Spiritual Director, an Ajari is permitted to teach, train, organize HJCL affiliated Temples and Sanghas and to transmit Vajra and Pure Land Sādhanā empowerments to qualified students.

Click here to contact the seminary for more information.

About Sensei Mui

Sensei Mui is a Buddhist monk who took formal refuge and bhikkhu ordination as a Theravada monk in Thailand during the early 1970s. Since those days he has both studied and was ordained in multiple Mahayana lineages. Today the main focus of his practice and teaching is from the Pure Land perspective. He currently acts as the Director and Administrator for Hongaku Jodo, an educational and practice oriented organization of Buddhist teachers of Dharma, pure and simple.
This entry was posted in Buddhism, Core Teaching of the Buddha, Hongaku Jodo, Meditation, Pure Land Buddhism, Rational Amidism, Tendai. and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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