Toledoan closer to becoming Zen master as OshoWritten by David Yonke Editor, ToledoFAVS.com | | David.Yonke@ReligionNews.com
In a Jan. 5 ceremony marked by chants and rituals, solemn moments and bursts of laughter, as well as hugs and tears, members of the Great Heartland Buddhist Temple of Toledo celebrated the Rev. Jay Rinsen Weik, Osho, as he took his latest step toward becoming a Zen master.
The ceremony, called a dharma Denkai transmission liturgy (dharma is defined as “the principle or law that holds the universe together”), was led by the Rev. James Myoun Ford, Roshi, of Providence, R.I., who has been Weik’s teacher since 2009.
Transmission from a teacher directly to a student as a dharma holder has been part of Buddhist tradition for many centuries, Ford said, and follows the heart of Buddha, who founded the religion 2,600 years ago in the India-Nepal region. As a dharma holder, or “Osho,” Weik is now fully ordained as a Buddhist priest to give the Zen precepts, receive formal student and ordain others.
One thing he cannot do is transmit to a successor, said the Rev. David Dae An Rynick, Roshi. That ability is reserved for Zen masters. Rynick and his wife, the Rev. Melissa Myozen Blacker, Roshi, who both took part in the ceremony, are priests in residence at the Boundless Way Zen Temple in Worcester, Mass., founded by Ford.
The final step to achieving Zen mastery is called the Denbo transmission, which normally takes three to five years after Denkai, Blacker explained afterward. Weik said he intends to continue along the path to becoming a Zen master, or sensei. His wife, Karen Do’on Weik, expects to receive Denkai transmission in time. (Another step after Denbo, called the Inka Shomei transmission, is less significant, according to Blacker.)
The actual Denkai transmission ceremony took place Saturday night in a private setting, following Buddhist tradition, between teacher and student with family and other priests attending. It involved repeating and “owning” the Zen precepts, Ford said.
The next day’s service, attended by about 75 members and friends of the sangha, or congregation, was a public recognition and a celebration of Weik’s achievement.
The 90-minute ceremony, likely the first Denkai transmission in Toledo, included much bowing and kneeling among students and priests.
Group chanting included repeated lines such as, “There is no way to escape death … there is no way to escape having ill health … there is no way to escape growing old.”
A solemn moment took place when Weik knelt before his teacher and was presented with a short, hand-carved “teaching stick.” Ford said the stick’s curves simulate a human spine, and at the same time offer “fair warning” in the shape of a cobra poised to strike.
Weik, 45, has been studying Buddhism for more than two decades and he and his wife were ordained as priests in a ceremony at Lourdes College in June 2010.
A Toledo native, he is a graduate of St. Francis deSales High School and the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He teaches jazz guitar at the University of Toledo and is also a fifth-degree black belt instructor in Aikido, a defense-oriented martial art, operating the Shobu Aikido center adjacent to the temple at 6537 Angola Road, Holland.
“He’s formidable,” Caitlin Isha Cousino, 25, said of Weik before the service. “But I love the balance with Rinsen and Do’on. We are extremely blessed to have two reverends.”
She said she is most grateful for the “continuity” Buddhism has brought to her life, giving her peace no matter what challenges or joys may come.
Weik’s impact on his students was made evident when more than a dozen stood up, in turn, bowed, and offered brief comments.
One said she “couldn’t imagine where I would be if I were not here right now.”
One woman, struggling through tears, told Weik that he “really saved my ass. … I was in a dark place.”
“I’m blown away,” Weik said in closing remarks. “Thank you, everybody, for trusting me.”
David Yonke is the editor and community manager of Toledo Faith & Values (ToledoFAVS.com), a website that provides in-depth, nonsectarian news coverage of religion, faith and spirituality in the Toledo area.