Becoming a formal student is a process of making a conscious commitment to the teachers, the training, and the sangha. It involves noticing what is fundamentally important in our lives and dedicating time and energy to break free of a lifetime of conditioning. The entry process involves passing through five barrier gates designed to help prospective students clarify their intent. Because the journey is a long and challenging one, it is best not to begin without a deep, personal sense of what it will demand.
The five barrier gates are:
- Participation in an Introduction to Zen Training Weekend retreat.
- Completion of a week-long meditation intensive (sesshin) at the Monastery.
- Meeting with the Guardian Council, a group of senior MRO students, to articulate one’s reasons for practicing Zen and wanting to become a formal student.
- Tangaryo, dawn-to-dusk sitting in solitary zazen.
- Asking the teacher for the teachings.
It is not necessary for formal students to be in residence at the Monastery. Most people practice at home, maintaining a relationship with the teacher and sangha through visits, retreats, sesshins, and short-term residencies. Training advisors — lay and monastic seniors — can offer valuable guidance.
Whenever possible, non-resident students also sit with one of the Monastery’s affiliate groups or come to the Monastery for the Sunday morning program and for dokusan, private face-to-face teaching. Media support in the form of downloadable audio and video are also available.