Welcoming Three New Priests
On June 24th, 2022, Hollow Bones Zen proudly honored three new priests as Abbot Taiso Hannya Byran Bartow, Roshi ordained Jozen Engi Jonathon Fielder, Kenshin Chigi Cian Whalley, and Jimon Jizai Don Sorterup at Dai Bosatsu Monastery. Having completed their second year of clergy training led by Director of Clergy Development Umi No Nami Dan Rotnem, vows were taken during the first sesshin at our root monastery since Junpo’s last in-person sesshin in 2019, and the last ordination ceremony he performed. We spent a little time talking with each of the new priests, to better understand the path that brought them to Hollow Bones and their intended ministry moving forward.
Individual Paths Leading to Our Sangha
Jozen Engi was first introduced to Zen through the London Zen Center in the late 80’s. After a few years of regular attendance and study, he moved to the Middle East where he still lives and works.
“One of my immediate realizations was that there was a disconnect between my practice ‘on the cushion’ and off it. Junpo’s Mondo Zen teachings ‘cured’ me of this and taught me how to apply the lessons of Zen in all aspects of my life, both on and off the cushion. For that, I am eternally grateful.”~Jozen
Kenshin Chigi’s introduction to Zen Buddhism was received as a baby, in transmission from his parents who were friends and students of Emyo Seien N. Darlene Tataryn. He attributes his aptitude for Zen studies to the lineage of Emyo’s teachings and the gift of having a “less fragmented mind than many” because of his upbringing and early exposure to teaching and transmission.
Jimon Jizai came to Zen and Hollow Bones seeking a clear channel to alleviate suffering and realize a lifelong calling to ministry. The practice and teachings of his devout Christian upbringing did not lead to the inner peace he sought and as such he left the church and seminary studies at the age of 30.
The Priest Training Process
Jozen Engi considers himself a bit of a traditionalist, sharing that online Zen study had never occurred to him before COVID-19, which changed the way he looked at the world around him and facilitated his introduction to Hollow Bones and Junpo’s teachings. For him, every part of the priest training program has been invaluable, from the development of his Mondo Zen process facilitation skills to the deep study of texts and meditative practice.
“Through Umi and Taiso Roshi’s teaching, leadership and occasional admonishing, I have gained a deeper insight into Zen, myself and my role as a priest.” ~Jozen
COVID-19 would play an even larger role than anticipated in Jozen’s path to priesthood, as our online capabilities made it possible for his ordination to take place when a family exposure to COVID made travel to the U.S. impossible for him. Because this is our practice, learning from and leaning in to the unexpected, he was ordained remotely, real time from Saudi Arabia, within the in-person ceremony held at Dai Bosatsu.
Kenshin Chigi is deeply appreciative of the clear path of study within the book selection by Umi. The cohort’s in-depth training moved beyond any Zen training he had previously encountered, which he describes as “sit down, shut up, and attempt Dhyana until nothing happens.” He credits many of the selected texts, and especially the the 8 Aspects of Consciousness found within the Lankavara Sutra as teachings which helped him better understand the origins of MondoZen and how it works.
“The lesser obvious, but more profound aspect of priest training is the deeper relationships we’ve built with each other. Elevating consciousness can be interesting from a social context, as one loses many aspects of self that were largely there to create the glue of social fabric. Having others who have studied the same topics and are capable of insight into an “altered from the norm” reality is super valuable!” ~Kenshin Chigi
For Jimon Jizai, the priest training period has been a time of intense practice, delving into historical and philosophical teachings, understanding Mondo Zen facilitation and mentoring, and waking up and growing up through zazen and emotional koan work.
“As a student with a deep curiosity, I find the teachings to be a never-ending challenge and enlightenment to this mind of mine–the perfect balance of intellectual with an opening of the heart. Engaging with my cohort, my teachers, and sangha members in all formats reveals the edge of my awakening and growth, and the unfolding of the joys and challenges of community. ~Jizai
Hollow Bones Ministry In Action
All three newly ordained priests have active plans to form sanghas in their own communities to support others on their path.
As Jozen Engi’s primary motivation to become a priest was to serve others, with Umi’s guidance he will be moving forward to establish a local Sangha in Saudi Arabia as well as continuing to assist Ekai with Hollow Bones online programs.
Now a resident of Bali, Kenshin Chigi plans to teach within a Balinese yoga shala, creating an in-presence space to offer yoga, dharana, dhyana, samadhi and dharma talks in accordance with the path and what’s presenting to him and his community at that time. His ongoing development of the esoteric leadership school ‘The Prysm Institute’ will also continue.
Jimon Jizai sees the unfolding of his ministry as 3 interconnected components which include deepening his practice, growing the established ZendoME Sangha in Damariscotta, Maine and contributing to the Hollow Bones Sangha as one of its priests.
“My ministry will unfold through my awakening to Budd-consciousness, my transmission of the dharma, and the expansiveness of my own personal experience on this path. This robe, this seat, this path in this breath, today and in the days to come.” ~Jizai
Hollow Bones wishes each of these new priests the very best as their paths continue to unfold in their awakening and transmission of the dharma to all beings they serve and our sangha community.
Christine Henson is a volunteer writer and sangha member of Hollow Bones Zen.