Lay Leader Training
What is a Lay Leader?
A Lay Leader is an individual Sangha member who has been inspired to take their practice to the next level or understanding and teaching either as a lay person or as a path to becoming a priest in the future. The title of leader is very important that one leads, serves, and supports members in a direct and respectful way. It also means to be a protector of the membership, temple, and support the head priest in accomplishing our mission given by the Eternal Buddha in the Lotus Sutra and our Founder Nichiren Shonin. This is a serious decision that needs to made directly to a Priest/Leader in a request for this honor. Upfront this takes a lot of dedication and humility to attempt.
Before becoming a Lay Leader there is a minimum of 6 month training period followed by a review of the novice with the mentor. This is simply to evaluate the initiative to continue the path of a lay leader as well as understanding, what is required and expected from each lay leader, and to officially recognize them as a Lay Leader.
The lay members of Buddhism are the same as during Shakyamuni Buddha’s time in that they practice the Buddha Dharma in their daily lives as householders and it is believed in Nichiren Shu Buddhism that they can also progress in their role in the Sangha as students of Buddhism according to their faith, dedication to practice and mission.
In all traditions of Buddhism the lay persons are considered deeply important in that they give material to temples and by their daily work provide the economic foundation for the teaching and practice of Buddhism to continue. They also participate in such activities as festivals, ceremonies and pilgrimage. The office of lay leader is most attributed to the deeply devout lay supporters of Nichiren Shonin that protected and risked their lives for his message. As the burden of ministry grew for our Founder Nichiren Shonin, these elders, in addition to prayer, study, leading, and teaching, were also taking on large workloads to serve the members of the vast sangha and handle the administrative functions of Nichiren Shu. As a solution, Nichiren Shonin appointed these lay leaders to distribute and read publicly his teachings so that they could reach a vast audience as well as leading them in the practice of the way where there were no priests to instruct them. At Choeizan Enkyoji Temple there are a few of these leaders that have accepted this responsibility and privilege, who assist the priests in the day-to- day functions of Temple administration and activity. Qualifications for lay leaders include integrity, generosity, soberness, a clear understanding of the Lotus Sutra, a well-ordered home, and a good reputation both in the Temple and outside the Temple.
Important concepts for a Lay Leader:
1. You are not a guest! You are a leader and dedicated practitioner who has decided to make their dedication and support an inspiration for all Sentient Beings. In our tradition equality and non-exploitation are key points to remember in a position of Leadership. The word Leader should not denote position but ones deep faith and intent. A leader in this sense should have deep faith and dedication to the mission of “Saving all Sentient Beings and live it!” This means that we should come early and leave late to make sure everything is prepared and all members are positive and inspired by our examples of faith and wisdom.
2. Keep always the concept of “What is Next?” This means that we should understand the wisdom of action that is aware of the whole, what needs to be done at this very moment and what will follow it next? Enlightenment is shown by one’s ability to be self aware and aware of the whole, seeing what matters. Train yourselves to be aware of all the points of each action and the many parts of the whole. This is to practice and demonstrate of our “Buddha-nature” or “Big Mind”!
Know our 円教寺 Enkyoji Buddhist Network Mission’s with five core values:
1. Plant Temples, Sangha and Community groups
2. Follow Nichiren Shonin’s example
3. Become Racially Diverse
4. Sincerely spread the Lotus Sutra
5. Grow in faith and practice
Please read the following before applying:
1) REVIEW THE ABOUT PAGE, DOCTRINAL DISTINCTIVES & Student Teacher Relationship: Please carefully review and be in agreement with 円教寺 Enkyoji Network Doctrinal Distinctive, Traditions and Mission.
2) REVIEW THE ASSESSMENT PROCESS: Please review the resources on the assessment process at the following page. Please note that you will need to devote considerable time to complete the portion of the assessment process. This will then result in a final assessment for you and partner (if married) at one of our assessment meetings.
3) TO APPLY: To apply to 円教寺 Enkyoji Network, please complete the Initial Application form called, "Knocking at the Gate." This will then be reviewed by the Assessment Coordinator and if successful will unlock further assignments and requirements.
4) NETWORKING: Networking is a key aspect of 円教寺 Enkyoji Network. If you live in an area
where there are other 円教寺 Enkyoji Network Temples/Sanghas, we would encourage you to
connect with those 円教寺 Enkyoji Network priest/leaders and planters in your target area to begin
to develop relationships. You can see a list of our 円教寺 Enkyoji Network affiliated Temples & Sangha on our website.
Process of becoming a Lay Leader:
Phase 1 |
Knocking at the Gate
Student Teacher Contract
Sangha Mission Strategy & Timeline
Training & Leader Retreat/Workshop
Buddhist Teachings & Leader Questionnaire
Marriage & Family
Phase 2 | Assessment
Phase 3 | Candidacy Submissions
Phase 4 | Candidate
Phase 5 | Membership as Official Lay Leader
Additional goals during your study and practice (Your mentor will guide you):
First: Fill out “Lay Leader” Request Form for consideration.
Second: Take Refuge
Receive Osajo Ofuda Mandala
Attend precepts course as well as attend monthly recitation and study of precepts.
Attend Introduction to Buddhism Course
Attend Weekly training sessions and service on a regular basis.
Other possible responsibilities will be different according to the needs of each Temple and Sangha.
Learning different positions and roles for service, assisting the priest in service, as well as supporting outreach efforts to other areas of propagation. At Enkyoji Network Temples these are: Learn to be a Hanto (Supporter) during the tea ceremony as well as clean-up and maintenance to the tea room. Learn supporting roles for all regular and holiday services Learn how to prepare, setup, and take down all holiday services. (Decorations and items needed for service) Weekly scheduling and cleaning of the Temple. Regular attendance for services (If unable must contact beforehand of change) Weekly scheduled work at the temple supporting the opening of the Temple during business hours. Develop a Indie Mission on one’s own. Create a specialized group to reach a group of people and incorporate the Buddha Dharma. For instance, mabe... Light Saber Academy for Star War fans to learn the Buddha Dharma.