Meditate Practice Study Lay Ministries

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MINISTER: Lay Minister Program | Lay Ministers  

Lay Minister Program

The purpose of this certification program is to create a foundation of unshakable faith and diligent practice for committed Lay Buddhist practitioners, with the added intention that said practitioner offers Dharma appropriately and skillfully when asked.

This program allows Lay Buddhist practitioners to discover an aspect of Dharma most suited to their mindfulness practice, and will guide them to autonomy in offering this aspect of the Dharma.

Further, the certification program will establish self-discipline that brings no regret in each participant.

Finally, ASM Lay Buddhist Ministers will step into the roles the Teacher has until now performed, allowing the Teacher to focus more fully on studying and offering Dharma to the ASM Sangha.

If you are interested in participating in the lay minister program, you will need to make a Dokusan appointment with Nancy.

Program Goals

This is an advanced program for ASM students. At the end of this program, students will skillfully and mindfully:

  • Teach a Precepts class (and will have already taught one)
  • Guide* the following ASM services:
    • Full Morning Service
    • Short Morning Service
    • Mid-Day Service
    • Puja
    • Vespers
  • Organize and Guide a Practice Day
  • Guide a Retreat Day
  • Host a visiting teacher
  • Excel on one Dharma topic, which means to be able to teach this topic and will have taught it once in the ASM Sangha. (Topic examples: Karma, Eight-Fold Path, Mindfulness, Dharma of Death.) The Student decides the Dharma topic (with Guide's approval), researches the topic, creates a class (of 3-4 sessions) and offers it to the Sangha.
  • Demonstrate restraint in discussing the Dharma by knowing which aspects of the Dharma to speak on and which to remain silent on.
  • Complete these documents: Personal Will, HCPOA, DPOA, Five Wishes
  • Obtain physical fitness and health for current age, which means proving to have no serious unattended mental, physical, dental, or emotional issues.
  • Complete a 3-month minimum period of celibacy
  • Demonstrate a committed (4 times each week) meditation practice
  • Attend 30 days (cumulative) of retreat with ASM Teacher
  • Attend 7 continuous days of retreat in at least one other Soto Zen monastery or training center.

*Guide means to sit in the Guide's seat in the meditation hall, lead all services, intone chanting. It does not mean leading an open Dharma discussion in the Sangha.

Course Content

Phase One:

In the first phase of participation in ASM's Lay Minister's Certification Program, practitioners will learn to guide all ASM Services. They will be paired up with one another and on a rotational schedule, offer Full Morning Service, Short Morning Service, Mid-Day Service, Puja, and Vespers monthly at ASM's Sangha House. Practitioners will also organize and guide the services of at least 4 Practice Days; and guide Services of at least two Retreat days.

In this first phase, Practitioners will meditate a minimum of 3 days each week. It is expected that completing the first phase will take at least 12 months.

Phase Two:

In the second phase of participation, Practitioners will determine a Dharma topic for their own deep inquiry, research the topic, prepare a Dharma class of 4-6 sessions on the topic and offer this in ASM's Sangha. Practitioners will complete a 12-hour Facilitator Training course with ASM's Guide and demonstrate appropriate facilitation skills in Sangha gatherings. Additionally, the Practitioner will invite and host a visiting Buddhist Teacher in the ASM Sangha.

In this second phase, Practitioners will meditate a minimum of 5 days each week. It is expected that completing the second phase will take at least 12-18 months.

Phase Three:

In the third phase, Practitioners will focus on completing retreat and deeper practice requirements, i.e., retreat in another Soto Zen center, the three-month period of celibacy, 30 days of retreat with the ASM Teacher. Some of this time requirement may have already been met in the previous years of participation in the program.

In this third phase, Practitioners will establish a daily meditation practice. It is expected that completing the third phase will take at least 12-18 months.

Required Readings*

  • Awakening the Buddha Within
  • Dawn of the Dhamma
  • Noble Eight-Fold Path
  • Zen is Eternal Life
  • The Tibetan Book of the Dead (Thurman)
  • The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
  • ASM services Booklet

*Subject to additions

Anattasati Magga .
phone: (828) 367-7718

in Asheville, NC and Sonora, CA