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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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