Lay Minister Certification Program
The purpose of this certification program is to create a foundation of unshakable faith and diligent practice for committed Lay practitioners, with the added intention that these practitioners be able to offer Dharma appropriately and skillfully when asked.
This program allows advanced Lay practitioners to discover an aspect of Dharma most suited to their mindfulness practice and guides 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 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 Sujata.
This is an advanced program for ASM practitioners. At the end of this program, they will skillfully and mindfully:
- Teach a Precepts class (and will have already taught one)
- Guide* the following ASM services:
- Morning Service
- Short Morning Service
- Dogen’s Rules for Meditation Service
- Puja Service
- Vespers Service
- Organize and guide a Practice Day
- Guide a Retreat Day
- Host a visiting teacher
- Excel on one Dharma topic, which means being able to teach this topic and have taught it once in the ASM Sangha. (Topic examples: Karma, Eight-Fold Path, Mindfulness, Dharma of Death.). The practitioner decides the Dharma topic (with Sujata’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 and on which to remain silent.
- 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 Lay 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, and intone chanting. It does not mean lead 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 with one another on a rotational schedule, offer Morning Service, Short Morning Service, Dogen’s Rules for Meditation Service, Puja Service, and Vespers Service monthly at ASM’s Meditation Hall.
Practitioners will also organize and guide the services of at least 4 Practice Days and guide Services of at least 2 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 and demonstrate appropriate facilitation skills in Sangha gatherings.
Additionally, the practitioner will invite and host a visiting 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, and 30 days of retreat with the ASM Lay 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.
- ASM Services Booklet
- What Makes You Not A Buddhist
- Wake Up to Your Life
- Awakening the Buddha Within
- Dawn of the Dhamma
- Noble Eight-Fold Path
- Already Free
- The Tibetan Book of the Dead (Thurman)
*Subject to additions