Shoken

Within Boundless Way Zen, we encourage committed students to do interviews (dokusan) with all of the transmitted teachers and senior dharma teachers. At some point it is wise to enter into a primary relationship with one transmitted teacher. This primary teacher-student relationship is traditionally called shoken, which literally means “seeing one another.”  The shoken relationship in Boundless Way is not meant to be exclusive.  We encourage shoken students to continue to study with all our teachers.

In Boundless Way shoken is formalized in a private ceremony between you and your primary teacher. If you are considering shoken, the first step is to speak with one of the teachers.  If the teacher agrees to proceed, your next step is to write a spiritual autobiography that includes a reflection on what you feel to be the most important spiritual issues facing your life at this time, and present it to the teacher.

After this, and prior to the ceremony you will need to prepare a draft covenant outlining the areas you would like to focus on.  The covenant will:

  •       acknowledge the understanding that one of the teachers will serve as your primary spiritual director;
  •       commit to regular dokusan with your shoken teacher;
  •       include a realistic expectation of practice on a weekly schedule. (i.e.: daily, three times a week, whatever seems achievable);
  •       include plans for attending half or full day retreats and, if possible, sesshin;
  •       include some commitment to supporting the life of the sangha;
  •       outline a reading plan focusing on Buddhism and Zen;
  •       address some form of social engagement; and
  •       outline some creative endeavor.


The draft text will be discussed between you and your shoken teacher and a final draft will be agreed to. Both you and the teacher will sign the covenant at the private shoken ceremony. (It is traditional to bring a small token gift for the teacher, such as a small box of incense.)

The covenant will be revisited as needed.