The Japanese word jukai contains the character “ju,” which means “receiving,” and the character “kai,” which means “to awaken.” So “jukai” literally means “to receive awakening.” What that means concretely, practically, is simply that we acknowledge our true nature, we acknowledge that our life itself is the way of “awakening,” that the perfect life is our life.

When we choose to acknowledge this in our Zen practice, we participate in a ritual during which the teacher “transmits” the precepts to us. These precepts are the natural expression of who we really are, of our awakened nature, even though we are not always aware of it. They have been handed down from teacher to student for generations and are the living, dynamic reminders of how we aspire to live our lives boundlessly, truthfully, at peace with ourself and others.

Amy Hollowell Sensei

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