A transmission poem is created to reflect on a specific meaning to the intentional ritual practice within a tradition that confers various ranking privileges and ordaining status, and is used to find a dharma name for an individual being granted monastic advancement. This is traditional within Ch’an and Zen Buddhist traditions and is followed by our Order as well. The following are transmission poems for the monastic ranks of novice, fully ordained monks and priests. The priestly poem is also the principle honorary poem for our Order.
Novice: (From Dogen quoting Nagarjuna)
Principle character is Xing 行
Monks beg for food in humble robes,
Their daily actions being one with the Way.
With their Wisdom-eye opened
They realize the essence of the Law.
Gathering all together to listen
To the countless Buddhist teachings,
They leave behind the world of illusion,
Quietly enveloped in enlightenment’s Wisdom.
Fully Ordained: (Old Tang Dynasty love poem influenced by mystics)
Principle character is Jiang 将
Pure Frail Hearted
Pauwlinia-trees ripen two by two
And mandarin-ducks die side by side.
What troubling wave can arrive to vex
A spirit like water in a timeless well?
Priest: (By Rev. Shi Shen-Xi)
Principle character is Chang 长
The path to the spot is overgrown again
feet rarely tread here now.
Yet in old age they return remembering clearly
the moment it happens beyond the clearing.
The young sit watching them as aged memories gaze
outward in silence no longer strangers. Home again.
They speak with voices aged with cautious wisdom
brightly shining as moon light on the ripples of time…..