Monastic Structure


The Order’s monastic structure is similar to that found within a traditional Ch’an temple with an emphasis on mutual respect and equality. While any monastic tradition has a hierarchical set of offices, OEB has limited these to five.

Monastic Offices

Prior General: The office of Prior General is the senior monastic of our Order. The office is held for two years and is elected by Professed monks in the Order. While this monastic station is most senior in our community it is to be considered “primus inter pares”: first among equals. There is no term limit. Once the Prior General has been retired by election, they become a member of the Senior Monastic Council.

Prior: The office of prior is an elected one held for a period of two years. After which an election is held by all Monks of the Order within a specific pirory. While there is no term limit, we honor change as member in the community mature in their practice and become able to take on this role. If there is no Prior General, the senior prior assumes the office. The prior is the head of their assigned Priory.

Professed Monastic: The Investiture of solemn professed vows by a qualified monk of the Order may be taken after completion of formal training, and the monk has ask to be consider to recite the intentional solemn vows of a professed monk. Consent is required of the Prior General, two thirds of the Priors. The invested monk receives the black 9 panel kesa. After completion of a three year period, the Professed Monk may take their final solemn vows of stability. No matter a monk’s rank, all senior monastics of the Order are Professed Monks.

Cleric/Priest:   To be considered for priestly ordination a senior fully ordained monk must demonstrate both an acidemic and practical understanding of the dharma, be able to express their knowledge in written as well as public teaching situations and have developed a viable community ministry under the guidance of their root teacher.  There are two phases at this rank.  The first is Cleric, a priestly rank with teaching authority under the guidance of their root teacher and/or other senior priests of the Order.  The second is the rank of Priest with full teaching authority.

Ordained Monastic Bhikkhus/Upasampada: Upon completion of one’s novitiate training period, no sooner then 12 months, a qualified Novice can request to be consider for monastic ordination and submission to OEB’s monastic rules. The formal Ordination Service will take place within the monastic OEB community and subject to Ch’an ordination traditions.

Novitiate: After an initial period of the postulate period under the guidance of an individuals root teacher, the teacher submits a request to the Prior General to consent to allow the student to recite the intentional simple Bodhisattva vows and become a novice in the Order. These vows are not an ordination as such, but the beginning of formal training for monastic ordination. They will wear a grey gown with a black rakusu.

Senior Monastic Council: The council is comprised of past Prior Generals that act as an advisory council to the presiding Prior General. Their seniority is based on the date they became council members. They remain members for life, until they choose to resign, or retire from the Order.

Assistant Senior Stations

Director Administrative Office Of The Prior (DAOP): This station is appointed by the Senior Monastic Council. It is the senior position within the Order and is held by a Professed Monastic with seniority.  The station is similar to being Chief of Staff.

Guest Prefect: This station is assigned by the Prior General for a period of two years, and is renewed by him. The office is generally held by a senior professed monastic reporting to the DAOP.

Director of Vocations: This station is assigned by the Prior General for the purpose of directing formal training and discernment. The position reports to the DAOP under guidance of the Prior General.

Director of InterFaith Communications: This station is assigned by the Prior General for the purpose of engaging the interspiritual community for seeking common ground between Buddhism and faith-based religions to promote understanding and respect for a pluralistic and pragmatic worldview and social justice. The position reports to the DAOP.

European Liaison Director: This station is assigned by the Prior General for the purpose of coordinating the practice and priory dedications in our European affiliates. The Liaison Director is the official link between the General Priory and the Order’s overseas monastic community. The position reports to the Prior General.

Director of Information Technology: This station is assigned by the Prior General for the purpose of identifying, developing, and implementation of the Order’s technological needs that support our community mission and training expectations reporting to the DAOP.

House Structure

Monks in the Order may choose to live alone, within a house with other members of the Order, or in a family setting as long as there is a dedicated room for contemplative practice. Those living alone or with a family are considered to be living in a Chapter House. A house with three or more monastics is called a Priory. The residency of the Prior General is considered the General Priory. These houses are the official residents of member of the Order. Any practice center, affiliate meditation group, or temples established for the Order are independent from these monastic houses.

Monastic Robes of the Order

Formal Student wears a grey gown and brown rakusu as a lay student (generally a Precept Holder) or as a monk they ware robes signifying their rank (a Formal Student monk is one who as professed a formal connection to their root teacher).

The Novice wears a brown gown and a black rakusu.

Ordained Monk: Will wear a brown gown and a black 7 panel kesa for formal occasions. Informal wear is a brown gown and  black rakusu.

Professed Monastics wear a brown gown and a black 9 panel kesa for formal occasions. All other times when wearing robes is considered appropriate they may wear a brown gown and a black rakusu. Rank specific robes will take president when appropriate.

Cleric/Priest of the Order: Wears a black gown and purple 9 or 21 panel kesa depending on rank for official duties. All other times they will wear a black gown and brown kesa without panels or a rakusu of an approved color.

The Prior General or Vice-Prior may wear a black gown and a 21 panel purple kesa, a brown 21 panel Ch’an gold threaded kesa, or their lineage’s prescribed master rank vestments, on formal occasions. All other times a black gown and brown kesa or rakusu of any style will be worn.

** During retreats or other public functions, robes of rank may be substituted by the OEB informal street attire when formal functions are not being conducted.  Exceptions may be given for thoes monks that have joined  OEB and were ordained within another tradition and received permission to wear their ordaining robes during official functions.


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