Order’s Structure


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

Ranking Offices

Prior General: The office of Prior General (or Sub-Prior) is the senior leadership office of our Order. The office is held for two years and is elected by all Priests in the Order. While this 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 Leadership Council.  The Prior General or Sub-Prior may use the title of Rt. Reverend

Prior: The office of prior is an elected one held for a period of two years. After which an election is held by all Priests 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.

Priest:   To be considered for priestly ordination an ordained Associate Cleric 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 declared authorizations at this rank.  The first is an authorization that allows limited teaching authority within the Priest’s  sanctioned Sangha as determined by OEB’s Senior Leadership Council and stated clearly on the ordaining certificate.  The second is the authorization of the Priest to fully teach as guided by the our Rules of Conduct and the permission documents associated with the ordaining certificate. These ranks may use the title of Venerable Reverend.

Associate Cleric:  Upon completion of one’s novitiate training and academic program a qualified Novice can request to be considered for Associate Cleric ordination and submission under OEB’s Rules of Conduct (Canon Customary).  The formal Ordination Service will take place within the OEB community and in public when possible.  This rank may use the title of Venerable.  If the candidate enters OEB from another school or lineage and having obtained an ordaining rank with  privileges and titles different then in customary use in our Order, they may use these titles with permission of the Senior Leadership Council.

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 the beginning of formal and academic training in preparation for Associate Cleric ordination. They will wear a grey gown with a black rakusu.  This rank may use the title of Brother.

Senior Leadership Council: The council is comprised of past Prior Generals or Vice-Priors 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 Leadership Council. It is the senior position within the Order and is held by a senior OEB ordained Priest.  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 cleric 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

Members of 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 clerics 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 houses.

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.

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

Zen 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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