A minimally edited transcript

Ordination Ceremony: Bill Kwong and Silas Hoadley

Sunday, January 11, 1970
San Francisco

We will have an ordination ceremony for Bill Kwong and Silas Hoadley immediately after this lecture. I wanted to talk about the ordination ceremony, but I think it is pretty difficult to explain it because you have no idea of Buddhist priesthood. And what you have in your mind is priests in America, so [laughs] I have no words to communicate.

[Hum on tape for several minutes. Then Suzuki resumes.]

--inanimate and animate beings. Everything has its own position as a Buddhist. That is a fundamental teaching of Buddhism, and that is the structure of the teaching.

So, we cannot say “priest is highest.” Or “animal is lowest.” Tentatively, as we are human beings, or as we are teachers or disciples, we are all Buddhist friends. We are all Buddhists. Tentatively, we take some responsibility to express Buddha's teaching. But, because each one of us has our own position and responsibility, the value of each one is the same. That is the fundamental structure of a sangha.

With this understanding, we observe an ordination ceremony. Some of us will become priests, and some of us will remain laymen. And, we will fulfill our responsibility for the realization of the teaching--for the practice of our teaching. This is why we have an ordination ceremony, because we need priests. But it does not mean priests are highest, or something like that.

When we have some ceremony, or when we have some activity, according to the situation, someone will take more responsibility, and that is a quite natural thing which will happen to us. And with this spirit, I want you to join our ordination ceremony, as someday you may be a priest or a nun. And no one knows [laughs] what will happen to us.

But, whatever happens to us, if you want to join our order and express Buddha's spirit, I want you to join our ceremony, and I shall be very grateful to you if you appreciate our effort.

Thank you very much.
Source: City Center tape transcribed by Bill Redican, March 31, 2000. Lightly edited for readability by Wendy Pirsig, David Chadwick and Peter Ford (2/2021).


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