Nichiren Shu Kyoshi
Rev. Ryuoh Faulconer came to Boston in January of 2007. He is working in the New England area to spread the Dharma and establish a Nichiren Shu Sangha in New England. He was previously the 13th resident Minister of the Nichiren Buddhist Temple of Portland in Oregon. He had been a member of the Portland Temple for over eight years when he took vows (Tokudo) to become a minister in the future on January 26th 1997. His master is Rev. Ryuken Akahoshi who is the current resident minister of the Portland Temple. In April of 2001 he attended Shingyo Dojo (a 35 day training monastery). He finished the Shingyo Dojo training and was ordained as a Nichiren Buddhist Minister on May 19th 2001. He became the resident minister of the Portland Temple on September 29th 2002. He resigned from the Portland Temple on December 10th 2006.
He also helped in the founding of the Texas Temple in Houston. He has four disciples. One is a Shami who is currently training to become a Nichiren Shu minister. His disciples; Rev. Myokei of Houston is currently the head minister of the Nichiren Buddhist Sangha of Texas in Houston. Rev. Ryusho of Charlotte is the head minister of Myosho-Ji North Carolina. Rev. Ryunin is currently practicing in Japan at Joen-Ji and will be returning to the U.S. early next year, 2009.
Reverend Ryuoh Faulconer
Shami Ryuoh at Tokudo ceremony January 1997.
Shami Ryuoh in white before his master Rev. Ryuken Akahoshi taking vows.
Becoming a Minister in the Nichiren Order
Shami is the title given to a novice. It is defined by Nichiren Shu as one who has taken vows to become a monk in the future. Shami are not considered to be ordained in Nichiren Shu, but simply people who are studying and practicing to become ministers. The rules for the master/disciple relationship are strict. A shami's practice is to observe, listen, study, serve and obey his/her master. It is more like the relationship of Father to child and teacher to student.
For someone to receive Tokudo and become Shami, they must first find a teacher who is willing to take them on as a novice. This teacher will become the Shami's master in spiritual growth and training. Once the master has accepted the student, they are given Tokudo. This is the ritual of leaving home and the secular world. During the ceremony, the hair is shaved, robes are given and vows are taken. In the Nichiren Order, the Tokudo is taken at the local temple of the master. A Docho ceremony is taken shortly after in Japan to confirm these vows in the same place that Nichiren Shonin took his Tokudo. After taking Tokudo, Shami are trained by their master in Temple manner and service. They also study with their master and also at yearly conferences. This study includes doctrine, basic Buddhist concepts, the Lotus Sutra, Nichiren Shonin's instructions and the history of Buddhism and our order. Once the Shami reaches a stage which the Master feels is sufficient, they take a written and oral test given in Japan. If they pass all the required testing, they will be allowed to attend Shingyo Dojo. If the Shami attends college and receives a degree in Nichiren Buddhism, they do not have to take the written portion of the exam, but are required to take the oral exam. Shingyo Dojo Monastery is the last step before full ordination as a minister of the Nichiren order. This is not the end of their learning, though. All ministers of the Nichiren Order continue their study and practice for the rest of their lives. The overseas ministers are required to attend continuing education seminars and meetings in Japan on a yearly basis. From the time of taking Tokudo to full ordination can take somewhere between five to ten years or more depending on the Shami and their effort and goals.
Photo on the left is of Monks on their way back to the monastery (Shingyo Dojo) after morning service at the head Temple, Kuon Ji. Reverend Ryuoh Faulconer is toward the center of this picture. Every morning during the time at the monastery is started by attending service at the head Temple of the Nichiren Order, Kuon Ji. It is followed by a service at Nichiren Shonin's mausoleum and then morning service in the practice hall of the monastery itself. During the day the monks will do chores, study, listen to lectures and practice service manner. The day starts at 3:45 a.m. and ends at 9 in the evening. The days are filled with many activities to enrich the spiritual experience of the time spent in the monastery.
Climbing the Bodaitei steps or steps of Enlightenment (287 stairs in front of Kuon Ji built in 1632) on the last day of Shingyo Dojo on the way to the ordination ceremony. Reverend Shinkyo Warner taking his last few steps. There were 3 Americans in this Shingyo Dojo. This was the first Shingyo Dojo where anyone was allowed to participate without the ability to speak Japanese. Shinkyo Warner (Kentucky), Ryuei McCormick (San Jose CA), and Ryuoh Faulconer (Portland OR) attended Shingyo Dojo in April of 2001.
The ordination ceremony in the Shoshido or Founder's Hall of Kuon Ji (above). After the ceremony the Monks would return to the monastery for their last service together. Ryuoh is in the third row toward the middle, and Shinkyo is in the fourth row. Family and friends crowded around the hall to see their loved ones and participate in this important event. They would have to wait to greet and congratulate the new ministers as they would have to return to the monastery for one final service before leaving and starting their work as teachers of the Dharma.
Family members waiting outside the monastery gate for the new ministers to return home after their 35 day stay (above).