Within a year, Innen was confident that there was sufficient compatibility for Red Maple that he requested he be trained for formal ordination as a Tendai priest. This required his attendance at three summer training programs or gyo, the formal preparation for Tendai priesthood. This he completed in the summer of 2010, returning back to Renfrew County to transform Red Maple into the first Tendai Sangha in Canada.
|Innen, doshu at his ordination|
Over the next two years five other individuals from Red Maple received jukai or refuge vows, joining Innen as formal members of the international community of Tendai. One of these became the first-ever refuge taker within the Tendai tradition to receive jukai in Canada. In the practice space in the old schoolhouse just outside of Renfrew, we revised our altar so that it reflected the formal style used in Tendai service. We harmonized our practice schedule, chanting guide and practices so that our practice continued the forms established 1200 years ago in Japan.
During this same time, Innen was invited to become the Buddhist commentator for the weekly Ask the Religion Experts column featured in the Ottawa Citizen newspaper. Every week for nearly 4 years he would join representatives from a dozen other religious traditions and comment on specific questions related to religious life.
It was also during this time that Innen completed the writing and publication of Walk like a Mountain: the Handbook of Buddhist Walking Meditation, the first book to document the dozen or more walking practices from various Buddhist traditions.
The positive energy of this time for Red Maple inspired two new groups to form. The first was The Flowing Rivers practice group in Ottawa which functioned for two years; the other was the White Birch practice group in Halifax which is still functioning.
Next: The Present Moment
Yours in the Dharma,
om namo amida butsu