BEN - The official acronym for Benevolent Zen Sangha is BEN.

Guiding Teacher – A Guiding Teacher has received Dharma transmission from her or his respective teacher.

Sensei – An honorific title given to one who has received full Dharma Transmission (Denkai and Denbo).

Roshi – An honorific title meaning literally “old teacher” that is given in recognition of Inka Shomei and signifies senior teaching status.

Dharma Holder – This title is given to signify the beginning of formal Dharma transmission (Denbo). A Dharma Holder may give the precepts and receive formal students through the rite of shoken. A Dharma Holder may not transmit their own successors.

Denbo Transmission – This is full transmission, acknowledgement of mastery on the Zen way. The title for a Dharma successor is Sensei. A sensei is free to function as a Zen teacher in any way they find appropriate including transmitting their own students.

Inka Shomei – At least five years after full Dharma transmission, a sensei is eligible to receive Inka Shomei from their transmitting teacher. This is a formal recognition of senior teaching status and deep understanding of the Zen Way. Inka Shomei is given in a public ceremony, after which the teacher may be referred to by the title Roshi (old teacher).

Senior Dharma Teacher – Senior Dharma Teachers share in the spiritual leadership as requested by the Guiding Teachers. In addition to the responsibilities of a Dharma teacher, a Senior Dharma Teacher may be authorized to give practice interviews.  A Senior Dharma Teacher may not establish personal student-teacher relationships (shoken).

Dharma Teacher – Dharma teachers share in the spiritual leadership as requested by the Guiding Teachers. Dharma teachers introduce forms and practices and may informally speak with other members of the community about details of practice. They may also give Dharma talks.  A Dharma teacher may not give formal practice interviews (dokusan) or establish personal student-teacher relationships (shoken).

Practice Leader – They are familiar with the forms of practice in Boundless Way Zen, and may give basic practice instruction.  They are people with a stable meditation practice and some basic understanding of the Dharma.

Jukai – The Sixteen Bodhisattva Precepts in the Zen tradition were originally designed as guidelines for living a life that supports and deepens practice. “Taking the precepts” with a teacher who has received Dharma Transmission from his or her teacher is a way to publicly acknowledge commitment to this way that is beyond words and forms. We vow together to embrace the actual circumstances of our lives, and to enter fully into whatever we encounter.

Shoken – We encourage committed students to attend private meetings (dokusan) with all of the transmitted teachers and senior dharma teachers. For many students it may be wise at some point to enter into a primary relationship with one transmitted teacher. This primary teacher-student relationship is traditionally called shoken, which literally means “seeing one another.” However, the shoken relationship is not meant to be exclusive. We encourage shoken students to continue to study with all our teachers.

Doan – The large bowl-shaped gong used in liturgy services.

Ino – The person who leads liturgy services.

Jiki-Jitzu – The person who times zazen and leads kinhin (walking meditation).

Jisha – The attendant of a teacher who is offering dokusan (private interviews).