Alaksa Woman to be Ordained as Buddhist Priest

September 26, 2003

Source: Anchorage Daily News

On September 26, 2003 Anchorage Daily News reported on the upcoming ordination of Diane Johnson Van Parijs as a Buddhist priest: "Her head will be shaved, and she will be officially ordained with her Buddhist name, Jishin ("Compassionate Heart/Mind"). Van Parijs will become a Buddhist priest, rare for a Western woman in the Shin Buddhist tradition and most likely a first for an Alaskan." The article described Van Parijis' conversion to Buddhism and then continued,"just living won't make you a Buddhist priest, though. It has taken eight years of study, with steps along the way, such as when Van Parijs received Kikyoshiki, confirmation of her Buddhist name, in Dusseldorf in 2000. She did much reading and studied, in particular, the three Pure Land sutras. She talked with scholars at conferences. She and her husband spent a year and a half putting the entire collected works of Shinran Shonin, the founder of the tradition, on the Internet...In June, it was announced that a Tokudo (Ordination) for Foreigners was going to be held. It has been nine years since the last ordination ceremony for foreigners has been held within the Jodo Shinshu Tradition of Buddhism. Van Parijs submitted her application, which included information about her activities and the recommendation of three priests. After being accepted, she began to prepare for the 11 days of intense training she'll undertake in October. The candidates wear special robes, and spend each day from 5 a.m. until the evening in services, lectures and study. The morning of Oct. 15, she and the other candidates will be taken for Tonsuring, in which the head is shaved to symbolize letting go of the ego. The ceremony will take three hours in the evening, and is so powerful that it is protected by guards and no guests can be present. After her new birth as a Buddhist priest, Van Parijs will be the resident priest at the White Lotus Center."

See also: Buddhism, Women