Ancient Dragon Zen Gate held its first priest ordination ceremony on June 25th, 2006 for two sangha members at the Cenacle Retreat Center as the conclusion of a three-day sesshin/ retreat. Long-time students of Taigen and dedicated sangha members Roger Thomson and Laurie Belzer had their heads shaved, and received priest robes, the Bodhisattva Precepts, Suzuki Roshi lineage papers, priest eating bowls, and dharma names from Dharma teacher Taigen Shizan Dan Leighton. Roger’s new name is Kotaku Myoshi, or Ancient Abundance Subtle Guidance. Laurie’s new name is Hogetsu Kigen, or Jeweled Moon Returning to the Source.
Taigen was assisted in conducting his first priest ordination by his Dharma brother from California, Taiyo Lipscomb. Taigen and Taiyo were priest ordained together in 1986 at San Francisco Zen Center by Senior Dharma Teacher Tenshin Reb Anderson, who was performing his own first priest ordination. SFZC priest Hannah Meara, our Ino Kevin Iverson, and Director Nancy Easton also assisted. Chicago Zen teachers Joshin Robert Althouse, Diane Martin, and Ron Kidd attended the ceremony as witnesses.
Afterwards, sangha members and many guests enjoyed a reception at the nearby home of Roger Thomson and his wife Mary Connors. With Taigen Leighton’s arrival as a full-time Chicago resident in February, 2007, we now have three priests serving our sangha. Myoshi (Roger) and Hogetsu (Laurie) now are the Ancient Dragon Zen Gate Senior Students, as they help guide our practice and lead services.