Raichozan (Thunderbird Mountain) Zendo

We are a lay sitting group in Glendale AZ. We meet on Tuesday evenings at the West Valley UU Church at 59th and Cholla. Offering instruction in zazen (Zen Buddhist meditation) and the opportunity to practice with the structure and support of a group inspired in the Rinzai Zen tradition.Beginners welcome.

We meet on Tuesday evenings from 7:00 to 8:30
First time visitors should call 602.492.2212 or email mui@cox.net for orientation instructions.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Concerning my status as a Zen priest

A couple years ago I received what I, in good faith, took to be ordination as a Zen priest from Barry Graham of the Sitting Frog Zen Sangha. A few months after my “ordination” I became concerned about how Barry was conducting himself (as were others) so decided to sever my ties with him. In this same time frame because of this conduct his ordination was called into question and he repeatedly refused to provide incontrovertible proof of his status by showing his ordination credentials.

Since then I have continued to wear my robes (though no longer) and if people asked if I was ordained I would reply “Yes”, but always with a disclaimer revolving around the circumstances. However, now, I can no longer in good conscience claim to be ordained since Barry has failed consistently to provide proof that he is legitimately ordained himself. I am a layman.

This has placed me in an untenable situation, but it changes little what you can expect from me unless you want me to perform your wedding, this I cannot do. I still take refuge in the Three Treasures, I haven't renounced the Ten Precepts, I won't be cutting down on my cushion time and I'll still be doing retreats as often as I can. Oh yea, you can still come and sit with the Zen group I host on Tuesday evenings, we'd love to have you!


  1. I think this is all appropriate. Thank you for helping to shed further light on Graham. However, there is still a concern about you leading a Zen group. If you studied with Graham long enough to accept fraudulent ordination, and then some, then this means that you found his "Zen teachings" acceptable for far too long. I have read what he has to say. I couldn't listen to more than about 30 seconds of a talk online. His "zen" is a complete and total aberration. He doesn't get one thing right.
    My point is only that you need to establish a connection with a teacher who actually is authentic. You should feel very insecure about your ability to distinguish delusion from truth - you allowed yourself to participate in fraud. You are not just a victim - ok? So your work is not done here. Take steps to keep righting things.
    Begin by not pretending to teach ANYTHING until you have oversight by a teacher.
    Palms together-

    btw, Soto Zen has 16 Bodhisattva precepts, for laypersons and priests. Kwan Um has 10 for the most basic lay teacher precepts. And of course there are many more in other traditions. I don't know which 10 you speak of. But it is further evidence of Graham's cobbled together mish mash of stuff he picked up on the internet.

  2. I see that this post still gets viewed on occasion. Since this was written I took Tokudo-shiki on April 26, 2014 in the Rinzai Zen tradition.