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Congregational Voices

A Buddhist Path Toward Ordination
By Mira Ingram

(Back Row: Teachers Beata Chapman and Doug Jacobson; Front row: Mira Ingram, Darryl Starks, and Benn Meyers)

About a decade ago, I started attending Glide’s weekly meditation Congregational Life group. At the time, Rev. Gengetsu Junsei Jana Drakka ran the group. She was a Zen Buddhist priest who taught Harm Reduction-based meditation. This focused on short, easily-used exercises to help get through things like cravings, anxiety, pain, and fear. As someone with PTSD, I found meditation not only helpful, but healing. I kept coming back.

My curiosity about meditation, Zen, and Harm Reduction kept growing as time went on. After a year or two, around 1992, I asked Rev. Jana Drakka if I could formally study with her, and that’s where my journey to my recent ordination began. My fellow Glide meditator and Congregational Life Leader, Benn Meyers, began studying shortly before I did, so we’ve done much of our studying and meditation together, and we both completed our ordinations together last month.

Four or five years ago, Benn and I both began preparing for our ordination ceremony.  Rev. Jana Drakka grew sick with cancer over this time.  We cancelled our ordination ceremony when she grew too sick.  She was able to ordain each of us in her hospital bed before passing away, though.

We’ve spent our time since then making sure all the meditation groups continued running, and we found new Zen teachers to help guide us deep into our meditation practices. 

Darryl, another meditator from the Glide Meditation Group, and student of Rev. Jana Drakka, recently earned his lay ordination, the first step towards priest ordination in Zen. We had a combined ceremony for the three of us at the end of October.  It was really an honor to celebrate how much we have all grown together through the years of meditating together Monday nights at Glide.