Dear Buddhist Chaplain Colleagues,

One of our greatest challenges in pursuing our path towards Buddhist Chaplaincy is obtaining our “ordination and endorsements” as required by the Association of Professional Chaplains.  There are many reasons for this.  They include:

*  Many of us have converted to Buddhism in America through our extensive reading, studying and attending retreats, but have not aligned ourselves with one particular lineage, tradition or sangha.

*  The nature of Buddhism in America is micro-structured and it is most difficult to find teachers and sanghas who have created a path towards ordinations and endorsements for chaplains.

*  Historically the term “ordination” has been reserved as the entry point to be a monastic.  Many teachers hearing our requests to be ordained Buddhist chaplains are confused by what we mean and are not sure how to respond to our requests.  It might even be wise if we drop the term “ordination” and simply ask our sangha leaders for “endorsement.”  See draft Endorsement Guidelines.

*  The term “endorsement” is foreign to us as Buddhists and we have no context for it in our parlance.

*  There is reluctance on the part of many teachers who offer such possibilities to publicize these opportunities because so much of the process is dependent on the student’s maturation, development, and ripening in the Dharma.  This is not a process of simply completing a series of classes, meditations, retreats, etc.  Our teachers exercise a tremendous amount of discernment about our readiness.

As the Dharma Wheel continues to turn in America a few teachers and sanghas have developed processes that may lead to ordination and endorsement.  To date the following have been identified: 


Buddhist Society for Compassionate Wisdom

Kwan Um School of Zen


Order of Interbeing


Spirit Rock

Upaya Zen Center

If you know of others please send me the details. 

Thank you,