Definition of the Membership in the Silent Thunder Order (STO) is necessary to fulfill an important legal requirement under our state charter as a 501(c)3 Corporation: the maintenance of an official Membership List. This Motion is intended to clarify the de facto existing Membership of STO, as well as to establish guidelines for defining future Membership.


There will be two forms of membership, Formal and General (Sustaining). General Members are members of the community at large who wish to support and sustain the STO and its mission through financial and other contributions, but are not themselves on the Disciple, Teacher or Priesthood Practice Path. General members will be nominated by the STO BOD and designated honorary Members as determined by the BOD with privileges awarded as appropriate.

Formal Members are participating in the STO Practice Path Prerequisites and assuming responsibilities of leadership in the network of STO Affiliate Practice Sanghas. The rest of the Membership Addendum applies solely to Formal Members.

In general, a Formal Member is expected to adhere to policies set by STO’s Board of Directors (BOD), to abide by the laws of the State, Province and Country of residence, and to honor the Precepts, including not defaming the Three Treasures, particularly with respect to the Community (Sangha). Maintaining harmony in the community is the first and foremost responsibility of a Member of STO, and can be met through conformance to and respectful participation in the protocol and activities of the local Affiliate Sangha.


A Membership List of existing Members, qualified according to this Motion, will upon BOD approval of the Motion, be drawn up by the Membership Committee and submitted to the BOD for ratification. Each Member so designated will be given a Membership Application to fill out, and presented with a Membership Card, renewable annually. The Membership List, signed by the officers of the BOD, will form the legal Membership of STO, and will be attached to the minutes of the BOD each year.


The Membership List will be updated annually by the Secretary and submitted to the BOD prior to the Annual Meeting. Member names are to be added to or deleted from the Membership List by the Chair of the Membership Committee, and after signing by the Officers will constitute the legal voting Membership of STO for the next fiscal year.


Removal from membership is a power granted to the BOD, as detailed in the By-Laws.


Membership in STO will consist of 4 levels: Associate Member; Full Member; Senior Member; and Member Emeritus. Anyone given the Discipleship Ceremony (Zaike Tokudo) under the tutelage of an authorized Priest of the STO automatically qualifies as a Member of the STO, and will be issued an Associate Membership Card after submitting a STO Membership Application. Membership Cards will be updated each year. An Associate Member may after one year (or receiving Shukke Tokudo ?) apply for Full Member status; and after three years for Senior Member status. Emeritus Membership is awarded by the BOD. Each Membership level carries certain privileges and incurs some expectations, including appropriate membership dues. Membership dues are $100 per year.

In addition to membership dues, all disciples are expected to practice Dana Paramita (Generosity) and support STO financially to the degree that their personal financial situation allows. Guides such as past examples (Elliston Roshi supported O’Sensei Matsuoka by donating about $50 per month back in the sixties), number crunching (dividing the STO annual expenses by the number of members), or a sliding scale ($1 to $2 per $1000 of income per month, for instance) can be helpful. Each member knows her/his own finances best and must decide for themselves what they will donate in support of the order fulfilling its function of making zen practice and training accessible. Support pledges are submitted prior to the Annual General Meeting in November, as part of the annual renewal of membership application. This provides the information for updating the yearly membership list as well as giving a funding estimate which is used in planning the upcoming year’s services, training events and activities.


New Members may:

1. Attend STO functions not open to the public

  1. Attend and speak at BOD meetings

  2. Serve on BOD committees

Full Members may, in addition to the above:

  1. Vote in general meetings and to elect the new BOD

  2. Be appointed Chair of BOD committees

Senior members may, in addition to the above:

1. Serve as a voting BOD Member

  1. Serve as an Officer of the Corporation at the discretion of the BOD

Emeritus members may, in addition to the above:

  1. Hail from other lineages


All Members of STO are expected to participate in the three pillars of practice:

  1. Sitting (Zazen)

Sitting in Zen meditation is the foundation and central focus of our practice. Any Member by definition must be interested in doing Zazen in the Soto way, and should demonstrate this by attending Sangha meditation regularly (e.g. weekly).

  1. Working (Samu)

The Zen Center is to the community what Zazen is to our personal practice. Working to take good care of the practice place, helping clean and maintain the STO Affiliate facilities, is the foundation of its existence. All Members should demonstrate their commitment by assuming responsibility for maintenance tasks on a regular basis (e.g. monthly).

  1. Supporting (Dana)

The network of STO Disciples, Teachers and Priests relies on its Members for financial support in the form of dana. Members should strive to demonstrate their support of STO by regularly pledging an amount they can afford (e.g. annually).

Affiliate centers should rely on the local sangha for their support. Members who are in leadership positions with their local Affilate Sanghas should strive to make their center self-sufficient, based on dana contributed by its members. To the degree necessary and affordable, Members of the STO may also have to contribute to the support of their local Affiliate Sangha facility.

Member expectations regarding the above are met through maintaining a dependable schedule; organizing work periods on weekends, sesshin and scheduled work days; and reporting the status of Affiliate Sangha and STO finances through Treasurer’s reports.


After meeting these expectations for a term of one year at STO, the BOD, at the request of the Member and through the Membership Committee will issue a Full Membership Card for the next year, which grants voting privileges amongst others as determined by the BOD. A Member maintains and re-activates Full status annually by committing to the three Membership Practice Pillars, and by attending the Annual Meeting in person or by proxy.


Membership status lapses when a Member does not perform the Three Pillars of Practice and / or fails to pay his or her annual dues. Lapsed Members relinquish their voting and other higher privileges as long as they are inactive. Lapsed Members re-activate their privileges by filling out a Member Application Card; they will be re-activated at the following Annual Meeting when their dues have been paid. There will be available to all Members a hardship waiver that may be granted as to annual dues or specific performance requirements. It may be applied for to the BOD and will be granted upon due consideration and approval by the BOD.

Rev. 110519

Rev. 111021

Respectfully Submitted,

STO Board of Directors