Beginning at 7 p.m., we’ll sit for two rounds followed by the Ceremony of Aid.

Mind is unlimited. Chanting when performed egolessly has the power to penetrate visible and invisible worlds.

—  Roshi Philip Kapleau

For our annual Ceremony of Aid, we seek to send spiritual and material aid to where it is acutely needed. We do this through a day of fasting and by making monetary donations to the Rochester Mutual Aid Network. The photograph on the altar provides a vivid representation of the suffering of people to whom the ceremony is dedicated. It is used to focus the mind so that our energies can be directed with more concentrative power. Our wholehearted chanting also invokes the compassionate aid of Kannon and other buddhas and bodhisattvas.

The hunger we feel in fasting for a day allows us to experience to a small degree the suffering of those who go without food every day, not by choice but through deprivation. This experience strengthens our desire to offer aid and, in turn, fortifies our practice. Temporarily at least, it helps us to overcome our separation and self-absorption, and in this way offer the aid of understanding. Moreover, by making a donation of any amount, we are giving concrete, material support.

As a part of the ceremony cash offerings are placed in a collection dish on the altar. If you are participating online or are unable to attend the ceremony in-person, you may donate to RMAN directly by clicking here. The Zen Center matches all donations received up to $500, so if you’d like us to match your contribution, please forward your donation receipt to our bookkeeper, Mitchell at