From Roshi on This Season of Ceremonies

Tomorrow (Thursday, November 15) ushers in the late-fall run of ceremonies at the Center. Each of them offers a way to have our root Zen practice enriched by the “leaves and branches” that are the more religious features of traditional Zen practice. Devotions transmit the Dharma by non-verbal means – by action, liturgy, ritual, and decoration. We can enact these teachings this month through the following special events:

  • Ceremony of Aid – Thursday, November 15. Our annual remembrance, a week before feasting, of the hundreds of millions of people worldwide who suffer from hunger every day. Residents here at the Center will fast that day so that they can experience in a very small but visceral way the hunger that millions of people around the world live with. The ceremony includes the opportunity for participants to offer monetary donations to Oxfam, and these will be matched by the Center within the limits of the Center’s budget.
  • Ceremony of Gratitude – Gratitude may well be the most sublime of emotions. Come this Sunday and have your heart swell in the zendo on hearing people’s personal expressions of gratitude and by voicing one of your own. The ceremony includes a circumambulation of the zendo with an offering of powdered incense at the altar. Stay afterward to enjoy some special light fare in the dining room.
  • Temple Night, on Friday, November 23, when we transform the Buddha Hall into a space for free-form devotions and sitting, buoyed by exquisitely appointed altars bathed in soft light.
  • Taking the Precepts (Jukai),on Saturday, November 24, at 5 pm in the Buddha Hall. This annual ceremony, second in importance only to ordination, gives us the opportunity to further ground our practice by pledging to do our best to live up to the basic sixteen precepts of Buddhism: the Three Treasures, the Three General Resolutions, and the Ten Cardinal Precepts. Don’t shy away from this ceremony because you think you’re not “ready” for it. Nor will you be held accountable by anyone other than yourself. The power this ceremony has to support our spiritual aspirations is boosted by joining with some 50-100 others who also want to renew theirs. This ceremony really is not about navigating right and wrong, but about fortifying our natural desire not to cause harm. We do that by actually voicing these precepts, bringing us closer to embodying them.

In honor of Jukai, a special Saturday teisho (preceded by 8:30 sitting) will be devoted to an aspect of the Precepts. To hear an overview of the ceremony as a whole, though, you can listen to one or both of these two recordings from previous years:

Nov 26, 2016  Receiving the Precepts

Nov 30, 2013  An Overview of the Sixteen Precepts

Here’s a link to the schedule for Thanksgiving and Jukai or you can pick one up at the Center.