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Equinox  Ceremony

The 2011, Sept. 23rd, 9:04 AM:  Equinox will be on 23rd September. At two days of the Year the length of daylight and darkness in a day is very close to being exactly equal as the sun rises due East and sets directly in the West. Signifying the Oneness of light and dark, of happiness and suffering, of water and sand.  Working with nature is a Buddhist tradition.

The Higan-e Memorial Services Ceremony is a celebration of  “crossing over the sea of suffering.” In Sanscrit the word is “paramita” and means to “arrive on the other shore.”  The Buddha-way teaches that the world we live in is called saha or realm of endurance and it is here on earth where we find life’s challenges and the knowledge that all will die within the circle of life.  We are at this moment on this side of the shore with the source of all One’s desires, karma and suffering. The other side of the shore is the world of enlightenment and nirvana.  We are reminded we can obtain great benefit by paying our debts of gratitude to our ancestors and to those that we remember in our daily Fourth Prayer for the deceased.

In his writing, “The Glory of the Yakuo Chapter” Nichiren states: “In the great sea of sufferings of life and death, the pre-Lotus Sutra teachings are but a raft or at best small boat.  Even if the pre-Lotus teachings can transport us from this shore of life and death to another shore of life
and death, it cannot take us across the great sea of life and death to the shore of great happiness.” [Shinpen, p. 350]

In our daily Liturgy we repeat the words of the Buddha’s teachings to remind us that there is a great energy force, a root life force of mother Earth based on the SUN, the workings of which produce through the Law of Cause and Effect, all things including life and death.  Knowing that all must die, we take joy in practicing our Spiritual nature here and now through faith, practice, and study, in this present life.

The Seasonal Nature of things offer all human beings:

    a ] an opportunity to discover their Buddha nature
    b ] an opportunity to meditate for self and others      
    c ] an opportunity to offer memorials on behalf of family, friends, relatives,
                ancestors, understanding that enlightenment can be achieved

In the Shingyo Hikkei, Nichiren Members Handbook we find the following prayer:

Tsuizen Eko / Memorial Prayer: p. 95
“May we respectfully dedicate the merits of chanting the Lotus Sutra and reciting the Odaimoku
in the presence of the Buddha, our Founder Nichiren and the Three Treasures to the memory of:
[name/s.........] for whom we observe the [anniversary date]

May the sound of recitation of the Lotus Sutra and the Odaimoku permeate throughout the spiritual world; may the [karmic energy] of the deceased permeate throughout the [ universe]
may the heart of our prayer permeate throughout the [ universe] and our merits go to the memory of [name/s.....] and increase their [ re-birth ]

It is said in the Lotus Sutra, “if there is a good man or woman in the future who listens to the Lotus Sutra, believes in it and reveres it with a pure heart, and has no doubts; such a person would not fall into the three lowest realms. Instead such a person will be reborn in the land of
the Buddha surrounded by the Buddha’s of the Ten Directions.  Wherever born, such a person will always hear the Lotus Sutra.  If born in the human world or the world of heaven, such a person will find greatr happiness.  If born in front of the Buddha, such a person will be born
out of the lotus blossom.”

May all the sentient beings be blessed with these merits, and may we all together attain Buddhahood.                  Namu Myoho Renge-kyo

The offering we make in remembrance of those who have died includes the offering of incense
in respect of the person(s) who have left this life for the other shore. We approach the container holding the burning charcoal and the powdered incense.  We firstly bow respectfully towards the Gohonzon Mandala then approach the Toba Memorial as we repeat the names of the persons we are remembering.   We take a pinch of incense and drop it on the burning charcoal asking that life’s negative karma be expiated. We repeat the offering three times.  Once for the persons many past lifetimes, secondly for his or her most recent lifetime, and thirdly for enlightenment in their moment of now, which is in our future.

In performing this ceremony during the Equinox Days of the Year, we are more closely connected to earths universal nature. We will accumulate benefit and virtue as we make offerings for those we love, miss and remember.  On the two Equinox days, it is scientifically proven that the earth is changing it’s axis in relation to the universe, as Buddhist’s we believe  the benefits of doing positive works on these days will bring more than usual benefit.  The Higan-e ceremony presents an opportunity for each of us to arrive at “the other shore” while doing good works in the here and now.

May our Meditation for this week be:  “Finding the shore of great happiness, respecting the Equinox day, meditating on loved One’s, friends and people we know who have passed away.”

Thus It Has Been Shared, respectfully, Kanji Henry

Submitted by HenryLa on September 21, 2011 - 6:32pm

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