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Our apologies to the moon and you! In noting the once a month names and history of the native names for our full moon ceremony I mislabeled this month the Sturgeon or the green corn moon… That is incorrect and in late August! This Saturday is a second full Moon of July Celebration and something we use in a common phrase… “once in a ….”
Please join us for a renewal of Bodhisattva vows under the beloved BLUE MOON! A blue moon is an additional full moon that appears in a subdivision of a year, either the third of four full moons in a season or, a second full moon in a month of the common calendar.
The phrase has nothing to do with the actual color of the moon, although a literal “blue moon” (the moon appearing with a tinge of blue) may occur in certain atmospheric conditions; e.g., when there are volcanic eruptions or when exceptionally large fires leave particles in the atmosphere.
The original meaning would then have been “betrayer moon”, referring to a full moon that would “normally” (in years without an intercalary month) be the full moon of spring, while in an intercalary year, it was “traitorous” in the sense that people would have had to continue fasting for another month in accordance with the season of Lent.
It is our renewal of our Bodhisattva vows this upcoming Saturday morning after the Saturday Morning Dharma talk.
The ceremony takes about a half-hour and involves some thirty full prostrations, but simple standing bows are also all right if prostrations are too strenuous. All are welcome to join in this ceremony/celebration.
Every Saturday we offer early morning zazen (seated meditation), morning service, a brief drop-in meditation instruction at 8:30am. And again zazen at 9:25 am. We wrap up with a dharma talk at 10:15am followed by ceremony when applicable and then right to social time, tea and cookies. Please join us as this only will occur once in a blue moon!
Every Saturday we offer early morning zazen (seated meditation), a brief drop-in meditation instruction at 8:30 am. And again zazen at 9:25 am. We wrap up with a dharma talk at 10:15 am followed by a ceremony if applicable, then tea and cookies with socializing. Please know you are welcome and invited as well to any of our weekly schedule!
In Japanese, there is a proverb that says “Hot and cold weather last until the equinox”. This week-long ceremony takes place on the spring and fall equinoxes, the middle of an important week when the weather is usually very good.
Higan is the teaching that leads people from the world of delusion to the world of awakening. There are six components of this teaching: giving, precepts, perseverance, diligence, zazen, and wisdom. It is taught that if we carry out these practices we will be blessed with happiness and good fortune.
On the day before Higan, it is the custom in a Japanese home to clean the Buddha altar, to straighten up the various Buddha implements, and to change the flowers on the altar. It is also customary to make offerings of rice dumplings on the first day of the week. On the equinox (the middle day of this week) rice cakes covered with bean jam called ohagi or botamochi are offered. And once again on the final day of the week, dumplings made from rice flour are offered. During this time, offerings of food, special sweets, and fruit are also made.
Visiting the temple
It is customary at this time to visit the temple to present offerings of pounded-rice cakes (mochi), sweets, fruit, and so on to the principal image of Buddha as well as the family ancestors.
It is also the custom at Higan to visit the family grave to express our gratitude to the family ancestors. For those people living far away from the family grave, it is especially good to visit the temple and family grave during Higan. This is a good way to learn the warm-heartedness customarily expressed during Higan of giving rice cakes covered with bean jam to the neighbors and one’s relatives.
Visiting the family grave
A visit to the family grave first begins with cleaning the grave stone and grave site. It is particularly important to scour places that easily become dirty such as water basins and flower vases. Older wooden stupas are mindfully removed and disposed of according to temple instructions. Once the grave has been cleaned, fresh offerings of water, incense, and favorite delicacies of the deceased ancestors’ are made. The temple priest is then asked to chant a sutra at the grave, at this time, we join our hands in wholehearted prayer.
Following the visit to the gravesite, it is proper to remove the food offerings. No one likes to see spoiled offerings and they are also unsanitary. It is also good to clean up the special gravesite for graves that are no longer tended by family members and offer incense and flowers. In Japan, this is thought to express the beauty of one’s heart and mind.