Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Parinirvana always makes me cry. Even when I have to organise the whole ceremony, there is something about sitting in the darkened zendo with everyone facing in, a votive candle lit on the mealboard in front of each person, listening to the text being read, that brings tears. Jordan always does a fine job with the reading; this year we had brought the drum into the zendo, and Joan put a lot of energy into the noise-making and the big hits, which had quite an impact on people as well.
"And the gods in all the heavens uttered verses, and the deer from the hillsides came to watch in rapt attention, and the stars and the planets shone brightly, and the small plants turned their leaves a little to the north, the trees arched more closely toward the sky, foxes slowed down in their loping, frogs ceased their croaking for a moment, birds perched, and children in their beds turned over and awoke in wonder.

Those monks who had not yet let go of their desires wept, and tore their hair, raised their arms, threw themselves down, twisting and turning and crying out, “The light of the world has gone out! But those monks who were free of clinging endured mindfully and clearly aware, weeping softly and saying:

All things in this world break up
Even the Buddha without peer,
This day has passed on. 

And they remembered the Buddha’s last words:

If you have doubts about the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha or about the path or the practice, ask other monks. Do not afterwards feel remorse. Let one friend ask another. Encourage each other in the way.
It may be that you will think the teacher’s instructions have ceased, but it should not be seen like this. For what I have taught shall be your teacher, all living beings shall be your teacher, this bright world, and your very mind itself, shall be your teacher.
Be as lamps unto yourselves. Light your dharma candle and pass on the light throughout the generations and to everyone in this world

After this part, we go up to the Buddha Hall. I talked everyone through the circumambulation yesterday, and that went very smoothly today, but the incense offering went a little slowly, and we had to start a third round of the Dai Hi Shin Dharani while the last people made it back to their places, and I could feel the energy of the chanting flag a little. I tried to make the eko as rousing as possible:

Buddha manifests body and all beings are saved;
All beings saved, the Buddha body is manifested.
This morning having collected ourselves in our sitting,

we have offered light, incense, flowers, sweet water, rice and tea,
and have chanted the Heart of Great Wisdom Sutra
and the Dharani of Great Compassion 

­     We now commemorate Shakyamuni Buddha’s great and perfect nirvana

      and enter the merit stream of the Buddha’s Teaching Body, 

      which transcends desire and uses this body to liberate all forms of delusion. 

With boundless gratitude we vow to practice the Way of Buddha.

It is a dramatic morning out there - the past few weeks of warm sunny weather gave way to a stormy week. After breakfast, a flash hail storm, a fleeting rainbow. I suspect Buddha's hand in this:
Around eight o'clock
Half an hour or so later

1 comment:

Linda Atkins said...

Thank you--these words are timely, helpful and appreciated.