Thursday, June 16, 2011

Waiting For The Moon

Thwarted by the weather last month, I was more determined this time round to have the Full Moon Ceremony on the roof. There was a bit of grumbling and resistance from various people, and it was agreed that we would only do it if there was no fog or wind. Happily, the weather has been fine this week, which has been rare this year, and while it was pretty gusty when I started setting things up yesterday around five o'clock, after dinner conditions were perfect.
Of course being outside changes the dynamic of the ceremony greatly - it is very hard on the kokyo as voices just dissipate into the air, and the bells don't resonate as they do in the Buddha Hall, but there were many compensating elements, and I found myself taking in details as the ceremony unfolded: the last rays of the sun on the tall buildings around us; a slight chilling as the sun finally disappeared; the sounds of traffic and crows; the wide blue sky transected by the white of a gliding seagull or the red underbelly of a plane banking out of Oakland.
I had a weather eye out to the south east, where I was waiting for the moon to rise over Potrero Hill, but there was no moon until five minutes after the ceremony had ended, when suddenly a jagged-edged orange curve rose above the faint hills over in the east bay. A group of a dozen of us had stayed behind to watch, and everyone drew breath to exclaim at the sharp ascension and the vividness of the colour.

Full Moon Ceremony altar

Paul at the altar

The moon on Monday

The moon on Tuesday

The moon on Wednesday
I remember sitting in the hot plunge at Tassajara once, and eagerly waiting for the moon to appear from behind Flag Rock until I told myself that the moment was perfect just as it was, and the idea of waiting was just taking away from it. Similarly, the ceremony was wonderful just as it was - and there was a lot of positive energy last night and this morning to bear that out - the non-appearance of the moon did not change that.

Today I have to shift gears and get ready for our three-day sesshin, which begins tonight. There are a lot of logistics involved as we insert a one-day sitting into the middle of it, so I have three separate schedules and two seating charts and job lists to draw up today. Even though a part of me would like to spend all day soaking up the welcome sunshine.


daigan Gaither said...

Great shots Shundo... I wish I had felt better and could have participated.. I love when we do them up there.

Lisa Hamasaki said...

great idea full moon ceremony where you can see the moon, cool!

Sandy's witterings said...

As an outsider this ceremony appears to have to have similarities to druidic ceremonies I've witnessed (I don't belong to that group either). I suspect with yourselves, and I like to think with the modern druids, that it is certainly not a worship of the moon, and nor even a giving thanks for it (for who is to thank for the laws of nature?) but an appreciation, or an awareness, of the moon.

caren said...

Wow, that's so cool that you had the ceremony on the roof top. Being outside like this, battling the elements of the nature really brings to light a phrase from the Heart Sutra, "all five aggregates are empty..."

Ruth said...

And a stunning rooftop it is too.

Shundo said...

Thanks for all the comments. Ruth, I am assuming you are not referring to the shabby decking and peeling paint, but more to the vistas.
Sandy, the function of the moon in the ceremony is mainly for calendaring purposes - the ceremony dates back to the earliest days of Buddhism, when the wandering forest monks agreed to reconvene every full moon and new moon to renew their vows, which is why more hardline inos than myself always call it the Bodhisattva Precept Ceremony on the Full Moon. But we are big on appreciation and awareness, and you can spend happy hours reading all about moon imagery in Buddhist writings.