There had been some discussion about what format the 21st day memorial ceremony for David was going to take. After the first iteration, last week we did a short service in the zendo as it was the fourth, and we also had the Suzuki Roshi memorial to do. In the end Paul wanted us to continue having the ceremony in the morning, so we had the first half of the regular Thursday service, and then chanted the Dai Hi Shin Dharani, followed by the special dedication.
Even though attendance in the zendo has been quite low this week, the Dai Hi Shin Dharani sounded very strong, suitably grave. Perhaps I am just used to doing it in the afternoons now, when there are even fewer people, most of whom are not so familiar with it.
Because I was in sesshin, I did not get to attend the cremation ceremony last week, and I am noticing in myself that a sense of finality is missing around David: I am aware of his absence in different ways and in various circumstances, but then this week I am also aware of the absence of all the participants in the intensive, who had formed such an integral part of the community in the preceding weeks. I suppose this is why so many cultures have a tradition of sitting with the body, so that you can get used to the idea that the person really is gone. Even doing the ceremony we did on the afternoon before sesshin, Paul purifying his room with wisdom water while a group of us circumambulated it chanting the Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo, moving as it was, did not quite bring it home to me.