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  1. #1
    Friend of Treeleaf Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Ceremony

    Dear all,
    Ceremony is meditation. Ceremony leads us to look change square in the face. The seasons shift. We have winter ceremonies and autumn ceremonies. We mark time. Births, marriages and deaths. The longest day. The shortest day. The day we remember the dead. The day we celebrate the arrival of spring. I see ceremony as practice. I have no resistance to it. It helps me feel the rhythm of a human life.

    Is ceremony superstition and a waste of time? Where do you stand on ceremony?

    Gassho,
    Myozan

    PS: On Wednesday night we celebrate the old Celtic festival of Oiche Samhain (Halloween in the US and elsewhere). The door to the other world stands open (as it always does anyway) so the old belief goes. We will celebrate with ancient games and rituals in our house. We are not Japanese, so will not mark Obon (which is at another time of year in any case). But we will have that same Oban spirit as we light the candles in out dark windows, welcoming the winter in and guiding what spirits may or may not exist on their way
    Myozan Kodo
    Ordained Soto Zen Priest in Training
    Dublin, Ireland

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.
    "Here the way unfolds."

  2. #2
    I like ceremonies that communicate ... whereby I can pour my heart and be poured into the flowing. I love weddings, baby welcomings ... I even love funerals as just part of life, and a coming together of family and other loved ones. I love to chant the Heart Sutra and the like, but only after understanding the words of what I chant. Then, at that point the words are cast aside ... and one chants just one with the Sound (big "S").

    However, I do not like hocus-pocus, incantation, soothsaying, superstition, baseless claims and abracadabra mumbo-jumbo.

    Around here, hopefully we will Practice the former, I will not allow Practice of the latter. I have not always found a clear place to draw the line, but we will do our best.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-28-2012 at 06:33 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  3. #3
    Hello,

    I feel that ceremony/ritual is a good way to 'enter into the sacred' (for lack of a better term) while up and moving around, engaging in the daily world. In that respect, the chanting, bowing, has a purpose. However, I feel that if you have one mind for Zazenkai and another for making coffee in the mornings, you've missed the point. The ritual doesn't end when the candles are snuffed out. Each breath is a ritual, each embrace a ceremony. The sacred and the mundane are not separate unless one makes them separate.

    In Gassho,

    Saijun
    To give up yourself without regret is the greatest charity. --RBB

  4. #4
    Senior Member Nindo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saijun View Post
    However, I feel that if you have one mind for Zazenkai and another for making coffee in the mornings, you've missed the point. The ritual doesn't end when the candles are snuffed out. Each breath is a ritual, each embrace a ceremony. The sacred and the mundane are not separate unless one makes them separate.
    Well said, Saijun.

    Every year I'm looking forward to celebrating winter solstice with my Unitarian Universalist friends. And rohatsu of course. These two are now more important to me than Christmas.
    I'm not into Halloween. In Austria, November 1st is a public holiday and many people have a ritual of going to the cemetery to their families' graves. I always thought this was hollow and contrived, kind of like mothers' day, more benefiting the florists than anybody else. From the distance, however, I feel a little different and now would like to visit my ancestors' graves.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Saijun View Post
    Hello,

    I feel that ceremony/ritual is a good way to 'enter into the sacred' (for lack of a better term) while up and moving around, engaging in the daily world. In that respect, the chanting, bowing, has a purpose. However, I feel that if you have one mind for Zazenkai and another for making coffee in the mornings, you've missed the point. The ritual doesn't end when the candles are snuffed out. Each breath is a ritual, each embrace a ceremony. The sacred and the mundane are not separate unless one makes them separate.

    In Gassho,

    Saijun
    Yes, thank you. And how wonderful to also watch someone at a sacred thing like making a cup of coffee with care, walking a dog with joy, playing a game with great concentration and skill - all things sacred.

    Gassho,
    alan

  6. #6
    Friend of Treeleaf Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    By the way, Halloween is not the same thing in Ireland. It is a genuine harvest festival and day of the dead, observed for thousands of years, predating Christianity. From my father to his father and back millennia, Oiche Samhain runs deep in the culture. It is in no way a shallow and contrived superstition.
    Gassho
    Myozan
    Myozan Kodo
    Ordained Soto Zen Priest in Training
    Dublin, Ireland

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.
    "Here the way unfolds."

  7. #7
    I like ceremonies/rituals as a means for mindfulness practice or getting a sense of peace.
    Every weekend I perform a Chinese Tea Ceremony, Gongfu Cha (not to be confused with the Japanese Tea Ceremony). Sometimes I invite friends/relatives to serve them tea in that way.

    Being an atheist, ceremonies don't have a religious meaning to me. As soon as there is a touch of superstition involved, I don't like to perform it.
    When I bow to one of our Buddha statues at home, I bow to every creature on the planet and the entire universe. That's my personal meaning. Sometimes I bow to my cats after Zazen, to a plant, or any object that I spontaneously want to bow to (i.e. I don't think in advance what I am going to bow to - I let it come, i.e. sometimes I don't bow at all).

    I don't like "empty" ceremonies/rituals that are simply done out of habit.

    Gassho,

    Timo

  8. #8
    Senior Member Nindo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Myozan Kodo View Post
    By the way, Halloween is not the same thing in Ireland. It is a genuine harvest festival and day of the dead, observed for thousands of years, predating Christianity. From my father to his father and back millennia, Oiche Samhain runs deep in the culture. It is in no way a shallow and contrived superstition.
    Gassho
    Myozan
    Myozan, I was trying to say that coming from Austria, I am not familiar with Halloween and am not really adopting it now that I am in Canada. With "hollow and contrived" I was referring to the Viennese version of All Saints Day that I experienced while living in Vienna. I have great respect for age-old traditions like the one you describe (such old traditions also still exist in rural Austria).

  9. #9
    I love ceremony too. This is a movie I just finished making (one "Global Day of Service" project) of a very old Japanese agricultural ritual, fast disappearing but still found in our little village within Tsukuba (even most people in the town of Tsukuba do not know about it) and here and there scattered through northern Japan. I made the film in order to preserve how it is done, and the making of the ritual straw club used, because even the younger folks in our small village (about 50 households) are forgetting how it is done and what it means.

    It is a kind of "trick or treat" done each year on October 15th in which the kids go from house to house beating their clubs and singing a certain song (most of the local folks are not quite sure what the ceremony means). Each household gives them a little pocket money in return. The song translates to something like "Barley, Wheat, In the three-corned field there is wheat straw, this year is also a rich one with a full harvest, Let's Go, Let's Go!". Turns out that the origin is related to waking up the dozing earth gods in the ground to give a full harvest (plus also the practical function of helping to chase away mice and moles who eat the harvest ... though not sure how effective it would be at that). Anyway, the ritual is completely effective in bringing all the kids and parents together in our village.

    The whole film is in Japanese, but have a look at the 5:00 mark for the folks in our neighborhood and the kids trying to learn the song, the 8:00 mark to see the kids in action, and at the 20:00 mark to see one of the old grandfathers and his wife in our neighborhood who I interviewed as they make the straw clubs.



    A little footnote. I ran into some village political problems with the film I found out about today because a couple of the other old grandpa's in the village who also make the club their way might be unhappy that only the one grandpa is in the film, so I am not sure I can even give it to everyone in the village like originally planned!

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-29-2012 at 10:57 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  10. #10
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    For many many years I was against ceremonies and was very unhappy when I had to go through one (like my sister's wedding at a church), but now I just flow with them and I actually enjoy being part of them.

    I am with Jundo on this. I enjoy ceremonies as long as they are not hocus-pocus and I am aware of what I'm doing.

    Ceremonies and every little ritual my life has are a celebration of life.

    Speaking about honoring the dead, in November 2th, her in Mexico, we celebrate Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead). It's the time of the year when the spirits of all we lost come to have dinner with us.

    It's a huge tradition filled with ceremonies that has a lot of fantastic things, like making sugar or chocolate skulls for the kids, a special loaf of sweet bread and altars with offerings are set up in most homes.

    It comes from the times when the Aztecs ruled these lands.

    This may be the only Mexican tradition I truly like.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Mr. Spock

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Kyonin View Post

    It comes from the times when the Aztecs ruled these lands.

    This may be the only Mexican tradition I truly like.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Dia de los Muertes is not actually directly related to the Aztecs. Here are two articles I wrote on this subject that you may be interested to read.
    When did DotD begin http://deaddeco.com/2012/01/07/when-did-the-dotd-begin/
    Difference between American DotD and Mexican DdlM http://deaddeco.com/2012/02/08/day-o...he-simulacrum/
    gassho
    -Lou

  12. #12
    Friend of Treeleaf Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Hi Nindo,
    No worries. I just wanted to clarify things from my perspective and experience. Everyone has their own experience.
    Gassho,
    Myozan
    Myozan Kodo
    Ordained Soto Zen Priest in Training
    Dublin, Ireland

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.
    "Here the way unfolds."

  13. #13
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    On Halloween, I like to drink hot cider with rum in it, dress in a costume, watch movies, eat candy, and get myself into the winter mood.
    迎 Geika

  14. #14
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Having just witnessed the creation of two very well made Ponpontsuki Clubs, I am reminded of many activities my wife and I participated in as members of our Fujucho Chonaikai similar to the one portrayed in this video. Similarly as well, we visited a man who repaired Butsudans (beautiful lacquered home altars) who's hobby was making lacquered beads. He demonstrated the procedure which takes him more than a year.IMG_4670.jpg Watching rituals such as these only reminds us of how we relate to the richness of our own cultural backgrounds.
    Thank you Jundo for this teaching
    Gassho Shokai
    Last edited by Shokai; 10-29-2012 at 02:23 PM.
    gassho, Shokai, still learning the way and knowing nothing
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    Just another itinerant monk; go somewhere else to listen to someone who really knows.

  15. #15
    I really enjoy ceremony. I can still picture my first Buddhist service on Wesak, years ago; it was a beautiful spring evening, the chanting was wonderful & the incense was lovely. I think it was when I first knew that Buddhism was the right path for me. I also love Halloween & Christmas, with all the little traditions & rites that go along with them.

    At the same time, I have a naturalistic, sceptical outlook & don't believe any supernatural aspects involved. I also go through stages when all ceremony seems silly & I don't want to take part at all, but I always end up feeling that it is missing from my life.

    For me, ceremony is a wonderful way of expressing the unexpressable & sharing en emotional bond with family, friends & Sanghas!

    _/\_
    Ade

  16. #16
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    I have always wanted to celebrate Dia de Muertos! It always looks fun, and living in Southern California I have a chance to see some of it going on.
    迎 Geika

  17. #17
    disastermouse
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    I wish I could say that ceremony and ritual touched me in any meaningful way, but they simply don't. I perform them when required by a teacher I respect, but there is no interior motivation for doing them.

    However, I'm no longer flat-out antagonistic toward them.

    Chet

  18. #18
    I learned a lot about ceremony and ritual by reading Confucius. I used to think of it as somewhat silly, but I can see how (if done right) it can form character.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Shonin's Avatar
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    Coming from more of a new age'ish perspective originally(well bad way to say it but gets the point across), ceremony is a huge deal. It's not about the exact words or movements. It's about the feeling behind them. And as mention above..it is meditation..entering the sacred. Psychologically it can also assist our endeavors as when we perform these ceremonies, the ceremnies themselves but us in the right state of mind for them.
    Such as how some use one type incense during meditation ( of whatever flavor one preferrs). That particular scent alerts the brain it's meditation time. You have that psychological association.
    It's not about how we feel about a particular ritual. Whether neccessary or not. It's about how we understand the deeper impact of these ceremonies when incorporated into our lives regularly, the patterns within us that they establish, as well as truly understanding what the ritual is about. Why do we do it, etc.

    Gods , I hope that makes sense to at least one other person.

    _/\_ Dave

  20. #20
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    It does. I used to be Wiccan.
    迎 Geika

  21. #21
    Senior Member Shonin's Avatar
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    _/\_

  22. #22
    Hello,

    to me it seems that for some people rituals and ceremony just make sense in a very deep way that has nothing to do with superstition per se, but more along the lines of poetry. A lot of very intelligent and empathic people don't "get" poetry at all and for them it will always be a bit of a waste of time. For others it's a bit of emotional masturbation and for yet another group of people poems and/or rituals are dynamically enacted gateways to the mysterious and infinite awe that is suchness itself.

    Just my two Yen.

    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Chudo Mongen, Ordained Novice Priest-in-Training

  23. #23
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Right on, Mongen!

    And, Amelia wrote:
    It does. I used to be Wiccan.
    Is there a saying, "once a Wicca n, always a Wicca n ??

    I was once a Christian (hence the name Richard). I studied Bahai(sm); begged off that when they insisted my DNA chose my destiny (* you can google my cousin Ruhiyyih Khanum (Mary Maxwell)*). I cried when I read the Koran. I was totally impressed by early Hinduism. It's all good and, by definition, I am still all of those but, my personal opinion is that Zen is where it's at. And, i believe Albert was in agreement when he said:
    A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.
    - Einstein
    , Shokai (that's my Dharma name btw )

    * you should have seen the prostrations when i presented my credit card at the Bahai Temple in Chicago; enough to make a Wiccan Ceremony look pale in comparison.
    Last edited by Shokai; 11-22-2012 at 12:22 PM.
    gassho, Shokai, still learning the way and knowing nothing
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    Just another itinerant monk; go somewhere else to listen to someone who really knows.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Jakudo's Avatar
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    Gassho, Shawn Jakudo Hinton
    It all begins when we say, I. Everything that follows is illusion.
    "Even to speak the word Buddha is dragging in the mud soaking wet; Even to say the word Zen is a total embarrassment."
    寂道

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Shawn Hinton View Post
    Well. I assume that the word "ritual" is being used in a very wide sense here. I rather doubt that a wedding, a bar mitzvah, awarding medals during the Olympics, chanting the Heart Sutra, swearing in the Prime Minister and scoring heroine in the back alley are that closely connected!

    Unless, of course, you mean to say that the Heart Sutra is a gateway drug????

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  26. #26
    Senior Member Jakudo's Avatar
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    I think ceremony is good when used constructively and i enjoy adhering to the forms . But on the other hand there is a link between ceremony/ritual and addictions that i read about... have to look for the article.
    Gassho, Shawn Jakudo Hinton
    It all begins when we say, I. Everything that follows is illusion.
    "Even to speak the word Buddha is dragging in the mud soaking wet; Even to say the word Zen is a total embarrassment."
    寂道

  27. #27
    Friend of Treeleaf Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    the Heart Sutra is a gateway drug????
    I started on the Heart Sutra and within a year I was into the Diamond Sutra. Then it wasn't strong enough so I moved on to the Lotus Sutra. By that stage, I was sitting for long periods motionless every day and all my hair had fallen out.
    Myozan Kodo
    Ordained Soto Zen Priest in Training
    Dublin, Ireland

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.
    "Here the way unfolds."

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Myozan Kodo View Post
    ... and all my hair had fallen out.
    Yours too? It must be a sign.

    Gassho
    Michael
    倫道 真現

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  29. #29
    disastermouse
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    I love poetry. I hate ceremony....I just really, really dislike it.

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse View Post
    I hate ceremony....I just really, really dislike it.
    Part of me does too. That is one reason to pour myself into some ceremonies ... because I don't care for them. Also, they are an acquired taste that one can come to appreciate. They are a dance. Around here, we tend to keep ceremony fairly bare bones ... but still appreciate the moment.

    It is a good time to point folks to this thread ...

    Recommended 'at home' liturgy
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...t-home-liturgy

    and this marvelous book ...

    Bringing the Sacred to Life: The Daily Practice of Zen Ritual by John Daido Loori Roshi
    http://www.amazon.com/Bringing-Sacre.../dp/1590305337


    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

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