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Thread: Full Moon Ceremony

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

    Hi All,

    It’s the full moon and I just wanted to ask you all if there is a Treeleaf tradition for marking it.

    In Suzuki Roshi’s lineage, in which I took the precepts, there is a monthly Full Moon Ceremony: essentially, repentance and restating one’s commitment to the precepts. I perform this ritual solo every month on the morning of the full moon.

    But is there a Treeleaf way?

    I find the ritual a great way of reminding myself of the precepts. It strengthens and reinforces my practice no end. It also provides a space for reflection each month – an examination of how I have drifted away from my precept practice and a reminder to return to it.

    If there is a specific Treeleaf ritual? I’d like to explore it.

    Deep bows,
    Soen

  2. #2

    Re: Full Moon Ceremony

    Quote Originally Posted by soendoshin
    Hi All,

    It’s the full moon and I just wanted to ask you all if there is a Treeleaf tradition for marking it.
    You mean, besides this way?



    Actually, you refer to the ceremony of Fusatsu. Here is some information from the Nebraska Zen Center, and my friend Rev. Nonin Chowaney ...

    At Nebraska Zen Center / Heartland Temple, we perform an ancient chanting and bowing ceremony called Ryaku Fusatsu (Jap.) once a month. We also refer to this ceremony as our Precept Ceremony, for in it we re-affirm our commitments to live according to the Sixteen Bodhisattva Precepts, our Ethical Guidelines for everyday life. I'd like to explain what this ceremony is and how we perform it here.

    Ryaku Fusatsu is indeed ancient. Its roots go back to Pre-Buddhist India, to ancient Vedic lunar sacrifices performed on the nights of the new and full moon. By Shakyamuni Buddha's time 2600 years ago, these sacrifices were no longer performed, but the new and full moon occurrences were still observed by Hindus as holy days of purification and fasting, days when the Gods came to dwell in the house. They became known as Upavastha(from the Sanskrit upa, near and vas, dwell).

    Legend has it that Shakyamuni Buddha's followers also gathered on those days, perhaps because they didn't want to be left out. They would sit down and meditate together. Later, lay disciples –
    in whose homes the monks and nuns would sometimes gather – wanted some teaching, so the monks began to recite the 227 rules of the Patimokkha discipline, the rules governing everyday conduct for monks and nuns (257 for nuns). This recitation developed into a confession and repentance ceremony, during which the monks and nuns would speak up if they had violated any of the rules and vow to do better in the future.

    This ceremony is still performed today, at the same time and in the ancient way, by Theravadin monks and is called Uposatha in the Pali language, a variation of the old Upavastha, the, "near-dwelling" of the Gods on the ancient Hindu holy days. In Mahayana Buddhism, the spirit of the ceremony is preserved, but the 227 rules are not recited, because Mahayana sects have abandoned them. Instead of the confession being made to other monks, it is made directly to Buddha.

    The ceremony was transmitted, with lots of changes and developments, from India through China to Japan and now has been transmitted to America as Ryaku Fusatsu, as it is known in Soto Zen Buddhism.

    "Ryaku" means, "abbreviated," or "simple." This distinguishes the ceremony from a "full fusatsu," a complicated, elaborate event still performed in Japan once or twice a year in some large temples. It takes two to three hours to complete. The simple ceremony we do here takes about forty-five minutes. "Fusatsu" means, "to continue good practice," or, "to stop unwholesome action (karma)." The name conveys the spirit of repentance and confession present in the Theravadin Uposatha Ceremony. Ryaku Fusatsu today, as performed in Soto Zen temples, includes the reading/transmission of Buddha's precepts, lots of bowing, and some of the elaborate, beautiful chanting common to Soto Zen Buddhism in Japan but rarely heard in America.
    http://www.prairiewindzen.org/ryaku_fusatsu.html

    The content is actually very similar to the content of the Jukai Ceremony which we undertake here each year.

    No, we do not conduct that particular ceremony here. We do recite the Verse of Atonement and Four Vows each week during our Saturday Zazenkai. As well, I believe the Precepts are something which we realize (meaning, "make real in this world") each moment through our words, thoughts and actions.

    In my view, all the Precepts come down to seeking as we can not to harm self and others, and act in ways healthful and helpful to self and others (self and others, not two by the way). Seek to do that in each moment, and such ceremonies as Fusatsu and Jukai merely celebrate that fact.

    However, it might be something that we could explore introducing in the future.

    Be good!

    Gassho, Jundo

  3. #3
    Treeleaf Unsui Kyrillos's Avatar
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    Re: Full Moon Ceremony

    As a matter of fact since this particular Full Moon is also being commemorated as Vesak, along with my regulae shikantaza this morning I added the sections from the Jukai ceremony of the Precepts. It felt good to recommit.

    Gassho,

    Seishin Kyrill

  4. #4

    Re: Full Moon Ceremony

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyrillos
    As a matter of fact since this particular Full Moon is also being commemorated as Vesak
    ... Yes ... about everywhere except Japan. The Buddha was born on a different day here. I suppose it is as some of the Orthodox traditions move Christmas all around the calendar, yes Fr. Kyrill?

    For those who are wandering what a "Vesak" is ... and don't know a "Vesak" from a "Fusatsu" ... here is some more information on Buddha's Birthday in Japan ...

    viewtopic.php?p=34096#p34096

    Gassho and Happy Birth-moment (again and again) to Buddha and All (not two), J

  5. #5
    Treeleaf Unsui Kyrillos's Avatar
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    Re: Full Moon Ceremony

    I knew that in Japan the Birthday of the Buddha was celebrated at another time. I think we had a topic discussion about it then..about cherry blossoms and such. I was under the impression that this Vesak was an omnibus celebration that incorporated the birth, Enlightenment and Passing Away of the Buddha; sort of a "hey, here's a great time in and around May for a party, and we'll make it a really big one by throwing everything in together" event. So if this isn't it when are these other occasions commemorated in Japan?

    And yes the Eastern and Western churches have historically used different calendars. The Julian Calendar, established by Julius Caesar not Pope Julian, is the still used calendar of the Russian, and other Slavic churches, Jerusalem, Alexandria etc. This calendar is presently 13 days later than the Western, Gregorian Calendar (named after Pope Gregory). That's why most Orthodox celebrate Christmas in January. To them January 6 on the Civil Calendar IS really December 25. The only exception is the Greek Church, or should I say the Church of Constantinople, Greece and America (there are some major Greek churches in resistance to that novel change made in 1920. Greeks are very practical, if everyone else in the world is having Christmas in December they want to too. Greeks always like a big party.

    Now where it gets really esoteric is fixing the date for Easter. It's a floater since it depends on a Lunar Calendar and in particular the Jewish Lunar calendar. The formula is that Easter for the Orthodox has to be on the first Sunday after the full moon in the month if Nisan, but it cannot be in conjunction with Passover since the xenophobic Orthodox do not want to celebrate Easter while Passove is being celebrated (even though that is when it actually occured!!!!!


    So if you think the Buddhists have a hard time getting together to celebrate Buddha's birthday...!!!

    Gassho,

    Seishi Kyrill (who is perfectly willing to celebrate ALL the festivals any time they occur.

    PS. A little know fact is that the New American nation founded in 1776, was using the Julian Calendar. So the Fourth of July ought to really be observed on the 17th (Gregorian Style)

  6. #6

    Re: Full Moon Ceremony

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyrillos
    I knew that in Japan the Birthday of the Buddha was celebrated at another time. I think we had a topic discussion about it then..about cherry blossoms and such. I was under the impression that this Vesak was an omnibus celebration that incorporated the birth, Enlightenment and Passing Away of the Buddha; sort of a "hey, here's a great time in and around May for a party, and we'll make it a really big one by throwing everything in together" event. So if this isn't it when are these other occasions commemorated in Japan?
    Every moment is a celebration ... each Buddha's Birthday, enlightenment realized, always passing away ... 8)

    Actually, the Japanese these days do not celebrate many religious holidays. The closest to a religious holiday is the upcoming "O-bon", which is more about welcoming back the spirits of deceased ancestors, although Buddhist ceremonies accompany it ... as well as some wonderful dancing that the whole town usually joins in ...

    (pardon the wiki cites ... but they are pretty good)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bon_Festival

    And most Buddhist monks in Japan, being rather serious, tend to commemorate with rather solemn ceremonies and such, more than a party.

    Buddha's "Enlightenment Day" is typically celebrated in Zen temples in Japan with a week-long Sesshin (Long Zazen Retreat) ending on December 8th.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodhi_Day

    We have our online "Rohatsu Retreat" here at Treeleaf to mark this and our Jukai (Undertaking the Precepts Ceremony) and Ango (100 day Intensive Practice Period) ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/sit-a-long/arch ... 09---.html

    Buddha "Parinirvana Day" (the day he left this saha world) is February 15th, but barely noticed outside of temples, which usually will hold a ceremony to mark the day. Here is how an American Zen temple marks the day ...

    http://www.hazymoon.com/ParinirvanaDay/ ... fault.aspx

    Yet as I said ... each instant is Buddha's Birthday, enlightenment realized, always passing away. Smile, shed a tear ...

    Gassho, Jundo

  7. #7

    Re: Full Moon Ceremony

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    We have our online "Rohatsu Retreat" here at Treeleaf to mark this and our Jukai (Undertaking the Precepts Ceremony) and Ango (100 day Intensive Practice Period) ...
    Will we have an Ango before the retreat this year too?
    It was a very very beautiful experience, I hope we'll do!

    gassho,
    Luis/Jinyu

  8. #8

    Re: Full Moon Ceremony

    Quote Originally Posted by Luis
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    We have our online "Rohatsu Retreat" here at Treeleaf to mark this and our Jukai (Undertaking the Precepts Ceremony) and Ango (100 day Intensive Practice Period) ...
    Will we have an Ango before the retreat this year too?
    It was a very very beautiful experience, I hope we'll do!

    gassho,
    Luis/Jinyu
    If there is still a moon in the sky, we will!

  9. #9
    Friend of Treeleaf Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Re: Full Moon Ceremony

    Hi Jundo,

    I like the Treeleaf way of marking the full moon. It has knock-on effects for kinin, however:

    Thanks for a great explanation. It puts the whole thing in context.

    The ceremony I perform takes about 20 minutes to half-hour. I usually do it once a month after morning zazen.

    There’s something great about following the moon cycle. It ties you into the natural, revolving cycle of our local part of the universe. I also like the way the Buddha and his followers took a retreat during the rainy season, when it was impossible to move around the roads anyway.

    In our own time, there’s even something amazing about that volcano in Iceland. It reminds us that the wider reality we live in is more powerful than us; it shows up our vanity that we think we can fly around whenever we want. It forces us to take a pause.

    By the way, here’s a link to a PDF of a version of the ceremony I found online:

    http://www.redcedarzen.org/sanghadocs/B ... remony.pdf

    Deep bows all,
    Soen

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