At work we were talking about the full moon and different types of Native ceremonies that are conducted at the new and full moons. I mentioned in Buddhism we perform Ryaku Fusatsu. It is a very ancient ceremony of recommitment to the precepts and I have reprinted Nonin's description of Ryaku Fusatsu.
Hands palm to palm,
What is Ryaku Fusatsu? - by 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.
The ceremony has a series of parts. It begins with an incense offering to all Buddhas throughout space and time. We then chant the Formless Repentance: "All my past and harmful karma, Born from beginningless greed hate and delusion, through body, speech, and mind, I now fully avow.” After our repentance, we invoke the presence of all Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Ancestors and call up their wisdom and compassion by chanting the names of a series of representatives, Shakyamuni Buddha, Maitreya Buddha, Manjusri Bodhisattva, Zen Master Dogen, and others. Then, we chant the Four Bodhisattva Vows: "Beings are numberless; I vow to free them, Delusions are inexhaustible; I vow to end them, Dharma gates are boundless; I vow to enter them, Buddha's way is unsurpassable; I vow to realize it."
After the Four Vows, the Ino (chanting leader) receives Wisdom Water from the Doshi (service leader) and purifies the room by sprinkling it around the perimeter. Then, the Doshi, acting as Preceptor, reads Zen Master Dogen's "Essay On Receiving and Conferring the Precepts." In the middle of this reading at Heartland Temple, we have instituted the practice of taking the Precepts together. The Doshi reads each precept and asks the sangha if they will “receive and maintain this precept.” The sangha replies, “Yes, I will” after each one. These are the Sixteen Bodhisattva Precepts we use during the ceremony:
I take refuge in Buddha
I take refuge in Dharma
I take refuge in Sangha
THREE PURE PRECEPTS
A follower of the Way does no harm.
A follower of the Way does good.
A follower of the Way lives to benefit all beings
TEN PROHIBITORY PRECEPTS
I am reverential and mindful with all life; I am not violent; I do not willfully kill.
I respect the property of others; I do not steal.
I am conscious and loving in my relationships; I do not misuse sexuality.
I honor honesty and truth; I do not deceive.
I exercise proper care of my body/mind; I am not gluttonous; I do not abuse drugs
or encourage others to do so.
I recognize that words can hurt others; I do not slander.
I am humble; I do not praise myself or judge others.
I cultivate letting go; I do not attach to anything, even the teaching.
I cultivate inner peace; I do not harbor ill-will.
I esteem the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha; I do not defame them.
We then take refuge in the Three Treasures by reciting the following:
I take refuge in Buddha.
May all beings
embody the great Way,
resolving to awaken.
I take refuge in Dharma.
May all beings
deeply enter the sutras,
wisdom like and ocean.
I take refuge in Sangha.
May all beings
support harmony in the community,
free from hindrance.
Ryaku Fusatsu ends with the Doshi reciting an Eko (merit transfer), which reads, “On this full moon night, we offer the merit of the Bodhisattva's way throughout every world system to the unconditioned nature of all being.” The Sangha then chants the closing verse, "All Buddhas, throughout space and time; all honored one, bodhisattvas, mahasattvas [great beings]; wisdom beyond wisdom, maha prajna paramita [great perfect wisdom].
Ryaku Fusatsu offers us an opportunity to acknowledge all past action (karma), to receive the precepts, and to rededicate ourselves to the practice of the Bodhisattva's Way. We perform this ceremony at Nebraska Zen Center / Heartland Temple every month, as close to the evening of the full moon as possible to conform to the ancient tradition.
Today is the day I am planting my garden. As I was eating breakfast and sipping on my cup of coffee my mind wandered into the mind as garden story we so often hear about. Our mind is a garden. Did you know there is always something growing in it?
Yesterday, I tilled the soil and broke new sod as I expanded my garden as well. Over night, I am sure whatever seeds of weeds, old plants, flowers reside in that soil the wonderful process of creation is taking shape.
The same with our mind. It is the soil of consciousness and there are many seeds planted in it, consciously and unconsciouly. All of these seeds are just waiting for the right conditions to sprout and grow. While enjoying the aroma of my coffee, I began to notice the seeds I was planting into my mind and wondering what type of plants will sprout from this....well what you are reading is part of it.
Mindfulness of our thoughts, our mind-seeds, is paramount in having a good garden. After all, what do you want to grow in your garden? I am planting, tomatoes, beans, peas, corn, lettuse, etc. in my backyard garden. I hope they mature into a full harvest of wonderful food I can share with my family and neighbors.
In my mind-garden, I wish to plant seeds of compassion, patience, love, blessings, etc...and hope they too grow and can feed my family and share with my neighbors. It is important to know exactly what you are planting. Pay attention to it.
I am hoping my expanded garden will expand my mind-garden as welll....well maybe if I planted a certain type of mushroom. (lol shhh..don't tell.) Actually just working in the garden expands my mind and my heart. It feels good to be close to the earth, even though my hands hurt and there is a lot of work ahead.
As I am a conscious co-creator of my garden I also wish to be a conscious co-creator of the universe. How about you?
This last Saturday I had the wonderful opportunity to listen to Ken Purdy Sensei. He is 75 years old and has been a practicing Aikido-ka for over 50 years. I have been told he earned his black belt from O'Sensei in Japan. Purdy Sensei is a remarkable man. I have seen him in action, both as an observer and receiver of his technique. Awesome.
Well, he was telling me how his mother passed away last week and was still grieving a bit. Our conversation wandered into our fathers, their passing and our spiritual connections via spirit or timeless selves. Purdy Sensei relayed his story about his grandfather, who was an avid hunter and loved chickadees.
After his grandfather's death, Purdy Sensei's father went hunting. While in the woods waiting, chickadees came to visit him and one even sat on the bill of his cap. And for years, a chickadee would always accompany him on his hunting trips. Cool story.
We are all connected, even when we leave this body, we can still communicate with loved ones on so many different levels. All things are possible.
My Zen Calendar for May 11th is too good to resist posting. It is by Soko Morinaga.
"When you go to the kitchen to prepare dinner, be born in the kitchen. When you finish there, die. Then be born at the dining table as you eat your dinner and, when you finish eating, die there. Be born in the garden, and sweep with your broom. When you get into bed at night, die there. And when you awaken at daylight, be born anew."
For us Budo-ka, how about, 'when you enter the dojo, be born in the dojo. When you finish, die.' 'When you begin a kata, be born into the kata...when you finish the kata, die.'
When I do Sanchin Kata, the heavy intense breathwork takes me into the kata...here I am born. When I finish, I die....but also awaken to a new life.
For myself, this is entering deeply into what I am doing with gusto! Leave nothing behind, no trace. Give it your all. A lesson I need, especially those moments when I find myself resisting parts of my job (like paperwork). I must be born into it and then die when finished...then be born into the next and so on. Make no separation between you and the activity.
Thanks for visiting. My Dharma name is Shinzen. I began studying Goshindo Karate under the watchful eye of Shihan Paul Dean in 1969. Yes, I now have gray hair. I am also Lay-ordained in Soto Zen under the tutelage of Rev. Nonin Chowaney of the Nebraska Zen Center.