This is a liminal time of year. There is a heightened awareness of those who have died in our Zen communities in the past year, as well as those dying in mass shootings and in armed conflicts around the world, most recently in Palestine and Israel.
Many sanghas are hosting Sejiki ceremonies this week. Austin Zen Center describes the ceremony in their newsletter: “All are welcome at Sejiki, a traditional, annual Japanese Zen Buddhist ceremony honoring our ancestors. This is one of the most important Sōtō Zen Buddhist observances of the year, a time to remember and call forth the spirit realm by making offerings of food to ancestors and any ‘hungry ghosts’ (including our own neglected or unsatisfied body-mind states).” Both Austin Zen Center and Chapel Hill Zen Center invite those who come to bring shelf-stable food items for their local food banks.
Houston Zen Center calls their Sejiki ceremony “Bringing Peace to the Departed.” They include beloved animals in the list of names read during the ceremony
Those of you living in the San Francisco Bay Area may be interested in joining Berkeley Zen Center’s second year of racial justice training called Many Communities One Sangha. The training features five sessions with Rhonda Magee and begins on November 5. For more information, see the attached flyer or email Karen Sundheim, email@example.com.
Buddhist Global Relief’s online Dharma gathering “Creating a World That Works for Everyone” will be held on October 28 from 1 to 3 p.m. EST. Hosted by BGR founder and chair Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, the event will include Dharma reflections, guided meditation, and chanting, along with presentations from our partners about a few of BGR’s inspiring projects to relieve world hunger.
I am in the midst of reading a novel that I highly recommend, Make the Dark Night Shine by Alan Lessik, a San Francisco Zen Center student now living in Berlin. Although the novel was inspired by a relative of Alan’s named Nina Uchida, it draws from Alan’s Zen training and research into gay culture and history in the decades between the two World Wars. Alan gave a reading at City Center last week and will be reading at Santa Cruz Zen Center on November 1.
An invitation from Tassajara: Volunteer as a cook, kitchen crew member, or tenzo (head of kitchen) at Tassajarato support the 2023 Firefighter Retreat! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are able to volunteer from December 28th – January 6th.
May all hungry ghosts be nourished in the coming days.