In Memoriam of 2+ million people in the world
Who died of Covid in 2020.
When we are one with enlightenment we know that there is complete immaculacy and universal light; utter quietness embraces the sky. When we return to the world we know that everything is as a dream; let us pray that the three treasures of the Dharma may be always watching clearly. We have offered incense, water, flowers and candles and have recited the Scripture of Great Wisdom and the Adoration of the Buddha’s Relics and pray that the merit we accrue in making these offerings will be given to all those who have died of Covid and related illnesses, of hunger, violence and despair.
We pray that when we are in delusion the jewels of enlightenment shall shine of themselves and that when we are in enlightenment the circle of japonica shall be high in the blue sky.
Let us walk on the way to enlightenment together with all living things.
Homage to all the Buddhas in all worlds,
Homage to all the Bodhisattvas in all worlds,
Homage to the Scripture of Great Wisdom.
The Covid-19 pandemic crisis eased up somewhat during the summer months but, as everyone knows, returned with a vengeance during the fall. We have had a small trickle of guests to the temple over the past several months prior to the second lockdown situation which came into effect in December. Some guests came for overnight/weekend stays, using the two houses—the Buddha House and the Dharma House—which are equipped with a kitchen that guests may use to prepare their own food. This situation has worked out well. Most visits have been day visits by members of our extended congregation, usually on Sundays when we have a double meditation period with walking meditation, followed by a Dharma Talk.
We have made every effect to comply with the guidelines set by the State of California and Ventura County regarding gatherings of people in public settings. There have been occasions when we had a half-dozen guests on Sunday, which was within the one-quarter of capacity recommendation that was in effect at the time. Now, with the second lockdown, things will be somewhat sparse until the wave of Covid-19 infections slows down to an acceptable rate.
On October 25 we were able to hold a ceremony of Feeding the Hungry Ghosts (Segaki) on the front deck of the Buddha House, attended by some of our long-time members. It was a beautiful day and everyone in attendance was uplifted by the opportunity to hold the ceremony and be together for a few hours.
On December 6 we held another outdoor ceremony, this time for the Buddha’s Enlightenment. After meditation, walking meditation and a Dharma Talk given by Rev. Phoebe, we processed to the Stupa and offered pyracantha branches laden with orange berries around the rim of the Stupa. Following a recitation of The Scripture of Great Wisdom, Rev. Seikai sang the offertory for the Buddha’s Enlightenment, written many years ago by Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett. It was another beautiful day which made being outdoors quite enjoyable.
On October 10 we held a funeral ceremony for Carol Barker, a temple member for many years, who died in September. He ashes were sent to the temple and were scattered on top of the Jizo Hill, as per her wishes. We also held a memorial on October 30 for Donald DeLoach, the father of Robert DeLoach. Robert lives up in this neck of the woods and has taken the Buddhist Precepts at the temple. He and his partner Billy Koar were able to come for the ceremony.
The annual November retreat, which has been going for about 16 years now and attended by the same group of people, was of course canceled by the pandemic—sadly. However, one of the regular participants, Rafael Siqueiros, was able to come for the three days which would have been the retreat. We were very happy to see Rafael, and have at least one token member of the group, which originally was associated with Rev. Master Teigan, who would come every year to lead the retreat. Rev. Master Teigan died this past year at the age of 85 after 44 years of monastic life.
No one knows what 2021 will bring, but many are hopeful it will be better than the very taxing year of 2020. Covid-19 vaccines are just now being distributed and given to health workers and people at high risk of infection. Nevertheless it might be several months before the pandemic is brought under control and things return to some semblance of what we considered “normal” before its onset last March. Revs. Phoebe and Seikai enjoy good health and, with all the recommended precautions in place, are at low risk. We are not currently scheduling events for 2021 as we normally would towards the end of the year. As and when we are able to return to a more normal routine we will of course let everyone know how that is going to work.