Saturday, March 21, 2015
Its exciting to be preparing for this year’s Spring o-Higan at our Dharma-home in New York. I haven’t done this retreat for a few years and it’s always a relaxing and restoring experience - especially nice to be going with 3 sangha members from here, Jiho, Judy and Liz. We (Canadians) haven’t participated in this retreat that much over the years, so to get four of us at once is great.
This celebration is focussed on the equinox (there is a twin retreat held in September as well). This is identified as the unique period of the solar year when hours of daylight and night are balanced. It marks a point of equipoise in the realms of birth and death, the worlds of the living and the spirit world. The word "higan" means "the other shore," referring to the Buddhist ideas of nirvana, awakening or any kind of spiritual conclusion. During higan, people visit family graves to comfort the spirits of ancestors.
For us in the Great White North, its more about celebrating the conclusion of yet another season of cold and darkness. This has been an extraordinarily challenging winter for us, and for our hosts in New York, so the time to practice outdoors in Spring clothes will be part of this transition from hunkering down to opening up.
Yours in the Dharma,
om namo amida butsu