Sejiki is a traditional Japanese Zen Buddhist ceremony honoring our ancestors, and is one of the most important Buddhist observances of the year. It is a time to remember and call forth the spirit realm by making offerings of food and wishes of peace for our departed loved ones, as well as to any ‘hungry ghosts’ (including our own neglected or unsatisfied body-mind states). This powerful ceremony summons forth these restless spirits and pacifies agitation and violence within and without. It involves setting up an elaborate altar (traditionally arranged opposite to the usual altar in the zendo), instruments played to invoke the departed spirits, and the chanting of the “Gate of Sweet Dew,” a series of mantras and wishes for well-being. The names of the departed are collected beforehand to be strung around the zendo and invoked aloud during the ceremony.
The Buddha recommended in the Ullambana Sutra that this ceremony be performed at the end of the summer practice period. Many Zen Centers hold the Sejiki ceremony around the time of Halloween, which is a time in our culture when we call forth the spirit world. This year, in collaboration with the AZC Family Dharma Program, we are encouraging participants to dress in halloween costume and to participate in the brief instrumental portion of the ceremony. Please feel free to bring a small percussion instrument of your choice! Rehearsal dates and times to be determined for those who are interested. For more information contact Mako at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All are invited to participate in this magical ceremony of transformation!