Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Great Chiden Shortage

I knew that having Buddha's Birthday on Saturday would have an impact on my efforts to have a quiet interim week. The ceremony form sheets always need checking over to make sure they are clear and accurate, as well as the notes for the chiden; the flower chidens need to know to get extra flowers at the market tomorrow; parasols need to be dug out of one of the many closets, stocks of balloons and crepe paper verified - I hand most of this stuff on to the work leader, who does not have so much help himself this week. I went out and bought the cake for the altar this afternoon, which does not really qualify as a chore, as it involves walking down to Church Street, and, as it happened, bumping into a pregnant former resident of Zen Center.
The head chiden had informed me weeks ago that she was going to be away this weekend, so I had lined up her predecessor to take on the role of supervising the set-up in the park on Saturday, only for him to tell me this morning that his grandmother had died, and he might have to fly off to her funeral this weekend...I may have to come up with another plan to get the altar in place, though as I remember it, most of the work is getting everything over there to begin with.
I read through the ceremonial dedication, and there was a phrase that struck me as a little infelicitous. Naturally I turned to the Gyoji Kihan to see what it had to say about the matter. It tells me that we should be chanting the "Verse of Bathing Buddha (chant in drawn-out voice, without any melody)", though I don't see the text anywhere. The eko ends:

In more than three hundred assemblies, the rain of dharma moistened and bathed him from afar.
For more than two thousand years, the wind of merit has howled and continued to blow.
We humbly pray that the light emitted from the hair between Buddha's eyebrows shall benefit countless beings, and that his meritorious acts shall profit countless beings.

I was also reminded in the Gyoji Kihan that April 1st is the day when the braziers are to be shut down: "Leave no fires for heating. In sangha hall, from this day on head coverings are not to be worn when engaged in ritual procedures and folded hands should be bare".
Right now we do have the heating on, as the wind that is howling around the city today has come all the way down from Alaska, according to the forecasts at least, and it feels pretty chilly after our warm sunshine. I postponed my planned bike ride with the optimism that it will be warmer and less blowy tomorrow, and that I will not have to spend the day worrying about the shortage of chidens.


Mike said...

Paris-Roubaix on Sunday. Hold on to your robes, it should be a doozy. Good luck with all of your administrative duties. We said happy birthday to the Buddha last weekend. Happy birthday, Buddha! Thank you for showing me the Way!

Shundo said...

That's a nice way to put the dedication to Buddha.
I am very excited about Sunday - since the bridge is closed for a race, I am going to go over to Mt Diablo, and since the first train isn't until 8:20, I can enjoy the race at my leisure. Your favourite to win? I would like Boonen to pull it off actually. I was also happy to catch the end of the Scheldeprijs on Wednesday, despite the nasty crash.