The Amida Order has adopted the practice of celebrating the memory of three founding ancestors at this time of year. The persons so honoured are
Sensei Gisho Saiko, Reverend Gyomay Kubose, and Reverend Amrita Dhammika. See more information at the foot of this page.
The ceremony follows on from our normal morning ritual and is as follows.
Celebrant: Is the community assembled?
Responder: Yes, the community is assembled.
Celebrant: Is there harmony in the community?
Responder: Yes, there is harmony in the community.
Celebrant: For what reason is the community assembled today?
Responder: The community is assembled to perform the sangha-karman of honouring great ancestors who have done all they can for our sake.
Celebrant: Let us proceed.
Celebrant goes to altar and offers incense.
Celebrant: We have come to honour you, Great Priest Gisho Saiko, Great Priest Gyomay Kubose, and Great Priest Amrita Dhammika. We pray that you will continue to guide and protect us and lead us in the Dharma way, by your example in the past, by your presence with us now, and by your light into the future. You reflect the light of all the Buddhas upon us and upon all sentient beings throughout the ten directions.
Adoration to the Triple | Treasure!
Adoration to Quan Shi Yin - who is the great Com | passionate one!
Hail to the one who leaps beyond all | fear
Having adored her, may I receive the grace of the noble | adored Quan Shi Yin
Her life is the completion of | meaning
It is pure – it is that which makes all beings victorious – and restores the | life of all existence
Hail – O great seer – death tran | scending one
O hail to the | great bodhisattva!
All – all is in darkness, in darkness, earth | earth
Do, do your | work within our hearts
O great victor I hold on, hold | on
To all the gods and god | esses I cry!
Move, move, my defilement- | free one!
Come, come, hear, hear, a | joy springs up in me!
Speak, speak, give me di | rection!
Awaken, awaken, | we shall awaken!
O merciful one, com | passionate one
Of daring ones the | most joyous, hail!
Thou art all suc | cessful hail!
Thou art the great suc | cessful one hail!
Thou hast returned from the | darkness, hail!
Thou hast a light with | in thine hand hail
Thou hast the wheel within thine | hand hail
Thou who | hast the lotus, hail!
Hail to thee who art the root of e | ternity!
Hail to thee who | art all compassion, hail!
Adoration to the Triple | Treasure, hail!
Give ear unto | this our prayer, hail! *
Celebrant: Since oldest antiquity, this is the time of death and renewal. You who appeared in the world, passed through great travail, benefitted innumerable beings, and bestowed your grace upon us, please now receive our heart-felt gratitude and bless our devotion. Just as a tree puts down bold roots and drinks from the deepest source and so puts forth flowers and fruit into the heaven, so you have shone forth to nourish us, your decendents in the family of the Dharma. Just as the great earth gives forth new life and the power of the underworld now fertilises fields, nests and homes with promise of joy and growth, so your spirit returns to us today that our karma may transform from barren dark to radiant light. Just as Amida Buddha progressing ever onward in the creation of Pure Lands of Harmony, glances back upon we who follow, so you too bestow upon us the gaze of eternal tenderness.
Bellmaster: In honour of our ancestors
Celebrant: Though all the world be cruel
All: ...we shall practise tenderness
Celebrant: Though all the world be slaughtering
All: ...we shall rescue all that live
Celebrant: Though all the world be stealing
All: ...we shall practise generous deeds
Celebrant: Though all the world licencious be
All: ...we shall practise kindly love
Celebrant: Though all the world be telling lies
All: ...we shall practise all that's true
Celebrant: Though all the world be full of greed
All: ...we shall live with open heart
Celebrant: Though all the world be mad with pride
All: ...we shall value humble ways
Celebrant: Though all the world be full of doubt
All: ...we shall manifest our faith.
Celebrant: Now let us circumambulate the relics.
Celebrant turns and leads the congregation, who fall into line behind, in circumambulating the shrine while chanting: Amitabha.
All return to their places.
Celebrant: We have gathered and remembered those whose lives shine forth the Dharma. We shall take the memory of them forth in our hearts. Their grace shall inspire and protect us and our faltering attempts to walk in their steps shall plant the seeds of joy in many hearts.
Let us now bow to the founders and ancestors.
All bow x5 with nembutsu → all standing
The Celebrant then gives a short Dharma talk or homily. The ceremony then closes in the normal way.
On the altar there is placed for each ancestor a stele (see below) an egg, a cake or bun, together with incense, flowers and other offerings, together with any relics or memorial tokens, photos etc.
A stele is a wooden or stone small pillar, like a miniature gravestone. Usually they are made with a base of some sort so that they stand on end, but there are many possibilities. The essential is that the name of the person is written or engraved. In the east, families will keep the stele for each deceased relative on or in the family shrine and bring them out on memorial days or when they want to talk to the ancestor.
Anniversaries of Gisho Saiko, Amrita Dhammika, and Gyomay Kubose
19th March is the anniversary of the death of Sensei Gisho Saiko who died age 79 in 2004. Gisho Saiko was a prominent Jodoshinshu priest who endorsed my work and imparted to me his wish that I bring the Pureland message to the West.
26th March is the tenth anniversary of the death of Reverend Amrita Dhammika age 50. Amrita was a minister of this Order who did invaluable work in Africa and died while on duty in Zambia.
29th March is the anniversary of the death of Reverend Gyomay Kubose age 94 in Chicago. Rev Kubose was the first patron of Amida trust and a great support in our early days. In his own right he was a leader of Japanese-Americans during the difficult period that they experienced during the period during and following the Second World War. He established the Jodoshinshu Temple of Chicago.