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Thứ Năm, tháng 12 07, 2006

No. 1279 ( Upekha dịch)

Buddhist holiday adapts Zen to modern America

Thursday, December 7, 2006

By EVELYN SHIH
STAFF WRITER


New Jersey- There may not be anyone making a list and checking it twice or children spinning dreidels for chocolate on Bodhi Day, but the traditional Buddhist holiday will bring some festivities to Zen centers in New Jersey this weekend.


Celebrated in the Japanese Zen tradition, Bodhi Day is also called Rohatsu, or Dec. 8 in Japanese. The day commemorates the enlightenment of the Buddha Siddhartha Gautama, who attained the ultimate understanding of truth as he meditated under a bodhi tree.

Joan Hogetsu Hoeberichts, currently the Zen priest of the Heart Circle Sangha in Ridgewood, explained that the Buddha realized in the dawn of Rohatsu that he and all sentient beings were "one with all that is, not separate and alone as we imagine."

In monastic Zen practice, Hoeberichts added, Rohatsu is usually marked by a 10-day retreat known as a sesshin, during which the monks meditate 10 to 12 hours a day. On the final night, Dec. 7, monks sometimes stay up through the night, symbolically imitating Buddha's commitment to meditate until he attained enlightenment.

In its current incarnation in New Jersey, Bodhi Day has become less of an intense ordeal and more of a day for gathering in religious community.

"We're now using a more worldly model, for people with careers and a family," said the Rev. Paul Genki Kahn of the High Mountain Crystal Lake Zen Community of Wyckoff. "We are adapting Zen to our time, here in America."

Many priests at both Zen centers are working professionals, as are the members. High Mountain will be celebrating Bodhi Day tonight from 7 to 9 so as not to conflict with work schedules. The Heart Circle Sangha will be staying away from business days by holding a retreat Sunday.

Both services are open to participants with no meditation experience or knowledge of Buddhist teachings -- and, Genki adds, people of different religious faiths.

"Our purpose is not to make a religious factory, but to give people the technology to live a good life," he said.

In addition to teaching in the Soto Zen tradition, High Mountain hosts a group of Christian Buddhists who use the discipline of meditation to facilitate Christian teachings. Over the years, many non-Buddhists have vowed to follow the Buddhist precepts in a ceremony called the jukai.

"The core of our community is Zen as a way of experiencing and living," Genki added.

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