Memorial Services are peculiar to, and have a very long history in, Buddhism. What is their meaning or significance?
Memorial services provide us with the opportunity to quietly meditate or reflect upon the cherished memories of the deceased and they remind us of the impermanency of life. This reflection brings us to further awareness of our own changing existence. As we recall the countless benefits bestowed upon us by the deceased, there arises within us a feeling of gratitude toward the deceased and others for making life possible for us.
Memorial services should be looked upon as being an opportunity to listen to the Buddha-Dharma and to express our gratitude to Amida Buddha and the deceased person for whom the memorial service is being conducted. This in turn should lead us to devote ourselves for the good of others in memory of the deceased. By realizing the true significance of memorial services in light of the Jodo Shinshu teaching, it will become more significant and meaningful to us.
We are born into the Pure Land through the Compassion-Wisdom of Amida Buddha and, thus, given an easy path of crossing over from this world of suffering to the Pure Land. Amida Buddha’s virtue is transferred to us in the form of his name, Namu Amida Butsu, and becomes the true cause for our Birth in the Pure Land.
Since we are incapable of performing any practice which would give us enough merits to attain Birth in the Pure Land, any such efforts on our part would be ineffective. Thus, the only recourse is to rely on Amida Buddha for our Birth in the Pure Land. We are enabled to attain birth instantly upon our death, and there is no need for anyone to conduct memorial services in the hope that we would be born in the Pure Land or any other place.
Nenki Hoyo memorial services are observed as follows:
Cycle (anniversary) Year of Observance: 2005† Year of Death: 2000‡
1st year (1st)
3rd year (2nd)
7th year (6th)
13th year (12th)
17th year (16th)
25th year (24th)
33rd year (32nd)
50th year (49th)
† In 2005, memorial services are held for those who died in 2004, 2003, 1999, … 1956.
‡ For someone who died in 2000, memorial services are held in 2001, 2002, 2006, … 2049.
The Japanese way of counting the years may be somewhat confusing for those knowing only the exact Western way of observing anniversaries. Traditionally, services extend beyond the 50th year, but in actual practice, it is rare to have survivors requesting services after the 50th year.
SHOTSUKI HOYO ANNOUNCEMENT
Beginning in January 2006, the Shotsuki Hoyo Service date will be the first Saturday at 10:00 am. We are moving it from Friday evening so more people will be able to attend the service for their loved ones. We hope this will not inconvenience anyone.
Every month WLA Buddhist Temple sends letters to families that a member or members of their families will be remembered at the upcoming Shotsuki Hoyo service. The list of those who have passed away in the month is printed in the Temple Bulletin so that friends will also be aware of the service and can attend. Not only family but everyone is welcome to attend these very important monthly Shotsuki Hoyo services when we remember the deceased. The Temple is very grateful for the donations received from families and friends.