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Rev. Shokai Kanai
We are holding the annual Obon Memorial Service. This is the time of the year that we celebrate the reunion of the deceased and the living. We, living beings, are mortal physically, but we are eternal spiritually. All physical bodies are mortal, but one's real life is eternal. When we die, our bodies will be dissolved into five elements: soil, water, heart, air, and space. For instance, when we die, breathing stops. Dehydration will start soon. The body temperature will go down. Cremation or interment will change the dead body to ashes or soil. When one dies a void results , thus establishes more physical space in our environment. Our physical bodies came from the five elements of soil, water, heart, air, and space. When we die, our bodies will go back to the five elements. This five story pagoda here represents the five elements of the universe.
We repeat birth and death many many times. During the cycle of birth and death, we are supposed to pursue universal truth and act on it. We eventually will be enlightened and become Buddhas.
What part of our being becomes a Buddha after the cycle of birth and death? It is our 'spirit'. The Buddha teaches that our 'spirit' existed in the past, exists now, and will exist in the Future. Therefore, our identity is eternal.
There is an intermediate existence between the past and the present, and the present and the Future. The intermediate existence is like a ghost, so we cannot see the identity. It is said that the term of the intermediate existence is for 49 days, but I think that the length depends on one's karma. It may be much longer, years or even decades. During that time, the identity stays in the spiritual realm without any form.
Before we are born, conception must occur. It occurs when the three identities of father, mother, and child meet. When the karma's of the father, mother, and child matches, conception occurs.
Therefore, the matching of these three identities result in your own identity; such as, your personality and whole state as being. Your parents, grandparents, and ancestors are all interwoven with you to form your identity.
This is the reason why the Obon Services and memorial services are important. When you neglect your ancestors, you neglect yourself. You should not neglect them nor yourself. Obon Service is to take good care of all of your ancestors' identities as well as your own identity.
The more often you take part in these services, the higher the levels in the spiritual realm your ancestors will be. Then, they will have more power to protect you.
2/13/2006 1:04 am