Segaki, the traditional Buddhist liturgy of feeding the hungry gaki, or ghost, is upon us!
This is one of my favorite liturgies for many reasons; the ceremony gives us the opportunity to remember those who have died, and to symbolically sever ties with past difficulty and regrets.
We offer up our best intentions to release what no longer works for us, what holds us back, what keeps us from liberation and waking up!
At the House of Meditation, we light a fire and burn sticks upon which we have inscribed what we wish to relenquish. Fire is of course a huge reason why Segaki appeals to me, and standing before the flames, bowing and feeding the fire is very moving. It feels incredibly intimate, just the offering and the fire, so contained and yet so wildly unpredictable.
The evening air is always crisp at the end of October, and darkness adds to the mystery.
I could remain a long time at the fireside, but others are waiting to add their wood to the flame.
There have been Segaki ceremonies where I shook with anticipation of burning unresolved karma, and then bounced away, as if on a trampoline, lightened somewhere, and waiting to see how it would play out in the coming days, in the coming years....
There are many legends about Segaki: one says that Ananda, the Buddha's right hand man, was informed by a gaki that in three days time he would himself become a gaki, but to counter the prediction, Ananda fed many strangers his own food, and beat the gaki!
We feed the fire, we feed the spirit.