Lights of Enlightenment

posted Feb 25, 2011, 5:23 AM by Jundo Cohen   [ updated Mar 16, 2011, 2:58 AM ]

Light candles each of the seven nights of Rohatsu, together as a family, parents helping small children to do the lighting. Here is an example of such a ceremony:

First, all family members express their love for each other, and gratitude for being able to be together at this time. Then the parent reads, for each of the seven nights, a short reading on one of the first 7 rungs of the 'Eightfold Path', explaining the meaning to the children. Then, all sit Zazen together for a few minutes each night, representing the 8th rung of "Right Zazen/Concentration")

Next, everyone takes turns lighting the candles, beginning with the smallest children (older brother or sister or parent for an infant or toddler), followed by older children. One candle on the first night, two on the second, seven on the last ... plus an extra "Light of Enlightenment" each night, for eight lights in all on the final night. It is suggested that a 8 candle stand might be made by children out of clay. For the ceremony, place the candle stand next to a small Buddha statue.

Everyone chants the 'Three Refuges' together (repeated 3x) after lighting the candles.

I take refuge in the Buddha,

I take refuge in the Dharma,

I take refuge in the Sangha.

When done, the family offers 'Gassho' (Pressed Palms) to the Buddha. Family members can then embrace, and share a family meal at the same table with the Buddha and burning candles. Place candles in a safe place. (For safety, it is permissible to extinguish the candles before bed).