Day of Reflection
The Day of Reflection is an opportunity to focus on the Buddhist Precepts for one day. Although we may think of the precepts from time to time in our lives, it is important to take time regularly to intentionally renew our vows to follow them. The more clear and focused our vows are, the more power they have to get us over rough times.
We must also be willing to continuously examine and re-examine ourselves for the blind spots, rigid opinions and beliefs and lack of awareness that create separation from others and ourselves. That willingness to keep looking within, to keep refining our thoughts, words and actions is truly what the precepts are about. It is that
This month's Day of Reflection is Sunday, September 13, 2015.
Click here to see our other programs for home practice, including the Month of Every Day Precept Practice.
How to Observe the Day of Reflection
At the Great Plains Zen Center, we have set aside one Sunday each month for the Day of Reflection. Anyone may participate in the Day of Reflection. It is not necessary to be a member of the Great Plains Zen Center or to have formally taken the Buddhist Precepts (jukai). If you miss the specified day of the month, you can pick a different day for your Day of Reflection.
On the morning of the Day of Reflection, choose a quiet place in your home, perhaps where you have set up an altar or your meditation cushions. If you like, you can light a candle or offer incense. It is a good idea to incorporate zazen (meditation) into the Day of Reflection, at the start, some time during the day, or at the end of the day.
To begin the Day of Reflection, silently or aloud recite the vows below, which consist of the Gatha of Atonement and the 16 Bodhisattva Precepts. There are many ways to express these traditional precepts. The particular wording we chant in the Day of Reflection has been developed by the Zen Peacemaker Order. Here is a brief summary of what you will chant:
Gatha of Atonement
Three Refuges (Three Treasures)
Three Pure Precepts
Ten Grave Precepts (with the Four Commitments)
Each month, we will take just one of the Ten Grave precepts and focus on it every day in our busy lives, looking at it from many perspectives and applications.
The Three Refuges, Three Pure Precepts and Ten Grave Precepts together form the 16 Bodhisattva Precepts.
During the Day
Keep these precepts in mind during the day. It may be helpful to print out the Day of Reflection vow so that you can refresh your memory during throughout the day. The object is not judgment of yourself. Instead, the point is just being aware. Noticing what you are doing. Noticing how you feel, for example, when your speech, does not accord with the precepts. Noticing how more spacious it feels to be truthful and fair, for example, rather than to exaggerate another's faults. It will be necessary to bring yourself back to this practice many times throughout the day.
At the End of the Day
At the end of the day, bring the Day of Reflection to a close by chanting the Transfer of Merit. If you live in the area, you could consider attending the Fusatsu or formal Renewal of the Vows Ceremony following sitting at 7 PM at Countryside Church in Palatine, IL. The Day of Reflection will always be scheduled on the day of Fusatsu. For more information about Fusatsu, click here.