We will be holding our annual Eitaikyo Service on Sunday, November 9 at 11:30 a.m. with special Guest Speaker Rev. Hoshu Matsubayashi. “Eitaikyo” literally means “perpetual sutra.” It is a shortened way of referring to “a service in which we chant sutras in perpetuity to honor those who have left this world before us.” The funds to conduct the Eitaikyo Service come from donations made when an individual’s name is added to the Eitaikyo Register. Traditionally, Eitaikyo donations have been made by the family of the deceased when a loved one passes away. This practice of dana, or generosity, in grateful memory of a loved one is what has allowed this service to be conducted without interruption since the establishment of our temple. The Eitaikyo service will continue to be conducted as long as our temple exists. By continuing the Eitaikyo service, we ensure that our temple will remain a place to gather and hear the Dharma into the future without end.
If you have a family member or friend whose name is included in the San Mateo Buddhist Temple Eitaikyo Register, you may request to have their name read at the Eitaikyo Service during the chanting of the Sanbutsuge (Verses Praising the Buddha). As each name is read, family and friends will be invited to come forward to offer incense in remembrance. On the day of the service, there will be a volunteer stationed at the entrance to the Hondo gathering names to be read. If you are unable to attend the service, but would like for us to read a name from the Eitaikyo Register aloud during the offering of incense, please contact us by phone (650) 342-2541 or e-mail (email@example.com). Only the names that have been requested will be read aloud during the offering of incense. A complete list of the names in the Eitaikyo Register will be printed in the service program.
As we remember our departed friends and family at the Eitaikyo service, we reflect on their whole lives. All the difficulties they faced and all the beauty they created in this world are an expression of their wish for us to live in peace and happiness. Hearing the names of our loved ones, we call to mind their whole lives and all the experiences they lived. When we hear their names read during the Eitaikyo Service, we hear their wish for us to abandon the life of confusion and foolishness and pursue a life of awakening. The Eitaikyo donation made at the time of passing is a way of acknowledging that wish that our departed loved one held for us and all they did on our behalf to create the circumstances that allow us to live today with joy and peace of mind. When we gather at the temple to receive the wisdom of the Dharma and take part in the perpetual chanting of the sutras at the Eitaikyo Service, we are making their wish for us a reality.
During the Eitaikyo Service, we also hear the Name of Amida Buddha in the Nembutsu, the recitation of the words “Namo Amida Butsu.” In the Name of Amida Buddha we hear the Buddha’s great wish to liberate all beings from suffering. One way of translating “Namo Amida Butsu” is “Take refuge in the Awakened One of Immeasurable Life.” We understand these words to be the very voice of the Buddha calling to us across vast time and space. To hear the words Namo Amida Butsu, is to hear the Buddha calling to us in our daily lives, encouraging us to reject a life of confusion and foolishness and direct our lives toward the realm of perfect wisdom and compassion. The Nembutsu is a shift in perspective from constantly thinking about me and what I do for others, and coming to recognize all the kindness and support that I receive from family, friends, classmates, and coworkers. We experience the kindness of others as the true compassion of the Buddha because it is not mixed in with our own ego.
Amida Buddha is called the Buddha of Immeasurable Life. The Buddha’s life represents the Buddha’s compassion because it never ends and is never interrupted. The Eitaikyo service is a wonderful expression of this unending compassion that we experience in the kindness of others. As we observe the memory of those to whom the Eitaikyo service is dedicated, their lives have given us this opportunity to gather together each year to hear the Dharma and experience the warmth of the Sangha. In this way, even though the people we are remembering today are no longer physically with us, their kind wishes for our happiness continue to touch our lives perpetually, and without end.