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Toronto Zen Centre

A Buddhist Community


Buddha on the altar

Parinirvana Ceremony

On Sunday, February 12, during the morning sitting, we will honor the founder of our faith Shakyamuni Buddha and his passing away and extinction from the realm of birth and death. We will begin with Zazen, at our regular starting time of 9 am.

Parinirvana Roshi Graef wrote the following in a past edition of the Vermont Sangha newsletter — Walking Mountains:

For 45 years the Buddha, after attaining Perfect Enlightenment, preached the Dharma to all who would listen, devoting himself to the welfare of all living beings.

But in his eightieth year, during the seclusion of the rainy season, he suddenly fell ill. Feeling that his time, though near, had not yet arrived, he entered a deep samadhi to free himself of the disease. Emerging from his meditation, he said:

This body has become worn-out and is like an old cart which can only be kept rolling along with great difficulty. My time to be set free from the bonds of becoming, as a chick which on hatching finally breaks free of its shell, will be in three months.

He reminded Ananda that although his bodily journey was nearing fulfillment, each person was to continue to work at his own Enlightenment. He said that since he only taught the Dharma out of his own Realization, the Sangha was not dependent on him for leadership. “Therefore,” he told Ananda, “be ye lamps unto yourselves.”

The ceremony will involve chanting, a special reading of the Buddha’s Parinirvana, the offering of incense and circumambulations, as we commemorate the Buddha’s final departure from the realm of birth-and-death.

Family, including children and friends are cordially invited to participate in the ceremony. We ask that people who won't be participating in the formal sitting - in advance of the ceremony - please arrive by 10 am. They may wait downstairs in the main kitchen.

“Taking part in this ceremony is a way of paying homage to Shakyamuni Buddha, the founder of our faith." Roshi Graef