I guess I’m not the only soul who stood moon watching in the cold night last night. What an evening! A clear navy blue sky with our moon having increasingly large chunks bitten out of it until at around 10.45 it was almost completely red, and strangely pulsating. Or was that my eyes getting tired from gazing heavenwards for too long.
We even have a Moon Watching ceremony. I can only remember us doing it a couple of times when Rev. Master first introduced it in the early 1980’s. Both Zen Master Dogen and Kaizan died on the full moon night in Autumn and this ceremony is to remember them in particular. There is teaching embedded in the ceremony, with the food that is on the altars. The juice should be pomegranete since the small seeds in one fruit represents the all is one and the all is different. In the book of instructions for ceremonies I see there are receipts for dainties, all having a symbolic meaning. There is one for Moon Cakes.
At the start of the ceremony the priest gives a brief talk. Just as the moon reflects the sun so too Keizan and Dogen reflected the Unborn Buddha Nature, and continue to do so down to this very day. As we observe the moon we should think deeply on how we too may be as ‘moons’ of the Unborn, reflecting its light.
It would seem in the East there is a long tradition of celebrating the Autumn Equinox with the Mid-Autumn Festival. So we have that to look forward to, however first we have the Spring Equinox on the 21st March when traditionally we hold a Segaki (“feeding the hungry ghosts”). This year the ceremony will be on March 17th.