The Pavarana and Rose Ceremony – Sunday 21st of August, 2011
The Pavarana Ceremony marks the end of the three months rains retreat for Buddhist monastics. At Plum Village monastic brothers and sisters have the practice of Shining Light, which is considered essential for building a harmonious and healthy sangha. It is a practice based on the traditional Pavarana Ceremony where each monastic sincerely requests the sangha to show them the strengths and weaknesses of their practice, as well as offer practical guidance necessary for progress on the spiritual path. It was particularly moving to have the four-fold sangha be present to support and witness the sprouting brotherhood and sisterhood as we completed our first rains retreat together at our new ‘home’ on Lantau Island. The fifth mantra “This is a happy moment” was palpable as we recognised the conditions of happiness around us. It was perhaps especially highlighted for the brothers because for the last 2 years they have been practicing in cramped conditions in busy, polluted and complex down-town city life. During this period the four-fold sangha was incomplete without the presence of sisters, but now they are here and more than happy to join forces with the brothers and the lay sangha to develop the future of the AIAB in Hong Kong.
After an informal family lunch together, we celebrated the Rose Ceremony – an opportunity for everyone to connect with their parents and ancestors. To express gratitude to our parent(s) still alive or passed on, and to acknowledge the good seeds that they have transmitted to us. To practice seeing ourselves not as individuals but as a link in the chain of continuous life that flows from one generation to the next. The Buddha hall was packed with family members, and the children made the event so special with their fresh presence as they offered the roses to the Buddha then pinned them on Sangha members. Personal sharings and songs to remember the love our parents have shown us resonated the hearts of all present. For more photos of the Rose Ceremony please click on our Breathing Room Magazine Photo Album link. Below is one of the sharing by a Sangha member, Corrin Chan.
Dear Father by Corrin Chan
Today, the 21st of August, 2011 is the Rose Ceremony organised by Plum Village Hong Kong at Lotus Pond Temple. Last year I attended both the Rose Ceremonies at Plum Village France and in Hong Kong. At that time, I was wearing 2 red roses. When I looked at friends around me, I saw many white roses. I looked at my 2 roses, I felt very blessed and comforted that my 2 roses were red. I felt like a lucky child still with my parents’ love and presence. This year, there is a little change. There will be one red rose and one white rose on my chest. And, this white rose is you, Father.
A year ago, when I saw the red rose of you, I was also seeing the white rose of today, because I saw that some day these 2 red roses would also become white, and I began to treasure the time that I could be with you. Even though that was my wish, I was always busy looking after my own work, my daughter and family, and I could not spend as much time as I wished to take care and pay attention to you. Father, please forgive my absence during your difficult times.
When I thought of the moment that you fainted alone in the house due to the stroke, it really hurts me. You must have felt lonely and helpless. I was not by your side at that important moment of your life. As parents ourselves, it is difficult to share the same attentiveness, patience and love to our parents as we do for our children.
Father, please forgive my unmindful speech to you. Those words were out of my emotions, unhappiness and anger. We can be kind to our friends, but we can hurt deeply people who are closest to us. I must have hurt your by my unmindful thoughts, actions and speech. My wildness and unwillingness to listen to you might have caused you worry and suffering. Dear Father, please forgive me, since this is not truly me. Deep inside, I love you very much.
I have never said I love you in all my life. But, when you were in a coma, I whispered gently and softly in your ear, “Dear Father, please feel relieved and let go, and not to worry about me. I love you very much and we will always be together.” Dear Father, I know you can hear me, because you are in me, and I am your continuation.
I remember I was a difficult child. I was rebellious and stubborn. I did not want to listen to my parents. I wanted to be myself and independent. I wanted to be free. One time, you hit me very hard. I was such a stubborn child that I did not move and was holding down my tears when you hit me. I was very angry with you. Afterwards, I was so tired that I fell asleep. I felt your hands caressing my forehead, like you were saying sorry that you hit me so hard. After that you never hit me again. I think it was because it hurt you too much.
Dear Father, realising that the red rose would turn into a white one some day, I started to treasure the time that you were with me. I tried to call you from time to time to make sure that I could hear your voice. I listened attentively when you shared about your life, your parents, your happiness and difficulties. What I have done for you cannot be compared to what you have given me.
Father, one time you did not feel well. I bought you packs of Chinese medicine and helped you to soak your feet in the medicinal water. Father, that was the first time I caressed your feet. I saw the old wrinkled skin and swollen feet. The marks of time and hardship have left traces on your feet. I cried inside. I felt the suffering and difficulties in every cell of your body. But Father, I knew that you were happy. Thanks for giving me the chance to wash your feet. This is the noblest job that I could do for you, to wash the feet of a man who has walked 90 years of his life, giving his life and love completely to his family. I am grateful for the precious gift your have given me - this body of mine. You have taught me to be an honest and upright person, like you, a man who loves his friends, who is kind and always willing to help others.
Dear Father, I never imagined how I could face that moment of losing you, and how sad I would be. But, that moment came, and when I arrived at the hospital after your last breath, I returned to my breathing and chanted 'Avalokiteshvara', the name of Mother Compassion, for you. When I looked deeply, I could see that my father has never been born, and will never die. This is an important moment of your transformation. The compassionate, solid and peaceful energy is needed for your beautiful transformation. At that time, I felt absolute peace, solidity and calmness. As I am deeply connected with you, father, I knew that my calmness was your calmness, my peacefulness was your peacefulness, my solidity was your solidity. It was a moment of brightness and serenity. A part of me resisted your death. Your body was leaving me, but not you. You are already here with me. Whenever I touch my forehead with my hand, I know you are touching that little girl in me again. And I feel comforted by your presence.
Nothing can be created into something, and something can never disappear into nothing. There is always continuation. There is always transformation. The form of existence would appear when the conditions are sufficient, and disappears when the conditions are not. Father, you were already there before the meeting of your parents. I am the continuation of your existence, and will carry on to countless generations to come. I feel blessed that now every moment, I can be practising with you, walking mindfully with you, eating mindfully for you, because you are now not limited by your body. The river does not cry when the cloud disappears, because it knows that the cloud has become rain and will return to the river. Your dear daughter should not be crying when she realises that you have transformed into everything that returns to the universe.
As your daughter, my job is to ensure a beautiful continuation of you, in my speech, action and thoughts. How? By asking myself “Are my words, actions and thoughts bringing out love and understanding? Do they bring about harmony? Do they bring happiness to myself and others?”
Dear Father, you have said, “My life is complete, and I can leave anytime.” Yes, you have left, completed your job in life with no regrets. I want to be like you, to be able to peacefully let go of my body and everything at the moment of Transformation. There is nothing we can carry forth at the moment of Death, not our money, our loved ones, our body, our houses, our books, our degrees, our credit cards......What would continue is the energy that we have generated.
Dear Father, thank you for teaching me how to live, how to die, and how to ride peacefully and joyfully over the waves of Life and Death.
To all Fathers and Mothers,
Your beloved children are now offering 3 bows to you from our heart.