On the evening of Saturday, August 6, several San Francisco Zen Center residents and friends visited Sokoji for Obon and the Floating Lantern ceremony. Rev. Koshi Kurotaki presided, assisted by Rev. Taiga Ito as kokyo (chant leader) and Rev. Sozan Miglioli as doan (bell ringer).
Members of Sokoji had created lanterns calligraphed with inspiring images and the names of ancestors. SFZC’s founder’s grandson, Kazuto Suzuki, had built a small ”river” in the open area behind Sokoji.
The first part of the evening in the main hall was a memorial service to hold those who have gone before us in our hearts. Everyone chanted the Kanromon (Gate of Sweet Dew) to call on the Bodhisattvas to support our ancestors and those who are deceased in holding and clearing the shadows of any unresolved actions of the past.
After a brief outdoor dedication, Rev. Kurotaki called on each participant to gently set the lantern of their ancestor afloat. People who had not reserved lanterns floated the lanterns that did not have representatives at the ceremony.
Everyone remained for a while to enjoy snacks and each other’s company by the side of the small river, with smiles and forms reflected in the light of the floating lanterns.