Yesterday evening we completed the fire ceremony around 9pm. We were joined by two special guests from out of town – Rev. Dr. Ryushin Nick Karapasas, a chiropractor and priest of the Japanese Tendai school of Japanese esoteric Buddhism (http://www.tendai.org/) and Rev. Dr. Richard Jisho Sears, a psychologist and Director of the Center for Clinical Mindfulness at UIU (www.myunion.edu/ccmm) and Tendai Priest. We also really enjoyed meeting several new guests who attended for the first time. And, of course, our long time assistant Justin Pegnataro, helped us tremendously by showing the guests how to make the Gomaki wishes and leading them into the dojo during the ceremony.
The day was incredibly warm and humid with sinister skies and a severe thunderstorm watch. Fortunately, we avoided a direct hit before the ceremony as the storms moved north of us but we erected our rain protection (a large blue Home Depot tarp) anyway. We also enjoyed the first use of five new meditation cushion sets which arrived yesterday by UPS. The fire was intense and especially hot and the wind and rain picked up at certain points during the ceremony.
We got started as the sun set and I think everyone could really have the good experience. After the ceremony, we enjoyed hojicha, a mild tea made by roasting the green tea leaves and our delicious mochi. As we shared some great conversation, the storms picked up and we had some big thunder and lightning.
Thank you to the deities who assisted us, to the assistants who made for a great experience, and to the guests who attended and supported us.
Please enjoy the pictures from the ceremony.