The origin of Obon can be traced to the Ulambana Sutra which relates the story of Mogallana, the most gifted of Shakyamuni Buddha’s disciples in the area of extraordinary sense perceptions. A very filial son, Mogallana one day used his extraordinary powers to visualize the whereabouts of his mother who had
died. Searching all the realms, from the highest of the heavens to the lowest of the hells, he was surprised and horrified to find his mother suffering the torments of the realm of Hungry Ghosts. With his powers again, he filled a bowl with food and sent it to his mother. The food burst into flames each time she put it to her mouth. Finding himself helpless in aiding his mother, he ran to the Buddha seeking help.
The Buddha tells Mogallana that he needs the combined help of all the monks to help his mother. He was told to bring offerings of food from land and sea, and sweets piled on a platter to the Sangha at the end of the Pravarana. The Pravarana was a period of retreat for the Buddha and his disciples during the rainy season in India. This was from the 15th of April to the 15th of July by the western calendar. Monks were forbidden to travel in order to avoid the killing of insects which multiplied greatly during the rainy season. They were to stay in one place to listen to the Buddha’s talks, study, and meditate. Mogallana
made the prescribed offerings and his mother and seven generations of his ancestors were relieved of their sufferings. Mogallana was so overjoyed that he clapped his hands and danced for joy. This is said to have been the beginning of the Bon Odori.
Jodo Shinshu (True Pure Land School) does not look upon Obon as the time when the “souls” of ones ancestors return, and that the services, offerings, dancings, lights, and etc. are for the benefit of ones dead relatives. It is rather a time to remember and honor all those who have passed on before us. It is to appreciate all that they have done for us and to recognize the continuation of the influence of their deeds upon our lives. Obon is a time for self-reflection (an important Buddhist practice) for it is only when man becomes aware of his imperfections and insufficiency in contrast to his ideals that religion becomes a matter of personal concern.
Obon is also called the Gathering of Joy by Jodo Shin Buddhists. It is not the happiness of getting what you desire, but the joy of being shown the Truth of what one is, no matter how damning that truth is to the image of our-ego-self. It is the joy of the awareness of being embraced in the Truth, in Amida Buddha. Bon Odori too is not a dance of happiness but rather a dance of Joy.
Rev. Tatsuya Aoki from Vancouver Buddhist Church will conduct cemetery sites’ service at various locations.
SUNDAY, JULY 3
9:30AM Forest Lawn
10:10AM Ocean View
11:50AM Mountain View (South)
11:10AM Mountain View (By Crematorium)
4:00PM New Westminster
5:00PM Valley View
TUESDAY, JULY 5
10:00AM Maple Ridge
SATURDAY, JULY 9
3:00PM Fraser Valley Buddhist Temple Obon
and Monthly Memorial Service & Bon Odori
SUNDAY, JULY 10
Vancouver Buddhist Temple
“Hatsubon, Obon, and July Shotsuki (Memorial) Service
(Guest Speaker: Rev. Brian Nagata)
Bon Odori (in front of the temple: Jackson Ave)
Vancouver Buddhist Temple
220 Jackson Avenue