By M. Anissa Housley
When the Sangha learned I’d be organizing the evening on Father’s Day, several members asked if they could participate. One woman volunteered to create the altar for the ceremony I wanted to offer.
I had one minor problem—to my knowledge, no such ceremony existed! I double-checked the Plum Village Chanting and Recitation Book. I asked other OI members, who told me they didn’t know of a Father’s Day Ceremony. Finally one sister set me on the right path. “Take a look at the New Year’s Ceremony,” she said. “I bet it could easily be adapted for the occasion.” Reading it, I realized she was correct. In fact, the text for our Father’s Day Ceremony is almost identical to the New Year’s Ceremony, with a few small changes to make it occasion-appropriate.
On Father’s Day, several of my brothers and sisters reminded me to focus on my breath, because I was nervous about leading a ceremony to begin with, much less one I’d helped to give form! The altar was beautiful, with a special cloth made out of neckties. Sangha members placed pictures of their fathers on the altar with the Buddha and bouquets of ﬂowers, and some even brought their father’s high school rings and favorite items. The evening went smoothly, thanks to the skillful practice and ease of the Sangha. Please feel free to use this ceremony in your Sangha next Father’s Day!
Father’s Day Ceremony
Formal Incense Offering (5 min) Sitting Meditation (12 min) Walking Meditation (12 min) Sitting Meditation (12 min) Bell Master: “Please remain seated for the Address to our Fathers.” Address to our Fathers (10 min)
A member mindfully lights seven sticks of incense and offers a stick to seven different people to hold during the Address. The member then returns to his cushion. (three bells)
Reader 1: “We, your descendants who are practicing in Plum Blossom Sangha on the occasion of Father’s Day, come with sincere respect before your altar. We go back to our source and ask you, our father, to be our witness.”
Reader 2: “Trees have their roots and water has its source. We know that you, our father, are our roots and we are your continuation. We’re determined to receive your cultural and spiritual heritage, to conserve and to develop what’s good, beautiful, and true in it. We’re also determined to realize the aspirations which you have handed on to us, transforming your suffering and opening up for future generations the way to a peaceful, unburdensome, and meaningful life. We’re determined to help build a society in which people are not always busy, where little is consumed, and there’s plenty of time to live with nature, look after nature, bring happiness to, care for, and smile to each other.”
Reader 3: “Today is the day we honor you, Father. We promise to let go of all our anger, sadness, and resentment, and to forgive, love, and accept each other. We know that only by doing this do we really express our feelings of gratitude and loyalty towards you.”
Reader 4: “Please be witness to our sincerity as we offer incense, ﬂowers and tea. All these things are offered with our loyalty and heartfelt sincerity. Please be our protector and the protector of our children and grandchildren so that we have enough health, faith, and joy to be able to continue your work.” (bell)
The person who passed out the incense stands and collects the seven sticks from the Sangha and offers them to the Buddha.
Bowing Deeply in Gratitude (10 min)
Bell Master: “At the sound of the next bell, please stand as we prepare to bow deeply in gratitude.” (bell)
Reader 1: “In gratitude to our fathers and mothers who have brought us to life, we bow deeply before the Three Jewels in the Ten Directions.” (bell)
Reader 2: “In gratitude to our teachers, who show us the way to understand and love, we bow deeply before the Three Jewels in the Ten Directions.” (bell)
Reader 3: “In gratitude to our friends, who give us guidance and support on the path, we bow deeply before the Three Jewels in the Ten Directions.” (bell)
Reader 4: “In gratitude to all beings in the animal, vegetal, and mineral worlds, we bow deeply before the Three Jewels in the Ten Directions.” (two bells)
To begin Dharma discussion, invite the Sangha to arrange their cushions in a circle and share stories about their fathers.
Anissa Housley, True Wonderful Action, practices with the Plum Blossom Sangha in Austin, Texas.