Saturday, September 21, 2013

Full Moon Observances, Los Angeles (photos)

Angela Lee (UWest), Dhr. Seven, CC Liu, Ashley Wells, Pat Macpherson, Wisdom Quarterly

Hsi Lai Temple ("Going West" Monastery), Hacienda Heights, suburban Los Angeles, CA
Chrysanthemum tea and red bean and lotus seed paste mooncakes (
Mahayana nun, Theravada monk, devotees in courtyard imbibing tea and Dharma (WQ)

Lining up candles in hand following Hsi Lai Temple tea ceremony and meditation (WQ)
Tea and mooncakes by moonlight, Hsi Lai Temple, Sept. 20, 2013 (Wisdom Quarterly)
Lining up to offer candles (WQ)
We gathered under the Harvest Moon, Saturday night, a mix of Americans and Taiwanese in the hills above the San Gabriel Valley in suburban Los Angeles.
The courtyard of the largest Mahayana Buddhist monastery in the Western hemisphere -- excluding perhaps the immense Chaung Yen Monastery ( in Upstate New York where the world's greatest living Theravada Buddhist scholar (Bhikkhu Bodhi) alongside a massive indoor Buddha statue with a specially built enclosing it -- was lit up. Mist clouded the sky, obscuring the Moon.

Gathering around the tea table (WQ)
Bhikshunis (fully ordained nuns) sat at low tables mixing chrysanthemum tea distributing mooncakes (not vegetarian but full of white sugar and egg coating). Various pods arranged themselves.

Wisdom Quarterly discussed topics of interest, then one of the editors told an amazing story at the nun's invitation.
Sun and Moon
Dhr. Seven, Wisdom Quarterly
Full moon (Tim McCord (
One day a boy lost his mother the moon and lived on with his father the sun, who was feeble and in need of his son's help. Together in the father's great home, the son showed filial devotion alone.

Eventually, with his father's help, he found a wife. They brought her home, and set her up in charge of the household. She was dutiful, but she soon grew tired of the old man who, she felt, was stealing all of her husband's attention. "Throw him out," she said to her new husband, "if you love me." 

Approaching the Buddha light altar (WQ)
"He's my father! All we have is because of him!" "All he does is eat; he will eat us out of house and home! Now it is time for you to grow up, take your inheritance, and let's get on with our lives." "What are you saying?" the husband asked. "I'm saying, man up and get rid of him! At least put him out in the barn!" 

Bhikshuni dispenses tea and stories (WQ)
The son carried his father to the barn and cared for him there. As the father was unable to walk, he depended on his son to wheel him around in a wheelbarrow. But the son came out less and less." The wife was still not satisfied. The husband asked, "Now what's the problem? He's out of your hair."
Travis waiting for tea, cake, and stories
"I still have to cook for him and feed him. He's going to eat us out of house and home!" "What do you want me to do?" the husband asked. The wife insisted, "I want you to take that old man, wheel up the hill, and toss him over the cliff! If you don't, I'm leaving you. I thought I married a man. It's either him or me! And it would be for his own good -- he's old, he doesn't want to be a burden. It's euthanasia, that's all. I'm packing right now." 
Lining up in front of main hall (WQ)
The husband, not wanting to lose his wife and realizing that his father was old and feeble and would never want to be a burden to anyone, much less his only son, went out and placed the old man in the barrow without saying a word. The father was overjoyed to see him: "You've finally come to visit me, son! Where are we going, to town, to the market? Hooray!" The boy slowly began to wheel his father up the hill. "But, son, the town is thataway. Are we taking in the view first? There's nothing up here but the...cliff." 

The father suddenly fell silent. The son had still not said a word. As they slowly approached the cliff, the father finally spoke: "Son, may I make one last request?" The son broke down crying, full of resolve to complete this heinous deed, "Anything, father, just name it!" 

In line with candle offerings following guided meditation, Hsi Lai Temple (WQ)
"Son, when you throw me over, make sure you don't drop the barrow over with me."

"But why, father?"
"Well, your son is going to need it."
Just then the son turned on his heel, wheeled around, and raced down the hill. He threatened to put his new wife out in the barn unless she respected his father as she respected him. And together they live happily and dutifully for a long time. Having lost the moon, the son at least kept his sun alive. Ancient Chinese wisdom.

More stories, more tea and cake (WQ)
The nun was delighted with this story as was the crowd. "That is a very good story!" Newcomers to the weekly PasaDharma Zen meditation group welcomed Wisdom Quarterly's participation. Then Travis began to preach the Dharma but was interrupted as a Hsi Lai monk took the microphone and led the crowd of 100 on a guided meditation under gaslamps and floodlights, calling for the Moon to make an appearance.
Socializing under gaslamps (WQ)
After meditating, participants lined up to make a candle offering to the Buddha before the main hall. A procession formed and participants went up one by one to offer light to not only the Awakened One but, moreover, to the potential in themselves of awakening.
For as Kwan Yin Bodhisattva is reputed to have said by the climax of the Sanskrit Heart Sutra: Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha:
"Gone, gone, gone beyond, gone altogether beyond, oh what an awakening, so it is!"

Island Buddhist Observance

Sri Lanka cave temple (
The Los Angeles Buddhist Vihara in Pasadena (100 E. Mountain at the corner of Summit, near Fair Oaks) continues its weekly Vas ("Lent") Sunday 5:00 pm "Rains Retreat" schedule: Eight Precept observance (dress in white), Dharma sermon, and FREE Buddhist island vegetarian cuisine feast. The monastics are on a rotating basis with other Theravada temples giving lectures on various Dharma topics. There areopen discussions, question-and-answer sessions, and protective (paritta) chant as well as devotional (puja) chanting sessions to impart blessings on all in attendance. Everyone is warmly welcomed. This Sunday will feature Ven. Dharmapala from Nepal.

Los Angeles Chinatown Moon Festival
Rena Kosnett (,

(FREE) Now 75 years old, Los Angeles' Chinatown is celebrating her landmark anniversary by hosting an epic bash. The annual Mid-Autumn Moon Festival (also known as the Zhongqiu or "Mooncake" Festival) is a tradition that dates back more than 3,000 years.
Farmers marking the end of the harvest season in China would gather to gaze at the moon and eat mooncakes, yummy round pastries filled with sweet red bean or lotus seed paste. Although the farmers may not be present on Saturday, the moon cakes definitely will, offered up by local bakeries.
Other festival treats look just as indulgent: Bamboo Lane's Night Market will provide traditional and contemporary edibles, while the outdoor baccarat lounge, which even a decadent craft beer garden to test one's autumnal karma. Telescopes provided by the local Griffith Observatory will give everyone a chance to view the harvest moon from an unnaturally close vantage point.
Chinatown festivals are always a good excuse to leave the house, but this looks to be one of the most decadent in recent memory. Art gallery openings, live cooking demonstrations, craft workshops, and the band lineup, curated by Kevin Bronson of, are even more reason to fill the streets on this beautiful seasonal equinox.
  • Central and West Plaza, 943-951 N. Broadway, Chinatown
  • Saturday, Sept. 21st, 5:00 p.m.-12:00 am; (323) 206-6491

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