Monday, October 24, 2016

Making MERIT: Katina Ceremony (video)

Dhr. Seven, Amber Larson, Ashley Wells, Wisdom Quarterly; Buddhist Temple of America
(Ajahn Brahm, Western Australia) One Minute Newsreel: Katina on a beautiful spring day. Lovely to see so many people welcoming the monks at the end of their annual retreat in 2015.
(Bodhinyanarama Monastery, New Zealand/Philip Maskell) Kathina Robe Offering) Ceremony 2016. This annual festival arrives at the end of Vassa (Rains Retreat) as celebrated at the monastic complex in Wellington, New Zealand in the presence of the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Thailand.

This time of year, as Buddhist "Lent" (Vas) comes to a  close, is marked with a very special ceremony: Katina.
The Buddha proclaimed it the most meritorious ceremony to participate in for lay followers.

It is the ceremonial offering of an extra durable robe to the entire monastic community that has been engaging in intensive practice for the preceding three months of the Rains Retreat, roughly corresponding to our hemispheric summer.

Buddhist Temple of America (Wat Bhuridattavanaram)'s photo.The Buddhist Temple of America (Wat Bhuridattavanaram) -- a large Thudong (Dhutanga) or Thai Forest Meditation tradition temple in Ontario, Riverside County, California -- celebrated writ large.

We traveled to the hinterlands of Los Angeles by the great mountain. The desert before us, the foothills to the north. A thousand gathered to mourn the recently deceased Thai King Bhumipol, all in black, and support the monastic community. On the same day in Pasadena, the Los Angeles Buddhist Vihara, celebrated Sri Lankan style with all night pirith (paritta) chanting, dressed all in white, and constructed the special hardy robe on site before offering it to the monks to select someone among their ranks for the honor of receiving it this year. Burmese temple on the eastern edge of L.A. County kept the tradition.

There are more celebrations to follow as every temple in the Theravada lineage holds events. This weekend in North Hollywood, the Sarathchandra Buddhist Meditation Center will mark the annual event with Sinhalese vegetarian island cuisine, clad in white taking the Eight Precepts, and seeing to it the monastic community maintains this unbroken custom.

It began at the time of the Buddha when two monks ventured to see him but got caught in the downpours of the rainy season in Ancient India. They carried on with thin robes and no heavy outer cloak to protect them. The Buddha advised them that it would have been a more appropriate course of action to remain in one abode to practice intensely and realize the goal, sparing many small creatures that flourish in the rain along the way. The Buddha called for the offering of a durable robe, and much has been made of it ever since. The question is, Why would this offering be any better than any other offering at any time of year?

The answer has something to do with the likelihood that monastics engaged in meditation have attained the supramundane paths-and-fruits (magga-phala). There is special significance to two offering, a meal give before attainment that enables that attainment and a meal right after attainment because it is now given not to an ordinary good person but to an extraordinary enlightened person who has changed lineage (gotrabhu). That is the way karma is whether we understand it or have yet to understand it.
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Buddhist Temple of America (Wat Bhuridattavanaram)'s photo.

Buddhist Temple of America (Wat Bhuridattavanaram)'s photo.

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