The daytime retreat involves meditation and individual exercises in a safe setting aimed at releasing difficult karma, past regrets, broken relationship, and harmful actions taken in the name of one’s group affiliation. In the evening, we invite others in the community to join the retreat participants for a potluck dinner and our annual Segaki celebration (see description below) where we honor those who have died in the past year and let go of harmful karma.
2 PM – Meditation, dharma talk and practices for releasing karma
6 PM – Vegetarian Dinner/ Ceremony Setup
6:30 – 8 PM – Zazen/ Segaki Ceremony
What to bring for the evening ceremony
- Warm clothes & flashlight
- Names of those who have died in the past year to be read in the zendo
- Candy, snacks and sweets for the Segaki altar
The celebration of Segaki is based on a traditional Buddhist story about the Buddha’s disciple Moggallana, who is instructed by the Buddha how to help his mother who has died and believed to be suffering in hell. The story is a teaching on how we approach disturbed or unresolved karma by making kind offerings, or “feeding the hungry ghosts” (gaki) food that they recognize, candy and sweets, rather than the dharma, or truth, that they fear.
The “gaki,” often depicted with narrow throats and extended bellies, can be understood as a spiritual state of hunger seen in everyday life where we grasp after external things that do not satisfy a deeper longing for inner peace. During this ceremony, all the traditional altar images are covered, and the “gaki” are invited to partake of the feast offered.
Participating in Segaki together directly gives us insight into how we approach suffering in the world, in our own lives, as well as allowing for healing to take place towards the areas needing understanding, forgiveness, love and acceptance. The ceremony is also time to honor all those who have died in the last year as we recite their names during one of the processions. We will end the evening by the fire, letting go of unresolved personal karma by burning slips of paper with what we wish to release.