On Sunday, March 19, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., BZC priests Hondo Dave Rutschman and Ryushin Andrea Thach will lead a simple ceremony to invoke, honor, and ask for help from Jizo Bodhisattva, one of the most important figures in East Asian Buddhism. Traditionally, Jizo is understood to be the embodiment of fearless compassion, a protector of children and travelers, of all those who are vulnerable, and of those who find themselves grieving or in hell-realms. Jizo is especially associated with abortion, miscarriage, and stillbirth.
One ancient story about Jizo is that in a former life he was a Brahmin maiden named Sacred Girl. Sacred Girl’s mother died and went to hell, and out of love and devotion, Sacred Girl sold all her belongings and made offerings to the Buddha of her age. Eventually, because of her good works, she was able to see into hell and learn that her mother had been saved. But as she witnessed the sorrow and pain of all the other beings still there, Sacred Girl’s heart broke and opened, and she made a great vow to work for the benefit of suffering beings until all the hells were emptied. So whenever and in whatever way we find ourselves in hell, we know that Jizo has vowed to be there with us.
The ceremony will take place in person at BZC. During the afternoon, we will draw, write, or sew—creating actual tangible objects as expressions of our prayers. Often those objects are red caps or rakusus, which are then draped onto Jizo statues; but they can also be drawings, written messages, or anything else that feels right. There will be time for sitting in silence, and for sharing and discussion.
All are welcome to attend, especially those experiencing heartbreak and grief. The registration form can be accessed here: https://forms.gle/oxitq3wEiLqSRpkp6. A suggested donation of $15 (or whatever you can afford) will cover the cost of materials. For answers to any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.