The Meaning of Eitaikyo
Reverend Matt Hamasaki, Resident Minister
In October, we’re observing Eitaikyo. The name comes from a shortening of “EitaiDokkyo.” Eitai means perpetual and Dokkyo means reading the sutras.
The purpose of the service is then to read the sutras in such a way that it will be done perpetually throughout time. It traces its origins to more than 300 years ago, and although there isn’t an exact historical record for the reason we perform it, other Buddhist sects began performing similar services and so it is consistent with the time period.
Centuries preceding that, there have been memorial services for family members on the anniversary of the day of the death, as well as monthly memorial services, and also yearly memorial services. Eventually, there were joint services done monthly and then yearly. Thus, the creation of a yearly memorial service that commemorates more than a single family’s loss.
Establishing the how, now we look to the reason why.
In creating a service in which we not only recognize the rich history of any given temple but one where we perpetually recite the sutras forever means giving the opportunity to listen to the Buddhist teaching after we have passed away.
The only way we can encounter it is because of the past members and the only way the future will be able to encounter it is because of us. It is a wonderful opportunity to recognize the importance of connecting the past, present and future generations together.
One of the greatest heirlooms that we can continue passing down is the dharma and by continually having this service, we promise to keep it going.