Eitaikyo: The Perpetual Memorial

April 17th through 18th is an important holiday in Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, called Eitaikyō (永代経), or the “Perpetual Memorial”. This is a holiday commemorating the contributions of Buddhists in past, who’ve kept the tradition going. Since Jodo Shinshu draws heavily on the past teachings of Pure Land Buddhists like Honen and Shan-tao, the memorial tends to have focus on Pure Land Buddhists of the past. However, one of the strengths of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism in my opinion is its emphasis on gratitude and acknowledging the contributions of others.

So, for all your readers who consider yourselves Buddhist, who are you grateful to?

I’ll name a few I am grateful to, in no particular order:

Namu Amida Butsu

P.S. Apparently other Japanese Buddhist traditions celebrate this as well, though it goes by the name Eitai Kuyō (永代供養).

1 With so many corrupt priests in the world, it’s very re-assuring to see men like Ven. Yin-Shun and Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi keeping the faith and precepts. They are an inspiration to the rest of us. :)

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2 Comments on “Eitaikyo: The Perpetual Memorial”

  1. Stephen says:

    In Jodo Shu in this area we give an eitaikuyo at the beginning of a Segaki service. It is a service for people which is done eternally as you noted. Say for example a couple had no children, and their family lived in a different part of Japan, there is no-one to observe the memorial days for the couple, the family makes a donation to the temple that we will eternally give a memorial for that couple. I need not mention they just add up overtime, and a temple nearby does a seperate segaki service just for Eitakuyo because it takes so much time.
    We have a seperate service like the one you mention where we pay thanks to all the great people that have brought the teachings to us (Shan-tao, Honen’s father and mother etc) called a Chion-ko (知恩講). Very rare though, I have only been to one. The days are up to the individual temples (segaki requires several priests so we can’t do it all on the same day)
    I believe Jodoshinshu can’t do Segaki so it would be their version.
    At the Chion-ko I did attend there was a very strange occurance which moved me dramtically. At the en of the service after the Dharma talk, the head monk stood up and said “for eight hundred years we have held Gyoki services for Honen Shonin in temples all over Japan, and everytime we hear the story of how Sada Akira took the life of Honen’s father. Today at this Chion-ko we said 10 nembutsu for Honen’s father because his dying words were the motivation for Honen becoming a monk. But if Sada Akira had not killed Kuninotokio Honen would not have become a monk, and despite being villified for 800 years surely he is in greater need of merit being tranferred , so let us say 10 nembutsu to Saka Akira and transfer the merit to him”
    We did, but that one speech really made me think a lot. I felt that is the true way to give thanks.
    Just a story of mine I thought I’d share

  2. Doug says:

    Hi Stephen! Thanks for the input. That’s really impressive, that sermon you mentioned, and certainly does underscore the need to develop compassion for all. What is the segaki service by the way? I think I know, but others may be curious as well.

    Take care!

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