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Buddhadharma : Fall 2018
104 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER'S QUARTERLY loss, to be true: that participants call forth, and call upon, Jizo’s qualities; that the container of the ceremony is wide enough to hold the vastness and complexity of loss; and that expressing our grief through the making of something, and then offering it up, entrusting and releasing it as an enacted and witnessed expression, is part of a path of healing. The Jizo ceremony as I practice it is an adaptation of a ritual with its own cultural background and history, and I know that carries its own complexity. I am a priest in a religious tradition that comes, originally, from another country, from another culture. It is easy, and in some ways accurate, to say that this is what Buddhism has histori- cally done: moved through countries and cultures and been picked up by the people there, and then been changed and shaped by their cultural histories and influences. But this does not excuse me from taking up and being intimate, every day, with the questions of what my particular engagement means given the privileges, statuses, and particularities I carry, in the cultures where I live and practice. Is it okay for me to be offering this ceremony? Is it okay to adapt and change the form to respond to the needs of those around me? I do not feel entitled to offer this ceremony, or even to help make it avail- able to others. But at the same time, witnessing its transformative potential over and over in the face of the immense suffering of loss, I do feel a kind of humbled obligation to find my way into offering it, into honoring this form and ritual that can help heal parts of our suffering that are so rarely addressed. Grief, when it can be held, honored, and expressed, is a path of healing. We need to make spaces in the community for grief and loss of all kinds to be experienced and shared. So I hold all this with curiosity. I wonder about the intersections of my life converging in this ceremony, right down to my daughter’s conception aligning with my ordination, which in some ways means nothing and in other ways deeply shapes my life as it is, including my life as a priest. I feel supported by Jizo Bodhisattva, in her example of fearlessly turning toward what is difficult and painful, to staying open, to holding the complexity of it all.