In Japan, higan is a time when many visit the graves of family members and pay their respects to the departed. The term “higan” (lit. “other shore”) refers to crossing over from a worldly shore of suffering and delusion toward the other, nirvana shore of peace and spiritual awakening.
Buddhist temples traditionally hold higan services in remembrance of ancestors and those who have passed. But at Shinnyo-en, the service is marked with two additional rites: one to extend our prayers all souls, in particular that of those who perished in disasters around the world; another to extend liberating merits to reach all lives in the past, present, and future.
Her Holiness also shared:
“The Higan Service is related to the location of the setting sun. The west has been associated with enlightenment, ultimate happiness, or as we often say at Shinnyo-en, a realm of permanence, bliss, and joy. So at Shinnyo-en’s Higan Service, we conduct rites first before our representations of buddhahood—the nirvana image that symbolizes the timelessness of buddhas, and the Shinnyo Parents and Kyodoin and Shindoin. This rite invites all souls to the altar and to them we direct the goodness of our prayers and the liberating merit of saisho that we can experience thanks to our spiritual masters. We are all connected to all who came before us, linked from one life to another, each with buddha nature. “