THERE ARE MANY different services performed at Shinnyo temples, which vary according to the time of the month or year. One example is the homa rite, conducted monthly on the 28th at Shinnyo-en’s main facility in Japan. The service is broadcast to local temples via satellite or other means. Homa (Jpn. goma) is an ancient Indian rite that predates Buddhism. Homa was performed in many spiritual traditions, but was incorporated into Buddhism as a practice for reconciling personal desires with the altruistic wish to help others.
The ritual is conducted on a raised platform where a fire is built. The flames have symbolic meaning on many different levels, but perhaps the most evocative interpretation is that the fire burns away the delusions and ignorance that separate human beings from the brilliance of their true nature. The cleansing flames help to nurture the aspiration for enlightenment and encourage genuine practice.