While most traditional Buddhist fire rituals focus on personal purification and awakening, the Shinnyo-en ceremony is dedicated to awakening people to their innate compassionate and altruistic nature, transcending all boundaries of age, gender, nationality, ethnicity, and religious tradition, and directing the positive energy of the ceremony outward with the hope that all people can live in a world of hope and harmony.
The ceremony, therefore, is meant not just for some personal benefit, but to deeply inspire compassion – for all life forms, past, present, and future as well as empower altruistic actions that benefit others. Shinnyo-en’s ceremonies are designed to be an impetus for both personal spiritual awakening and for selfless, courageous action.
Shinso Ito has performed the fire and water ceremonies to extraordinary gatherings and circumstances at several locations in Japan; in Taipei, Taiwan; at the edge of the Great Rift Valley in the Laikipia District of Kenya; in Paris, France; in Berlin, Germany; in Redwood City, California, U.S.A.,; in New York, New York, U.S.A.; and annually for the past fourteen years in Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A.
The lantern floating provides a venue for many people to celebrate and reconnect, beyond the boundary of life and death, with the lives of those who transitioned to a spiritual realm, and to offer heartfelt appreciation to those who have passed. Many participants write the names of their lost loved ones on lanterns and float them in the water with their prayer of love and appreciation. Our ancestors gave life to their children who then gave life to their children. This infinite connection of lives has brought each of us to be here today. When we deeply comprehend the meanings of this connection, we naturally come to find our profound appreciation for our past (our ancestors) and the preciousness of our lives. This recognition gives us a higher aspiration to fully live every present moment, and it inspires us to build a better world for future generations.
The ceremony also provides an opportunity for us to deeply contemplate the preciousness of water and other elements of the nature and how they support human lives and all other living beings. Water (as well as the other elements of Nature) is essential for nurturing/nourishing/maintaining life. Celebrating water is to celebrate our firm resolve to preserve the environment of our planet Earth and protect the future of all living beings.