Ohigan

"The Other Shore,"

Ohigan, "The Other Shore," is a unique Japanese Buddhist observance.

 

It is held twice annually to coincide with the Spring and Autumn Equinox. It is held on this day because the equinox is seen as being perfectly balanced, or an attribute associated with the Bodhisattva and the Buddha.

 

The equinox is seen as the ideal day to focus on the practice of the Six Paramita because the equinox is neither too hot, nor too cold. The Paramita is the primary practice of Mahayana Buddhism, much in the same way that the Eight-fold path is seen as the primary practice of Theravada Buddhism.

 

The six paramita are:

  1. dana (giving)

  2. sila (precepts, rules of conduct)

  3. ksanti (perseverance)

  4. virya (energy)

  5. dhyana (meditation)

  6. prajna (wisdom)

The term Ohigan is one of the ways the term paramita (param + ita) was translated into Chinese. Translated as "Other Shore" the term paramita was understood to mean the "other shore of enlightenment." In other words, fulfilling the Paramita would allow you to reach the other shore of enlightenment.

 

The other translation for paramita (parami + ta) has the meaning of "perfection."

 

Because of this, the six paramita is also referred to as the "six perfections."

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