SLO BUDDHIST TEMPLE
6996 Ontario Rd.
San Luis Obispo, CA 93405
Ph. 805 595-2625
Our next visit on the onaijin is the table, Oajoku, which is directly in front of the Gohonzon. Oajoku simply means “upper table”. The Oajoku is a small, gilded table that sits on the Shumidan. It
holds a set arrangement called Shigusoku or "Four element
arrangement". The four element arrangement includes a
candle holder or Rosokutate, a "fire house" or Kasha, "flower Kebyo (we have 2) and a Buppanki or “Buddha food vessel”.
From the pews in the hondo it is very difficult to see the Oajoku but we can see the four elements representations. We should take them in order starting from the Myogo (do you recall what that is?) in a straight line toward the hondo. You might also see the Shigusoku when you Gassho or offer incense.
The Buppanki is a gold color vessel that holds an offering of rice or rice ball. It is symbolic of our gratitude to the Buddha for the teachings and for the things we have.
The Rosokutate is next in line and it holds a red candle which is made of wood and never lit. The red candle is symbolic of happiness and long life.
The Kasha is a double tiered incense burner that is placed in front of the candle. There is no real explanation as to why they call it “Fire house” but one can only surmise it to mean there is a lot of smoke coming from a double incense burner.
Kebyo is bulb shaped and made of dark metal. It is called a flower vase but actually is a vessel for the offering of water, the sustainer of all life. There are small branches of evergreen (in Japan they use Star Anise Tree or Shikimi in the Kebyo’s and they point toward the Myogo). This symbolizes flowing water. Only flowing water remains pure and is the symbol of the Dharma, ever
flowing, ever pure.
In addition to the “arrangement of four”, two light colored metal stands with mounded rice on either stands of the candlestick are used at important services. Rice is the eastern equivalent to the staff of life; rice is a basic food. Offerings on the shrine or
alter other than the Buppanki is called Guhanki or “Offering rice vessel”. The pair is said to symbolize the Jodo Shinshu concept of Jiri Rita Enman or the perfect integration and completion of self-benefit and benefitting others.
The Oajoku holds many items that maybe we don’t always see or even consider. I think this may be true in our daily lives. The teachings are all around us if we want to see and consider them.
Next month we will consider the Maejoku.
With Gassho (Palms together)