Our temples are beginning to hold their Higan services beginning this Sunday. At the beginning of Autumn, many Buddhist temples hold a special service called “Higan.” The name “Higan” means crossing over to the “other shore.”
This Monday, September 23, marks the Autumnal equinox, which is the first day of Fall. During the equinox, the length of night equals the length of day, about 12 hours each.
The Higan service typically is commemorated on a Sunday closest to the actual equinox. The equinox is a good time to reflect on the truth of impermanence, expressed this season as Summer turning to Fall. Higan services are observed twice a year during the Spring and Autumn equinoxes.
“Other shore” symbolizes the world of Enlightenment, or “Pure Land,” as expressed in Jodo Shinshu Buddhism. “Other shore” is opposed to our everyday life with its ups and downs, expressed by the term “this shore.” Higan is an abbreviation of “to-higan” which means, “reaching the other shore.” The Buddhist teachings, or Buddha dharma, help lead us from “this shore” to “the other shore” of spiritual awakening.