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Abstain from Eating Flesh


On every 16th of each month (the day Shinran Shinran passed on), and on Memorial Days (death of family members), our independent Buddhist communities observe the ancient tradition of Shojin Observance or Shojin-bi, in which we are encouraged to reappreciate the value of all sentient beings by partaking in vegetarian or vegan food. If one is already a vegetarian, one may wish to partake in vegan meals (no animal products whatsoever). Shojin practice is conducted on a volunteer basis and not a requirement.


The abstaining from eating flesh gives us a spiritual opportunity to humbly reflect, even for just one day a month, on the sacrifice of countless beings that sustain our lives. Shojin Observance allows us to deeply remember that not a day goes by that other beings must be killed to make it possible for us to live. Therefore, on those days when we are not practicing Shojin-bi, we should reflect and in gratitude use their sacrifice to the most worthly of causes, the enlightenment of ourselves and others.


Monthly Rededication to Practice


Not only is Shojin Observance a day for vegetarian or vegan meals but also it is a way to rededicate oneself to the Three Jewels, the Buddhist teachings and practices, and our lifestyle of peace and harmony. During Shojin Observance days one should reflect on the dharma, remember the Buddha, and singleheartedly practice deep hearing and voice the nembutsu,-Namu-Amida-Butsu.


What is Shojin?


It is a Japanese word derived from the Sanskrit virya, the fourth Buddhist virtue meaning effort, strength, energy or vigor. Shojin means to persevere on the Buddhist path, refraining from evil, learning to do good and awakening the mind. The Japanese word Shojin-ryori  means energy food which is mainly vegan or with some vegetarian. You could say that Shojin meals are Buddhist "soul" food.


Other Shojin-bi Days


Our Board of Directors added three more Shojin-bi days: Higan (Autumn & Spring Equinox) and on New Year’s Day, which we call Maitreya Day. Observing Shojin-bi on New Year’s Day is a great way to start off the new year with rededication and devotion to the dharma.