One way to understand the Eitaikyo is as the temple’s promise to continue to share and propagate the Dharma, in particular the Nembutsu Teaching (as expressed by the character 「経」 or Sutra), over many “long” (「永」) generations (「代」). The expression “long generations” (「永代」) is frequently translated as “perpetual.”
Because of this, the Eitaikyo can be seen as the temple’s promise to propagate in perpetuity. However, the temple is also a place that helps us to understand that what makes it possible and meaningful for the temple to propagate is all the people of the temple’s past and their concern for the future that helped to make the present and the future possible.
The Dharma, the Nembutsu, is the teaching that gave the people of our past the strength to live their lives. It is also what gave them hope for the future that we are all now a part of. As a way of assuring that the temple is able to propagate in perpetuity, and to continue the process of receiving and sharing, the temple reminds us to appreciate the gifts from our past by remembering and honoring all those who made the Nembutsu a part of their lives and to honor their wish to share this Dharma with the future. This Dharma is shared as part of the temple’s daily morning service. It is what is shared at the temple’s monthly memorial service. It is shared annually at the temple’s Eitaikyo Service.
Rev. John Iwohara