A BUDDHIST WEDDING SERVICE In the Western Tradition

A BUDDHIST WEDDING SERVICE In the Western Tradition August 20, 2010

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A BUDDHIST WEDDING SERVICE

In the Western Tradition

Compiled from diverse sources,
Edited and annotated by

The Reverend James Ishmael Ford
Boundless Way Zen Sangha

Processional

Address to the Congregation

Minister We are here gathered to witness the joining of and in marriage; which is an honorable estate, instituted in the necessities of our being, and dedicated to the happiness of people and the welfare and continuance of humanity; an estate not by any to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, discreetly, soberly, and in all sincerity.

To be true, this outward form must be a symbol of that which is inner and real; a sacred personal union, that a church may solemnize and a state make legal, but which love only can create, and mutual loyalty fulfill.

To endure, the marriage of these two people must be a consecration of each to the other, and of both to the wider community of which their lives are a part.

Interrogation

Minister to Groom , will you have this woman to be your wife, to live together in the holy estate of marriage? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health, in sorrow and in joy, and be faithful to her, as long as you both shall live?

Answer I will.

Minister to Bride , will you have this man to be your husband, to live together in the holy estate of marriage? Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health, in sorrow and in joy, and be faithful to him, as long as you both shall live?

Answer I will.

Minister to couple and , you have committed to walk the great Buddha way. Here I remind you of your vows to recall how all life is intertwined and that you have undertaken the way of protecting life, of only taking what is offered, of cultivating loving-kindness and honesty in all your dealings with others, of using your sexuality wisely and lovingly, and that your every decision and action is to be made as clearly and heartfully open as you possibly can. Do you see these promises as part of your vows to each other?

Couple We do

Minister to the Congregation Hearing all this, will you who witness these pledges do your utmost to support this marriage?

Congregation We will.

Presentations

Minister Who presents the bride in marriage?

Bride’s family We do.

Minister Who presents the groom in marriage?

Groom’s family We do.

Or

Minister Who presents the bride in marriage?

Bride’s family She gives herself, and we share in her giving, joyfully.

Minister Who presents the groom in marriage?

Groom’s family He gives himself, and we share in his giving, joyfully.

Pledges

The couple are facing each other. The groom takes the bride’s hand in his own. Then prompted by the minister, the groom speaks his pledge

Groom I, , take you, , to be my wife, (to be the mother of my children,) to be the companion of my heart, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.

Bride and groom loose hands. The bride then takes the groom’s hand in her own. Then, prompted by the minister, the bride speaks her pledge.

Bride I, , take you, , to be my husband, (to be the father of my children,) to be the companion of my heart, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.

Readings

Minister It is appropriate to read from scriptures and other inspired writings (and to play inspired music) at this time. These readings (and this music) from our common heritage give a special blessing to a wedding.

First The fourteenth century Chinese poet Guan Daosheng understood the alchemy of relationship. Her poem Married Love, translated by Kenneth Rexroth and Ling Chung sings of the deep way

You and I
Have so much love
That it
Burns like a fire,
In which we bake a lump of clay
Molded into a figure of you
And a figure of me.
Then we take both of them,
And break them into pieces,
And mix the pieces with water,
And mold again a figure of you,
And a figure of me.
I am in your clay.
You are in my clay.
In life we share a single quilt.
In death we will share one bed.

Second And, second, from the great Unitarian divine A. Powell Davies: When two individuals meet, so do two private worlds. None of our private worlds is big enough for us to live a wholesome life. We need the wider world of joy and wonder, of purpose and venture, of toil and tears. What are we, any of us, but stranger and sojourners forlornly wandering through the nighttime, until we draw together and find the meaning of our lives in one another, dissolving our fears in each other’s courage, making music together, and lighting torches to guide us through the dark? We belong together. Love is what we need. To love and to be loved.

Rings

Bride and groom loose hands again, and continue to face each other. The minister receives the rings (frequently from the best man, but there are many other ways to appropriately pass the rings to the minister). Holding the rings, the minister pronounces a sentence of dedication

Minister Rings are an ancient symbol, blessed and simple. Round like the sun, like the eye, like arms that embrace. Rings are circles reminding us of the endless cycles of life and love. And so, may these symbols remind you always that your love, like the sun, illumines; that your love, like the eye, must see clearly; and that your love, like arms that embrace, truly is a blessing upon this world.

The minister returns the bride’s ring to the groom, who places it on the fourth finger of the bride’s left hand. The groom, prompted by the minister says.

Groom , with this ring, I thee wed.

The minister then gives the groom’s ring to the bride, who places it on the fourth finger of the groom’s left hand. The bride, prompted by the minister, says.

Bride , with this ring, I thee wed.

A Blessing

Minister , and , may the vows for your life together include the intention to continually break through those pre-conceived views of each other, which arise so naturally, but are so damaging to the way of clarity and love. May your vows include seeing through those feelings that arise from selfish desires, attachments, and fears. May your vows include compassion for each other and for all beings. May you refrain from speaking harshly or deceptively. May you live peacefully in this world, finding work to support each other that is in harmony with the great way. May you support each other in creating a compassionate and loving home, a shining light in this poor world. And at all times may you be mindful of each other and hold lightly ideas and beliefs, remaining open to the possible. Ånd may your walk together be the manifestation of the bodhisattva way.

Conclusion of Service

The minister, causing the bride and groom to join their hands, and with the minister’s hand placed on theirs, pronounces the admonition and declaration.

Minister , and , have chosen one another from the many men and women of the earth, have declared their love and purpose before this gathering, and have made their pledges each to the other symbolized by the holding of hands and the giving and receiving of rings. Therefore, I declare that they are husband and wife.

Let all others honor them and the threshold of their house. May they find here the good beginning for the spending and the fruitfulness of many years. Amen.

The Wedding Kiss

Recessional

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