On New Year’s Eve, in many Buddhist temples, there is a ceremony of ringing the temple bell 108 times (Joya-no-kane). The bells are rung 108 times to symbolically represent the cleansing of 108 worldly imperfections or passions (defilements) from the year just ending.
Eihei Dogen, a Soto Zen priest, referred to these 108 defilements as 108 Dharma Gates which are viewed as opportunities to progress on the Path of spiritual maturity…..rather than only for purification.
Since we have our New Year’s zazenkai on this the first day of the new year, we changed up the tradition to focus on the Dharma Gates inherent in the 108 ringing of the bells….the positive toward which we strive.
Sitting in a camp fire type circle and using our big bowl, a student rang the bell with everyone else doing a sitting bow, and then scooted the bowl to the next student who rang the bowl, with pattern continuing until 108 strikes had been completed. While this was going on, Aaron would occasionally announce a Dharma Gate , which was the counter to a defilement…..kindness,gratitude, faithfulness, tolerance, respect, satisfaction, and ending with peace. It seemed a lovely experience.
The sky blue, the birds vocal, the air crisp, the sangha together.
New Year’s Day at Hakone.
https://matcha-jp.com/en/1340 is a link to view event in Japan.
https://kansaiculture.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-108-vices-of-buddhism.html is a link to defilements
http://charliemetro.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-108-defilements-of-buddhism.html is another link to defilements.