December 2015 Bulletin

Dear Zen friend

1) January sesshin : from 01/23 to 01/25 for 3 days.

2) A Happy New Year for the year of 2016. It is 10 degree Fahrenheit today. It was 70 degree on Christmas eve in 2015. Is the difference one year, few days?

This year is also the year of Monkey. In China about 3 thousand years ago 12 animals were picked as symbol for year. They were successively arranged so that last year was sheep, and horse for 2 years ago. Bird will be applied to next year and dog for 2 years later, so on. The order has never been changed.

Five elements like fire or water added to the animal chart. 5 X 12 animals = 60 years = 1 cycle. 1 cycle consists 60 years with strict order. The animal chart and the lunar calendar have been used together in East Asian nations for centuries.

3000 years / 60 cycles = 500 times. Thus the animal chart has had at least 500 cycles. When historians and archaeologists study events and remains in the past, they can identify their time with accuracy thanks to the animal chart. The chart system has been shared with many areas, so international comparison is easy.

This year is a leap year, February has 29 days. The solar calendar needs 1 extra day for 4 years to correct the accumulated difference among seasons and orbital movements. For further adjustment, Gregory calendar takes out 3 leap years within 400 years.

Lunar calendar based on waxing and waning of the moon had been used until 150 years ago in Japan. 1 cycle of waxing to waxing is 28 or 29 days. The calendar was useful for agricultural industry but needed frequent adjustment for seasons. It often adds leap month every 2 or 3 years. I heard useless stories and meanings about days and months. The traditional system was inefficient and became superstitious. To translate a date of lunar calendar to solar calendar is a nightmare.

A remains of piled stones became known recently in the middle of Honshu island in Japan. It was built before 4500 years ago and said an astronomical observatory. Researchers finally figured that sun light shone a certain place with a rectangular shape on the floor on a certain day in a leap year. The sun did not shine the same place on a certain day every 128 years. This suggests the equivalence to the leap year adjustment for Gregory calendar.

Japan has many earthquakes. More than 30 percent of earthquakes on earth happen there. I simply wonder how the function of stone structure has maintained for thousands of years on a shaky land. The remains still works for observation of the sun light. We thought people in the old times used inefficient lunar calendar. It was
possible that they might study solar system and solar calendar was in use.

Those ancient people knew what we do not know.

Wish you have a good year!

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