Daily chanting/recitation...what do you do?

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Daily chanting/recitation...what do you do?

Post by Meido » Mon Jan 15, 2018 7:49 pm

I thought it might be interesting to hear what folks do in regard to this aspect of practice.

Temples/monasteries have daily ceremony including offerings and dedication of merit. Details on those are easily found online. But I'm particularly interested here in what lay folks might do at home (and, this thread might serve as a resource...)

I mentioned in another thread that in the tradition I'm connected with we did not inherit any kind of specific daily lay chanting practice. Folks getting together in groups to sit, e.g a university Zen club, will often chant a few things together, such as the Heart Sutra and Four Vows. But for students wanting to do something more extensive (and get some practice in for the more extensive chanting done during sesshin), I put this series together:


If you maintain a butsudan, light candles and offer incense.

1. JYU BUTSU MYO Names of the Ten Buddhas
[hands in gassho]


Vairochana Buddha as the Dharmakaya, Pure and Undefiled;
Lochana Buddha as the Sambhogakaya, Perfect and Full;
Sakyamuni Buddha as the Nirmanakaya, Whose Forms are Manifested in Hundreds of Thousands of Kotis;
Maitreya the Venerable Buddha, Who is to be Born Here in Time to Come;
All the Buddhas of the Past, Present, and Future in All the Ten Directions;
Manjusri the Bodhisattva of Great Wisdom;
Samantabhadra the Bodhisattva of Great Deeds;
Avalokitesvara the Bodhisattva of Great Compassion;
All the Venerable Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas; Mahaprajnaparamita.

2. SANGEMON The Verse of Purification
[Repeat 3 Times, hands in gassho]

Ga shaku sho zo shoakugo kaiyu mushi tonjinchi jushin gui shi shosho issai gakon kai sange.

All my past and harmful karma, born from beginningless greed, hate, and delusion, through body, speech, and mind, I now fully avow.

3. SANKI KAI Taking Refuge in the Three Treasures
[repeat 3 times, hands in gassho]

Namu-kie-butsu, namu-kie-ho,namu-kie-so.
Kie-butsu-mujo-son, kie-ho-riyoku-son, kie-so-wago-son.
Kie-butsu-kyo,kie-ho-kyo, kie-so-kyo.

I take refuge in the Buddha. I take refuge in the Dharma. I take refuge in the Sangha.
I take refuge in the Buddha, honored above all. I take refuge in the Dharma, honored for its freedom from attachment. I take refuge in the Sangha, honored for its harmony.
I have taken refuge in the Buddha. I have taken refuge in the Dharma. I have taken refuge in the Sangha.


Kan-ji-zai-bo-satsu, gyo-jin-han-nya ha-ra-mit-ta-ji, sho-ken-go-on-kai-ku, do issai ku-yaku. Sha-ri-shi, shiki-fu-i-ku, ku-fu-i-shiki, shiki-soku-ze-ku, ku-soku-ze-shiki, ju-so-gyo-shiki, yaku-bu-nyo-ze. Sha-ri-shi, ze-sho-ho-ku-so, fu-sho fu-metsu, fu-ku fu-jo, fu-zo fu-gen. Ze-ko ku-chu, mu-shiki mu-ju-so-gyo-shiki, mu-gen-ni-bi-zesshin-i, mu-shiki-sho-ko-mi-soku-ho,mu-gen-kai-nai-shi-mu-i shiki-kai-mu-mu-myo-yaku mu-mu-myo-jin, nai-shi-mu-ro-shi, yaku-mu roshi- jin, mu-ku shu-metsu-do, mu-chi-yaku mu-toku. I-mu-sho-tok-ko, Bo-dai-sat-ta, e-han-nya hara- mi-ta-ko, shin-mu-kei-ge, mu-kei-ge-ko, mu-u-ku-fu, on-ri issai ten-do-mu-so, ku-gyo, ne-han. San-ze-sho-butsu, e-han-nya-ha-ra-mi-ta-ko, toku-a-noku ta-ra-san myaku-san-bo-dai, ko-chi-hannya- ha-ra-mit-ta, ze-dai-jin-shu, ze-dai-myo-shu, ze-mu-jo-shu, ze-mu-to-do-shu, no-jo-issai-ku, shin-jitsu-fu-ko, ko-setsu-han-nya-ha-ra-mit-ta-shu, soku-setsu-shu-watsu, “gya-tei gya-tei, ha-ra-gyatei, haraso-gya-tei, bo-ji sowaka.” Hannya-shingyo.

When the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara was engaged in the practice of the deep Prajnaparamita, he perceived that there are the five Skandhas; and these he saw in their self-nature to be empty: O Sariputra, form is here emptiness, emptiness is form; form is no other than emptiness, emptiness is no other than form; that which is form is emptiness, that which is emptiness is form. The same can be said of sensation, perception, mental formations, and consciousness. O Sariputra, all things here are characterized with emptiness: they are not born, they are not annihilated; they are not tainted, they are not immaculate; they do not increase, they do not decrease. Therefore, O Sariputra, in emptiness there is no form, no sensation, no perception, no mental formations, no consciousness; no eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind; no form, sound, colour, taste, touch, objects; no Dhatu of vision, till we come to no Dhatu of consciousness; there is no knowledge, no ignorance, till we come to there is no old age and death, no extinction of old age and death; there is no suffering, no accumulation, no annihilation, no path; there is no knowledge, no attainment, [and] no realization, because there is no attainment. In the mind of the Bodhisattva who dwells depending on the Prajnaparamita there are no obstacles; and, going beyond the perverted views, he reaches final Nirvana. All the Buddhas of the past, present,and future, depending on the Prajnaparamita, attain to the highest perfect enlightenment. Therefore, one ought to know that the Prajnaparamita is the great Mantram, the Mantram of great wisdom, the highest Mantram, the peerless Mantram, which is capable of allaying all pain; it is truth because it is not falsehood: this is the Mantram proclaimed in the Prajnaparamita. It is: 'Gate, gate, paragate, parasamgate, bodhi, svaha!' [Gone, gone, gone to theother shore, gone completely to the other shore, awakening, hail!]

5. SHOSAISHU The Crisis Averting Dharani
[repeat three times]

Na-mu-sa-man-da, mo-to-nan, o-ha-ra-chi, ko-to-sha, so-no-nan, to-ji-to, en, gya-gya, gya-ki, gya-ki, unnun, shi-fu-ra-shi-fu-ra, ha-ra-shi-fu-ra-ha-ra-shi-fu-ra, chi-shu-sa-chi-shu-sa, shu-shi-ri-shu-shi-ri, so-ha-ja-so-ha-ja, se-chi-gya, shi-ri-ei, so-mo-ko.

6 HONZON EKO Dedication of Merit
[hands in gassho]


This eko dedicates the merit of the two preceding chants to Shakyamuni Buddha* and all beings, and invokes the enlightened beings throughout the universe. *If the honzon (the main statue on the butsudan) is Sakyamuni. If it is Manjusri as is often the case in a meditation hall, chant “Daishin Bunji Suri Busa” instead of “Honsu Shikya Jirai”.

[repeat 3 times, hands in gassho]

Shu-jo mu-hen sei-gan-do;
Bon-no mu-jin sei-gan-dan;
Ho-mon mu-ryo sei-gan-gaku;
Butsu-do mu-jo sei-gan-jo.

Sentient beings are boundless: I vow to liberate them.
Afflications are endless: I vow to cut them off.
Dharma gates are immeasurable: I vow to practice them.
The Buddha way is unsurpassed: I vow to attain it.

8. ENMEI JUKKYU KANNON GYO The Ten Phrase Life-Prolonging Verse of Avalokitesvara
[repeat 3 times, hands in gassho]

Kan-ze-on, na-mu-butsu, yo-butsu-u-in, yo-butsu-u-en, bup-po-so-en, jo-raku-ga-jo, cho-nen-kanze- on, bo-nen-kan-ze-on, nen-nen-ju-shin-ki, nen-nen-fu-ri-shin.

Adoration to Avalokitesvara! Adoration to the Buddha! To the Buddha we are related in terms of cause and effect. Depending on the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, [Nirvana is possible, which is] eternal, ever-blessed, autonomous, and free from defilements. In the morning our thoughts are on Kanzeon; in the evening our thoughts are on Kanzeon. Every thought issues from the Mind, every thought is not separated from the Mind.

[Perform three prostrations]
The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice
Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org

[Note: not reachable by PM. To get in touch please email through the website above.]

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Re: Daily chanting/recitation...what do you do?

Post by Wayfarer » Mon Jan 15, 2018 10:56 pm

Currently I chant the Namo three times in Pali - bow, chant, sit. (I did my first meditation retreat at a Theravada centre where they gave us a chanting book so I've become a little familiar with it.) I have been meaning for a long while to add the Three Refuges, also in Pali, as I can pronounce the language and have some understanding of it. I am also meaning to learn Metta Bhavana. Now that you have posted these I will consider incorporating some of this material, and thank you for them.

The most important thing is not at all important.

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Re: Daily chanting/recitation...what do you do?

Post by Nicholas » Tue Jan 16, 2018 1:53 am

Not every day is identical, I spent three weeks or so slowly reciting and adapting for a single lay person, the Emperor Liang Repentance ritual. I do some recitation and or study every day and always dedicate all merit to helping beings on their way toward buddhahood.

A question Meido, about your #2 above:
All my past and harmful karma, born from beginningless greed, hate, and delusion, through body, speech, and mind, I now fully avow.
Nothing beyond avowing, no pledge to reform from now forward?

I often will fall back on something like:
Taking refuge in the highest sense is taking refuge in Tathāgata. OM Namo Amita Buddha (10 x)

Always I vow to:
accord with and help all beings on their way toward Buddhahood - bring about Buddha realization for self and others - be a co-worker with Amita Buddha - cultivate Bodhicitta and fulfill these vows - dedicate all my merit to all beings on their Way to Bodhi - emulate all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas - realize all the Bodhisattva stages - rejoice in the merit and virtue of others - renounce attachment to any realm - repent of and reform my afflictions - request Buddhas and Aryas to remain in the world - revere and take refuge in Buddha - study countless Dharma paths - be worthy of a guru like Hsuan Hua Bodhisattva.

So always help me, my Guru and True Self!
Whatever one frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. -- MN 19

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Re: Daily chanting/recitation...what do you do?

Post by jundocohen » Tue Jan 16, 2018 12:53 pm

Thank you for asking.

In our Sangha, of course, Zazen is the center of the universe.

However, that said, Dogen also chanted this and that, and we chant some chants. We have no hard rule in our Sangha, but we do encourage those who wish to chant the "Verse of Atonement/At-One-Ment" (SANGEMON) each day ...
All harmful acts, words and thoughts, ever committed by me since of old,

On account of beginningless greed, anger and ignorance,

Born of my body, mouth and mind,

Now I atone for them all
... the Four Vows (SHIGUSEIGA MON) ...
To save all sentient beings, though beings numberless

To transform all delusions, though delusions inexhaustible

To perceive Reality, though Reality is boundless

To attain the Enlightened Way, a Way non-attainable
Some may add the Three Refuges (SANKIEMON), and those who have undertaken Jukai would recite the Verse of the Kesa (TAKKESAGE). Some may add the Heart Sutra. We recite the Heart Sutra, and sometimes as well the Identity of Relative and Absolute (SANDOKAI), at our weekly Zazenkai with a Dedication.

One thing is that, in our Sangha, I avoid all Dharani (including the very traditional "Disaster Preventing Dharani") as magical "abracadabra" thinking that we can do without. That is just our interpretation. Our "Eko" Dedication, as well, is phrased not to emphasize some Karmic transfer of "merit". Thus, it is worded as follows ...
We dedicate our sincere efforts to Shakyamuni Buddha Honored One; the Historical Buddha and Teacher … We dedicate our hopes and aspirations: To all victims of war and violence and natural events, To the injured and to all families touched by these tragedies ...
Oh, and we have added a Practice of Metta in our Sangha that we undertake monthly, and some members recite daily ...
1. May he(she) be free of suffering; may he(she) feel safe and still.

2. May he(she) be free of enmity; may he(she) be loving, grateful and kind.

3. May he(she) be healthy and at ease in all his(her) ills.

4. May he(she) be at peace, embracing all conditions of life
I explain that Practice in a rather non-magical way as well, that our anger etc. touches those around us and can even add a drop of ugliness to all society ... and likewise can our good hopes and feelings.

Gassho, Jundo
Teacher at Treeleaf Zendo, a Soto Zen Sangha, an online practice place for folks who cannot commute to a Zen Center due to health, living in remote areas, work or family needs. The focus is Shikantaza 'Just Sitting' Zazen http://www.treeleaf.org

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Re: Daily chanting/recitation...what do you do?

Post by Meido » Tue Jan 16, 2018 5:48 pm

Nicholas wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 1:53 am
Nothing beyond avowing, no pledge to reform from now forward?
That is just the traditional verse, as Guo Gu noted in a another thread very common in E. Asian Buddhism. But of course everything chanted is also studied and instruction is given. So one chanting this verse does so within the overall context of practice and study, in which "repentance" is known to entail not only an acknowledgement of unskillful actions, but also a resolution to not repeat them, and ultimately to cut the roots of unskillful action.

Really, the Four Vows sums up the entire Zen teaching, so if one got to the bottom of just those, it would be enough repentance!

I should mention also that we chant in the Sino-Japanese (and for some dharani/mantra folks can use either the Japanese rendition or Sanskrit as they prefer). This is because the function of chanting in Rinzai practice has also to do with training the body/breath/energetics in a particular manner. So someone might not be closely examining the conceptual import of the text while chanting. But through study and contemplation of it, the meaning eventually infuses the practice.

~ Meido
The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice
Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org

[Note: not reachable by PM. To get in touch please email through the website above.]

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Re: Daily chanting/recitation...what do you do?

Post by WhipItGouda » Wed Mar 21, 2018 12:07 pm

This is something I've been meaning to do more of, but the time is lacking currently. For me, it's mostly just the Heart Sutra, perhaps followed by 108 recitations of Namu Amita Bul.
Seon practitioner.

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Re: Daily chanting/recitation...what do you do?

Post by Caodemarte » Wed Mar 21, 2018 12:47 pm

Very nice thread. I chant in group sittings. I do not chant aloud when sitting alone. I may silently bring up a verse in my heart (like the Four Great Vows) on the cushion, especially when preparing for formal sitting.

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Re: Daily chanting/recitation...what do you do?

Post by KeithA » Wed Mar 21, 2018 1:15 pm

I lead morning practice during the week at our Center. We have residents in building and I try to support their practice. Our schedule is 108 bows, Morning Bell Chant, followed by 30 Minutes of Sitting. One of the residents joins me for bows, and two for sitting. I chant alone, which has been an interesting experience. It feels lonely and a little sad.

The Morning Bell Chant is chanted in Sino-Korean and the English rendering is:

Our vow:
may the sound of this bell
spread throughout the universe,
make all the hell of dark metal bright,
relieve the three realms of suffering,
shatter the hell of swords,
and bring all beings to enlightenment.

Homage to the shining, loving, holy one,
the great master Vairocana, Buddha of Light.
Now we recite the treasured verse from the
golden book and display the jewelled box
with the jade axle. Each particle of dust
interpenetrates every other one.
Moment by moment, each is perfectly
complete. One hundred million, ninety-five
thousand, forty-eight words are the complete
teaching of the one vehicle.

Homage to the great, wide Buddha:
the Hwa Yen Sutra.

The first verse:
If you wish to understand thoroughly
All Buddhas past, present, and future,
You should view the nature of the universe
As created by mind alone.

The mantra of shattering hell:
Na-mu a-ta shi-ji nam sam-yak
sam-mo-ta gu-chi-nam
om a-ja-na ba-ba ji-ri ji-ri hum
Na-mu a-ta shi-ji nam sam-yak
sam-mo-ta gu-chi-nam
om a-ja-na ba-ba ji-ri ji-ri hum
Na-mu a-ta shi-ji nam sam-yak
sam-mo-ta gu-chi-nam
om a-ja-na ba-ba ji-ri ji-ri hum

We vow for our entire life to keep our minds,
without distraction, on Amita Buddha,
the Buddha of infinite time and space.
All minds are forever connected to this jade
brightness. No thought ever departs from this
golden form. Holding beads, perceiving the
universe; with emptiness as the string,
there is nothing unconnected.

Perceive and attain the western Amita Buddha.
Become one with the great western master,
the "just like this" Buddha of infinite life.
Become one: infinite time, infinite space Buddha.

The blue mountain of many ridges is the Buddha's
home. The vast ocean of many waves is the palace
of stillness. Be with all things without hindrance.
Few can see the crane's red head atop the pine tree.
Become one: infinite time, infinite space Buddha.

Sitting quietly in a mountain temple in the quiet
night, Extreme quiet and stillness is original nature.
Why then does the western wind shake the forest?
A single cry of winter geese fills the sky.

Become one: infinite time, infinite space Buddha.
Vowing openly with all world beings,
Entering together Amita's ocean of great vows,
Continuing forever to save sentient beings,
You and I simultaneously attain the way of Buddha.

Become one: infinite time, infinite space Buddha.

Become one with the western pure land,
a world of utmost bliss.

The thirty-six billion, one hundred nineteen
thousand, five hundred names of the Buddha
are all the same name.
Great love, great compassion, Amita Buddha.
Become one with the western pure land,
a world of utmost bliss.

This Buddha's body is long and wide.
This auspicious face is without boundary
and this golden color shines everywhere,
pervading the entire universe.

Forty-eight vows to save all sentient beings.

No one can say, nor say its opposite.
No one can say, because Buddha is like
the Ganges's innumerable grains of sand,
or the infinite moments in all time,
or innumerable dust particles, or countless
blades of grass, numberless number.

The three hundred sixty billion,
one hundred nineteen thousand,
five hundred names of the Buddha
are all the same name.

Great love, great compassion,
our original teacher.
It takes about 20 -25 minutes to chant. Here is a line by line breakdown about the chant.

And finally, one of our teachers performing the chant.

You make, you get.

New Haven Zen Center

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Re: Daily chanting/recitation...what do you do?

Post by Emmet » Sun May 13, 2018 9:01 pm

The 'Verse of the Kesa' X3;
Wondrous is the robe of liberation,
A treasure beyond form and emptiness.
Wearing it, I will unfold the Buddha's teaching
For the benefit of all sentient beings."

Offer candle & incense.
3 bells.
1 bell.

the 'Four Vows' X3;
"All beings without number I vow to liberate.
Endless blind passions I vow to uproot.
Dharma gates beyond measure I vow to penetrate.
The Great Way of Buddha I vow to attain.

3 prostrations.

Sometimes, I chant the 'Heart of Perfect Wisdom';
"The Bodhisattva of Compassion
from the depths of prajña wisdom
saw the emptiness of all five skandhas
and sundered the bonds that cause all suffering.
Know then :
Form here is only emptiness ;
emptiness only form.
Form is no other than emptiness ;
emptiness no other than form.
Feeling, thought, and choice—
consciousness itself—
are the same as this.
Dharmas here are empty ;
all are the primal void.
None are born or die,
nor are they stained or pure,
nor do they wax or wane.
So in emptiness no form,
no feeling, thought, or choice,
nor is there consciousness.
No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind,
no color, sound, smell, taste, touch,
or what the mind takes hold of,
nor even act of sensing.
No ignorance or end of it,
nor all that comes of ignorance :
No withering, no death, no end of them.
Nor is there pain, or cause of pain,
or cease in pain,
or noble path to lead from pain ;
not even wisdom to attain :
Attainment too is emptiness.
So know that the Bodhisattva,
holding to nothing whatever,
but dwelling in prajña wisdom,
is freed of delusive hindrance,
rid of the fear bred by it,
and reaches clearest nirvana.
All buddhas of past and present,
buddhas of future time,
through faith in prajña wisdom,
come to full enlightenment.
Know then the great dharani,
the radiant, peerless mantra,
the supreme, unfailing mantra,
the Prajña Paramita,
whose words allay all pain.
This is highest wisdom,
true beyond all doubt ;
know and proclaim its truth :
Gate, gate
bodhi, svaha!"

Sometimes, I chant 'Shantideva's Dedication';
"May I become at all times, both now and forever
A protector for those without protection
A guide for those who have lost their way
A ship for those with oceans to cross
A bridge for those with rivers to cross
A sanctuary for those in danger
A lamp for those without light
A place of refuge for those who lack shelter
And a servant to all in need."

On full moons, I practice Ryaku Fusatsu.

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