Chants

At the beginning of each daily session, we chant the Gatha of Repentance:

Gatha Of Repentance

All evil karma ever created by me of old

On account of my beginningless greed, hatred, and ignorance

Born of my conduct, speech and thought

I repent of it now.

At the end of of each daily session, we chant the four great vows:

The Four Great Vows (English)

Creations are numberless, I vow to be one with them

Delusions are inexhaustible, I vow to endure them

Dharmas are boundless, I vow to be teachable

The enlightened way is unsurpassable, I vow to embody it.

Shi Gu Sei Gan Mon (Japanese)

Shu Jo Muhen Sei Gan Do

Bon No Mujin Sei Gan Dan

Ho Mon Muryo, Sei Gan Gaku

Butsodo Mujo Sei Gan Jo.

At the end of an all-day sit, or at the end of an evening program, we chant the Evening Gatha:

Evening Gatha

Let me respectfully remind you

Life and death are of supreme importance

Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost

Each of us should strive to awaken, awaken

Take heed, this night your days are diminished by one

Do not squander your life.

Maha Prajna Paramita Heart (Hrdaya) Sutra

(The Heart of the Perfection of Great Wisdom Sutra)

Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva (The Awakened One of Compassion)

Doing deep Prajna Paramita,

Clearly saw emptiness of all the five conditions,

Thus completely relieving misfortune and pain.

O Shariputra (a disciple), form is no other than emptiness,

Emptiness no other than form;

Form is exactly emptiness,

Emptiness exactly form;

Sensation, conception, discrimination, awareness are likewise like this.

O Shariputra, all dharmas are forms of emptiness,

Not born, not destroyed;

Not stained, not pure,

Without loss, without gain:

So in emptiness there is no form,

No sensation, conception, discrimination, awareness;

No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind;

No color, sound, smell, taste, touch, phenomena;

No realm of sight,

No realm of consciousness;

No ignorance

And no end to ignorance …

No old age and death

And no end to old age and death;

No suffering,

No cause of suffering,

No extinguishing,

No path;

No wisdom and no gain.

No gain and thus the Bodhisattva lives Prajna Paramita

With no hindrance in the mind,

No hindrance, therefore no fear,

Far beyond deluded thoughts,

This is Nirvana.

All past, present and future Buddhas live Prajna Paramita,

And therefore attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi (enlightenment)

Therefore know Prajna Paramita is the great mantra,

The vivid mantra,

The best mantra,

The unsurpassable mantra;

It completely clears all pain –

This is the truth, not a lie.

So set forth the Prajna Paramita mantra,

Set forth this mantra and say:

Gate! Gate! (Gone Gone)

Paragate! (Gone beyond)

Parasamgate! (Fully beyond)

Bodhi Svaha! (Awake, Rejoice)

Prajna Heart Sutra!

The Diamond Sutra

1. Though all the sentient beings to be delivered by me are innumerable and without limit, / in reality, / there are no sentient beings to be delivered. / Why?

1a. Because should there exist in the minds of Bodhisattvas / arbitrary conceptions of phenomena / such as the existence of one’s self / or the self of another / or selfness as divided into beings / or selfness as unified into one universal self existing eternally, / they would be unworthy to be called Bodhisattvas.

2. When the Buddha speaks of great universes / does he have in mind any definite idea?

2a. No, When the Buddha uses the words great universes / he does not assert any definite idea. / He merely uses the words as words.

3. Is this true for the words Buddha and Dharma?

3a. There are no Buddhas and there are no Dharmas.

4. Should a disciple strive to attain Buddhahood?

4a. No, that would mean the disciple is striving to attain something limited. / as in perfect-supreme-wisdom; / but true Buddhahood, whose essence is identical with the essence of all things, / is inconceivable / and beyond all striving.

5. How is it possible to explain this sutra without ideas of things and dharmas?

5a. This sutra can only be explained / by keeping the mind in perfect oneness and tranquility.

6. Should a Bodhisattva make an assertion / such as “I have entered the stream?”

6a. No. Because / he has not entered anything / nor has his mind entered any idea / such as form sound, taste. odor or touch.

7. Because of his virtue / will Buddha be reborn either in this world or any other world?

7a. No. / There will be no rebirth / either in this world / or in any other world. / It is because he knows this / the Buddha is called a Buddha.

8. Is there any one who is a fully enlightened one?

8a. No. Should a disciple cherish in his mind an idea such as / “I have become enlightened,” / he would soon be grasping after things / such as his own selfhood, / or other selves, / or a universal self.

9. If there is no distinction between one’s own self and the selfhood of others, / how do we practice kindness?

9a. We practice kindness / by giving not only objective gifts / but the selfless gifts of kindness and sympathy.

10. Is there any merit for acts of kindness?

10a. Bodhisattvas never seek merit / nor look upon kind acts as private possessions / but as the common possessions of all animate beings.

11. What does it mean to say there is no such thing as supreme-perfect-wisdom / and that the Buddha does not teach any fixed dharma?

11a. This means Bodhisattvas are not enlightened by an fixed teaching / but by an intuitive process / that is spontaneous and natural.

12. What does it mean to say the Buddha has come or has gone?

12a. This means the Buddha is never coming from anywhere / nor is he going anywhere. / The name Buddha is merely a word.

13. Why does the Buddha use words and ideas in his teachings?

13a. The Buddha uses words and ideas in his teaching / in resemblance to a raft, / of use only to cross a river. / As the raft is of no use after the river is crossed, / it should be discarded./ So too ideas about things should be given up as one attains enlightenment.

14. Has the Buddha given us any definite teaching in this sutra?

14a. No. The Buddha has not given us any definite teaching in this sutra.

o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o

“Like a meteor, like darkness,

as a flickering lamp, an illusion,

like hoar frost, or a bubble,

like clouds, a flash of lightning,

or a dream.

So all conditioned existence is to be seen.”

(The Sutra of Perfection of Wisdom of the Diamond that Cuts through Illusion: excerpts from this teaching dialogue in which the Buddha questions his disciple, Subhuti).