Liturgy


New Year’s chanting at Bukkokuji Temple in Japan

Lunar Renewal Ceremony

Karmic Acknowledgement:

For all my harmful actions since beginningless time,
arising from greed, aversion and confusion,
expressed through my body, speech and mind,
I now fully acknowledge.       (x3)

Homages:

Homage to Awakened Clarity throughout space and time

Homage to our guiding friend, Shakyamuni Buddha

Homage to Maitreya, our eternal spring of newly arising love

Homage to Manjushri, our nature of clear awareness

Homage to Samantabhadra, our nature of miraculous activity

Homage to Avalokiteshvara, our nature of boundless compassion

Homage to all ancestral guides, sharing the Way of liberation

Four Infinite Vows:

Beings are numberless, we vow to liberate them
Delusions never cease, we vow to cut through them
The teachings are infinite, we vow to receive them
The Way of Awakening is inconceivable, we vow to realize it  (x3)

Three Refuges:

We take refuge in Buddha Nature - 
        together with all beings,
        dropping off body and mind into presence,
        awakening clear awareness

We take refuge in Dharma - 
       together with all beings,
       entering deeply the compassionate ocean
       of awakening practice

We take refuge in Sangha - 
       together with all beings,
       creating harmonious community
       free from hindrance

Three Pure Precepts:

We vow to let go of all self-centered behavior

We vow to continually refresh awakened clarity

We vow to live for, and embrace, all beings

Ten Prohibitory Precepts:

We vow not to take the life, or support the taking of life, of any being

We vow not to take more than we need

We vow not to use sexuality selfishly

We vow not to mislead with speech

We vow not to seek escape through numbing mind or body of self or others

We vow not to denigrate or disregard others

We vow not to praise self above others

We vow not to possess, but to freely share

We vow not to dwell in anger or ill will

We vow not to neglect the beauty of the Three Treasures

Dedication:

On this full/new moon night
We offer the power of our practice pf awakening
throughout all realms of boundless space and time
to the liberation of all beings

                                      *          *           *           *          *

Chanting for Oryoki Meal Ceremony

Our great ancestor was born in the village of Lumbini,
awakened in the forest of Bodh Gaya,
first taught near the city of Varanasi,
entered nirvana in the forest of Kushinagara,
having lived a life of receiving alms.
Now we set out these same alms bowls of awakening - 
may we, with all beings, realize the emptiness
of the three wheels: giver, receiver and gift.

                                   ~ ~ ~

( Chant Leader: Immersed in the Three Treasures with all sentient beings, let us recite the names of the Awakened One:)

Unitary Dharmakaya - Vairochana
Luminous Sambhogakaya - Lochana
Myriad Nirmanakaya - Shakyamuni
Always new - Maitreya
All awakened ones throughout space and time
Blossoming Lotus of Wondrous Reality
Sharp clarity of wisdom - Manjushri
Miraculous energy of activity - Samantabhadra
Boundlessness of compassion - Avalokiteshvara
All honored awakening guides
Wisdom that goes beyond - Maha Pragya Paramita

                                   ~ ~ ~

This food is from the whole universe, and the efforts of many beings - let us reflect on how it comes to us.

As we receive this offering, let us consider whether our virtue and practice are worthy of it.

Opening to the natural clarity of mind, let us be free from greed, aversion, and confusion.

We regard this food as nourishment to sustain our life.

We receive this gift to practice and share the Way of Awakening.

           O hungry spirits, now we give you this offering-
           may it nourish all of you throughout space and time.

This food is for the Three Treasures;
for our teachers, community and all people;
and for all beings throughout the six realms.
The first portion is to cut off all delusion,
the second is to realize our clear awareness,
the third is to free all beings - 
thus we eat this food and awaken with everyone!

                                ~ ~ ~

The water with which we wash these bowls tastes like ambrosia.
We offer it to all thirsty spirits to satisfy them.
Om Mahakushalaya Svaha!

                               ~ ~ ~

(Chant Leader : May we exist in muddy water with purity like a lotus - thus we bow to the Awakened One!)

                                  *               *                *                *                *


Here’s some new versions of classic Zen texts that we now recite during morning chanting:

Relying on Awareness

(Xin Xin Ming, attributed to Sengcan, late 6th Century CE)

The Great way is not difficult 
if you don't grasp on to picking and choosing.
Just let go of likes and dislikes
and everything becomes perfectly clear.
But hold even a hair’s breadth of difference,
and heaven and earth are set apart.

If you wish to see the truth
give up being “for” or “against” - 
the battling of views
is the dis-ease of the mind.
Without discovering this great mystery
it is useless to practice quietude.

The way is perfectly complete and vast as space;
nothing lacking, nothing extra.
Because of seeking and rejecting
you cannot see it as it is.

Stop chasing what you think you want,
Nor sink into passive emptiness.
Just return to one single presence
And the conflicted mind disappears.

Suppressing activity to reach stillness
just creates more agitation.
Harboring opposing sides,
how can you realize unity?

Not being aware of the one,
the clear function of each appearance is lost.
Reject appearances and you fall into them,
Seek after emptiness and you move away from it.

The more you talk and analyze,
the more you lose what is right before you.
Cutting off words and thoughts-
the whole world opens up to you.

Return to the root and realize the essence;
chasing after reflections, you lose sight of the source.
Let in the light of presence for one moment
and all previous shadows evaporate.

All our shadows can transform
since they are simply products of deluded views.
There’s no need to seek the truth-
just let go of your views!

Unentangle yourself from dualities,
taking care not to cling to any side.
As soon as you make right and wrong
the mind is lost in confusion.

The two comes from one
but don’t hold even to the one.
When even the notion of “one” doesn’t arise,
the multitude of things are all without problems.

Without problems there’s nothing at all-
no “outer” scene, no “inner” viewer.
When outside disappears, the inner person is also gone.
Without an inside, outside also drops away.

The “other” appears only because of a self;
The self appears only in relation to the other.
Realize that these two
Are originally one empty clarity.

In emptiness the two are just facets of one unity
encompassing all of our experience.
Not separating out this from that,
how could there be any bias?

The Great Way is all-embracing;
can’t say easy, can’t say difficult.
Constrained with opinions and doubts,
The more you strive to grasp, the more you feel obstructed.

Grabbing onto things throws you off balance-
The mind is pulled into deviant paths.
Just let everything be as it is
and there is no more coming or going.

Accord with Nature, unite with the Way,
and you can walk freely without worries.
But bound up in thoughts, truth is obscured;
the darkness of rejection is also a dead end.
These states wear out the spirit-
why cling to inside or outside?

If you wish to enter the One Vehicle
don’t denigrate the sense realm.
Fully embracing our present bodily experience-
this is already perfect awakening.

The wise have nothing to do,
the ignorant bind themselves in knots.
All phenomena are essentially the same,
the deluded mind divides by chasing what it wants.
Using deluded mind to seek for its source-
is this not a great mistake?

Peaceful and troubled derive from thinking;
in awakening there is no positive or negative.
All opposites are born from limited views-
dreams, illusions, flowers in the sky.
Why try to grab hold of them?
Gain and loss, right and wrong-
put it all down this moment!

If the eye never sleeps
all dreams cease on their own.
If the mind doesn’t conjure separations,
all things are of one suchness.

The great mystery of suchness-
in timeless presence past and future entanglements drop away.
Seeing all things as vast equality,
you return to your original home.
When all discriminations cease,
everything is immeasurable.

In stillness or activity, nothing really changes.
In activity or stillness, no appearance stays the same.
When two cannot be established
how is there even one?
Finally, in the ultimate,
rules and categories are useless.

For the clear mind in unity with conditions
all striving is put to rest.
Doubts and hesitations completely dropped off,
the truly reliable is revealed.

Nothing lingers behind,
there’s nothing to remember.
Empty, clear, and self-illuminating;
No need to exert the mind.

A sphere beyond the measure of thought,
Reason or emotion can’t fathom it.
In the realm of true suchness
no trace of self, no trace of other.

To accord with it at once
just proclaim “not two.”
In “not-two” all things belong;
nothing is excluded.

Awakened ones of any time or any place
All enter this fundamental principle.
Here quick or slow is irrelevant-
A single moment is ten thousand years.

In no particular place, but pervading everywhere,
The infinite is always right before your eyes.
The smallest is the same as the largest
once limits are dropped away.
The largest is the same as the smallest
once boundaries are no longer seen.

Existence is actually empty freedom;
Empty freedom manifests as existence.
Any understanding short of this
must be dropped away.

The one appears as everything;
Everything is the display of the one.
If your understanding reaches here
What is left to accomplish?

Reliable vision is undivided;
Not separating is to rely on awareness.
Here the way of words is cut off - 
there is no yesterday, no tomorrow, no today.


Realizing the Essential Matter

(Eihei Dogen’s "Genjo Koan", 1233, 1252 CE)

As all things are expressions of the truth, there is delusion, realization, practice, birth and death, awakened ones and ordinary people.  As all things are without an essential self, there is no delusion or realization, no awakened one or ordinary person, no birth or death.  The Way of Awakening fundamentally leaps clear of everything and nothing – thus we just recognize birth and death, delusion and realization, ordinary people and awakened ones.  Just be aware that in attachment flowers wither and fall; with aversion weeds spread.

    To carry yourself forward into the world seeking to experience the myriad things is delusion; myriad things spontaneously coming forth and experiencing the self is awakening.  Those who have great realization about delusion are awakened; those who have illusions about realization are ordinary people.  Some continue to awaken beyond awakening, some are deluded about their delusions.  When there is true awakening, there is no need for the idea of being awakened.  However, awakening is actually happening, and one goes on actualizing awakening.

    When you see forms or hear sounds with the body-mind fully engaged in the present, your understanding is intimate and complete.  It is not like objects reflected in a mirror, or the moon reflected on the water [where there are two things]; when one side is illumined, the other side disappears.

    To study the Way of Awakening is to study the self.  To study the self is to forget the self.  To forget the self is to be brought to life by the myriad things.  When all things bring you to life, your own body-mind drops away, together with the body-minds of all others.  No trace of realization remains, and this traceless awakening continues endlessly.  

    At the beginning, when a person is seeking for the truth, their seeking creates a boundary that always recedes away.  At the moment truth is clearly recognized, you are immediately your original self.

    When you ride in a boat and watch the shore, it seems like the shore is moving.  But when you carefully observe the boat on the water, you can see that it’s the boat that moves.  Similarly, with a deluded notion about your body-mind being separate from the myriad things, you assume that your own mind, your own self-nature, is a fixed, coherent entity traveling through time.  But when intimately engaged in moment to moment activity, returning to right where you are, it will be clear that nowhere can be found a separate self.

    Firewood becomes ash; it does not become firewood again.  But don’t hold the view that firewood is before, and ash after.  You should realize that firewood appears as the phenomenal expression of firewood, including past and future within it, but also completely free of past and future.  Ash appears as the phenomenal expression of ash, also including all past and future.  Just as firewood, after it has burned to ash, does not become firewood again, so a person, after death, does not return to birth.  Accordingly, in the Way of Awakening, we don’t say that birth turns into death.  We just say life is “unborn.”  It is a fundamental teaching of the Way that death does not turn into birth.  Therefore we just say life is “undying.”  Birth is an expression complete this moment. Death is an expression complete this moment.  It is like winter and spring – we don’t call winter the beginning of spring, nor summer the end of spring.

    Awakening is like the moon reflecting on water – the moon does not get wet; the water’s surface is not disturbed.  Although its light is broad and vast, the moon comes to rest even in a small puddle.  The whole moon and the entire sky are manifested in the dewdrops on the grass, or even in a single drop of water.  Awakening doesn’t destroy the person, just as the moon does not disturb the water.  The person cannot obstruct awakening, just as a drop of water cannot obstruct the moon in the sky.  The depth of the drop is exactly the height of the moon.  Each reflection, however long or short its duration, expresses the vastness of the dewdrop, and realizes the boundlessness of the moonlight in the sky.

    When awakening does not fully fill your body-mind, you think your understanding is complete.  When awakening fills your body-mind, you realize your view has limits.  It is like going out to sea in a boat beyond sight of any land – when you look around in all directions the ocean looks circular, and you cannot see anything else.  However the ocean isn’t truly circular, nor does it have any directions.  Beyond our own perspective, its wondrous features are infinite in variety.  It is like a glittering palace; it is like a string of jewels.  It only appears in your eyes, for the moment, to be an encircling sea.  All things are like this.  There are innumerable appearances throughout the conditioned world, as well as throughout the world beyond conditions, but we see and understand only according to the cultivation of our eye of practice.  If you wish to learn the true nature of the myriad things, you must understand that although they might look just round or square, the ocean and the mountains have other wondrous features, inexhaustible in variety.  Whole worlds are there.  This is true not just in our larger surroundings, but right beneath our feet, or in a single drop of water.

    For the fish in the ocean, no matter how far they swim there is no end to the water.  For the birds in the sky, no matter how far they fly, there is no end to the sky.  But fish never leave the water; birds don’t reject the sky.  When their activity is large, their realm is large; when their need is small, their realm is small.  Each of them fully experiences their realm – they can move anywhere, always expressing freedom.  But if a bird tries to turn its back on the sky, it will soon be finished.  If a fish tries to leave the water it will perish.  Know that for fish, water is life; for birds the sky is life.  Birds are the life of the sky, fish are the life of the water.  Birds are essential to life, fish are essential to life.  Everything is like this.  This is the reality of awakening.  This is our own life.

    Now if a bird or a fish tries to escape its realm instead of fully experiencing it, this bird or fish will not find its way or its place.  When you return to the place where you are, whatever you are doing is realizing the essential matter.  When you find your way at this moment, just this is realizing the essential matter.  The place, the way, is neither large nor small, neither yours nor others’.  It is not a continuation of the past, nor is it merely limited to a single moment.  It is just as it is.

    Therefore, in the living realization of the Way of Awakening, to understand one thing means to be fully immersed in one thing; to take up one practice is to fully engage in one practice.  Here is the place, here the way opens.  There is no defining boundary to realization, because realization naturally arises unannounced from total engagement with the way of Awakening.  Do not imagine that realization becomes your knowledge and is grasped by your intellect.  Although inconceivable realization is manifest right now, it may not be registered.  Its appearance is beyond your thinking.

    Zen Master Baoche of Mt. Mayu was fanning himself.  A monk came up and said, “Master, the nature of wind is constant, and there is no place it doesn’t reach.  Why, then, do you still fan yourself?”

    The master replied, “Although you understand that the nature of wind is constant, you do not understand the meaning of its reaching everywhere.”

    “What is the meaning of its reaching everywhere?” asked the monk.  The master just kept fanning himself.  The monk bowed deeply.

    The realization of the Way of Awakening, and the vital route of its true communication, is like this.  To say that you don’t need to fan yourself because the nature of wind is constant and there will still be wind even without fanning, is to misunderstand both constancy and the nature of wind.  Because the nature of wind is always present, the wind of the Way of Awakening exposes the gold of the earth, and carries the fragrance of the vast Milky Way.