Reciting sutras out loud at home or with the support of sangha is a deeply centering process. Even when we don’t have intellectual understanding of all of the contents of the sutras, dharanis and poems chanted they “get in there” into our hearts and minds and do provide benefit. Classes and study retreats are periodically offered. Studying a sutra that has been chanted frequently and memorized can be a wonderful experience. Reciting sutras is also understood in Buddhism to generate merit. Following chanting a short dedication (Japanese eko) is always recited to direct the positive energy of this practice to those who need it.
Note: for directions on bells and chant leading please see theDoan-ryo page.
Our sutra book was updated in June 2008 with the English translation project sponsored by Sotoshu (Japanese Soto Zen church) and San Francisco Zen Center. It is hoped that these translations will become the standard for English-speaking Zen centers world wide.
The Sutra Book
Our current sutra book can be downloaded as a PDF or you make take one home from Red Cedar Dharma Hall on your next visit ($5 donation requested).
The PDF version requires Adobe’s free Acrobat Reader. Download the chant book as a PDF:
Alternatively, see below for the chant text, without the formatting:
RED CEDAR ZEN COMMUNITY SUTRA BOOK
Table of Contents
Select a title to scroll to that chant on this page:
Dai sai ge da pu ku
muso fuku den e
hi bu nyorai kyo
ko do shoshu jo. (2x)
Great robe of liberation
Field far beyond form and emptiness
Wearing the Tathagata’s teaching
Saving all beings. (1x)
Dedication of Merit (close of service)
All buddhas, ten directions, three times.
All honored ones, bodhisattva-mahasattvas,
Wisdom beyond wisdom,
Maha Prajña Paramita
(3X)All my ancient twisted karma,
From beginningless greed, hate and delusion.
Born through body, speech and mind,
I now fully avow.
Three Refuges in Pali
Buddham saranam gacchami
Dhammam saranam gacchami
Sangham saranam gacchami
Dutiyampi buddham saranam gacchami
Dutiyampi dhammam saranam gacchami
Dutiyampi sangham saranam gacchami
Tatiyampi buddham saranam gacchami
Tatiyampi dhammam saranam gacchami
Tatiyampi sangham saranam gacchami
Final Verses, Precepts Ceremony
I take refuge in buddha
Before all beings, immersing body and mind
Deeply in the way, awakening true mind
I take refuge in dharma
Before all beings, entering deeply
The merciful ocean of buddha’s way
I take refuge in sangha
Before all beings, bringing harmony
To everyone, free from hindrance
Before Dharma Talk
An unsurpassed, penetrating and perfect Dharma is rarely met with, even in a hundred thousand million kalpas.
Having it to see and listen to, to remember and accept, I vow to taste the truth of the Tathagata’s words.
After Dharma Talk
May our intention equally extend to
Every being and place
With the true merit of buddha’s way.
Beings are numberless;
I vow to save them.
Delusions are inexhaustible;
I vow to end them.
Dharma gates are boundless;
I vow to enter them.
Buddha’s way is unsurpassable;
I vow to become it.
Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo
The Ten-Verse Kannon Sutra for Protecting Life
kan ze on
na mu butsu
yo butsu u in
yo butsu u en
bup po so en
jo raku ga jo
cho nen kan ze on
bo nen kan ze on
nen nen ju shin ki
nen nen fu ri shin
I venerate the Buddha
Buddha is my source
Buddha is my affinity
Affinity with Buddha, Dharma, Sangha
Constancy, ease, assurance, purity
Morning my thought is Kanzeon
Evening my thought is Kanzeon
Thought after thought arises in the mind
Thought after though is not separate from mind
Sho Sai Myo Kichijo Dharani
The Dharani for Preventing Disaster
no mo san man da moto nan oha ra chi koto sha sono nan to ji to en gya gya gya ki gya ki un nun shifu ra shifu ra hara shifu ra hara shifu ra chishu sa chishu sa chishu ri chishu ri sowa ja sowa ja sen chi gya shiri e so mo ko (3X)
Great Wisdom Beyond Wisdom Heart Sutra
Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, when deeply practicing prajña paramita, clearly saw that all five aggregates are empty and thus relieved all suffering.
Shariputra, form does not differ from emptiness, emptiness does not differ from form. Form itself is emptiness, emptiness itself form. Sensations, perceptions, formations, and consciousness are also like this.
Shariputra, all dharmas are marked by emptiness; they neither arise nor cease, are neither defiled nor pure, neither increase nor decrease.
Therefore, given emptiness, there is no form, no sensation, no perception, no formation, no consciousness; no eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind; no sight, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch, no object of mind; no realm of sight … no realm of mind consciousness.
There is neither ignorance nor extinction of ignorance… neither old age and death, nor extinction of old age and death; no suffering, no cause, no cessation, no path; no knowledge and no attainment.
With nothing to attain, a bodhisattva relies on prajña paramita, and thus the mind is without hindrance. Without hindrance, there is no fear. Far beyond all inverted views, one realizes nirvana.
All buddhas of past, present, and future rely on prajña paramita and thereby attain unsurpassed, complete, perfect enlightenment.
Therefore, know the prajña paramita as the great miraculous mantra, the great bright mantra, the supreme mantra, the incomparable mantra, which removes all suffering and is true, not false.
Therefore we proclaim the prajña paramita mantra, the mantra that says: “Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha.”
Merging of Difference and Unity
The mind of the great sage of India
is intimately transmitted from west to east.
While human faculties are sharp or dull,
the way has no northern or southern ancestors.
The spiritual source shines clear in the light;
the branching streams flow on in the dark.
Grasping at things is surely delusion;
according with sameness is still not enlightenment.
All the objects of the senses interact and yet do not.
Interacting brings involvement.
Otherwise, each keeps its place.
Sights vary in quality and form,
sounds differ as pleasing or harsh.
Refined and common speech come together in the dark, clear and murky phrases are distinguished in the light.
The four elements return to their natures
just as a child turns to its mother;
Fire heats, wind moves,
water wets, earth is solid.
Eye and sights, ear and sounds,
nose and smells, tongue and tastes;
Thus with each and every thing,
depending on these roots, the leaves spread forth.
Trunk and branches share the essence;
revered and common, each has its speech.
In the light there is darkness,
but don’t take it as darkness;
In the dark there is light,
but don’t see it as light.
Light and dark oppose one another
like the front and back foot in walking.
Each of the myriad things has its merit,
expressed according to function and place.
Phenomena exist; box and lid fit.
principle responds; arrow points meet.
Hearing the words, understand the meaning;
don’t set up standards of your own.
If you don’t understand the way right before you,
how will you know the path as you walk?
Progress is not a matter of far or near,
but if you are confused, mountains and rivers block your way.
I respectfully urge you who study the mystery,
do not pass your days and nights in vain.
This is what should be accomplished by the one who is wise, who seeks the good, and has obtained peace.
Let one be strenuous, upright, and sincere,
Without pride, easily contented, and joyous.
Let one not be submerged by the things of the world.
Let one not take upon oneself the burden of riches.
Let one’s senses be controlled.
Let one be wise but not puffed up and
Let one not desire great possessions even for one’s family.
Let one do nothing that is mean or that the wise would reprove.
May all beings be happy.
May they be joyous and live in safety,
All living beings, whether weak or strong,
In high or middle or low realms of existence.
Small or great, visible or invisible,
Near or far, born or to be born,
May all beings be happy.
Let no one deceive another nor despise any being in any state.
Let none by anger or hatred wish harm to another.
Even as a mother at the risk of her life
Watches over and protects her only child,
So with a boundless mind should one cherish all living things.
Suffusing love over the entire world,
Above, below, and all around, without limit,
So let one cultivate an infinite good will toward the whole world.
Standing or walking, sitting or lying down,
During all one’s waking hours,
Let one practice the way with gratitude.
Not holding to fixed views,
Endowed with insight,
Freed from sense appetites,
One who achieves the way
Will be freed from the duality of birth and death.
Dai Hi Shin Dharani
Great Compassionate Mind Dharani
Namu kara tan no tora ya ya namu ori ya boryo ki chi shifu ra ya fuji sato bo ya moko sato bo ya mo ko kya runi kya ya en sa hara ha ei shu tan no ton sha namu shiki ri toi mo ori ya boryo ki chi shifu ra rin to bo na mu no ra kin ji ki ri mo ko ho do sha mi sa bo o to jo shu ben o shu in sa bo sa to no mo bo gya mo ha te cho to ji to en o bo ryo ki ru gya chi kya rya chi i kiri mo ko fuji sa to sa bo sa bo mo ra mo ra mo ki mo ki ri to in ku ryo ku ryo ke mo to ryo to ryo ho ja ya chi mo ko ho ja ya chi to ra to ra chiri ni shifu ra ya sha ro sha ro mo mo ha mo ra ho chi ri yu ki yu ki shi no shi no ora san fura sha ri ha za ha za fura sha ya ku ryo ku ryo mo ra ku ryo ku ryo ki ri sha ro sha ro shi ri shi ri su ryo su ryo fuji ya fuji ya fudo ya fudo ya mi chiri ya nora kin ji chiri shuni no hoya mono somo ko shido ya somo ko moko shido ya somo ko shido yu ki shifu ra ya somo ko nora kin ji somo ko mo ra no ra somo ko shira su omo gya ya somo ko sobo moko shido ya somo ko shaki ra oshi do ya somo ko hodo mogya shido ya somo ko nora kin ji ha gyara ya somo ko mo hori shin gyara ya somo ko namu kara tan no tora ya ya namu ori ya boryo ki chi shifu ra ya somo ko shite do modo ra hodo ya so mo ko
Dogen’s Universal Recommendation for Zazen
The Way is basically perfect and all-pervading. How could it be contingent upon practice and realization? The Dharma-vehicle is free and untrammelled. What need is there for concentrated effort? Indeed, the whole body is far beyond the world’s dust. Who could believe in a means to brush it clean? It is never apart from one, right where one is. What is the use of going off here and there to practice?
And yet, if there is the slightest discrepancy, the Way is as distant as heaven from earth. If the least like or dislike arises, the Mind is lost in confusion. Suppose one gains pride of understanding and inflates one’s own enlightenment, glimpsing the wisdom that runs through all things, attaining the Way and clarifying the Mind, raising an aspiration to escalade the very sky. One is making the initial, partial excursions about the frontiers but is still somewhat deficient in the vital Way of total emancipation.
Need I mention the Buddha, who was possessed of inborn knowledge? The influence of his six years of upright sitting is noticeable still. Or Bodhidharma’s transmission of the mind-seal? The fame of his nine years of wall-sitting is celebrated to this day.
Since this was the case with the saints of old, how can we today dispense with negotiation of the Way?
You should therefore cease from practice based on intellectual understanding, pursuing words and following after speech, and learn the backward step that turns your light inwardly to illuminate your self. Body and mind of themselves will drop away, and your original face will be manifest. If you want to attain suchness, you should practice suchness without delay.
For sanzen, a quiet room is suitable. Eat and drink moderately. Cast aside all involvements and cease all affairs. Do not think good or bad. Do not administer pros and cons. Cease all the movements of the conscious mind, the gauging of all thoughts and views. Have no designs on becoming a Buddha. Sanzen has nothing whatever to do with sitting or lying down.
At the site of your regular sitting, spread out thick matting and place a cushion above it. Sit either in the full-lotus or half-lotus position. In the full-lotus position, you first place your right foot on your left thigh and your left foot on your right thigh. In the half-lotus, you simply press your left foot against your right thigh. You should have your robes and belt loosely bound and arranged in order. Then place your right hand on your left leg and your left palm (facing upwards) on your right palm, thumb-tips touching. Thus sit upright in correct bodily posture, neither inclining to the left nor to the right, neither leaning forward nor backward. Be sure your ears are on a plane with your shoulders and your nose in line with your navel. Place your tongue against the front roof of your mouth, with teeth and lips both shut. Your eyes should always remain open, and you should breathe gently through your nose.
Once you have adjusted your posture, take a deep breath, inhale and exhale, rock your body right and left and settle into a steady, immobile sitting position. Think of not-thinking. How do you think of not-thinking? Non-thinking. This in itself is the essential art of zazen.
The zazen I speak of is not learning meditation. It is simply the Dharma gate of repose and bliss, the practice-realization of totally culminated enlightenment. It is the manifestation of ultimate reality. Traps and snares can never reach it. Once its heart is grasped, you are like the dragon when he gains the water, like the tiger when she enters the mountain. For you must know that just there (in zazen) the right Dharma is manifesting itself and that, from the first, dullness and distraction are struck aside.
When you arise from sitting, move slowly and quietly, calmly and deliberately. Do not rise suddenly or abruptly. In surveying the past, we find that transcendence of both unenlightenment and enlightenment, and dying while either sitting or standing, have all depended entirely on the strength (of zazen).
In addition, the bringing about of enlightenment by the opportunity provided by a finger, a banner, a needle, or a mallet, and the effecting of realization with the aid of a hossu, a fist, a staff, or a shout, cannot be fully understood by discriminative thinking. Indeed, it cannot be fully known by the practicing or realizing of supernatural powers, either. It must be deportment beyond hearing and seeing–is it not a principle that is prior to knowledge and perceptions?
This being the case, intelligence or lack of it does not matter: between the dull and the sharp-witted there is no distinction. If you concentrate your effort single-mindedly, that in itself is negotiating the Way. Practice-realization is naturally undefiled. Going forward (in practice) is a matter of everydayness.
In general, this world, and other worlds as well, both in India and China, equally hold the Buddha-seal, and over all prevails the character of this school, which is simply devotion to sitting, total engagement in immobile sitting. Although it is said that there are as many minds as there are persons, still they all negotiate the way solely in zazen. Why leave behind the seat that exists in your home and go aimlessly off to the dusty realms of other lands? If you make one misstep, you go astray from the Way directly before you.
You have gained the pivotal opportunity of human form. Do not use your time in vain. You are maintaining the essential working of the Buddha-Way. Who would take wasteful delight in the spark from the flintstone? Besides, form and substance are like the dew on the grass, destiny like the dart of lightning– emptied in an instant, vanished in a flash.
Please, honored followers of Zen, long accustomed to groping for the elephant, do not be suspicious of the true dragon. Devote your energies to a way that directly indicates the absolute. Revere the person of complete attainment who is beyond all human agency. Gain accord with the enlightenment of the buddhas; succeed to the legitimate lineage of the ancestors’ samadhi. Constantly perform in such a manner and you are assured of being a person such as they. Your treasure-store will open of itself, and you will use it at will.
Hymn to the Perfection of Wisdom
Homage to the Perfection of Wisdom, the lovely, the holy. The Perfection of Wisdom gives light. Unstained, the entire world cannot stain her. She is a source of light and from everyone in the triple world she removes darkness. Most excellent are her works. She brings light so that all fear and distress may be forsaken, and disperses the gloom and darkness of delusion. She herself is an organ of vision. She has a clear knowledge of the own-being of all dharmas, for she does not stray away from it. The Perfection of Wisdom of the buddhas sets in motion the wheel of dharma.