Chants and Services
At MZMC, we have a short service after morning zazen. (On Tuesday mornings it's a bit longer, and on Saturday mornings we have a longer service that includes the Metta Sutra and the names of all the teachers in our lineage.) The standard weekday morning service is included here, along with some of the other chants we use during longer services or sesshin.
Listen to the Ancestors Chant from the Saturday Morning Service by clicking on the link below.
MZMC Ancestors Chant Saturday Service
Click here to download the MZMC Chantbook.
Weekday Morning Service
These are the chants used during the weekday morning service at MZMC:
Verse of the Robe
How great the robe of liberation
A field far beyond form and emptiness
Wrapping ourselves in Buddha's teaching
Freeing all beings
Heart of Great Perfect Wisdom Sutra
Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, when deeply practicing prajna 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 prajna 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 prajna paramita and thereby attain unsurpassed, complete, perfect enlightenment.
Therefore, know the prajna 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 prajna paramita mantra, the mantra that says: "Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha."
All Buddhas, ten directions, three times
All beings, Bodhisattva Mahasattvas
Wisdom beyond wisdom, Mahaprajna Paramita
These are chants used at other times at MZMC:
Before Lecture Chant
So rare to touch a deep and subtle Dharma
Having it to see and hear, remember and become,
We vow to taste the truth that is right here
And yet so far beyond words
After Lecture Chant
May our intention equally penetrate every being and place
With the true merit of Buddha's way.
Beings are numberless; vowing to free them.
Delusions are inexhaustible; vowing to extinguish them.
Dharma gates are boundless; vowing to enter them.
Buddha's way is unsurpassable; vowing to become it.
This is what should be done
By those who are skilled in goodness,
And who know the path of peace:
Let them be able and upright,
Straightforward and gentle in speech,
Humble and not conceited,
Contented and easily satisfied,
Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways,
Peaceful and calm, wise and skillful,
Not proud and demanding in nature.
Let them not do the slightest thing
That the wise would later reprove.
Wishing: in gladness and in safety,
May all beings be at ease.
Whatever living beings there may be,
Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none,
The great or the mighty, medium, short or small,
The seen and the unseen,
Those living near and far away,
Those born and to-be-born
May all beings be at ease!
Let none deceive another,
Or despise any being in any state.
Let none through anger or ill-will
Wish harm upon another.
Even as a mother protects with her life
Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all living beings,
Radiating kindness over the entire world,
Spreading upward to the skies,
And downward to the depths,
Outward and unbounded.
Freed from hatred and ill-will,
Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down,
Free from drowsiness,
One should sustain this recollection.
This is said to be the sublime abiding.
By not holding to fixed views,
The pure-hearted one, having clarity of vision,
Being freed from all sense desires,
Is not born again into this world.
Fukanzazengi (Universal Recommendations for Zazen)
The Way is basically perfect and all-pervading. How could it be contingent on practice and realization? The ancestral vehicle is free and at ease. What need is there to waste our worthy 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 you, right where you are. What is the use of going off here and there to practice?
And yet, if there is the slightest discrepancy, you are as remote as heaven from earth. If the least like or dislike arises, the mind is lost in confusion. Suppose you gain pride of understanding and wallow in enlightenment, full of the wisdom that glimpses the utmost ground, attaining the Way and clarifying the Mind, arousing an aspiration to escalade the very sky. You are making the initial, partial excursions about the frontiers, but are still somewhat deficient in the vital path of total emancipation.
Even considering the Buddha, although he was possessed of inborn knowledge, the impact left by his six years of upright sitting remains noticeable. As for Bodhidharma's transmission of the mind-seal, the fame of his nine years of facing a wall is celebrated still. Since this was the case with the ancient sages, how can we today dispense with wholehearted practice?
Therefore, put aside the intellectual practice of investigating words and chasing sayings 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, diligently practice suchness without delay.
For sanzen, a quiet room is suitable. Eat and drink moderately. Discard all involvements and take respite from concerns. Do not think good or bad. Do not adjudicate right and wrong. Cease all the movements of the conscious mind, the gauging of all thoughts and views. Have no designs on becoming a Buddha. How could it be limited to sitting or lying down?
At the site of your regular sitting, spread out a thick mat and place a cushion above it. Sit either in the full-lotus or half-lotus position. In the full-lotus position, first place your right foot on your left thigh, then your left foot on your right thigh. In the half-lotus, simply place your left foot against your right thigh. Wear your clothes and belt loose and arranged neatly. Then place your right hand on your left leg and your left palm (facing upward) on your right palm, thump-tips touching. Thus sit upright with posture straight, neither inclining to left or to the right, neither leaning forward or backward. Align your ears with your shoulders and your nose with your navel. Place your tongue against the front roof of your mouth, with teeth and lips both shut. Always keep your eyes gently open and breathe softly though your nose.
Once you have adjusted your posture, take a breath and exhale fully, rock your body right and left, and settle into a steady, immobile sitting position. Think of what does not think. How do you think of what does not think? Nonthinking. 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 peace 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 a dragon gaining the water, like a tiger settling into the mountains. For you must know that just there (in zazen) the true 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 mundane and sacred, and dying while either sitting or standing, have all depended entirely on the power of zazen.
In addition, energetically turning the crucial function to teach with a finger, a banner, a needle, or a mallet, and the effecting of realization with the aid of a whisk, 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 majestic deportment beyond sounds and forms — is it not a guiding standard 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 wholeheartedly engaging the Way. Practice-realization is naturally undefiled. Proceeding forward is after all a matter of everydayness.
In general, in this world and others, both in India and China, all equally hold the Buddha-seal, exclusively enacting the character of this school. They simply are devoted to sitting, totally covered in resolute immobility. Although it is said that there are ten thousand distinctions and a thousand variations, it is solely in zazen that we fully engage the Way. Why leave behind the seat that exists in your home and make futile trips to the dusty realms of other lands? If you make one misstep you stumble past what is directly in front of you.
You have gained the pivotal opportunity of human form. Do not spend your time in vain. You are maintaining the essential workings 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 reality. Revere the person who is beyond seeking attainment and is free from effort. Accord with the enlightenment of the buddhas; succeed to the legitimate lineage of the ancestors' samadhi. Continuously perform as such and you will be such a person. Your treasure-store will open of itself and you will joyfully use it at will.
Formal Meal Verses (used during meals at traditional sesshins)
After gomashio is served:
Buddha was born in Kapilavastu,
enlightened in Magadha,
taught in Varanasi,
entered nirvana in Kushinagara.
Now we set out Buddha's bowls;
may we, with all beings,
realize the emptiness of the three wheels:
giver, receiver, and gift.
While food is being served:
Vairochana Buddha, pure Dharmakaya;
Lochana Buddha, complete Sambhogakaya;
Shakyamuni Buddha, myriad Nirmanakaya;
Maitreya Buddha, of future birth;
All buddhas throughout space and time;
Lotus of the Wondrous Dharma, Mahayana sutra.
Manjushri Bodhisattva, great wisdom;
Samantabhadra Bodhisattva, great activity;
Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, great compassion;
All honored ones, bodhisattva mahasattvas;
Wisdom beyond wisdom, maha-prajnaparamita.v
When serving is completed:
We reflect on the effort that brought us this food
and consider how it comes to us.
We reflect on our virtue and practice
and whether we are worthy of this offering.
We regard greed as the obstacle to freedom of mind.
We regard this meal as medicine to sustain our life.
For the sake of enlightenment we now receive this food.
Oh spirits, we now give you an offering;
this food is for all of you in the ten directions.
Gassho and put utensils on bowls:
First, this is for the three treasures;
Next for the four benefactors;
Finally, for the beings in the six realms.
May all be equally nourished.
(Raise the Buddha bowl)
The first portion is to end all evil;
The second is to cultivate all good;
The third is to free all beings.
May we all realize the Buddha way.
As servers enter to collect water:
The water we use to wash our bowls
tastes like ambrosia.
We offer it to the many spirits to satisfy them.
Om Mahakushalaya Svaha!