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As part of our zen practice, we offer the merit of our activity to the benefit of all beings. Here are some of the chants recited regularly at the Bozeman Zen Group. All chants and recitations are provided when we meet. 

Chanting is a physical and heartfelt offering. We encourage each other to chant wholeheartedly, while mindful of harmonizing with others in the space. Sojun Roshi used to say, “chant with your ears,” thereby letting listening be the foundation of our voices.

Heart Sutra

Great Wisdom Beyond Wisdom Heart Sutra

Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva
When practicing deeply the prajna paramita
Perceived that all five skandhas in their own being are empty
And was saved from all suffering.
"O Shariputra, form does not differ from emptiness
Emptiness does not differ from form.
That which is form is emptiness.
That which is emptiness form.
The same is true of feelings, perceptions, formations, consciousness.
O Shariputra, all dharmas are marked with emptiness;
They do not appear nor disappear,
Are not tainted nor pure,
Do not increase nor decrease
Therefore in emptiness, no form,
No feelings, no perceptions, no formations, no consciousness;
No eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind;
No color, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch, no object of mind;
No realm of eyes until no realm of mind-consciousness;
No ignorance and also no extinction of it until no old-age-and-death
And also no extinction of it;
No suffering, no origination, no stopping, no path;
No cognition, also no attainment.
With nothing to attain
A bodhisattva depends on prajna paramita
And the mind is no hindrance.
Without any hindrance no fears exist;
Far apart from every perverted view one dwells in nirvana.
In the three worlds all buddhas depend on prajna paramita
And attain unsurpassed complete perfect enlightenment.
Therefore know the prajna paramita
Is the great transcendent mantra,
Is the great bright mantra,
Is the utmost mantra,
Is the supreme mantra,
Which is able to relieve all suffering
And is true, not false.
So proclaim the prajna paramita mantra,
Proclaim the mantra that says:
Gate, gate, paragate, parasamgate! Bodhi! Svaha!"

Metta Sutta

This is what should be accomplished by the one who is wise,
Who seeks the good and has obtained peace.
May I be strenuous, upright and sincere,
Without pride, easily contented and joyous.
May I not be submerged by the things of the world.
May I not take upon myself the burden of riches.
May my senses be controlled.
May I be wise but not puffed up,
and may I not desire great possessions, even for my family.
May I 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.
May I not deceive another, nor despise any being in any state;
May I not 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 may I cherish all living things,
Suffusing love over the entire world –
Above, below, and all around, without limit;
So may I cultivate an infinite good will toward the whole world.
Standing or walking, sitting or lying down,
During all my waking hours,
May I practice the way with gratitude.
Not holding to fixed views,
Endowed with insight,
Freed from sense appetites,
One who achieves the way will be free
From the duality of birth and death.

Four Bodhisattva Vows

The Bodhisattva Vow
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.

Going for Refuge

Going for Refuge
Buddham saranam gachami
Dhammam saranam gachami
Sangham saranam gachami
Dutyampi Buddham saranam gachami
Dutyampi Dhammam saranam gachami
Dutyampi Sangham saranam gachami
Tatyampi Buddham saranam gachami
Tatyampi Dhammam saranam gachami
Tatyampi Sangham saranam gachami

I take refuge in Buddha
I take refuge in Dharma
I take refuge in Sangha
For the second time, I take refuge in Buddha
For the second time, I take refuge in Dharma
For the second time, I take refuge in Sangha
For the third time, I take refuge in Buddha
For the third time, I take refuge in Dharma
For the third time, I take refuge in Sangha

The Three Refuges

The Three Refuges
Buddham saranam gachami
Dhammam saranam gachami
Sangham saranam gachami
Dutyampi Buddham saranam gachami
Dutyampi Dhammam saranam gachami
Dutyampi Sangham saranam gachami
Tatyampi Buddham saranam gachami
Tatyampi Dhammam saranam gachami
Tatyampi Sangham saranam gachami

Robe chant

Robe Chant
Great Robe of Liberation
Field far beyond form and emptiness
Wearing the Tathagatha’s teaching
Saving all beings.
Dai sai gedap-puku
Musō fuku den-e
Hi bu nyorai kyo
Kō do shoshu jō
Great Robe of Liberation
Field far beyond form and emptiness
Wearing the Tathagatha’s teaching
Saving all beings.

Before Lecture:
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 Tathagatha’s words

At the end of service
All Buddhas, ten directions, three times
All beings, bodhisattvas, mahasattvas,
Wisdom beyond wisdom, maha prajna paramita

Fukanzazengi / Universal Recommendations 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
untrammeled. 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 thought 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 footagainst 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 upward) 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, immovable 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 a dragon gaining
the water, like a tiger taking to the mountains. 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
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

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 immovable
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.