Texts for Chanting

These are the texts we use for chanting services at Stone Creek Zen Center. They have been adapted from various translations.
1. Short Verses
2. Heart Sutra
3. Song of the Precious Mirror Samadhi
4. Samadhi of the Whole Self
5. Song of Awakening
6. Harmony of Difference and Sameness
7. Loving Kindness Sutra for Bodhisattvas
8. Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo: Endless Awakening Kannon Sutra
9. Female Lineage
10. Male Lineage
11. Meal Chants
12. Atta Dipa: The Buddha’s Last Instructions
13. Dedications
14. Hymn to the Perfection of Wisdom
15. Genjo Koan
16. Shosaimyo Kichijo Darani

1. Short Verses

Before the Dharma Talk: Opening the Sutra Verse

The profound and wondrous dharma is rarely encountered
even in a hundred million kalpas.
Having it to hear, accept, and maintain,
may I taste the truth of the Tathagata’s words.

Taking Refuge in The Triple Treasure

I take refuge in buddha,
Vowing with all beings
Embodying the great way,
Perfect like vast space.

I take refuge in dharma,
Vowing with all beings
Deeply entering the teachings,
Wisdom like the sea.

I take refuge in sangha,
Vowing with all beings
Bringing harmony to all,
Free from every hindrance.

Tisarana: Refuge in Triple Treasure, 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

Namu Kie: Refuge in Triple Treasure, in Japanese

Ji ki-e butsu
Ji ki-e ho
Ji ki-e so

Four Great Bodhisattva Vows

Beings are numberless, I vow to free them.
Delusions are inexhaustible, I vow to end them.
Dharma gates are infinite, I vow to enter them.
The buddha way is boundless, I vow to realize it.

The Verse of the Okesa

Dai Sai Gedda Pu Ku
Mu So Fu Ku Den E
Hibu Nyorai Kyo
Ko Do Sho Shu Jo

Great robe of liberation
Field far beyond form and emptienss
Wearing the Tatagatha’s teaching
I vow to free all beings.

All Buddhas

All Buddhas in ten directions, past, present and future
All venerable bodhisattvas
Great perfect wisdom beyond wisdom

2. The Great Perfect Wisdom Heart Sutra

Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, when practicing deep perfect wisdom,
Clearly saw that all five aspects of self are empty, and thus transcended suffering.
“O Shariputra, form does not differ from emptiness;
Emptiness does not differ from form.
Form itself is emptiness, emptiness itself form.
The same is true of feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness.
O Shariputra, all things are marked by emptiness;
They do not arise or cease, are not tainted or pure,
Do not increase or decrease.
In emptiness there is no form, no feeling, no perception, no volition, no consciousness;
No eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind;
No color, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch, no object of mind;
No seeing and so forth till no consciousness.
There is no ignorance and also no extinction of it, and so forth till
No old age and death, and also no extinction of them.
There is no suffering, or cause, or cessation, or path,
No knowledge and no attainment.
With nothing to attain, bodhisattvas dwell in perfect wisdom
And the mind is no hindrance. Without hindrance, there is no fear.
Far from all deluded views one realizes nirvana.
All buddhas in all eras rely on perfect wisdom
And awaken fully in unsurpassed complete perfect enlightenment.
Therefore know that perfect wisdom is the great illuminating truth,
The unfailing truth, the peerless truth that relieves all suffering.
So proclaim the perfect wisdom mantra that says:
Gone, gone, gone beyond, gone completely beyond, awakening fulfilled.”
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha!

3. Song of the Precious Mirror Samadhi

The dharma of thusness is intimately
transmitted by buddhas and ancestors.

Now you have it,
preserve it well.

A silver bowl filled with snow,
a heron hidden in the moon.

Taken as similar, they are not the same;
not distinguished, their places are yet known.

The meaning does not reside in the words,
but a pivotal moment brings it forth.

Move and you are trapped,
go against it and you fall into doubt.

Turning away and touching are both wrong,
for it is like a massive fire.

Just to portray it in literary form
is to stain it with defilement.

In darkest night it is perfectly clear;
in the light of dawn it is hidden.

It is a standard for all things;
its use removes all suffering.

Although it is not constructed,
it is not beyond words.

It is like facing a precious mirror,
form and reflection behold each other.

You are not it,
but in truth it is you.

Like a newborn child,
it is fully endowed with five aspects.

No going, no coming, no arising, no abiding;
“Baba wawa”—is anything said or not?

In the end it says nothing,
for the words are not yet right.

In the double fire hexagram,
the relative and absolute interpenetrate;

Piled up they become three,
the permutations make five,

Like the taste of the five-flavored herb,
like the five-pronged diamond thunderbolt.

Subtly included within the truth,
drumming and singing fit together.

Penetrate the source and travel the pathways,
embrace integration and treasure the roads.

Affirm this intersection,
do not neglect it.

Natural and wondrous,
it is not a matter of delusion or enlightenment.

Within causes and conditions, time and season,
it is serene and illuminating.

So minute it enters where there is no gap,
so vast it transcends dimension.

A hairsbreadth deviation
and you are out of tune.

Now there are sudden and gradual,
in which teachings and practices are set up.

Once approaches are distinguished,
each has its standard.

Whether these approaches are mastered or not,
reality constantly flows.

Outside still and inside trembling,
like tethered colts or cowering rats,

The ancient sages grieved for them,
and offered them the dharma.

Led by their inverted views,
they take black for white.

When inverted thinking stops,
the affirming mind naturally accords.

If you want to follow in the ancient tracks,
please observe the sages of the past.

One on the verge of realizing the Way
contemplated a tree for ten eons,

Like a much scarred tiger,
or a horse with white hind legs.

Because some are vulgar,
there are jeweled tables and ornate robes.

Because others are wide-eyed,
there are cats and white oxen.

With his archer’s skill,
Yi hit the mark at a hundred paces.

But when arrows meet head-on,
how could it be a matter of skill?

The wooden man starts to sing,
the stone woman gets up to dance.

It is not reached by feeling or discrimination,
how could it involve deliberation?

Ministers serve their lords,
children obey their parents.

Not obeying is not filial,
failure to serve is no help.

With practice hidden, function secretly,
like a fool, like an idiot.

Just to continue in this way
is called the host within the host.

4. Samadhi of the Whole Self

All buddhas directly transmit inconceivable dharma and actualize perfect awakening by a wondrous unfabricated means whose touchstone is the samadhi of the whole self. Sitting upright is a true gate to rejoicing in this samadhi. Although this inconceivable dharma is abundant in each person, it is not actualized without practice, and it is not attained without realization.
The wholehearted endeavor of the way allows all things to come forth in awakening and practice all-inclusiveness. When you display the buddha-mudra with your whole body and mind, each and every thing throughout the dharma world is the buddha-mudra, and all space without exception is enlightenment.
At this time, all beings in the ten directions awaken together and reveal their original face. Immediately leaping beyond the confines of personal attainment, they sit erect beneath the noble tree of enlightenment, turn the great dharma wheel, and express profound, unfabricated wisdom.
Since all these beings enter directly into the way of imperceptible mutual assistance, the person seated in zazen drops off body and mind, severs disordered thoughts and views emanating from discriminating consciousness, accords totally with the buddha-dharma, and assists in performing buddha-work far and wide, at each of the places the buddhas teach, which are as numberless as the smallest atom particles.
The land, trees and grasses, fences and walls, tiles and pebbles, all the various things in the ten directions carry out buddha-work, and everyone shares the benefits of these elemental forces. All are imperceptibly helped by the wondrous buddha-dharma to awaken intimately to themselves, turning round and round the buddha-making activity based on original enlightenment. And those who dwell and speak with them also join with one another in possessing this inexhaustible buddha-activity, spreading it ever wider, circulating the unceasing and immeasurable buddha-dharma inside and outside the entire universe.
Such things do not appear in the perceptions of a person sitting in zazen, because this occurs in the stillness of unfabricated samadhi. It is in itself realization. Both the mind of the person seated in zazen, and objects perceived, enter and leave realization within the stillness of samadhi. Since it occurs within the sphere of the whole receiving and giving self, this samadhi does not disturb a single mote of dust, or obstruct a single phenomenon. It performs great and wide-ranging buddha-work and carries on the profound and subtle activities of practicing and realizing.
The trees, grasses, and land involved in this radiate a bright and shining light, and bring forth the profound and inconceivable dharma, and it is endless. Trees and grasses, walls and fences expound and exalt the dharma for the sake of ordinary people, sages, and all living beings. Ordinary people, sages, and all living beings in turn expound and exalt the dharma for the sake of trees, grasses, walls, and fences. The realm of self-awakening as awakening others is full of the characteristics of realization, and this realization continues without ceasing.
Because of this, at each moment when just one person does zazen, that person imperceptibly accords with each and all of the myriad things and permeates completely all time. Throughout the limitless universe, past, present, and future, this person is performing the eternal and ceaseless work of carrying onward the buddhas’ teaching. It is, for each and every being, one and the same whole practice, one and the same whole realization.
This is true not only of practice while sitting. It is like the sound that rings out when a hammer strikes emptiness, an endless and wondrous voice that resounds before and after the fall of the hammer. And this is not limited to the Zen practitioner. Each and every thing is, in its original aspect, endowed with original practice—it cannot be measured or comprehended.

5. Song of Awakening

Have you seen the tranquil person of the Way
Who neither shuns wandering thoughts nor seeks the truth?
The real nature of our ignorance is no other than our buddha nature.
Our empty and illusory body is the dharma body.

In true reality, there is no person or dharma.
The qualities we cling to are floating clouds passing by,
Greed, hate, and ignorance, empty bubbles rising and bursting.
Our original nature is the true and intrinsic buddha.

Trying to abandon illusion to seize the truth
Leads to false choices and confusion.
To rely on discriminating thought,
Is to squander the riches of the Dharma.

At the time of realizing the Zen of the Buddha,
All the myriad practices are fulfilled in our body.
In a dream we clearly distinguish the six realms;
Upon awakening, we know the great universe is undivided.

I have crossed oceans, climbed mountains, and waded streams.
In search of the Way, I questioned masters.
Since I have found the path of Zen,
I know that birth and death need not trouble me.

Walking is zen, sitting is zen.
Speaking or silent, moving or still, the essence is peace.
Birth and death come and go without end,
There is nothing to seek as the peace of nirvana.

Walking alone, we travel the Buddha Way together.
The tune is ancient, the spirit pure, the style poised.
Poor or prosperous, Shakyamuni’s descendants are rich,
Carrying in themselves the treasure of Dharma.

Moonlight shines on the river, wind plays in the pines.
In the pure twilight of a long night, all is at ease.
Buddha nature, jewel of the precepts, is the foundation of our minds.
Drizzles and dew, mists and clouds clothe our bodies.

It is always right here, clear and tranquil.
If you search for it, you will not see it.
You can neither seize nor reject it.
Only with an open heart do you realize it.

One complete nature pervades all natures,
One great truth enfolds all things.
One moon appears in all waters;
All water-moons reflect the single moon.

With the power of clarity, Zen is practiced in the world of desires.
The lotus that blooms in the fire is indestructible.
Where silence is speech and speech silence,
The great door of the gift opens of itself, unobstructed.

Clearly, there is neither person nor buddha.
The myriad universes are bubbles in the sea
The sages and saints, lightning flashes in the sky,
While the light of wisdom never fades away.

The power of deliverance is inconceivable,
Its marvelous functions countless as the oceans’ sands.
Now I understand the nature of the bright pearl.
It corresponds with all who receive it in trust.

Don’t judge the vastness of the sky by peering through a straw.
Whether the sun cools or the moon warms,
Nothing will destroy the true Dharma.
If you do not yet understand, take this song as a key.

6. The Harmony of Difference and Sameness

The mind of the great sage of India
is intimately transmitted from west to east.
Though people may be quick or slow,
the Way has no northern or southern ancestors.
The spiritual source shines clearly in the light,
the branching streams flow on in the dark.
Grasping at things is basically delusion,
merging with principle is still not enlightenment.
The senses and their objects
turn each other yet remain distinct.
Combining they penetrate completely,
yet each remains undisturbed.
Sights vary in color and form,
sounds differ as pleasing or harsh.
Darkness blends the rough and the fine,
brightness reveals what’s clear and what’s hazy.
The four great elements return to their natures
just as a child turns to its mother.
Fire heats things, wind moves them,
water moistens, earth is solid.
Eye and sights, ear and sounds,
nose and smells, tongue and flavors.
Thus with each and every thing,
depending on their roots the leaves spread forth.
Trunk and branches share one essence;
revered and common, each has its voice.
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 work together
like the foot before and the foot behind in walking.
Each of the many things has its virtue,
revealed through how and where it works.
Phenomena exist like box and lid fitting;
principle responds like arrowpoints meeting.
When using words, seek their true meaning;
don’t make up standards on your own.
If you don’t see 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 humbly urge you who study the mystery,
do not waste your time.

7. Loving Kindness Sutra for Bodhisattvas
[Bodhisattva Metta Sutra]

This is what should be done by one who walks the path of kindness and peace:
Let one be energetic, upright and sincere, without pride,
Easily contented and gentle in speech,
Restrained in desires, wise but not puffed up.
Let one not get caught up by the burden of riches and possessions,
But aim to be peaceful and calm, to do nothing that is mean or harmful.
Bear this in your heart:
May all beings be at ease,
May they be joyous and live in safety.
All living beings, whether weak or strong, small or great, may they all be happy.
Let no one deceive or despise another;
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,
Just so with a boundless mind should one cherish all living things,
Extending 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 I vow to practice the Way with gratitude.
Not holding to fixed views, endowed with insight,
I will work ceaselessly to awaken into wisdom,
And to manifest that wisdom as compassion,
To be free and to help others be free.
Just as the left hand protects and assists the right,
So does the awakening person know herself as the left hand
That naturally makes all effort to cherish the myriad right hands.
I vow to awaken with and for the sake of all beings,
And to make this the aim and path of my life.

8. Enmei Jukku Kannon gyo

Namu butsu
Yo butsu u in
Yo butsu u en
Buppo so en
Jo raku ga jo
Cho nen kanzeon
Bo nen kanzeon
Nen nen ju shin ki
Nen nen fu ri shin

Endless Awakening Kannon Sutra

Kanzeon! The heart says
We are one with buddha
Buddha is our nature
Realize this true self
Buddha dharma sangha
Boundless joy for all life
Morning mind on Kannon
Evening mind on Kannon
Thoughts arrive at pure mind
Thoughts are one with big mind.

9. Female Lineage of Buddhas and Ancestors

Shakyamuni Buddha
Mahapajapati Acharya
Mitta Acharya
Yasodhara Acharya
Tissa Acharya
Sujata Acharya
Sundari-nanda Acharya
Vaddhesi Acharya
Patachara Acharya
Visakha Acharya
Singalaka-mata Acharya
Khema Acharya
Uppalavanna Acharya
Samavati Acharya
Uttara Acharya
Chanda Acharya
Uttama Acharya
Baddha Kundalakesa Acharya
Nanduttara Acharya
Dantika Acharya
Sakula Acharya
Siha Acharya
Dhammadinna Acharya
Kisagotami Acharya
Ubbiri Acharya
Isidasi Acharya
Bhadda Kapilani Acharya
Mutta Acharya
Sumana Acharya
Dhamma Acharya
Chitta Acharya
Anopama Acharya
Sukka Acharya
Sama Acharya
Utpalavarna Acharya
Shrimala Devi Acharya
Congchi Hoshang
Lingzhao Hoshang
Moshan Liaoran Hoshang
Liu Tiemo Hoshang
Miaoxin Hoshang
Daoshen Hoshang
Shiji Hoshang
Zhi’an Hoshang
Huiguang Hoshang
Kongshi Daoren Hoshang
Yu Daopo Hoshang
Huiwen Hoshang
Fadeng Hoshang
Wenzhao Hoshang
Miaodao Hoshang
Zhitong Hoshang
Zenshin Daiosho
Zenzo Daiosho
Ezen Daiosho
Ryonen Daiosho
Egi Daiosho
Shogaku Daiosho
Ekan Daiosho
Shozen Daiosho
Mokufu Sonin Daiosho
Myosho Enkan Daiosho
Ekyu Daiosho
Eshun Daiosho
Soshin Daiosho
Soitsu Daiosho
Chiyono Daiosho
Great Teacher Ruth Eryu Jokei Fuller
Great Teacher Maurine Myo-on Stuart
Great Teacher Houn Jiyu Kennett

10. Male Lineage of Buddhas and Ancestors

Mahakashyapa acharya
Ananda acharya
Shanavasa acharya
Upagupta acharya
Dhritaka acharya
Micchaka acharya
Vasumitra acharya
Buddhanandi acharya
Buddhamitra acharya
Parshva acharya
Punayayashas acharya
Ashvaghosha acharya
Kapimala acharya
Nagarjuna acharya
Kanadeva acharya
Rahulata acharya
Sanghanandi acharya
Gayashata acharya
Kumarata acharya
Jayata acharya
Vasubandhu acharya
Manorhita acharya
Haklenayashas acharya
Simhabhikshu acharya
Bashashita acharya
Punyamitra acharya
Prajnatara acharya
Bodhidharma acharya
Dazu Huike hoshang
Jianzhi Sengcan hoshang
Dayi Daoxin hoshang
Daman Hongren hoshang
Dajian Huineng hoshang
Qingyuan Xingsi hoshang
Shitou Xiqian hoshang
Yaoshan Weiyan hoshang
Yunyan Tansheng hoshang
Dongshan Liangjie hoshang
Yunju Daoying hoshang
Tongan Daopi hoshang
Tongan Guanzhi hoshang
Liangshan Yuanguan hoshang
Dayang Jingxuan hoshang
Touzi Yiqing hoshang
Furong Daokai hoshang
Danxia Zichun hoshang
Zhenxie Qingliao hoshang
Tiantong Zhongjue hoshang
Xuedou Zhijian hoshang
Tiantong Rujing hoshang
Eihei Dogen daiosho
Koun Ejo daiosho
Tettsu Gikai daiosho
Keizan Jokin daiosho

11. Meal Chants

Before Opening Oryoki

Buddha was born in Lumbini,
Enlightened in Bodhgaya,
Taught in Varanasi,
Entered nirvana in Kushinagara.
Now we set out Buddha’s eating bowls.
May we, with all beings,
realize the emptiness of the three wheels,
giver, receiver, and gift.

During Serving

In the midst of the three treasures,
which verify our understanding,
let us invoke:

Vairochana Buddha, complete boundlessness
Lochana Buddha, joyous fulfillment
Shakyamuni Buddha, all embodied forms
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, all great bodhisattvas
Great perfect wisdom beyond wisdom,
maha prajna paramita.

This meal of many benefits
sustains us in our practice.
May all beings throughout the universe
be equally nourished.

After Serving, Before Eating

Innumerable labors have brought us this food,
we should know how it comes to us.
Receiving this offering, we should consider
the effort and practice we bring to it.
As we desire the natural condition of mind,
to be free from clinging, we must be free
from greed.
We take this food to support our life
and to attain the buddha way.

This food is for the three treasures,
for our families, teachers, and friends,
and for all beings in the six realms.
Thus we eat this food with everyone,
to end all evil,
to cultivate all good,
and to free all living beings.
May all together realize the buddha way.

Water Pickup after Bowl Cleaning

This water we’ve used to wash our bowls
we offer to life in every world
in a spirit of grateful thanksgiving.

After Wrapping Bowls

Abiding in this ephemeral world
like a lotus in muddy water,
the boundless mind is pure.
Thus we bow to buddha.

12. Atta Dipa: The Buddha’s Last Instructions

Atta dipa You are the light
Viharatha Abide in this
Atta saranna Rely on your self
Ananna saranna Rely on no one else
Dhamma dipa The Dharma is the light
Viharatha Abide in this
Dhamma saranna Rely on the Dharma
Ananna saranna Rely on nothing else

13. Dedications

Morning Dedication

We dedicate this chanting to the well-being of our planet Earth and all her creatures.
We aim to turn the dharma wheel unceasingly and to free the world from every tragedy of strife and hatred.
We wholeheartedly aspire to peace among people, harmony among all nations, and the flourishing of true dharma.
May the merit of this extend universally, So that all living beings together realize the buddha way.

Liberation Dedication

We dedicate this chanting to the well-being
of our planet Earth and all her creatures.
We aim to turn the dharma wheel unceasingly
and to free the world from every tragedy of strife and hatred.

Today we offer our heartfelt encouragement
to all the people around the world who are living under oppression,
as they work for freedom from tyranny, poverty, and social injustice.
May both the oppressed and the oppressor be liberated from their deep suffering.

For as long as space endures, and as long as sentient beings remain,
until then may we too abide to dispel the misery of the world.
May the merit of this extend universally,
so that all living beings together realize the buddha way.

Well-being Dedication

May all awakened beings manifest through the Three Treasures their luminous mirror wisdom; having chanted the Great Perfect Wisdom Heart Sutra, and the Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo for protecting life, we offer this merit and virtue to:
The well-being, comfort and recovery of our dear friends:
(names from the well-being list are recited here)
May their minds be filled with the light of perfect wisdom, so that they find healing and peace in the vast sea of universal Buddha nature.

Lineage Dedication

We express our heartfelt gratitude and acknowledge our debt to all successive buddhas and ancestors female and male who have transmitted true Dharma through India, China, Japan, and America.

14. 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.

15. Genjo Koan

Part I
As all things are buddha-dharma, there is delusion and realization, practice, birth and death, and there are buddhas and sentient beings. As the myriad things are without an abiding self, there is no delusion, no realization, no buddha, no sentient being, no birth and death. The buddha way is, basically, leaping clear of the many and the one; thus there are birth and death, delusion and realization, sentient beings and buddhas. Yet, in attachment blossoms fall, and in aversion weeds spread.
To carry yourself forward and experience myriad things is delusion. That myriad things come forth and experience themselves is awakening. Those who have great realization of delusion are buddhas; those who are greatly deluded about realization are sentient beings. Further, there are those who continue realizing beyond realization, who are in delusion throughout delusion. When buddhas are truly buddhas they do not necessarily notice that they are buddhas. However, they are actualized buddhas, who go on actualizing buddhas.
When you see forms or hear sounds fully engaging body-and-mind, you grasp things directly. Unlike things and their reflections in the mirror, and unlike the moon and its reflection in the water, when one side is illuminated the other side is dark.
To study the buddha way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things. When actualized by myriad things, your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away. No trace of realization remains, and this no-trace continues endlessly.
When you first seek dharma, you imagine you are far away from its environs. But dharma is already correctly transmitted; you are immediately your original self.
When you ride in a boat and watch the shore, you might assume that the shore is moving. But when you keep your eyes closely on the boat, you can see that the boat moves. Similarly, if you examine myriad things with a confused body and mind you might suppose that your mind and nature are permanent. When you practice intimately and return to where you are, it will be clear that nothing at all has unchanging self.
Firewood becomes ash, and it does not become firewood again. Yet, do not suppose that the ash is future and the firewood past. You should understand that firewood abides in the phenomenal expression of firewood which fully includes past and future, and is independent of past and future.
Ash abides in the phenomenal expression of ash which fully includes future and past. Just as firewood does not become firewood again after it is ash, you do not return to birth after death. This being so, it is an established way in buddha-dharma to deny that birth turns into death. Accordingly, birth is understood as no-birth. It is an unshakable teaching in Buddha’s discourse that death does not turn into birth. Accordingly, death is understood as no-death. Birth is an expression complete this moment. Death is an expression complete this moment. They are like winter and spring. You do not call winter the beginning of spring, nor summer the end of spring.

Part II
Enlightenment is like the moon reflected in the water. The moon does not get wet, nor is the water broken. Although its light is wide and great, the moon is reflected even in a puddle an inch wide. The whole moon and the entire sky are reflected in dewdrops on the grass, or even in one drop of water. Enlightenment does not divide you, just as the moon does not break the water. You cannot hinder enlightenment, just as a drop of water does not hinder the moon in the sky. The depth of the drop is the height of the moon. Each reflection, however long or short its duration, manifests the vastness of the dewdrop, and realizes the limitlessness of the moonlight in the sky.
When dharma does not fill your whole body and mind, you think it is already sufficient. When dharma fills your body and mind, you understand that something is missing. For example, when you sail out in a boat to the midst of ·an ocean where no land is in sight, and view the four directions, the ocean looks circular, and does not look any other way. But the ocean is neither round nor square; its features are infinite in variety. It is like a palace. It is like a jewel. It only looks circular as far as you can see at that time. All things are like this. Though there are many features in the dusty world and the world beyond conditions, you see and understand only what your eye of practice can reach. In order to learn the nature of the myriad things, you must know that although they may look round or square, the other features of oceans and mountains are infinite in variety; whole worlds are there. It is so not only around you, but also directly beneath your feet, or in a drop of water.
A fish swims in the ocean, and no matter how far it swims there is no end to the water. A bird flies in the sky, and no matter how far it flies, there is no end to the air. However, the fish and the bird have never left their elements. When their activity is large their field is large. When their need is small their field is small. Thus, each of them totally covers its full range, and each of them totally experiences its· realm. If the bird leaves the air it will die at once. If the fish leaves the water it will die at once. Know that water is life and air is life. The bird is life and the fish is life. Life must be the bird and life must be the fish. It is possible to illustrate this with more analogies. Practice, enlightenment, and people are like this.
Now if a bird or a fish tries to reach the end of its element before moving in it, this bird or this fish will not find its way or its place. When you find your place where you are, practice occurs, actualizing the fundamental point. When you find your way at this moment, practice occurs, actualizing the fundamental point; for the place, the way, is neither large nor small, neither yours nor others’. The place, the way, has not carried over from the past, and it is not merely arising now. Accordingly, in the practice-enlightenment of the buddha way, meeting one thing is mastering it; doing one practice is practicing completely.
Here is the place; here the way unfolds. The boundary of realization is not distinct, for the realization comes forth simultaneously with the mastery of buddha-dharma. Do not suppose that what you realize becomes your knowledge and is grasped by your consciousness. Although actualized immediately, the inconceivable may not be distinctly apparent. Its appearance is beyond your knowledge.
Zen master Baoche of Mount Mayu was fanning himself. A monk approached and said, “Master, the nature of wind is permanent and there is no place it does not reach. Why, then do you fan yourself?” “Although you understand that the nature of wind is permanent;” Baoche replied, “you do not understand the meaning of its reaching everywhere.” “What is the meaning of its reaching everywhere?” asked the monk again. The master just kept fanning himself. The monk bowed deeply. The actualization of the buddha-dharma, the vital path of its correct transmission, is like this. If you say that you do not need to fan yourself because the nature of wind is permanent and you can have wind without fanning, you will understand neither permanence nor the nature of wind. The nature of wind is permanent; because of that, the wind of the Buddha’s house brings forth the gold of the earth and makes fragrant the cream of the long river.



Soto Zen in Sonoma County