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Toronto Zen Centre

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Toronto Zen Centre Chants


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Zazen Wasan

From the beginning all beings are Buddha.
Like water and ice, without water no ice,
outside us no Buddhas.

How near the truth yet how far we seek,
like one in water crying “I thirst!”
Like a child of rich birth
wand’ring poor on this earth,
we endlessly circle the six worlds.

The cause of our sorrow is ego delusion.
From dark path to dark path
we’ve wandered in darkness—
how can we be free from the wheel of samsara?
The gateway to freedom is zazen samadhi—
beyond exaltation, beyond all our praises,
the pure Mahayana.

Observing the precepts,
repentance and giving,
the countless good deeds,
and the way of right living
all come from zazen.

Thus one true samadhi extinguishes evils;
it purifies karma, dissolving obstructions.
Then where are the dark paths that
lead us astray?
The pure lotus land is not far away.
Hearing this truth, heart humble and grateful,
to praise and embrace it,
to practice its wisdom,
brings unending blessings,
brings mountains of merit.

And if we turn inward
and prove our True-nature—
that True-self is no-self,
our own Self is no-self—
we go beyond ego and past clever words.

Then the gate to the oneness
of cause and effect
is thrown open.
Not two and not three,
straight ahead runs the Way.

Our form now being no-form,
in going and returning we never leave home.
Our thought now being no-thought,
our dancing and songs are the
voice of the Dharma.

How vast is the heaven
of boundless samadhi!
How bright and transparent
the moonlight of wisdom!

What is there outside us,
what is there we lack?

Nirvana is openly shown to our eyes.
This earth where we stand
is the pure lotus land,
and this very body the body of Buddha.


Thus by the virtue collected
Through all that I have done,
May the pain of every living creature
Be completely cleared away!

May I be the doctor and the medicine
And may I be the nurse
For the sick beings in the world
Until everyone is healed!

May a rain of food and drink descend
To clear away the pain of thirst and hunger,
And during the eon of famine
May I myself change into food and drink!

May I become an inexhaustible treasure
For those who are poor and destitute;
May I turn into all things they need
And may these be placed close beside them!

Whether those who encounter me
Conceive a faithful or an angry thought,
May that always become the source
For fulfilling all their wishes!

May all who say bad things to me
Or cause me any other harm,
And those who mock and insult me
Have the fortune to awaken fully!

May I be a protector of those without one,
A guide for all travelers on the way;

May I be a bridge, a boat, and a ship
For all who wish to cross the water!

May I be an island for those who seek one,
And a lamp for those desiring light!
May I be a bed for all who wish to rest.

May I be a wishing jewel, a magic vase,
Powerful mantras, and great medicine,
May I be a wish-fulfilling tree,
And a cow of plenty for the world!

Just like space
And the great elements such as earth,
May I always support the life
Of all the countless creatures!

And until they're free from suffering,
May I also be the source of life
For all the realms of varied beings
That reach unto the ends of space!

Just as the previous Sugatas
Conceived the Spirit of Enlightenment,
And just as they successively lived
In the Bodhisattva practices

Likewise for the sake of all that lives
Do I conceive the Spirit of
And likewise shall I too
Successively follow the practices.


(Chanted with hands in gassho)

With all that lives
let us honor the Three Treasures.
Let us recall the exertions
of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.


This meal is the labor of countless beings—
let us remember their toil.
Defilements are many and exertions weak—
do we deserve this offering?
Gluttony stems from greed—
let us be moderate.
Our lives are sustained by this offering—
let us be grateful.
We take this food to attain the Buddha Way.

(Food is served—put a piece of dry food aside for the hungry ghost dish when it is passed around and have some liquid in your cup for the thirsty spirit offering.)


(clappers—all with raised bowl or plate)

Our meal is offered—

—to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.
With teachers and family,
with nations and all life
let us equally share.
To beings throughout the six worlds
we offer this meal.


(clappers—hands in gassho)

All hungry ghosts!
All tortured spirits!
Now we give you this Dharma-food.
May it fill the ten directions
and satisfy hunger in realms of darkness.

All hungry ghosts!
All tortured spirits!
Abandon greed and rouse the desire for

(clappers—hands in gassho)

To you spirits tortured by thirst
we give this liquid offering.
May your thirst be relieved,
May your suffering diminish.
May all beings attain Buddhahood!

(food is eaten)