Our chanting practice comes from the Korean tradition, and most of our chants are in the Korean pronunciation of Chinese (known as Sino-Korean). Translations can be found for the major chants in the back of the chanting book. Here is a brief description of the main chants.
Morning Bell Chant
This chant invokes Amida Buddha (the Buddha of the Western Pure Land), and also includes poems more recognizable as Zen poems (”Why does the western wind shake the forest?”).
Homage to the Three Jewels
The three jewels are Buddha, dharma (teachings), and sangha (community), and in this chant we basically thank all those who came before us.
The Heart Sutra
This is arguably the central sutra of Mahayana Buddhism. We chant it both in Sino-Korean, and in an English translation (essentially due to Peter Schneider and Ryogen Yoshimura, under the supervision of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi).
The Great Dharani
This is an extended mantra, that is, its meaning transcends standard meaning. Like the heart sutra, it is common to many Mahayana practices. We chant it in the American pronunciation of the Korean pronunciation of the Chinese pronunciation of the original Sanskrit. There are translations available, of varying trustworthiness, but they are quite controversial. What is certain is that this chant invokes Avalokitesvara, the Bodhisattva of compassion.
The 10,000 Eyes and Hands Sutra
The Bodhisattva with 10,000 eyes and hands is Avalokitesvara, also known as Kwan Se Um Bosal (in Korean), Kwan Yin (in Chinese), Kannon or Kanzeon (in Japanese). This chant consists of mantras, vows, and invocations of bodhisattvas, especially Kwan Se Um Bosal.
Kwan Se Um Bosal Chanting
This is a short invocation to Kwan Se Um Bosal. People often chant this on their own when someone close to them is ill or otherwise in crisis. We chant it regularly at certain practices, and we also chant it at other times when someone in the sangha requests it for a friend or loved one who is ill or in crisis.
Ji Jang Bosal Chanting
This is not part of any of the standard chanting services, but is chanted when someone has died. Ji Jang Bosal is the bodhisattva of transition: travelers, children, pregnant women, and the recently dead. It is common for people to chant this for 49 days after a loved one has died, and the sangha will chant it when someone in the sangha requests it for a loved one who has died.