Kansas Zen Center

Descriptions of our chants

Morning Bell Chant

This chant invokes Amida Buddha (the Buddha of the Western Pure Land), Vairocana Buddha (the Buddha of infinite space and time) 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. This untranslateable chant invokes Avalokitesvara, the Bodhisattva of compassion.

The 1,000 Eyes and Hands Sutra

The Bodhisattva with 1,000 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.

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