30 Days of Practice
Inspired by Ryan’s “100 Days of Practice” series, I’m setting up a public commitment to practice, though I’m going to scale it down to 30 days this first time. Now, I have a somewhat regular practice of sitting though I haven’t made a point of doing the same amount at the same times every day. I also haven’t always done the same practices, outside of sitting, every day. This discipline has often been difficult for me though I generally try to roll with it and be compassionate towards myself.
I am setting this for myself as a challenge, starting this weekend. I’m blogging about it, which I generally do not do about my practice, because I want to encourage other Buddhists with whom I work in the seminary and elsewhere to possibly do it as well. As part of this, I’ve outlined a basic practice below. I’m actually going to do a bit more than this but the form below is drawn from the one used within the Five Mountain Sangha, so I will be doing something very similar. What is below could be considered a good minimal version for many Zen practitioners or others within the Mahayana tradition. As you will note, we generally practice in English in my school, thinking it is better to understand what one is saying rather than chanting in some exotic sounding language but forgetting the meaning. When we do chant in other languages, with the exception of mantras or dharanis, we follow that with the same chant in English.
I encourage other people to consider taking up the challenge of maintaining a regular and formal practice for a 30 day period during the next month in order to see how it does (or does not) affect your relationship to practice and the Dharma.
Vandana - Homage
NAMO TASSA BHAGAVATO ARAHATO SAMMA SAMBUDDHASSA
Homage to the Buddha, The Venerable One, the Enlightened One, The Supremely Awakened One.
BUDDHAM SARANAM GACCHAMI DHARMAM SARANAM GACCHAMI SANGHAM SARANAM GACCHAMI
I take refuge in the Buddha. I take refuge in the Dharma. I take refuge in the Sangha.
All the negative karma committed by me from beginningless time Due to greed, anger, and ignorance Born of my body, speech, and mind I now confess and purify it all. (Repeat above three times)
Opening the Dharma
This Dharma incomparably profound and minutely subtle is hardly met with Even in hundreds of thousands of millions of eons. Now we see it, hear it, receive it. May we completely understand and actualize This Tathagatas true meaning.
Heart of Great Perfection Wisdom Sutra
(Each syllable below is chanted distinctly, usually to the beat of a wooden drum. If you can’t manage that, just do a monotone chant but put some energy into it! You can hear the Kwan Um chanting of this here.)
A‐VA‐LO‐KI‐TESH‐VA‐RA, THE BO‐DHI‐SATT‐VA OF COM‐PAS‐SION, DO‐ING DEEP PRAJ‐NA‐PA‐RA‐MI‐TA CLEAR‐LY SAW THAT THE FIVE SKAN‐DHAS ARE SHUN‐YA‐TA, THUS TRAN‐SCEND‐ING MIS‐FOR‐TUNE AND SUF‐FER‐RING.
O SHA‐RI‐PU‐TRA, FORM IS NO O‐THER THAN SHUN‐YA‐TA, SHUN‐YA‐TA IS NO O‐THER THAN FORM. FORM IS EX‐ACT‐LY SHUN‐YA‐TA, SHUN‐YA‐TA EX‐ACT‐LY FORM. FEEL‐ING, THOUGHT, VO‐LI‐TION, AND CON‐SCIOUS‐NESS ARE LIKE‐WISE LIKE THIS.
O SHA‐RI‐PU‐TRA, RE‐MEM‐BER DHAR‐MA IS FUN‐DA‐MEN‐TAL‐Y SHUN‐YA‐TA. NO BIRTH, NO DEATH. NO‐THING IS DE‐FILED, NO‐THING IS PURE. NO‐THING CAN IN‐CREASE, NO‐THING CAN DE‐CREASE. HENCE: IN SHUN‐YA‐TA, NO FORM, NO FEEL‐ING , NO THOUGHT, NO VO‐LI‐TION, NO CON‐SCIOUS‐NESS; NO EYES, NO EARS, NO NOSE, NO TONGUE, NO BO‐DY, NO MIND; NO SEE‐ING, NO HEAR‐ING, NO SMELL‐ING, NO TAST‐ING, NO TOUCH‐ING, NO THINK‐ING; NO WORLD OF SIGHT, NO WORLD OF CON‐SCIOUS‐NESS; NO IG‐NOR‐ANCE AND NO END TO IG‐NOR‐ANCE; NO OLD AGE AND DEATH AND NO END TO OLD AGE AND DEATH. NO SUF‐FER‐ING, NO CRA‐VING, NO EX‐TINC‐ION, NO PATH; NO WIS‐DOM; NO AT‐TAIN‐MENT,
IN‐DEED, THERE IS NO‐THING TO BE AT‐TAINED; THE BO‐DHI‐SATT‐VA RE‐LIES ON PRAJ‐NA PA‐RA‐MI‐TA WITH NO HIN‐DRANCE IN THE MIND. NO HIN‐DRANCE, THERE‐FORE NO FEAR. FAR BE‐YOND UP‐SIDE DOWN VIEWS, AT LAST NIR‐VA‐NA.
PAST, PRE‐SENT, AND FU‐TURE, ALL BUD‐DHAS, BO‐DHI‐SATT‐VAS, RE‐LY ON PRAJ‐NA‐PA‐RA‐MI‐TA AND THERE‐FORE REACH THE MOST SU‐PREME EN‐LIGHT‐EN‐MENT. THERE‐FORE KNOW: PRAJ‐NA PA‐RA‐MI‐TA IS THE GREAT‐EST DHA‐RA‐NI, THE BRIGHT‐EST DHA‐RA‐NI, THE HIGH‐EST DHA‐RA‐NI, THE IN‐COM‐PARA‐BLE DHA‐RA‐NI. IT COM‐PLETE‐LY CLEARS ALL SUF‐FER‐ING. THIS IS THE TRUTH, NOT A LIE. SO SET FORTH THE PRAJ‐NA PA‐RA‐ MI‐TA DHA‐RA‐NI. SET FORTH THIS DHA‐RA‐NI AND SAY:
GA‐TE GA‐TE PA‐RA‐GA‐TE BO‐DHI SVA‐HA. GA‐TE GA‐TE PA‐RA‐GA‐TE BO‐DHI SVA‐HA. GA‐TE GA‐TE PA‐RA‐GA‐TE BO‐DHI SVA‐HA.
(Periods of sitting and walking meditation go here. At the very least, try doing a 20 minute period of sitting meditation followed by 10 minutes of walking meditation.)
Buddha Nature pervades the whole universe existing right here, now. Whenever these devoted invocations are sent forth, they are perceived and subtly answered. We dedicate their merits to all members of our human family, throughout space and time. We especially dedicate their merits to those who suffer as a result of calamity, cruelty, and war. May we live in perfect peace with Buddhadharma, and may we realize the Buddha way together.
All Buddhas throughout space and time, All the venerable Bodhisattva‐Mahasattvas, Maha Prajna Paramita.
Four Great Vows However innumerable all beings are, We vow to save them all. However inexhaustible delusions are, We vow to extinguish them all. However immeasurable Dharma teachings are, We vow to master them all. However endless the Buddha’s way is, We vow to follow it. (Repeat above three times)