Living by Vow: A Practical Introduction to Eight Essential Zen Chants and Texts
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This immensely useful book explores Zen's rich tradition of chanted liturgy and the powerful ways that such chants support meditation, expressing and helping us truly uphold our heartfelt vows to live a life of freedom and compassion. Exploring eight of Zen's most essential and universal liturgical texts, Living by Vow is a handbook to walking the Zen path, and Shohaku Okumura guides us like an old friend, speaking clearly and directly of the personal meaning and implications of these chants, generously using his experiences to illustrate their practical significance. A scholar of Buddhist literature, he masterfully uncovers the subtle, intricate web of culture and history that permeate these great texts. Esoteric or challenging terms take on vivid, personal meaning, and old familiar phrases gain new poetic resonance.
boundless Dharma. The limitless, unsurpassed, most profound Dharma should be manifested through practice with our smal , limited, impermanent body and mind. Practice means more than sitting zazen in the zendō. It includes practice outside of the zendō. Our practice, our life, is the only way to manifest this infinite Dharma. The only time we can see, listen, accept, and maintain this Dharma is right now. The Lotus Sutra continues: As to such great fruit and retribution as these, Such
3 (Tokyo: Shunjūsha, 1975), p. 173. 15. D. T. Suzuki, Outlines of Mahayana Buddhism (New York: Schocken Books, 1963), p. 307. 16. Kōshō Uchiyama , Opening the Hand of Thoug ht (Boston: Wisdom, 2004), p. 157. 17. Shohaku Okumura, Shikantaza: An Introduction to Zazen (Kyoto: Kyoto Sōtō Zen Center, 1985), p. 63. 18. Shohaku Okumura and Taigen Dan Leighton, trans., The Wholehearted Way: A Trans- lation of Eihei Dōgen’s Bendōwa with Commentary by Kōshō Uchiyama Roshi (Boston: Tuttle,
path that leads to the cessation of suffering. fukuden (Skt., puṇya-kṣetra): The field (rice paddy) which brings about the harvest of happiness or merit ( puṇya). Puṇya refers to the karmic merit gained through good actions such as generosity and Acquired at wisdompubs.org 280 y living by vow reciting sutras. Offerings to the Three Treasures, especially to the Buddha and monks, bring merit. Therefore the sangha of monks was considered to be a field of happiness. “Fushukuhanpō” (The
Acquired at wisdompubs.org 126 y living by vow exist. And of that which the wise in the world agree upon as existing, I too say that it exists.” The Buddha did not teach some fabricated dogmatic theory with which wise people did not agree. He taught the truth everyone can see if their eyes are open. In another sutra, the Buddha said: And what is it, bhikkhus, that the wise in the world agree upon as not existing, of which I too say that it does not exist? Form that is permanent, stable,
individual. We need a deep understanding of a situation to see what is most help- ful to everyone involved. Dōgen Zenji said in Shōbōgenzō “Bodaisatta Shishōbō” (Bodhisattva’s Four Embracing Dharmas) that as bodhi- sattvas we should aim at activities that benefit both others and our- selves. We should try to see the whole situation and do what is best for everyone. If we aim only for patience, we may harm ourselves or others. Patience alone can be a kind of poison. It can make the