Sunday At Houston Zen Center

You may attend all or part of the Sunday program.
This is the program that most members and friends
attend. Everyone is welcome.

When does the program begin?
If you want to participate in the entire morning, plan to arrive at 8:10 or a little earlier.

8:10 many people try to arrive by 8:15, or even earlier, so they can participate in the morning service. People enter the meditation hall and sit in meditation posture until a bell rings. Everyone puts their hands together (called gasshō) and the verse of the Buddha's Robe is chanted. The "robe" is the small cloth robe that those who have received Buddhist Precepts wear after reciting the verse. (It is not expected that everyone will know the verses by heart!)

8:15 Robe Verse
Great robe of liberation
Field far beyond form and emptiness
Wearing the Tathagata’s teaching
Saving all beings

Dāi sāi ge dā pu ku
musō fuku dēn e
hibu nyorāi kyo
kō do shoshu jo.

A new blue rakusu (pictured above)

8:20 am Morning Service - Chanting & Bows

The service begins with the offering of incense by the officiant priest (called doshi at Zen Centers). This is followed by:
3 bows, prostrations. The congregation then sits on meditation cushions (zafu and zabuton) or on chairs

Chant books are passed to every participant and 3 chants are introduced by the chant leader (kokyo). Everyone chants.

At the end of service, everyone dedicates the merit of the service for the benefit of all beings everywhere. 

Dedication of Merit:
All Buddhas ten directions three times
All Honored Ones, Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas
Wisdom beyond wisdom
Maha Prajna Paramita

8:40 am brief break After morning service there is a brief, casual break during which more participants arrive.

8:50 am zazen/morning meditation begins
The Sunday morning meditation period is 30 minutes long. If you are just beginning your meditation practice, please sit in the "side zendo (meditation hall)" where it is less formal than the main zendo/meditation hall.

9:20 am Newcomer's Introduction - and Soji / Temple Cleaning
At the end of zazen, a senior member (the work leader) invites everyone into the kitchen. You are free to volunteer to participate or take part in a discussion for newcomers.

Soji, or temple cleaning, is an extension of meditation practice. It is an important facet of Zen. It takes place silently and with mindfulness. Various tasks take place: cleaning the meditation rooms, preparing tea, light gardening.

9:45 am Dharma Talk - and arrival of more participants
Return to the zendo/meditation hall which has been rearranged for the dharma talk by the Abbot, a senior member of the Zen Center, or a visiting Zen teacher.

Verse for the Beginning of Dharma Talk:
An unsurpassed, penetrating and perfect dharma
Is rarely met with, even in a hundred thousand million kalpas.
Having it to see and listen to, to remember and accept,
I vow to taste the truth of the Tathagata’s words.

Verse for the Ending of Dharma Talk:
May our intention equally extend to every being and place,
With the true merit of Buddha’s Way.
Beings are numberless, I vow to save them.
Delusions are inexhaustible, I vow to end them.
Dharma Gates are boundless, I vow to enter them.
Buddha's Way is unsurpassable, I vow to become it.

10:30 am End of Dharma talk, followed by Questions and Discussion
11:00 am Informal tea and refreshments. Social time for members, friends and visitors.

Soji Project on a Samu Day

A new blue rakusu