Chants and Texts

Here's what we chant at the Zen Center. You'll find the texts below the schedule. 

For PDFs please visit San Francisco Zen Center's Site.

List of Chants

Robe Chant
Three Refuges in English
Three Refuges in Pali
Dedication Verse to End Service
Meal Chant
Jizo Dharani
Heart of Great Perfect Wisdom Sutra
Maka Hannya Haramitta Shin Gyo
Hymn to the Perfection of Wisdom
Shosaimyo Kichijo Dharani for Removing Hindrance
Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo for Protecting Life
Lovingkindness Meditation
Harmony of Difference and Equality
Song of the Jewel Mirror Samadhi
Names of Women Ancestors
Song of the Grass Roof Hermitage
Self-Receiving and Employing Samadhi


Monday evenings
Jizo Dharani
Pali Refuges

Tuesday mornings
Robe Chant
Purification and Refuges
Heart of Great Perfect Wisdom Sutra
Hymn to the Perfection of Wisdom
Lovingkindness Meditation

Wednesday mornings
Robe Chant
Purification and Refuges
Heart of Great Perfect Wisdom Sutra
Hymn to the Perfection of Wisdom
Song of the Jewel Mirror Samadhi

Thursday mornings
Robe Chant
Purification and Refuges
Heart of Great Perfect Wisdom Sutra
Hymn to the Perfection of Wisdom
Self-Receiving and Employing Samadhi

Thursday evenings
Lovingkindness Meditation
Pali Refuges

Friday mornings
Robe Chant
Purification and Refuges
Heart of Great Perfect Wisdom Sutra
Hymn to the Perfection of Wisdom
Song of the Grass Roof Hermitage

Saturday mornings
Robe Chant
Purification and Refuges
Heart of Great Perfect Wisdom Sutra
Hymn to the Perfection of Wisdom
Harmony of Difference and Equality
Pali Refuges

Meal Chant

Robe Chant

Great robe of liberation,

Field far beyond form and emptiness;

Wearing the Tathagata's teaching,

Saving all beings



All my ancient twisted karma

From beginningless greed, hate, and delusion

Born through body, speech, and mind

I now fully avow.


Three Refuges in English

I take refuge in Buddha 

Before all being,

Immersing body and mind deeply in the Way, 

Awakening true mind. 


I take refuge in Dharma 

Before all being, 

Entering deeply the merciful ocean 

Of Buddha’s Way. 


I take refuge in Sangha 

Before all being, 

Bringing harmony to everyone, 

Free from hindrance.


Three Refuges in Pali

Buddham saranam gacchami

Dhammam saranam gacchami

Sangham saranam gacchami


Dutiyampi buddham saranam gacchami

Dutiyampi dhammam saranam gacchami

Dutiyampi sangham saranam gacchami


Tatiyampi buddham saranam gacchami

Tatiyampi dhammam saranam gacchami

Tatiyampi sangham saranam gacchami


Dedication Verse to End Service

All buddhas, ten directions, three times

All honored ones, bodhisattva-mahasattvas

Wisdom beyond wisdom

Maha Prajna Paramita


Meal Chant

We reflect on the effort that brought us this food, and consider how it comes to us. 

We reflect on our virtue and practice, and vow to be worthy of this offering.

We regard it as essential to keep the mind free from excesses such as greed. 

We regard this food as good medicine to sustain our life.

For the sake of enlightenment we now receive this food. 

First, this is for the three treasures.

Next, for the four benefactors.

Finally, for the beings in the six realms.

May all be equally nourished.

The first portion is to end all evil.

The second is to cultivate all good.

The third is to free all beings.

May we all realize the buddha way.


Jizo Dharani



Heart of Great Perfect Wisdom Sutra

Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, when deeply practicing prajna paramita, clearly saw that all five aggregates are empty and thus relieved all suffering.

Shariputra, form does not differ from emptiness, emptiness does not differ from form.

Form itself is emptiness, emptiness itself form.

Sensations, perceptions, formations, and consciousness are also like this.

Shariputra, all dharmas are marked by emptiness; they neither arise nor cease, are neither defiled nor pure, neither increase nor decrease.

Therefore, given emptiness, there is no form, no sensation, no perception, no formation, no consciousness; no eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind; no sight, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch, no object of mind; no realm of sight, no realm of mind consciousness.

There is neither ignorance nor extinction of ignorance; neither old age and death, nor extinction of old age and death; no suffering, no cause, no cessation, no path; no knowledge and no attainment.

With nothing to attain, a bodhisattva relies on prajna paramita, and thus the mind is without hindrance.

Without hindrance, there is no fear. Far beyond all inverted views, one realizes nirvana.

All buddhas of past, present, and future rely on prajna paramita and thereby attain unsurpassed, complete, perfect enlightenment.

Therefore, know the prajna paramita as the great miraculous mantra, the great bright mantra, the supreme mantra, the incomparable mantra, which removes all suffering and is true, not false.

Therefore we proclaim the prajna paramita mantra, the mantra that says:

“Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha.”


Maka Hannya Haramitta Shin Gyo (Heart Sutra in Japanese)

Kan ji zai bo satsu gyo jin han nya ha ra mit ta ji sho ken go on kai ku

do is sai ku yaku sha ri shi shiki fu i ku ku fu i shiki shiki soku ze ku

ku soku ze shiki ju so gyo shiki yaku bu nyo ze sha ri shi ze sho ho ku

so fu sho fu metsu fu ku fu jo fu zo fu gen ze ko ku chu mu shiki mu ju

so gyo shiki mu gen ni bi ze shin ni mu shiki sho ko mi soku ho mu

gen kai nai shi mu i shiki kai mu mu myo yaku mu mu myo jin nai shi

mu ro shi yaku mu ro shi jin mu ku shu metsu do mu chi yaku mu

toku i mu sho tok ko bo dai sat ta e han nya ha ra mit ta ko shin mu ke

ge mu ke ge ko mu u ku fu on ri is sai ten do mu so ku gyo ne han san

ze sho butsu e han nya ha ra mit ta o toku a noku ta ra sam myaku

sam bo dai ko chi han nya ha ra mi ta ze dai jin shu ze dai myo shu ze

mu jo shu ze mu to do shu no jo is sai ku shin jitsu fu ko ko setsu han

nya ha ra mit ta shu soku setsu shu watsu gya te gya te ha ra gya te

hara so gya te bo ji sowa ka han nya shin gyo


Hymn to the Perfection of Wisdom

Homage to the Perfection of Wisdom, the lovely, the holy.

The Perfection of Wisdom gives light.

Unstained, the entire world cannot stain her.

She is a source of light and from everyone in the triple world she removes darkness.

Most excellent are her works.

She brings light so that all fear and distress may be forsaken and disperses the gloom and darkness of delusion.

She herself is an organ of vision.

She has a clear knowledge of the own being of all dharmas for she does not stray away from it.

The Perfection of Wisdom of the buddhas sets in motion the wheel of dharma.


Shosaimyo Kichijo Dharani for Removing Hindrance*

No mo san man da

moto nan

oha ra chi koto sha

sono nan to ji to 


gya gya

gya ki gya ki

un nun

shifu ra shifu ra

hara shifu ra hara shifu ra

chishu sa chishu sa

chishu ri chishu ri

soha ja soha ja

sen chi gya

shiri ei so mo ko


Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo for Protecting Life

Kan ze on  

na mu butsu  

yo butsu u in 

yo butsu u en 

bup po so en 

jo raku ga jo 

cho nen kan ze on 

bo nen kan ze on 

nen nen ju shin ki 

nen nen fu ri shin 



Bodhisattva of Compassion!

Bowing to Buddha!

With the Buddha I have origin

With the Buddha I have affinity

Affinity with Buddha, Dharma, Sangha

Constancy, happiness and purity

In the morning I think of the Bodhisattva of Compassion

At the night I think of the Bodhisattva of Compassion

Thought after thought arises in my mind

Thought after thought is not separate from the mind


Lovingkindness Meditation

This is what should be accomplished by the one who is wise, who seeks the good, and has obtained peace.

Let one be strenuous, upright, and sincere, without pride, easily contented, and joyous.

Let one not be submerged by the things of the world.

Let one not take upon oneself the burden of riches.

Let one's senses be controlled.

Let one be wise but not puffed up, and

Let one not desire great possessions even for one's family.

Let one do nothing that is mean or that the wise would reprove.

May all beings be happy.

May they be joyous and live in safety.

All living beings, whether weak or strong, in high or middle or low realms of existence, small or great, visible or invisible, near or far, born or to be born,

May all beings be happy.

Let no one deceive another nor despise any being in any state.

Let none by anger or hatred wish harm to another.

Even as a mother at the risk of her life watches over and protects her only child, so with a boundless mind should one cherish all living things, suffusing love over the entire world, above, below, and all around without limit.

So let one cultivate an infinite good will toward the whole world.

Standing or walking, sitting or lying down, during all one's waking hours, let one practice The Way with gratitude.

Not holding to fixed views, endowed with insight, freed from sense appetites, one who achieves The Way will be freed from the duality of birth and death.


Harmony of Difference and Equality

The mind of the great sage of India is intimately transmitted from west to east.

While human faculties are sharp or dull, the Way has no northern or southern ancestors.

The spiritual source shines clear in the light; the branching streams flow on in the dark.

Grasping at things is surely delusion; according with sameness is still not enlightenment.

All the objects of the senses interact and yet do not.

Interacting brings involvement.

Otherwise, each keeps its place.

Sights vary in quality and form, sounds differ as pleasing or harsh.

Refined and common speech come together in the dark, clear and murky phrases are distinguished in the light.

The four elements return to their natures just as a child turns to its mother;

Fire heats, wind moves, water wets, earth is solid.

Eye and sights, ear and sounds, nose and smells, tongue and tastes;

Thus with each and every thing, depending on these roots, the leaves spread forth.

Trunk and branches share the essence; revered and common, each has its speech.

In the light there is darkness, but don’t take it as darkness;

In the dark there is light, but don’t see it as light.

Light and dark oppose one another like the front and back foot in walking.

Each of the myriad things has its merit, expressed according to function and place.

Phenomena exist; box and lid fit; principle responds; arrow points meet.

Hearing the words, understand the meaning; don’t set up standards of your own.

If you don’t understand the Way right before you, how will you know the path as you walk?

Progress is not a matter of far or near, but if you are confused, mountains and rivers block your way.

I respectfully urge you who study the mystery, do not pass your days and nights in vain.


Song of the Jewel Mirror Samadhi

The teaching of thusness has been intimately communicated by buddhas and ancestors.

Now you have it, so keep it well.

Filling a silver bowl with snow, hiding a heron in the moonlight –

Taken as similar they're not the same; when you mix them, you know where they are.

The meaning is not in the words, yet it responds to the inquiring impulse.

Move and you are trapped; miss and you fall into doubt and vacillation.

Turning away and touching are both wrong, for it is like a massive fire.

Just to depict it in literary form is to stain it with defilement.

It is bright just at midnight, it doesn't appear at dawn.

It acts as a guide for beings, its use removes all pains.

Although it is not fabricated, it is not without speech.

It is like facing a jewel mirror; form and image behold each other –

You are not it, in truth it is you.

Like a babe in the world, in five aspects complete;

It does not go or come, nor rise nor stand.

"Baba wawa" – is there anything said or not?

Ultimately it does not apprehend anything because its speech is not yet correct.

It is like the six lines of the illumination hexagram: relative and ultimate interact -

Piled up, they make three, the complete transformation makes five.

It is like the taste of the five-flavored herb, like a diamond thunderbolt.

Subtly included within the true, inquiry and response come up together.

Communing with the source, travel the pathways, embrace the territory and treasure the road.

Respecting this is fortunate; do not neglect it.

Naturally real yet inconceivable, it is not within the province of delusion or enlightenment.

With causal conditions, time and season, quiescently it shines bright.

In its fineness it fits into spacelessness, in its greatness it is utterly beyond location.

A hairsbreadth's deviation will fail to accord with the proper attunement.

Now there are sudden and gradual in which teachings and approaches arise.

Once basic approaches are distinguished, then there are guiding rules.

But even though the basis is reached and the approach comprehended, true eternity still flows.

Outwardly still while inwardly moving, like a tethered colt, a trapped rat –

The ancient sages pitied them and bestowed upon them the teaching.

According to their delusions, they called black as white;

When erroneous imaginations cease, the acquiescent mind realizes itself.

If you want to conform to the ancient way, please observe the sages of former times.

When about to fulfill the way of uddhahood, one gazed at a tree for ten eons.

Like a battle-scarred tiger, like a horse with shanks gone gray.

Because there is the common, there are jewel pedestals, fine clothing;

Because there is the startlingly different, there are house cat and cow.

Yi with his archer's skill could hit a target at a hundred paces.

But when arrow-points meet head on, what has this to do with the power of skill?

When the wooden man begins to sing, the stone woman gets up dancing;

It’s not within reach of feeling or discrimination – how could it admit of consideration in thought?

Ministers serve their lords, children obey their parents;

Not obeying is not filial and not serving is no help.

Practice secretly working within, like a fool, like an idiot.

Just to continue in this way is called the host within the host.



The way is basically perfect and all-pervading. How could it be contingent upon

practice and realization? The dharma-vehicle is free and untrammeled. What need

is there for concentrated effort? Indeed, the whole body is far beyond the world's

dust. Who could believe in a means to brush it clean? It is never apart from one,

right where one is. What is the use of going off here and there to practice?


And yet, if there is the slightest discrepancy, the way is as distant as heaven

from earth. If the least like or dislike arises, the mind is lost in confusion. Suppose

one gains pride of understanding and inflates one's own enlightenment, glimpsing

the wisdom that runs through all things, attaining the way and clarifying the mind,

raising an aspiration to escalade the very sky. One is making the initial, partial

excursions about the frontiers but is still somewhat deficient in the vital way of

total emancipation.


Need I mention the Buddha, who was possessed of inborn knowledge? The

influence of his six years of upright sitting is noticeable still. Or Bodhidharma's

transmission of the mind-seal? The fame of his nine years of wall-sitting is

celebrated to this day. Since this was the case with the saints of old, how can we

today dispense with negotiation of the way?


You should therefore cease from practice based on intellectual

understanding, pursuing words and following after speech, and learn the backward

step that turns your light inwardly to illuminate your self. Body and mind of

themselves will drop away, and your original face will be manifest. If you want to

attain suchness, you should practice suchness without delay.


For sanzen, a quiet room is suitable. Eat and drink moderately. Cast aside all

involvements and cease all affairs. Do not think good or bad. Do not administer

pros and cons. Cease all the movements of the conscious mind, the gauging of all

thought and views. Have no designs on becoming a buddha. Sanzen has nothing

whatever to do with sitting or lying down.


At the site of your regular sitting, spread out thick matting and place a

cushion above it. Sit either in the full-lotus or half-lotus position. In the full-lotus

position, you first place your right foot on your left thigh and your left foot on your

right thigh. In the half-lotus, you simply press your left foot against your right

thigh. You should have your robes and belt loosely bound and arranged in order.

Then place your right hand on your left leg and your left palm (facing upward) on

your right palm, thumb-tips touching. Thus sit upright in correct bodily posture,

neither inclining to the left nor to the right, neither leaning forward nor backward.

Be sure your ears are on a plane with your shoulders and your nose in line with

your navel. Place your tongue against the front roof of your mouth, with teeth and

lips both shut. Your eyes should always remain open, and you should breathe

gently through your nose. Once you have adjusted your posture, take a deep breath,

inhale and exhale, rock your body right and left and settle into a steady, immovable

sitting position. Think of not-thinking. How do you think of not-thinking? Nonthinking.

This in itself is the essential art of zazen.


The zazen I speak of is not learning meditation. It is simply the dharma-gate

of repose and bliss, the practice-realization of totally culminated enlightenment. It

is the manifestation of ultimate reality. Traps and snares can never reach it. Once

its heart is grasped, you are like a dragon gaining the water, like a tiger taking to

the mountains. For you must know that just there (in zazen) the right dharma is

manifesting itself and that from the first dullness and distraction are struck aside.


When you arise from sitting, move slowly and quietly, calmly and

deliberately. Do not rise suddenly or abruptly. In surveying the past, we find that

transcendence of both unenlightenment and enlightenment, and dying while either

sitting or standing, have all depended entirely on the strength of zazen.


In addition, the bringing about of enlightenment by the opportunity provided

by a finger, a banner, a needle, or a mallet, and the effecting of realization with the

aid of a hossu, a fist, a staff, or a shout cannot be fully understood by

discriminative thinking. Indeed, it cannot be fully known by the practicing or

realizing of supernatural powers either. It must be deportment beyond hearing and

seeing - is it not a principle that is prior to knowledge and perceptions?


This being the case, intelligence or lack of it does not matter, between the

dull and the sharp-witted there is no distinction. If you concentrate your effort

single-mindedly, that in itself is negotiating the way. Practice-realization is

naturally undefiled. Going forward in practice is a matter of everydayness.


In general, this world and other worlds as well, both in India and China

equally hold the buddha-seal; and over all prevails the character of this school,

which is simply devotion to sitting, total engagement in immovable sitting.

Although it is said that there are as many minds as there are persons, still they all

negotiate the way solely in zazen. Why leave behind the seat that exists in your

home and go aimlessly off to the dusty realms of other lands? If you make one

misstep you go astray from the way directly before you.


You have gained the pivotal opportunity of human form. Do not use your

time in vain. You are maintaining the essential working of the buddha way. Who

would take wasteful delight in the spark from the flintstone? Besides, form and

substance are like the dew on the grass, destiny like the dart of lightning - emptied

in an instant, vanished in a flash.


Please, honored followers of Zen. Long accustomed to groping for the

elephant, do not be suspicious of the true dragon. Devote your energies to a way

that directly indicates the absolute. Revere the person of complete attainment who

is beyond all human agency. Gain accord with the enlightenment of the buddhas;

succeed to the legitimate lineage of the ancestors' samadhi. Constantly perform in

such a manner and you are assured of being a person such as they. Your treasurestore

will open of itself, and you will use it at will.

Self-Receiving and Employing Samadhi

Now, all ancestors and all buddhas who uphold buddha-dharma have made it the true path of enlightenment to sit upright practicing in the midst of self-fulfilling samadhi. Those who attained enlightenment in India and China followed this way. It was done so because teachers and disciples personally transmitted this excellent method as the essence of the teaching.

In the authentic tradition of our teaching, it is said that this directly transmitted, straightforward buddha-dharma is the unsurpassable of the unsurpassable. From the first time you meet a master, without engaging in incense offering, bowing, chanting Buddha's name, repentance, or reading scriptures, you should just wholeheartedly sit, and thus drop away body and mind.

When even for a moment you express the Buddha's seal in the three actions by sitting upright in samadhi, the whole phenomenal world becomes the Buddha's seal and the entire sky turns into enlightenment. Because of this all buddha tathagatas as the original source increase their dharma bliss and renew their magnificence in the awakening of the way. Furthermore, all beings in the ten directions and the six realms, including the three lower realms, at once obtain pure body and mind, realize the state of great emancipation, and manifest the original face.

At this time, all things realize correct awakening; myriad objects partake of the buddha body; and sitting upright under the bodhi tree, you immediately leap beyond the boundary of awakening. At this moment you turn the unsurpassably great dharma wheel and expound the profound wisdom, ultimate and unconditioned. Because such broad awakening resonates back to you and helps you inconceivably, you will in zazen unmistakably drop away body and mind, cutting off the various defiled thoughts from the past, and realize essential buddha-dharma. Thus you will raise up buddha activity at innumerable practice places of buddha tathagatas everywhere, cause everyone to have the opportunity of ongoing buddhahood, and vigorously uplift the ongoing buddha-dharma.

Because earth, grass, trees, walls, tiles, and pebbles all engage in buddha activity, those who receive the benefit of wind and water caused by them are inconceivably helped by the Buddha's guidance, splendid and unthinkable, and awaken intimately to themselves. Those who receive these water and fire benefits spread the Buddha's guidance based on original awakening. Because of this, all those who live with you and speak with you will obtain endless buddha virtue and will unroll widely inside and outside of the entire universe, the endless, unremitting, unthinkable, unnamable buddha-dharma.

All this, however, does not appear within perception, because it is unconstructedness in stillness-it is immediate realization. If practice and realization were two things, as it appears to an ordinary person, each could be recognized separately. But what can be met with recognition is not realization itself, because realization is not reached by a deluded mind. In stillness, mind and object merge in realization and go beyond enlightenment; nevertheless, because you are in the state of self-fulfilling samadhi, without disturbing its quality or moving a particle you extend the Buddha's great activity, the incomparably profound and subtle teaching.

Grass, trees, and lands which are embraced by this teaching together radiate a great light and endlessly expound the inconceivable, profound dharma. Grass, trees, and walls bring forth the teaching for all beings, common people as well as sages. And they in accord extend this dharma for the sake of grass, trees, and walls. Thus, the realm of self-awakening and awakening others invariably holds the mark of realization with nothing lacking, and realization itself is manifested without ceasing for a moment.

This being so, the zazen of even one person at one moment imperceptibly accords with all things and fully resonates through all time. Thus in the past, future, and present of the limitless universe this zazen carries on the Buddha's teaching endlessly. Each moment of zazen is equally wholeness of practice, equally wholeness of realization. This is not only practice while sitting, it is like a hammer striking emptiness: before and after, its exquisite peal permeates everywhere. How can it be limited to this moment?

Hundreds of things all manifest original practice from the original face; it is impossible to measure. Know that even if all buddhas of the ten directions, as innumerable as the sands of the Ganges, exert their strength and with the buddhas' wisdom try to measure the merit of one person's zazen, they will not be able to fully comprehend it.

Song of the Grass Roof Hermitage

I’ve built a grass hut where there’s nothing of value.
After eating, I relax and enjoy a nap.
When it was completed, fresh weeds appeared.
Now it’s been lived in – covered by weeds.

The person in the hut lives here calmly,
Not stuck to inside, outside, or in between.
Places worldly people live, he doesn’t live.
Realms worldly people love, he doesn’t love.

Though the hut is small, it includes the entire world.
In ten square feet, an old man illumines forms and their nature.
A bodhisattva trusts without doubt.
The middling or lowly can’t help wondering;
Will this hut perish or not?

Perishable or not, the original master is present,
not dwelling south or north, east or west.
Firmly based on steadiness, it can’t be surpassed.
A shining window below the green pines —
Jade palaces or vermilion towers can’t compare with it.

Just sitting with head covered, all things are at rest.
Thus, this mountain monk doesn’t understand at all.
Living here he no longer works to get free.
Who would proudly arrange seats, trying to entice guests?

Turn around the light to shine within, then just return.
The vast inconceivable source can’t be faced or turned away from.
Meet the ancestral teachers, be familiar with their instruction,
Bind grasses to build a hut, and don’t give up.

Let go of hundreds of years and relax completely.

Open your hands and walk, innocent.

Thousands of words, myriad interpretations, 
Are only to free you from obstructions.
If you want to know the undying person in the hut,
Don’t separate from this skin bag here and now.


Names of Women Ancestors

Acharya Mahapajapati Acharya Mitta Acharya Yasodhara Acharya

Tissa Acharya Sujata Acharya Sundari-nanda Acharya Vaddhesi

Acharya Patachara Acharya Visakha Acharya Singalaka-mata Acharya

Khema Acharya Uppalavanna Acharya Samavati Acharya Uttara

Acharya Chanda Acharya Uttama Acharya Bhadda Kundalakesa

Acharya Nanduttara Acharya Dantika Acharya Sakula Acharya Siha

Acharya Dhammadinna Acharya Kisagotami Acharya Ubbiri Acharya

Isidasi Acharya Bhadda Kapilani Acharya Mutta Acharya Sumana

Acharya Dhamma Acharya Chitta Acharya Anopama Acharya Sukka

Acharya Sama Acharya Utpalavarna Acharya Shrimala Devi Acharya

Congchi Acharya Lingzhao Acharya Moshan Liaoran Acharya Liu

Tiemo Acharya Miaoxin Acharya Daoshen Acharya Shiji Acharya

Zhi' an Acharya Huiguang Acharya Kongshi Daoren Acharya Yu

Daopo Acharya Huiwen Acharya Fadeng Acharya Wenzhao Acharya

Miaodao Acharya Zhitong Acharya Zenshin Acharya Zenzo Acharya

Ezen Acharya Ryonen Acharya Egi Acharya Shogaku Acharya Ekan

Acharya Shozen Acharya Mokufu Sonin Acharya Myosho Enkan

Acharya Ekyu Acharya Eshun Acharya Soshin Acharya Soitsu

Acharya Chiyono


*Dharanis have no English Translation. The meaning is not in the words!