“… In all major Buddhist traditions there is a certain amount of ceremonial. In some it is the main focus of daily practice, in others it is minimal, but it is always there in one form or another …”
Reverend Master Meian Elbert
For us at Shasta Abbey, Buddhist teaching and our gratitude for it are given verbal, visual and physical expression in the rich liturgy developed by Reverend Master Jiyu-Kennett as she successfully blended Buddhist Scriptural texts with Western chants and hymn tunes. Religious ceremonial as a form of mindfulness training was developed in the 13th century in Japan by Great Master Keizan Jokin. From the early 1970s through her death in 1996, Rev. Master Jiyu created daily ceremonial, as well as Sunday festival ceremonies for use by the monastic community. Throughout the year we celebrate annual memorials and remembrances. These ceremonies may include processions, bows, recited and chanted scriptures, sung invocations and incense offerings. Through liturgy we bring body and mind together to express gratitude and appreciation for the Teaching of the Buddha.
“… Buddhist ceremonial helps us to open up to this Something that is bigger than we are. We bow to it, we open our hearts to it, we turn towards it, we entrust ourselves to it. All the different aspects of ceremonial help with this: bowing, offering incense, processing, chanting or singing the scriptures, the music itself if we have music. Each of these aspects is an offering that we are making, something we are giving. Intuitively we know that this helps both ourselves and other beings. Ceremonial transcends the intellect, just as bowing does, and it works on a deeper level than our brain. Like meditation, it is a way of opening up to the unknown, of letting go of our little self that thinks it knows and that wants to be in charge. It helps us to deepen our faith and reverence for That which is greater than we are …”
Reverend Master Meian Elbert
Why do Ceremonial? An article by Rev. Master Meian Elbert
Following morning meditation, we start each day with traditional Soto Zen morning services that also include chanting, singing and incense offerings. Please see our Upcoming Events for Meditation and Morning Service times. We also follow the traditional monthly calendar of monastic ceremonies and events, including the twice monthly Renewal of Vows Ceremony.
Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett’s legacy includes the translation of a rich treasury of Serene Reflection Meditation Tradition Scriptures into English, as well as Buddhist chants and invocations set to Western chants and hymn tunes. This part of her legacy makes the Teaching more directly accessible to the Western heart. Building on this legacy, we have continued to create and add to our liturgical music and chants.
Adapting Western Chants and Hymn Tunes to Buddhist Texts: Unlocking Scriptures, Opening Hearts by Rev. Helen Cummings Used with permission 2009 The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada
Below are the Scriptures that are part of our daily liturgy. Also available in the Archives are audio files and pdfs of various Scriptures and Ceremonies as recorded at Shasta Abbey. Music and text may be downloaded, printed and distributed as long as no changes are made to the original. Otherwise, all rights reserved. Select “Listen” to hear the ceremony. To download the files, right click (control/click on Mac) and select “Download Linked File”.
Full Morning Service includes Morning Office (Sandokai, Most Excellent Mirror Samadhi, and the Ancestral Line) and Morning Service (The Scripture of Great Wisdom, the Litany of the Great Compassionate One) and the Adoration of the Buddha’s Relics). Short Morning Service includes the Scripture of Great Wisdom, the Litany of the Great Compassionate One, and the Ancestral Line.
The Scripture of Great Wisdom (audio)
The Scripture of Great Wisdom (text)
The Litany of the Great Compassionate One (audio)
The Litany of the Great Compassionate One (text)
Adoration of the Buddha’s Relics (audio)
Adoration of the Buddha’s Relics (text)
Mid-Day Service, recited in the afternoon, includes Rules for Meditation.
Evening Office, recited before we retire for the night, includes Vespers (the Litany of the Great Compassionate One, the Invocation of Achalanatha, the Invocation of Mahakala and the Invocation of the Cosmic Buddha).
OTHER ABBEY CEREMONIAL
The Abbey’s liturgical year includes Sunday ceremonies that honor the Buddha, various Bodhisattvas and Ancestors, as well as special – and celebratory – events in the life of the Buddha like Enlightenment Day and Wesak that are listed on our annual calendar. It also includes monthly ceremonies like Renewal of Vows, the Surangama Ceremony, and others that are listed on our monthly calendar.
The Abbey also offers a full range of Buddhist ceremonies that mark significant moments in our lives: funerals and memorials; weddings; naming ceremonies for children; house blessings; special ceremonies for aborted or stillborn children and miscarriages, animal ordinations, funerals, and memorials. Shasta Abbey has facilities for the care of both human and animal cremated remains. We offer the Feeding the Hungry Ghosts ceremony for beings who may have died under traumatic conditions such as by violence or suicide. We also regularly offer a Transfer of Merit Ceremony in which we offer the merit of our practice to those in need – the ill, the dying or newly dead, or those in difficult situations. Anyone may request a transfer of merit.
Also available in the Archives are audio files and pdfs of various Scriptures, Chants and Invocation used in these ceremonial offerings. Music and text may be downloaded, printed and distributed as long as no changes are made to the original. Otherwise, all rights reserved. Select “Listen” to hear the ceremony. To download the files, right click (control/click on Mac) and select “Download Linked File”.