Gate of Sweet Nectar at ZCLA Part 2: Mudras
This talk was given Â byÂ Roshis Bernie Glassman and Â Egyoku Nakao at their workshop on the Gate of Sweet Nectar liturgy in April 2015 at ZCLA. It was transcribed by Scott Harris.
All right, you have a handout with all the mudras. As Bernie mentioned, Michael OâKeefe has been doing these mudras for several decades, doing The Gate every day. On a recent trip to L.A., he and I (Egyoku) got together, and I had a tutorial from him. And then I asked Jitsujo, who many of you from Sweetwater know, to do the finger drawings.
OK, so letâs get started. And while weâre at it, weâll also do the mudras. Any questions you might have about how we do certain thingsâfeel free to bring it up. Especially those of you from Sweetwater, who do this once a week, you may have a variation. Iâll try to remember to point out where there are actual changes in the text.
So, our plan at ZCLA is after this workshop is over. Probably some time in June, we will sit down with our version of The Gate, and start to reimagine it, rethink it, and relook at it. And thereâll probably be some changes that will arise from that.
At ZCLA we use the five Buddha families as our organizational mandala. And I think we may do that at Sweetwater. Itâs something Bernie has always encouraged us to do. And so we have mudras for each of those families, but theyâre not necessarily duplicated in The Gate. I want it to be much more integrated with our organization as well.
All right, to begin, as Dharma Joy mentioned, it takes about eleven people to do this version. And the way we do things at ZCLA is when you appear, we ask you to do something. So itâs always a joyful celebration of our whatever is arising. Weâre gonna make a meal with that.
So we begin with what we call our âUsual Officiant Entry.â
Ching ching, ching ching, ching ching, ching ching.
I believe in the handout you had this morning you have the Officiant Entry, for those of you who might be interested in what that looks like.
So the Officiant enters. And I wish we had a room where we could do it in a circle. But we really donât, weâre sort of confined to these old houses here. So the Officiant goes up to offer powdered incense. And the first mudra comes shortly after that. So really the first mudra of The Gate is when the Officiant enters and bows inâthe Mother Gassho.
So at the very back of this handout you have an index of the mudras. So the Mother Gassho is the gassho that weâre all used to doing, which is . . . You can just do it with me. Place your hands together, your palms together. Thereâs no space in between. The tip of your nose is about in line with the tip of your fingers. Your elbows are a little outânot like this, which a lot of us love to do. Like that, but itâs really dignified, you know. Itâs where weâre meeting, right? Buddhas and sentient beings are meetingâright in front of our eyes. And we bow, like that. So thatâs the very first mudra of The Gate. Well, you could say the first mudra is shashu, but letâs just go with that. Â Â
Then the Officiant walks up to the alter, and offers incense. Then we go into this mudra, which is like a protection, a purifying mudraâwhich is your right hand over the left, so just right over left. And we hold them over the incense, and move it in a circular position. And this is just clockwise one time. And some of us do it three times, but just one nice big circleâbut discreetly. And then you move your hands to your chest. And then purifying down to your hara. And you just let the mudra go, and back into the Mother Gassho. Sidestep, and return to the Bowing Mat.
And at that point weâre going to do three bows together.
After the three bows, the Chanter will begin the introductory verse, which is Krishna Dasâs Hungry Hearts. You know itâs interesting, when we first received the song, what we did is we had a little Gate session one afternoon. And we tried the song in all different places of the liturgy. We would do it this way, put it her, put it there. And finally, really it felt best for us at the very beginning. So we go through the song, and we have the Chanter chant alone the first time, to kind of set the rhythm. And every Chanter, of course, does it differently, which is really very interesting to chant along. Some voices are very low, some are higher. Everybody gives their own rhythm to it sometimes. But the rhythm that Senchen gave today is sort of what we aim for. So aim for that.
Once change which Daigo pointed out to meâthe very last line, âI make them mine.â
Audience member: You know, I will say that will be harder to sing. And you have to change âjoy and sorrowsâ to plural, because âjoy and sorrowâ could be an it.
Roshi Egyoku: You know, Iâm gonna take Daigoâs word for it, because what he stressed to me is this is Krishna Dasâs song. And I donât want to fiddle with it myself. There was something else long ago that I didnât have correct, and I changed that. But I did them this morning, and it was fine. In fact the it sounded a little odd.
Audience member: Egyoku, I remember doing that with Krishna Das in Auschwitz, and we actually did it without anything. So it was your âjoy and your sorrow. I make mine.â
Roshi Egyoku: âI make mine.â I like that much better. OK, weâll do that. Yeah, I like that, because thatâs a real affirmation. Yeah itâs real affirmative. I make mine. I love that.
OK, so the Officant is in shashu. And you all know shashu from your Zen life.
The Officiant goes back up to offer incense after the song, returns to the Bowing Mat. And I donât know if I indicated that here, but when you return, you can return in the Mother Gassho. The Diamond Gassho, which weâre going to do, is really intense, and I think itâs better to just walk back with the Mother Gassho .
So weâre going to move into the Invitation of the Calling Forth of All of the Buddhas. For that portion the Officiant is in the Diamond Gassho, which is your palms together, and your fingers are interlaced. So your right thumb is over your left thumb, and then your fingers are interlaced this way. Thereâs no space between the palms of the hand. And again, your elbows are up, and your eyes are looking through your two middle fingers. So your gaze is like right through there. Youâll get cross-eyed. Itâs really hard to maintain. But youâre doing it with that kind of concentration and focus. So those of you at ZCLA, there are going to be some real changes. At ZCLA, see if we do this, Iâm seeing Shakyamuni Buddha. Right through these fingers, some times my eyes go buggy. You know, and I have the candle, and my fingers are whatever. So the focus is there.
The surround environment is soft. Right? So you get a sense of the intensity of this mudra. And the scenery around you is soft. The scenery . . . thatâs very interesting. And the motion, or the feeling that youâre generating is one of complete receptivity. Like weâre inviting in, right? Like weâre inviting in all of these Buddhas. And as Bernie suggested this morning, weâll invite in some wording of, I donât know hungry ghosts I guess, hungry energy. Weâll figure out what to do with that.
And then at ZCLA weâll probably alsoâweâll have to really think about this, butâinclude being one with the mother of the Buddhas, Prajnaparamita. Weâll have to figure out how all of that goes.
Audience member: I have a question. When the Officiant, I heard that when youâre facing the image, your gaze is connected with the eyes of the image . . .
Roshi Egyoku: You know, I donât know that thatâs going to be possible, depending on where your image is. So like if itâs really high itâs going to be difficult to do. But it would be great if you could do it. This is a little high. Itâs going to get higher. But that would be an interesting kind of thing to remember. Do you remember, Bernie? I think your image is a little lower.
Audience member: Yeah, heâs about my height.
Roshi Egyoku: Any questions?
Audience member: For adding in, is it the hungry spirits that you add in, or is it like the fighting demons, and you know?
Roshi Egyoku: I think we just really have to think about it. My sense always of this section was really inviting in the Buddhas as a way of grounding. It grounds me.
Audience member: But you were saying something a little different, which was to invite in the dark . . .
Roshi Egyoku: The shadows, the dark, the disowned. Yeah, but I donât know. I want to think about it, I think, because itâs implicit in the whole liturgy. What comes up for me is you need a grounding to invite in, to be developed. All my undeveloped parts need grounding too. You know, what you call forth appears.
Audience member: Itâs a detail, but when one does the Diamond Gassho, if you are looking at the space between your fingers as you first instructed, then they remain in front of your faceâif you look at a more distant object, as in Buddha, your dominant eye will drag it over one side or the other.
Roshi Egyoku: Yeah, so itâs a real practice in focusing and intensity.
Audience member: Well, the question would be which one does one do? You can focus on either one, but I donât think both.
Roshi Egyoku: Well, you know, nothing is static. So in that kind of intense gaze . . . You know for me itâs both, because my height is just where the Buddha is.
Audience member: Well Iâm talking about the left or right side, because your dominant . . . If you put something between your fingers, your dominant eye is going to . . .
Roshi Egyoku: Yeah, well thatâs what makes the mudra interesting, because you switch eyes. I mean I move my eyes.
Audience member: But you canât keep the object in the same spot when you move …
Audience member: Actually I see both of them, and then . . .
Roshi Egyoku: But the object doesnât move anyway, so . . .
Audience member: Itâs either between fingers with one dominant eye, or itâs on both sides of your fingers if you get both eyes.
Roshi Egyoku: Yeah, you can switch around. I think. And itâs actually a really fascinating thing. You know, I find when Iâm making the adjustments I have to make just to maintain that state of being, itâs very fascinating. And try not to faint, right. Mudras really engage you. I mean the whole sutra, but the mudras really engage you in that kind of way. I think you sort of get into a zone, like a real mindset where those kinds of questions just arenât important.
Alright, so then after the Buddhas have been invited in, we return in shashu. We all know approaching the zendo weâre in shashu. Thereâs one exception to that weâll come to later. And then we return in the Mother Gassho.
When we return we have the attention, or as Bernie said, calling everybody to really listenâcalling to attention, calling all of us and the hungry spirits, all our hungers to attention. And we do that as an invitation, in the way that Senchen . . .
Senchen, would you please do your attention?
Senchen: [sings] Attention.
Roshi Egyoku: Yeah, you just want to go. It draws you in. Itâs that energy that just draws you in, and welcomes you in. So thatâs what you want. As opposed to attention! Maybe we should type it differently or something, but itâs that sense. Itâs an invitation to come in.
Audience member: Our attention is a little sharper. We do Attention! But I was really pleased this morning hearing that difference. I like the energy of it . . .
Roshi Egyoku: Yes. I think you could. Itâs something we struggled with too. When Bernie instructed me on the Gate, it always was as an invitation. And Attention! Just doesnât quite make me feel like coming in, you know? So I do like that sense of really drawing in, or welcoming in, an inviting in. Itâs very intentional. So I think itâs something to consider. And I think those who chant also feel the difference of that energetic.
Bernie: When we did it back in ZCLA when Maezumi Roshi was here, it was that strong attention. Thatâs very Japanese also. And this feels better to me.
Roshi Egyoku: It had a more military sense.
Bernie: Yeah, itâs very military.
Audience member: I thought The Shema (a jewish prayer) was very helpful, because when you hear that, that gives you exactly the tone.
Bernie: Yes, itâs the same thing. Itâs not Shema! [Sings] Shema . . .
Audience member: Itâs like the bell before the zazen period.
Roshi Egyoku: Alright, so then weâre going to go into the Mindless Gassho. And this is a really interesting one to do. So, this is when you know how stiff your fingers are. So youâre putting your index finger, and youâre having the end parts meet like that. And your thumbs are going just like that. And then your other fingers are open. Now if you can, and I canât do this, but if you can put your palms together at the bottom, that would be good. I canât quite do that. Daigo could do it. But he has big hands, so maybe thatâs what did it. He and I would laugh a lot, because his hands and my hands did very different things, even trying to do the same thing. So youâre like this.
So again, elbows high. And your middle fingers touching. Yeah thatâs what made it hard for me to keep my palms together. Front palms together, back palms open. Oh, Iâm thinking of another one. And then eyes again gaze between the tips of the middle finger. OK?
Itâs the last tips by the knuckle, that first knuckle, coming from the fingertips together.
Audience member: Where is the gaze?
Roshi Egyoku: Your gaze is between these twoâthe middle finger, at the tips.
Dharma Joy: Roshi, can you just swivel this way for the camera a second?
There we go. OK. Thank you.
Roshi Egyoku: Yeah, my fingers are very stiff, so Iâm just feeling it when I do this one. I donât know how you feel.
Sometimes depending on your hands, your middle fingers touch, just at the top.
Audience member: But it looks from the picture like the whole finger.
Roshi Egyoku: Yeah, but itâs not natural. I mean you canât . . . If you have really big hands. I think for Daigo, he could. So we had a lot of laughs, because I said, âHow do you do that?â He said, âWell, your hands are different.â So yeah, like that.
Isnât that interesting?
Audience member: . . . if you do that. Thereâs more energy in your hands.
Roshi Egyoku: Yeah, but you also are not as open, so. Yeah, I canât do it. I mean, thereâs no way I could possibly bring those together. But if you can, and then these are open, so . . . You might have different flexibility in your fingers, or you just, you know, have more finger than I do.
Alright, and eyes between the tips of the middle finger. OK, so the Officiant remains in this mudra throughout all of the various vows that we will be reciting. So itâs a little while that youâre maintaining the mudras.
So we go through the Vow to Feed the Hungry Spirits, which is spoken, the Prayer of Food Sharing, which is sung, Prayer for Raising the Bodhi Mind, which is spoken. Now the Prayer for Fulfilling These Vows, which is sung, Iâve made a change in it. We used to say, âI further beseech you to sustain me day and night, and give me courage to fulfill my vows.â So Daigo has been doing this version all these years, said to me, âPlease clarify to me, with Bernie, whoâs the âyouâ?â Is it the hungry spirits? Is it the Buddhas, and so forth? So Bernie said, âItâs the Buddhas.â So thinking about different variations we could say there, I just changed it to âall Buddhas.â âI further beseech all Buddhas to sustain me day and night, and give me courage to fulfill my vows.â So thereâs no mistake about who weâre beseeching.
Dharma Joy: In the next one, where it says, âIn offering this meal, I pray that you get its merits,â thatâs also going to be all Buddhas.
Roshi Egyoku: Yeah.
Audience member: I thought that was a koan.
Roshi Egyoku: Yeah.
Audience member: Egyoku, when we did the Diamond Gassho, was an encouragement for feeling of receptivity. So are we maintaining that particular feeling throughout the mudras, or each mudra has a different feeling that weâre invoking?
Roshi Egyoku: Some mudras we specify the kind of energy we should generate. But what do you think Bernie? I think weâre still in that very receptive place, obviously, because weâre inviting something so enormous. Itâs so huge, right? And the whole Gate is one of receptivity, right? You could say itâs a practice of receptivity. Itâs an invitation.
So even when you see a hungry ghost appear, and you think eww, youâre still in this receptive pose.
Audience member: Interesting that you just said that, to think that this is a practice of invitation. Weâre not like doing anything. What weâre doing is the invitation. Is this true? Is this how you see it?
Roshi Egyoku: That has been a lot of my experience with it.
Bernie: I would say that for the first half. But by the time youâre doing the âNO MAKU SA RA . . .â youâre shifting to . . . Weâre offering food, and weâre offering teachings. So then it becomes an offering.
Roshi Egyoku: Yeah, but you know itâs an interesting question, because I think itâs like the attitude of receptivity really sets the ground for offering. Because in a way you canât offer what youâre not receiving.
Bernie: Right. And itâs very important after receiving, to offer. Itâs not just about you receiving.
Audience member: So I was thinking how this relates to the Three Tenets, and this is like going along with the bearing witness. Weâre not acting yet, weâre just receiving . . .
Bernie: Well, the receptivity part is the not knowing part. You canât fully receive if youâre in a state of knowing. Whatever youâre knowing is blocking stuff coming in. So not knowing puts you into a state of real receptivity. And then youâre bearing witness, and then the actions become the offerings.
Roshi Egyoku: Yeah, I think youâre asking in a way a very profound question. I know in my own experience it was always easier for me to give. And many people itâs very hard to receive, and be really receptive to an offering. We donât even recognize offerings sometimes. We deflect it.
But this really says, first of all, you know, ground and prepare yourself by receiving, like really moving into openness and not knowing. First of all, you canât skip that step. Thatâs been important for me.
Bernie: Itâs interesting; I think a lot of how we talk now comes out of our practice with the Three Tenets. I donât think other people that are doing this would necessarily have the same kind of discussion. Â Iâm going to talk tomorrow about the fact that thereâs a very important period in Japan called Obon, when the Priests are going around to all the donors, all the people associated with his or her temple. Usually theyâre his temple, and doing the service. And in fact during that week I would say a large percentage of their income for the year is coming during that week. And Iâm trying to think would they say theyâre in receptive or . . . I donât know. It doesnât matter.
Weâre looking at it through the eyes of the Three Tenets. And thatâs only the last twenty years that weâre looking at it that way. When I did the translation thirty-five years ago, I wasnât looking at it that way. But thatâs how I think we talk now, and that fits in well with the whole Zen Peacemaker Order.
Roshi Egyoku: Yeah. And at ZCLA weâve been doing this now for seventeen years. A lot of people want to know what it means, and all that, but I like to just engage a ritual, and see what it opens up for me. So itâs kind of interesting to have this conversation, and hear these questions, really.
Alright, so after that Mindless Gassho, weâre now going to move into the Diamond Fist. So this is a really interesting part of doing the Gate. So our left hand goes into the Diamond Fist Mudra. And then our right hand will go into the Invitation Mudra.
So for the Diamond Fist, letâs spend some time on that now. So first of all, this is your left hand, and you fold your four fingers over your thumb. And then you move your thumb a little bit out. And then you raise your fourth finger like this. So your fingernail part is just sitting on the knuckle of your thumb. Do you see that?
So then you find a placeâand you want to stand up for this part. This raised part of your forefinger; youâre going to find a spot in your lower back. So your lower back muscles to the left of your spineâso just start moving around thereâthe left of your spine, below the kidneys, and above the pelvic girdle. Right there, do you feel that? Your feet are apart, because you canât be grounded if theyâre together, so theyâre a little bit apart. Itâs going to be different for everybody, right? Youâre gonna ground yourself in there. You see that? You have to kind of move around and find, like right there. It kind of hurts actually. Yeah, it must be some kind of a point. Do you know which point that is? Thatâs the Meridian Point. You go like, ouch.
Alright, and then your right hand will be in the Invitation Mudra. Which is like this. So your thumb and middle finger meet. And all the other fingers are upright, and the ring finger and your pinkie should be together. But I cannot do that. Ok, like Mukee, look at that. Oh my gosh! Photograph him. His fingers are together. I canât do that. Isnât that something? Itâs very interesting, you know.
So, now this is a really interesting part, and a part that really requires the Officiantâs focus and attention. So for the very first part, [chants] âNOBO BO HO RI GYA RI TA RIÂ°TA TA GYA TA YA,â at GYA TA YA, youâre going to move this finger, and youâre gonna like call the hungry spirits in. Youâre inviting the hungry spirits. Itâs hard on the thumb, isnât it? Keep all the other fingers straight out. Oh my gosh, I canât do it. I got a muscle spasm.
Audience member: This is inside your sleeve?
Roshi Â Â Egyoku: This is inside your sleeve. Yes, thatâs right. The priests have long sleeves, so this is all covered up. So if you forget, nobody will know.
And so itâs âYA . . . TA . . . YA.â Three times. Yeah, itâs just three times. We have to really listen too to the chanting, YA . . . TA . . . YA. OK?
And then we do it in English, âBeing one with the unconditioned. TA TA TATA, TA TA TATA.â My thumb is going into spasms.
Alright, and then the next oneâs a little easier. So then we go back to this, TA TA TATA. Alright, so then weâre going into the Dharani of Hell Crushing, and Hungry Spirit Throat Opening. And all weâre going to do this time is like, to do this. So again, youâre in Diamond Fist in your left hand, and your right hand is in Invitation. And at âOM BO HO TEI RI GAY TA RIÂ°TA TA GYA TA YA,â GYA TA RI youâre gonna pull this down, and snap your fingers. I donât know, the Japanese do it in a strange way, but we just snap. I donât know the Japanese way. Do you know? Itâs like some strange thing they do, but we just snap. And just one time.
So letâs do it on GYA TA RI. [chants] OM BO HO TEI RI GAY TA RIÂ°TA TA GYA TA YA. So you just do the snap, right there in the middle of that mudra. Or [chants] âBeing one with the Boundless Tathagata.â It goes very fast. So youâre like moving around quite a bit. Sometimes itâs passed and youâre like Oh, I didnât snap yet.
Audience member: Do you return to the mudra?
Roshi Egyoku: Yes, you return to the mudra. Exactly. It actually helps to return to the mudra.
Audience member: But you have to do it in a quarter of a second, otherwise the whole thing falls apart.
Roshi Egyoku: So we have here a note. This has three implications. Itâs calling the hungry spirits to attention. So now weâre saying, âHey, youâre here, so letâs get with it.â Inviting them to open up their throats, because you know, they have these thin throats, so I donât know how you do that. And providing delight and joy. Isnât that nice?
Alright, so then you go back to this. And this next one I really like. Dharani of Expansion Prayer Upon the Food and Drink. So again, youâre in the Diamond Fist on your left hand. And then what youâre going to do in this mudra is on âSA BA RA,â youâre going to rub your fingernail three times. I donât know if thereâs a particular direction, but I just sort of go like that. One, two, three, at SA BA RA, and then at âUNâ youâre going to snap your fingers. And then, youâre going to visualizeâwhile youâre doing all of thisâyouâre also visualizing the transformation of this limited amount of cornmeal in the bowl, or whatever youâre offering, into this boundless, boundless food that fills the whole universe, and feeds every single being.
So thereâs a lot going on in this mudra. So letâs do it with the chanting. So remember on âSA BA RA,â youâre gonna go, rubbing your fingernail three times. And youâre gonna snap your finger on âUN.â And UN is the last word of this line. So weâre in this mudra . . .
[Chants] NO MAKU SA RA BA TA TA GYA TA BARO KI TEI OMÂ°
SAN BA RA SAN BA RA UN
Being one with all Tathagatas and Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva,
Please nourish and sustain us.
âPlease nourish and sustain us,â is when youâre going to start. âAvolokitesvara,â we do the three, and then âPlease nourish and sustain us.â So letâs do that.
[Chants] Being one with all Tathagatas and Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva,
Please nourish and sustain us.
I think itâs more like âPlease nourish and sustain us,â Although I highlighted âAvalokitsvara.â
[Chants] Please nourish and sustain us. [snaps] OK?
And then you go back into this Invitation Mudra for the very last one, Dharani Upon the Dharma Taste of the Sweet Nectar. So youâre remaining in the Diamond Fist and the Invitation Mudra for this fourth section. âBe one with the dharma of the sweet nectar that the mysterious light of Tathagata expounds. And after having your meal, clean your body with sweet water, and drink the sweet nectar of dharma, so that both body and mind are well satisfied.â So for that whole portion . . .
[Chants] NO MAKU SO RO BA YA TA TA GYA TA YA TA NYA TA OM
SO RO SO RO HA RA SO ROÂ°HA RA SO RO SO WA KA
Being one with the Inconceivable Body Tathagata,
let the nectar of Dharma spring forth.
Now comes the fun part. Youâre going to offer the food.
So when Daigu was actually reviewing this, this was actually very complicated, how he learned it from Bernie, and how he was doing itâbecause itâs very, very specific the number of times that youâre actually chanting this NO MAKU SAN MAN DA.
So just to say what he taught me, and we have modified it. We talked to Bernie a little bit. I think we tried this in the beginning, we couldnât quite sustain this. So the dharani is repeated twenty on, or more times. Itâs a minimum of twenty-one times. Fourteen times, or till the Officiant has completed the food offering. Thatâs the NO MAKU SAN MAN DA.â So we may do close to fourteen. I donât know, it depends on how fast the officiant is. Iâm not sure. And then seven times in English. And we maintain the seven times in English, because we have a little bit more control over that portion.
So the first seven are for all the hungry ghosts. The second seven are for all beings who have not been able to approach the alter, who may be reluctant to come, which Bernie spoke about. And the third seven, which we do in English, are for the Three Treasures.
So what we do at ZCLA is we just keep doing the NO MAKU SAN MAN DA until the Officiant returns to he hishiki. And then we go into the English version of that. Is that what youâre doing at Sweet Water Zen Center?
Bernie: And thatâs how I was trained.
Roshi Egyoku: Is that how you were trained? So I donât know where Daigo got this. But I included it as an alternative.
Bernie: Well itâs fourteen times, or until . . .
Roshi Egyoku: Or until, right. Fourteen times, or until. Right, thatâs what it says right her.
Alright Bernieâs note, âAn important character here is BAN, âNO MAKU SAN MAN DA, BO TA NAN BAN.â BAN, which means Buddha Mind, or Buddha Body. It is the water of Dharma Nature, of Vairocana Buddha, Buddha of Formless Forms, which purifies all delusions and defilements. In this Dharani youâre giving the milk and compassion of Vairocana Buddha to the hungry spirits.â
Bernie: Now Iâd like to just mention that Vairocana Buddha is the representation of not knowingâof the first tenet. We usually say Vairocana Buddha, Formless Forms. And itâs in the center of the mandala. Itâs the state of not knowing. And Vairocana Buddha is the one that appears when youâre giving the precepts. So the Officiant that is giving the precept is supposed to get into that mind of not knowing.
Roshi Egyoku: So youâll recall we were in this mudra, Invitation Mudra, and then weâre going to move into the Feeding of the Hungry Spirits. So the NO MAKU SAN MAN DA. This will change, for those of you at ZCLA
So weâre like this. And weâre starting, NO MAKU SAN MAN DA, BO TA NAN BAN. And then youâre gonna go in to the Mother Gassho. And youâre gonna bow. And then youâre going to sidestep. And then youâre going to go back into your Diamond Fist, and the Fearless Mudra. OK?
So then youâre in Fearless Mudra, and youâre going to approach the alter in the Fearless Mudra. And your fingers are all together in the Fearless Mudra. Itâs hard, isnât it? So itâs just like this.
So I think you all know the story, when Devadatta tried to kill the Buddha, got an elephant drunk, or riled up, and the Buddha went like this. And so do the elephant, so this is giving no fearâthe mudra of giving no fear.
So you approach the alter in this position, in No Fear Mudra, trying to keep your fingers together if itâs possible. You go all the way up to the alter. And when you get to the alter, you back bow into the Mother Gassho. And then youâre going to sidestep and offer incense as usual. And then youâre going to sidestep by the food. So we have the food here, as you can see. So sidestep by the food. And you go back into your Diamond Fist. And then youâre doing this mudraâI forgot the name of it. Middle Finger Mudra, oh yeah. Middle Finger Mudra. We had a lot of fun with this one, Daigo and I. Youâre going to the Middle Finger Mudra, and hereâs what youâre going to do. So you go over your water, and youâre going to do like clockwise three times. And youâre gathering up the energy, and then into your middle finger here. And then youâre going to do this three times, and . . . You donât make that noise, but [laughs]. Nobody will know.
Audience member: When youâre doing the circle, do you keep your wrist bent at this angle, and move your whole arm? Or do you . . .
Roshi Egyoku: No, I go like this. My arm moves.
Audience member: OK.
Roshi Egyoku: Yeah, we just do it like this. So the picture shows it kind of like that, I think.
Audience member: And thatâs with the water?
Roshi Egyoku: Yes. Â This is the gathering of all the energy. And then the water gets mixed with the food.
So then, you know however you do it, we put a little bit of cornmeal, and we put water, we place three scoops of water and just mush it all up. And then we sense the bowl like youâre used to doing Iâm sure. You may have to offer more incense. And I think we cover the bowl. And at some point you lift it up, and you again have this visualization of it going to every corner of the universe. Expanding, thatâs the expansion of the food. In our case we have cornmealâthe whole universe becomes cornmeal.
Audience member: You know Egyoku, I have some kind of a version where thereâs rice and each repetition is choreographed. Is that like an older version, or that was the complicated version that you were speaking of?
Roshi Egyoku: No, I think thatâs probably how Maezumi Roshi taught you, because the Japanese use rice, and for our, once a year we use rice. You know, when we do the big ancestor alter. And then you sort of mush it, and Â . . .
Audience member: Each one is choreographed. I got that from Enkyo I guess, maybe.
Audience member: We do rice and raisins.
Roshi Egyoku: You do rice and raisins, and you wet them all?
Bernie: The food should be whatâs common to your sangha. And what I like is if itâs after a meal, or before a meal (like before breakfast), that some of the food from that meal is whatâs put up there. It doesnât have to be rice. As she said, Japanese do rice, but weâre not all Japaneseâsome are, some arenât. Â If itâs part of the food that weâre going to eat, then I like that feeling.
Roshi Egyoku: Itâs interesting, because when you think about it, rice is the main dish. Itâs always the main dish for Japanese people. But I know Iâve seen Japanese Priests do it, you know, just mash it in your palm. And so we used to do that from time to time, but then you end up with this whole mess. And if you put it back in the water, then you need a towel to wipe your hands. But I donât know the other thing youâre describing. Enkyo might have gotten that from someone possibly.
OK, so any questions about that?
Audience member: When we used to go into Fearless, we would make two or three rounds of . . .
Roshi Egyoku: No.
Audience member: So now youâre just going . . .
Roshi Egyoku: Thatâs right. It will probably take you around NO MAKU SAN MAN DA, BO TA NAN BAN.
Audience member: Weâre not waiting for you?
Roshi Egyoku: No.
Audience member: I Just wanted to mention, at Sweet Water in the part where you lift the bowl, we actually take chopsticks and offer to the various directions.
Roshi Egyoku: Yeah, we do that when we do the more formal. Itâs a great thing to do. Chopsticks, or a spoon, your fingersâthat has a real organic feeling. Then you have to clean your hands. Thereâs nothing wrong with that. So you start to experiment.
Bernie: Personally, I like the fingers. But you know weâre offering a way. And there will be variations depending on the sangha and how the people there want to do it. And one of the things I would suggest is if itâs at home, if you want to learn the mudras, you should do it every dayâor quite often. Because if youâre doing it once a month, or once a week, youâre not gonna really remember. But we taught this as a home practice. You could do all of this at your home. And a big advantage now is you could even tape it. So if youâre doing it at home, you could also have this tape and check. And if you do it at home for a month or two months, youâll know it. But then if you donât do it for a year, youâll forget it. But if youâre home, or even at a place like this, you can put a little towel up there, so if youâre using your fingers, then you wipe it with the towel, or a towlette.
Roshi Egyoku: Or if youâre using raisins, you wonât even need it. You could just put your little raisins in, but then somebody has to go pick it up later.
Bernie: Now in my head, this part is a Buddhist communion. So you could even at a center, feed it to peopleâjust like itâs done in Mass. This is really the same feeling as Buddhist communion.
Roshi Egyoku: You could have wafers.
Audience member: They call it the Celebration of Mass. So when you said that this morning, that resonatedâthat Celebration of Mass.
Roshi Egyoku: Yeah, itâs very interesting as you start to resonate more. Itâs like you want to enact it more, and make it more relevant as we go through it.
Audience member: Will we actually have one recording of the whole walk through? The whole thing, so we can really at home just play that, and practice?
Dharma Joy: We can do it. Well we have a DVD for sale.
Roshi Egyoku: You can all have the DVD. I havenât seen it in ages, and I donât know if weâve made changes since then. We might have, I have a feeling. Do you all have our Gate DVD? Senchen, can you make it available please, as a gift? And you can take as many copies as you want, because we have hundreds of them.
We recorded the Gate of Sweet Nectar with a project with Smith College, Dr. Peter Gregory. And we spent a whole day with camera crew just doing the Gate. I donât know, we did it ten times I think. Itâs so horrible, to just do the Gate over, and over, and over. And they filmed us, but that was quite a few years ago now.
There are also some very nice interviews that are part of that. But youâre all welcome to have a copy or copies. Â So Senchen will just have them stacked up somewhere.
OK, where are we? So after you have fed, wash your hands, put everything away. Youâll return to the Bowing Mat. And we have here return in Diamond Gassho, and the only reason I left that is Daigo was really insistent. But I think Mother Gassho. And Bernie said Mother, and I say Mother, because again itâs hard to walk with the Diamond Gassho when youâre that focused. So just go back to Mother Gassho. Return to the hishiki.
Now weâre going to start the Offering of the Buddha Wisdom, so we can sit down again at this point.
Do you need a break, or are you OK?
All right, so now weâre going to move into the Dharani for Inviting the Five Families, the Buddhas of the Five Families. This part is really nice for the officiant. The officiant is in the Diamond Gassho for the entire Five Buddha Families. And the officiant for each family is visualizing the qualities of the Buddha family thatâs being invoked. Now during this time of the Five Families the Ryoban (or if youâre in a circle, I guess itâs the designated people) will come forward and make an offering for each family.
And so when we actually rehearse the Gate weâll do that. Weâll show you the moves. The Green Family (It starts with the Ratna Family), and youâll notice that all the books . . .
So you all noticed, and I think you did this at Sweet Water, you have colored books for the Buddha families. So thereâs red, yellow, and a white, blue, and green. So the people on the Ryoban and Jiko are representing the Buddha families in this case. So the people that pass out the books have to make sure theyâre arranged in the proper order. Thatâs their job, you know.
You know this liturgy really asks a lot of everybody whoâs participating. Itâs really fascinating. So they bow to each other, come forward, and then they bow to the officiant. And the way we do it is the officiant returns the bow (Of course theyâre in the Diamond Gassho.), returns the first bow. And then they turn together. And so what I remember you teaching me, Bernie, is that these two people act as one body. So they turn together. So if Iâm here Iâm gonna move my left leg first. And if Iâm here, Iâm gonna move my right leg first. We donât get too fanatical about it, but those who know, itâs really fun.
And then you go up together. And youâre going to offer incense. So if Iâm on this side I offer . . . well we just do one pinch because we donât want to smoke ourselves out of the room. And I do it with my left, and the person on Bernieâs side would do it with the right. So itâs really like youâre one body is functioning. Itâs very interesting.
And then we turn around. We face each other, turn around, come back here. And then we bow to the officiant, but the officiant does not return the second bow. The officiant is really focused on Buddhas, and visualizing the Padma Family qualities of we call it relationships, intimacy, seduction. We have to invite the ghost part of all those wonderful things.
And then they go back to the ryoban. And then we finish chanting that family. We move into the next family. Now the people second on the rioban repeats the same action. And so for every family we go through the same kind of enactment of offering for that family. And the officiant then for each family is visualizing the qualities of that family.
Now some of this language is one of the things I was talking to Bernie about that we want to re-look. So we use for the Padma Family, the first family, the unifying spheres. And I think Bernie, you now use integrating spheres, or something like that. I think you use integrating now.
So these are things for everyone to think about and reflect upon, and what the qualities of everyone that you want to bring out are maybe the most important. I donât know.
And then the Ratna, we use livelihood. I donât know if youâre still using livelihood, but we use the livelihood sphere. In our mandala we say resource sphere. So thatâs another possibility.
And then the third is the Buddha, formless sphere, as Bernie described. And then the Vajra, so we use the study spheres. And then the Karma Family, which is the service spheres.
Audience member: Itâs interesting, the order. I would think that the Buddha family would be the first one to go . . .
Roshi Egyoku: Yeah, itâs an interesting thing because when you have it as a mandala, you know, we have the Buddha in the middle. I know, itâs interesting, isnât it? But on our flag we have it at the end. But then when you close that loop, you visualize it as a circle again. So I donât know what youâd consider the middle.
And just a tip for those of you who are going to be doing itâthe chanter goes up on the third. And so oftentimes we can lose the chant at the Dharani. You know, because suddenly we donât have the chanters loud voice leading us. So for those of you that are helping to hold the liturgy, just remember that, and keep projecting your voice out, because all the sudden nobody knows where they are. Itâs just an odd thing that happens a lot of times.
Bernie: I just had an interesting thoughtâinteresting to me at least. If youâre doing it as a home service for example, you can say whatâs my dominant energy? And start with that energy. If itâs at a training group, you could say whatâs the dominant energy here? And start with that. Thatâs a possibility.
Roshi Egyoku: For the order that you go in.
Bernie: Yeah. What I like about that is it makes you think whatâs you dominant energy, which can change. I mean right now your dominant energy might be something different. So itâs bringing your attention to the dominant energy of you or the group youâre part of.
Roshi Egyoku: This is reminding of the very old days when I did tea ceremony. They had a training ceremony when they give you a chit. So you take a chit, and the chit tells you what position youâve got. Whatever you gotâmaybe you arranged the flowers, maybe you served the tea, thereâs like all kinds of things you could be doing. In this case we made it a different Buddha family, a different position, and you had to move into that role, like on the spot.
Audience member: We should pass out chits before Sunday mornings. It would be a lot easier.
Audience member: I printed out the definition of the words, because it talks about what the healthy manifestation of that energetic is, but also what the shadow side is. So I have it as just like a little cheat thing in the morning, where it just kind of grounds each one.
Roshi Egyoku: Yeah itâs very interesting. Maybe at Upaya youâve gotten to this more, but we havenât really gotten into a lot of that very much here. We had some training a long time ago, but we havenât really carried it forward. Most of our mandala training or reference is really towards how weâve organized ourselves as an organization, and as a sanghaânot so much in these energetics. I know the Tibetans do extensive training on that, but we havenât really gotten into it. I donât know, thatâs something maybe some of you can open up later.
Audience member: Along those lines, I was going to ask, because you have intimacy and seduction as opposites in the Padma familyâI didnât know if you had them for the other four.
Bernie: For those who want to get into those kind of details you can go on the Zen Peacemaker website, and search for Buddha energies, and thereâs a chart there with all kinds of stuffâwhat season, what attributes . . . Itâs a big chart full of stuff. And there are very different variations of it. This chart, I did. But there are different variations, depending on where the bookâs written . . .
Roshi Egyoku: Yeah, and different Buddhas associated with it, and all that. I just havenât gone there. But there are also some really nice little booklets from certain Tibetan teachers, Western Tibetan teachers on the Buddha families. If you remind me, I can give you some time with it, because it is a very succinct little thing. Theyâre not this elaborate, you know, kind of thing.
The Spectrum of Ecstasy is a good one. And then whatâs her name . . .
Audience member: Mine was like Google. I would just look up the Sanskrit word, and then it took me to . . . Yeah, it wasnât anything.
Bernie: I want to throw in one word, because you heard me talking about nonduality. So I donât like the word positive or negative. Thatâs used in a lot of these things.
Roshi Egyoku: Itâs a spectrum of energy.
Bernie: I like characteristics. So there are various characteristics, and depending on who you are you will call certain characteristics positive, and certain ones negative. But thatâs very subjective. Thatâs very dualistic.
Roshi Egyoku: And you know, you have the colored glasses, and the postures, and you can get into the whole thing. But it is interesting, even just superficially, to know the spectrum. So like the Buddha family all includes spaciousness. So thatâs one end of the spectrum, and the other end is like a total spaced out person. So each one has that spectrum, which is fascinating to know that, really.
So like Bernie has a lot of dominant Ratna energy, wouldnât you say?
Bernie: I have dominant every energy.
Roshi Egyoku: Dominant everything, but you also on one side you have the sun shines on every single thing, right? Itâs like itâs not shining on certain things. And then the other side of that is greedâthe grasping. So it is really kind of fascinating actually when you know the spectrum. But think of it as the spectrum, rather than as you were saying, good or bad.
Bernie: A side noteâthere was a period, my wife Jishu deeply studied all of this, and had done all the rooms at Naropa that were involved with these things and whatever. So we had a lot of studying and things around that. But we also created Sesshins where weâd put two people in charge that we felt would maybe . . . Letâs say the Buddha family. So weâd say these two people seem to have characteristics of the Buddha family. One seems very spacious, and one seems very spaced out. And weâd choose two people, and we wouldnât tell them anything, other than create your own Sesshin. And then we did that with all of the families.
Padma was very interesting. She dressed up as a seductive woman, and stayed in the corner of the room. And so she was a person needing love, and not being able to receive love from anybody. And the other person was Sally. . . And the call into the Zendo was Phillip Glass music. And when we ate Sally would go around and feed us grapes. But they created the whole thing.
I chose people that I thought had sort of opposite characteristics for a family, and asked them to create a Sesshin for that family. And they all came out very different. It was beautiful. I loved it.
Roshi Egyoku: When we did out fortieth anniversaryâI donât think any of you were hereâwe enacted the Gate. And so we had, you know, I think Doka, you were the Padma, so she had this amazing . . . The mother, you know, with all the babies, everything just . . .
Itâs on YouTube. So if you remind me, Iâll have Senchen send you the link.
Audience member: And to this day, I can see every time we say Avalokitesvara, I see them coming down. And the match to a hungry ghost was also a red. You know, and them the M. . . Â was blue. You know, and then the spectrum was in blue too.
Roshi Egyoku: It was fascinating actually.
Audience member: I think they went up together. They were the one body. So you had the Buddha and the hungry ghost, the same colors, being one.
Roshi Egyoku: Very powerful. So itâs a fin DVD. Joan calls it, I love that funky crazy . . . [laughs]. It is really, you have to laugh a lot when you see it. Mostly because we all look so young.
Alright, where are we now?
Oh the Buddha families, and then we do the Karma family. OK, so then at that point weâre going to get ready for . . . What do you call it Bernie? Whatâs the word for this part? This most important part of the Gate?
Bernie: So this next part is actually the climax of this Gate. And it turns out itâs the Giving of the Precepts in the Shingon Sect. So Kobo Daishi, the Precepts he gave is what we chant. So thatâs why itâs so important. At this point youâre giving the Precepts to everyone. And thatâs why youâre doing the music. And you were with me at the monastery in Japan where they had a tram going up to the . . . They did the Gate every afternoon. The old Sojiji, Soji burnt down, and thereâs a ne Sojijji in Yokahama. But the old one does it every eveningâthis Gate service. A few places do. But the one that we went toâI forget the name. You go up . . . During this time they didnât have these things that we have. But they had bent hornsâthese long horns. And they would be blowing these horns while this is happening.
Itâs a very important part of this. Itâs the supreme part of this. Youâre fed, youâre taught, youâre doing everything, and now youâre giving everybody Precepts. And so Iâm not sure if youâre remembering the words. The words that Kobo Daishi used for giving the Precepts are fantastic I think.
Sheâll continue on.
Roshi Egyoku: Yeah, it is an exciting part. I was just told that they dance at Sweet Water. They move you around, and thatâs really great. I think the French do too. Weâre a little bit more repressed in L.A. for some reason, but weâll get there. Weâll get there. Youâll loosen us up. Sometimes we have a hungry ghost come in. Thatâs real fun.
So the officiant is in Diamond Gassho for this part. And the conch player comes up and picks up the conch, and calls the officiant forth. So the conch is blowing to the officiant. And the officiant begins, and I think you all know that the dark letters is a little more emphasis on the words. So [chants] OM BO JI SHI TA BO DA HA DA YA MI. And then we all start going with our bells and little drums, and all of that. And dance around the room. Stomp your feet. And everybody repeats. So we do it one time in the combination of Sanskrit and Sino-Japanese or Japanese. Then the officiant does it twice. [Chants] Now I have raised the Bodhi Mind. And itâs really interesting for me to listen to different officiants do it. You know, itâs kind of hard to inhabit these words, I think. Over time I think we get more embodied with these particular chants.
So that is the Dharani for Raising the Bodhi Mind. Itâs done three timesâtwice in English, second and third time. And then we move into the Dharani of Giving the Bodhisattva Samaya Precepts, which Bernie just spoke about. So again, the officiant remains in the Diamond Gassho. And as we say here, the implication is since I have received the Buddha Sila, being one with it forever. It is maintained by maintaining the right Dharma of Buddha and not forgetting it, maintaining Bodhi Mind, saving others, being generous and giving the right Dharma to the right person at the right time, and being beneficial to all beings. So then the officiant moves into the second [chants] OM SAN MA YA SA TO BAN. And everybody repeats with their bells and whistles. And sometimes when the conch is blowing, we sort of softly ring our bells too. At one time we didnât, but then we just want to get into the act, you know. And then when itâs our part, we like ring it really loudly. And so that proclamation is [chants] I am the Buddhas, and they are me. So thatâs a very powerful thing to say.
Bernie: Iâve had students who could not say that, because they didnât believe it was trueâeven after all of this stuff. Those were the same people that wouldnât come up to the alter.
Roshi Egyoku: Yeah. Itâs very interesting, the more I know about the Gate, the more itâs just like really how hard it is to do it. You know what I mean? Because itâs just expansion, and expansion. Itâs very provocative.
Audience member: Can I just ask a point of clarification about the lively, the bells, and everything. That comes during which part? That comes when the officiant is saying it, or when everybody is responding?
Roshi Egyoku: Before. We do it both times. So when the conch blows, the Doan also rings a bell. And sometimes we very softly do our little jingles. And then the voice comes out. So when the voice is out, we donât . . . I donât know, do we do it?
Audience member: You donât do it. The officiantâs solo. So you do it during the Â . . .
Roshi Egyoku: OK, thank you. Thatâs right, because then you wave your hand, and then you fill the universe with your noise and your voice.
Audience member: A tricky thing is I was just learning Doan, and the Doan canât actually ring the bell when everybody rings the bell, because you have another cue coming up really fast.
Roshi Egyoku: So you have to be really fast.
Audience member: So with the dancing, the way that that gets worked in is we chant this, and then thereâs a period where itâs just dancing, like after . . .
Roshi Egyoku: Oh nice. Youâll have to show us. And when is that? When would that be?
Audience member: We all say, âI am the Buddhas, and they are me.â We do it twice, and then everyone uses the noisemakers and dances. You know itâs sort of celebratory, and then the drums sort of keep the rhythm for that.
Roshi Ekyoku: For the dancing?
Audience member: Well just for the timing, to signify how long to do it.
Roshi Egyoku: Well weâll do it your style. Youâll show us. Thatâll be fun.
- Then we move into the Gatha for Transference of Merit. And by this time you may be exhausted as an officiant, since your arms have been elevated most of the time, in which case you could just go into shashu. But I always feelâthis is just a carry over from the old days, because it is the typification of transference of merit, I like to be in gassho. But if youâre too tired, then just go into shashu.
OK then following that we have the dedication that is sung by the chanter. And by the way, during the Dedication of Merit, the Transference of Merit, we have someone on the locutio, hitting the locutio, and we chant in unison with that rhythm. Oh and I forgot to mention the drum. So during the NO MAKU SAN MAN we have some really great drummers here. Daisin is one of them, so heâs on the drum, drumming away, getting all our energy up.
Alright, then comes the dedication, and this is something I think we all play with. Weâre in the Mother Gassho as an officiant. We go through this, âAll ancestors of the White Plum lineage, and the extended sangha . . .â And weâll probably just insert the Zen Peacemakers at this point as a permanent part of it. This morning we did, and then acknowledge all of you here from different sanghas. And then extend out to our neighbors in L.A. and throughout the world.
Bernie: I have a suggestion. Instead of all ancestors, I donât want to just keep this stuff in dead people. So eitherâyou need to get the right wordingâall ancestors and members of, or something like that. Include all of us, not . . .
Dharma Joy: Well thatâs the next line.
Bernie: No its not. Itâs calling out the ancestors of the White Plum as a specific thing, right? And my preferenceâeverybodyâs gonna do what they want to doâmy preference would be all ancestors and members of the White Plum lineage. If youâre going to call out the White Plum lineage, call out everybody in it, not only those who have died.
Roshi Egyoku: You know interestingly enough, Bernie reminded me of this, would actually no longer use this as an ancestor service. Iâve actually made up a whole other service for ancestors remembrance. And that was because I wanted to shift away from associating this with Oban for us. Because we really moved in a different direction with it.
Bernie: Yeah, thatâs my sense. And if Roshi includes the Zen Peacemaker Order, again it should not only say the ancestors. Itâs all of us that are a part of it.
Audience member: Is it past, present, and future . . .
Bernie: Yeah, I like including all.
Roshi Egyoku: Yeah so weâll discuss this.
Bernie: âAll members past and futureâ would be one way of taking care of that, of White Plum, or Z.P.O.
Audience member: As long as we donât stay in the now I guess that covers it.
Roshi Egyoku: Alright. Let us forever remember the causes of suffering. Let us forever believe in the end to suffering. May we always have the courage to bear witness, to see our self as others, and others as our self. So that I wrote at the request of Jishu for our Auschwitz Retreatâearly ones. So I stuck it in here.
And then at ZCLA we also once a month, one Sunday a month since we do this every Sunday, we read the names of all of our people in the book of the past. Because we like to remember all of the people associated with the center who have died. And then if thereâs a specific person who has died that weâre honoring, we include them. And then we will also mention a current world event, where there is a tremendous amount of suffering happening. So today itâs the huge earthquake in Nepal. And of course we have a strong connection with that because A . . . down here is from Nepal. His family is safe. Have you heard anything more?
Audience member: I got a message that they are OK.
Roshi Egyoku: So we have to keep up with current events. Sometimes people say the most bizarre things I think. But we try to keep it with some big world disaster, that scope of things.
And then the second part, âthe victims of war, starvation, oppression, peace in the world, those who died before birth . . .â so all of that. Some of that is from an old dedication that we used at ZCLA for this particular liturgy. But we can relook at all that.
And then we get to our song. So the closing verse is our song. And we do this four times, and the officiant goes up on the third round, and gets back in time to do the closing three bows.
Audience member: So are we in Mother Gassho through the Dedication of Merit?
Roshi Egyoku: Yes, except for when youâre going up and offering. Because then we move into the three bows. And then in our case, when we are having a dedication to all the people in our past, then the whole sanghaâs invited to come up and offer incense. And maybe you do something similar at Sweet Water, or thereâs a memorial service of some kind.
And then we have our usual exit. And we line up to go to the Zendo.
So for us, the Gate, if we start on time, which we do pretty much, it takes us a good twenty-five minutes. So we try to aim to be in the Zendo by 9:00, but sometimes itâs a little after. And because it is a food offering, and we have such hunger needs in L.A., we encourage all of our members when they come for the Gate on Sunday to bring food. And itâs put on the alter, and then thatâs delivered to the closest food bank to us, which is just a few blocks away.
Questions, comments? And then weâll take a little break.
Audience member: Why is this called the Mindless Gassho?
Roshi Egyoku: By the way, itâs Mindless or Kilshui Gassho. Â I donât really know why itâs called that. Iâll check my Mudra book, and see if it says anything about it. Do you recall, Bernie?
Roshi Egyoku: Yeah, you know the effect of doing that Mudra . . .
Bernie: I have a feeling if you look at the original word, Mindless might not be the best translation.
Roshi Egyoku: Yeah, Iâm sensing that too. But it is kind of a mindless condition youâre in. [laughs] Itâs a very powerful Mudra actually. Itâs more like a no mind kind of mindless. It really is that when youâre doing that. But Iâll make a note to check.
Audience member: On the Diamond Fist, I had actually learned it with the thumb at the base of the ring finger.
Roshi Egyoku: Yeah, I think thatâs where it naturally falls when you put it over. But then you have to put it out, because you need the knuckle to put this on.
You know, there are probably variations of it, but this is how you end up. So Iâm not sure what youâre doing here.
Bernie: Itâs really nice that you have the drawings, and youâll have the video of the hands. So if you want to do mudrasâitâs not so common for people who are doing this service to do the mudras. I never do. I canât remember. And my hand is so arthritic; itâs hard to do. But if you want to do it, you have enough resources to really learn that.
Roshi Egyoku: I tried to have a diagram for every single thing that I thought you might have a question about, even if it seemed obvious. Itâs just easier if youâre visually oriented.
Yeah, thatâs it. So that this knuckle really goes into that spot where your meridian is. So you have to feel that go out, then you know that youâve got it.
Audience member: So weâre generating a recording of all of the tunes that are in it?
Audience member: The tunes are on that DVD.
Audience member: OK, super. And you said it might be a little bit older, but the tunes . . .
Roshi Egyoku: But the tunes are the same. And then Dharma Joy has been taping us, so . . .
Dharma Joy: Weâll tape the one tomorrow morning too.
Audience member: Is the tempo throughout the same? It changes, then thereâs melody. Where do the melodies come from?
Roshi Egyoku: The sung parts?
Audience member: Yeah, and I was just wondering where that comes from?
Bernie: Are you referring to the initial vowsâsome are spoken and some are sung? Where are you talking about?
Audience member: Well, I guess . . .
Bernie: That mantras?
Audience member: Yeah.
Bernie: So in the mantras, you see the dark part? I think the melody comes because you are emphasizing some of those words, which are in boldface.
Roshi Egyoku: The boldface is the emphasis.
Bernie: Is there another tune?
Audience member: So thereâs that part, and then the . . .
Roshi Egyoku: OM BO . . .?
Audience member: Yeah.
Roshi Egyoku: . . . Does say that differently than I do, and Iâm not sure where she got that. She got it at Sweet Water . . .
Audience member: Yeah and when we were doing it today, I just noticed the difference, and I wasnât sure where it . . .
[Audience member demonstrates chant.]
Roshi Egyoku: Yeah, we donât do that.
Audience member: So, but is there a standard?
Roshi Egyoku: Yeah, we donât do that, we go straight. So we go [Roshi demonstrates chant] just straight across.
Bernie: Just to give you a senseâin Japan they usually have maybe once a year, I canât remember how often, a gathering where the Inos of the various places give their tunes. And then theyâll vote which one they like. But they all have different ones, and they encourage that.
So thereâs no standard in Japan. And then when we come here, thereâs no standard because nobody knows what it was anyway. So weâre all creating our own things.
Audience member: So no standard is tradition.
Bernie: For example, I was hoping to get Krishna Das to do this whole thing, in a period of time. That never happened, but thereâs no standards.
Roshi Egyoku: Yeah, itâs very interesting. Sometimes in Japan, what I remember is when youâre in a temple, and theyâre chanting, everybodyâs chanting however theyâre chanting. Like every single person in the room, and if youâre in a temple, and at some point everybodyâs just like in a chorus. Itâs pretty fascinating. But youâre not like required to all sort of start on the same note, and all of that stuff. And it happens to us here too. You know, sometimes people will be all in different places, but at some point weâre all in sync. Itâs just fascinating to listen to that. Sometimes it happens sooner, and sometimes it happens later.
(Continued in Part 3)[/box]
January 17, 2018
November 21, 2017