Gate of Sweet Nectar

(Gate of Sweet Nectar ceremony at Auschwitz Birkenau 2013. Music performed by Krishna Das, Video taken by Sensei Andrzej Krajewski)

This training explores the power of this rare and beautiful liturgy that invites all suffering spirits into the mandala of our practice. It is about serving all beings, not separating ourselves from suffering, our own or others, and then feeding the hungry spirits of suffering, both inner and outer, in order to bring them to peace. The ceremony invites the Five Great Buddhas to be present as we open our lives to the truth of suffering. Not coming to terms with the reality of suffering, arising from greed, hatred, and delusion, we are unable to fulfill our fundamental vow of saving all beings from suffering.

The foundation of the Gate of Sweet Nectar ceremony is based on Ananda’s deep connection with his mother, and his great suffering in relation to her trials in her afterlife. Ananda, according to lore, then went to the Buddha to see if there was anything he could do to help his mother. The Gate of Sweet Nectar was the Buddha’s gift to Ananda.

The ceremony is a profound plea that goes to the root of Buddhism itself, which is to save all sentient beings, understanding that we are all the Buddha and we are all suffer. It is through this acknowledgement that all hungry spirits are liberated.

In April, 2015 we offered this training at the gateZCLAZen Center of Los Angeles with Roshi’s Bernie Glassman and Wendy Egyoku Nakao.


Part 1: Bernie’s Rap on the Gate of Sweet Nectar

Part 2: Discussion of Mudras in Gate of Sweet Nectar.