Sunday, November 13, 2011

Reflections: Ceremony of Aid

Today my Sangha performed a Ceremony of Aid. This ceremony usually includes two repetitions of Heart of Perfect Wisdom and five repetitions of Ten-Verse Kannon Sutra. During the Ten-Verse Kannon Sutra prostrations are made during the second, third, and fourth repetitions. We honor that within each of us that is eternally joyous, selfless, pure and free from the defilements that are part of our inheritance being the imperfect human beings that we are. This is followed by what sometimes seems like innumerable repetitions of the Disaster-Preventing Dharani during which people approach the altar to make offerings of incense and donations and, then, the Ceremony of Aid Dedication which for informative reasons I've placed at the top: 

Ceremony of Aid Dedication:
Today we have offered incense, candles, fruit, grain and tea, chanted sutra and dharani.
Whatever merit comes to us through these offerings
We now turn over to those suffering from hunger and want.
May your hunger be satisfied!
May your suffering cease!
May all beings attain Buddhahood!

Ten directions, three worlds,
All Buddhas, Bodhisattva-mahasattvas
Maha Prajna Paramita.

Heart of Perfect Wisdom
(Prajña Paramita Hridaya)

The Bodhisattva of Compassion
from the depths of prajña wisdom
saw the emptiness of all five skandhas
and sundered the bonds that cause all suffering.
Know then :
Form here is only emptiness ;
emptiness only form.
Form is no other than emptiness ;
emptiness no other than form.
Feeling, thought, and choice—
consciousness itself—
are the same as this.
Dharmas here are empty ;
all are the primal void.
None are born or die,
nor are they stained or pure,
nor do they wax or wane.
So in emptiness no form,
no feeling, thought, or choice,
nor is there consciousness.
No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind,
no color, sound, smell, taste, touch,
or what the mind takes hold of,
nor even act of sensing.
No ignorance or end of it,
nor all that comes of ignorance :
No withering, no death, no end of them.
Nor is there pain, or cause of pain,
or cease in pain,
or noble path to lead from pain ;
not even wisdom to attain :
Attainment too is emptiness.
So know that the Bodhisattva,
holding to nothing whatever,
but dwelling in prajña wisdom,
is freed of delusive hindrance,
rid of the fear bred by it,
and reaches clearest nirvana.
All buddhas of past and present,
buddhas of future time,
through faith in prajña wisdom,
come to full enlightenment.
Know then the great dharani,
the radiant, peerless mantra,
the supreme, unfailing mantra,
the Prajña Paramita,
whose words allay all pain.
This is highest wisdom,
true beyond all doubt ;
know and proclaim its truth :
Gate, gate
bodhi, svaha!

Ten-Verse Kannon Sutra
(Emmei Jikku Kannon Gyo):
Kanzeon !
Praise to Buddha !
All are one with Buddha ;
all awake to Buddha.
Buddha, Dharma, Sangha—
eternal, joyous, selfless, pure.
Through the day Kanzeon—
through the night Kanzeon.
This moment arises from Mind ;
this moment itself is Mind.

Shosai Myokichijo Darani
(Disaster-Preventing Dharani):
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
sowa ja sowa ja
sen chi gya
shiri ei so mo ko.

Although the Disaster-Preventing Dharani is chanted without translation its power said to depend more on its sounds. Here is one translation of questionable accuracy I copied from Buddhism:
The incomparable Buddha-power that banishes suffering. Om! The Buddha of reality, wisdom, Nirvana! Light! Light! Great light! With no categories, this mysterious power saves all beings; suffering goes, happiness comes, Swaha!

Link to the Rochester Zen Center's Site where folks can find both a pdf version of the Chant Book and the Chants themselves in mp3 format.