Glossary of Terms

Buddhadharma  The teaching Shakyamuni Buddha expounded as a result of his awakening that: the true nature of things is constantly changing (impermanent), without beginning or end (selfless), and cannot be perceived (formless).

Dharma The Sanskrit word which signifies the way things are as-they-are, i.e., mountains are high, rivers are low, sugar is sweet, salt is salty. Truth. It is also used synonymously with Buddhadharma.

Doan  The person responsible for ringing the bells that mark the zazen schedule for any certain day. This person also leads the sutra services.

Heart Sutra An important sutra in Mahayana Buddhism particularly emphasized in Zen. It expounds in a clear and concise manner the teaching of emptiness.

Fukan-zazengi  “A Universal Recommendation for Zazen”, Dogen Zenji’s instructions for zazen and encouragement that all people regardless of age, gender, or culture practice zazen.

Jisha  The attendant to the officiant.

Koan Originally, koan was a word which signified a legal case that set precedent as law, something that cannot be tampered with. The word is now used primarily to refer to: 1) the questioning mind; 2) stories and dialogues of Zen masters that are used as a method to help someone focus in the practice of zazen.

Ryaku Fusatsu   Also known as the Repentance Ceremony or the Full Moon Ceremony; the antecedents of this ceremony date back to the time of the Buddha when monks would gather at the new and full moons to renew their vows to attain the Way.

Samadhi  Complete absorption in the activity itself so that both the perception of self and other (or the activity) are forgotten.

Sesshin  A period of intense devotion to the practice of zazen from early in the morning until late at night. It may last from one or two days to a week.

Shikan-taza  Often translated as “just sitting” or “single-minded sit¬ting.” In the case of sitting in zazen, it is to open up to or let go of everything. It is to sit with an attitude of not arranging anything; it is to make an object of nothing, so that there is no disturbance whatsoever. When not sitting, it is the practice of doing each activity in our life for the sake of that activity, regardless whether we are standing, lying down, working, and so on.

Sutra  A Buddhist scripture.

The Way  The way of Buddha; the way of liberation.

Zazen  The seated form of Zen meditation.

Zendo   A room in which to practice zazen.