|London Zen Centre||
Monday to Friday: 5:45—7:20
Sunday Midday: 11:00—12:50
Wednesday Evening: 19:00—21:00
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What is Zen.
A mantra is a sound, a word or a sequence of words. Mantra meditation is very easy to learn. It helps calm the mind, let go of your attachment to thinking and strengthen your center. Just repeating a mantra helps you to focus your attention on a single point and eventually reach a state of very deep rest. The main difference between the mantras is the length of the mantra used and the mantra's direction. Generally the more incessant the thinking, the shorter the mantra is.
The usual technique is to recite the mantra constantly, paying attention to it and allowing all other thinking to drop away. This takes some practice, since it is very easy to let one part of the brain 'chant' the mantra while the other part is thinking about dinner or going to a movie. When this happens, gently bring the mind back to the mantra without any judgment.
You can do mantra practice during bowing, sitting or in many other situations. To do your mantra practice more precisely, you can use beads (mala).
A mantra is either given to you by a teacher or chosen by yourself. When selecting a mantra, be clear on what your intention is, and use your intuition over your intellect. You may want to try out each mantra for a few days or weeks to see how it feels and choose the one that seems to fit you best.
Ultimately, it does not matter which mantra you choose. Just do it single-mindedly, believing in the experience of its efficiency 100%. Then your karma disappears and your true self becomes shining bright. Then you can help all beings.
Following are listed some of the common mantras used in our Zen practice. The explanation of their meanings and use are listed below the mantras.
Clear mind, clear mind, clear mind... Don’t Know
This mantra is intended to relieve the mind of a lot of thinking.
gaté, gaté, paragaté, parasamgaté, bodhi svaha
Literally this mantra means: “gone, gone, gone beyond; opposites disappear, absolute appears”
The Great Vow mantra: “I vow to save all beings”; helps the dead and the suffering.
The Great Love and Great Compassion mantra which when invoked removes all kinds of suffering.
Namu Amita Bul
The Pure Land Mantra used to invoke the Western Paradise of Amitabha Buddha.
This mantra is used to save all sentient beings stuck in Hell. If you try this, then Hell’s gates will be broken and all beings can come out.
This mantra is used to invite all the Buddhas of the ten directions.
This mantra envokes the Great Love and Great compassion of a mother’s mind and anytime there is a problem, if you try this, the problem will disappear.
Buddha taught that this world is complete, but it is our minds that are not complete. So this mantra helps our minds become complete and strong.
Namu–samanda–motdanam–abarji–hadasa–sananam–danyata Om–kaka–kahe–kahe–hum–hum–abara–abara–bara–abara–bara–abara Jita–jiri–jir–jir–badu–badu–sanjika–shiri–e–sabaha
For those with heavy karma this mantra will take away all good and bad, and all opposites, then cutting through this karma will become easy.
The Gods of the five directions (North, South, East, West and Center) are said to like the sound of this mantra, so when we do it, every god will hear our voice, and these gods will keep a clear mind and help us with our problems.
Namu Sogamuni Bul
This mantra for Śākyamuni Buddha is done to save all beings from suffering.
This is the universal mantra of truth. Chanting this mantra takes away everything.
This is the mantra of opening the Buddha’s true Dharma; it helps us to perceive the truth of this very moment.
This literally means; correct eyes, correct ears, and correct mouth. So if we have a problem seeing clearly, hearing clearly or speaking clearly, this mantra will help us.
A Pure Land Mantra that can assist in you in being reborn in the Western Paradise.
This mantra is used to clean the entire cosmos, so when your life seems cloudy and dark, this will clean all the darkness and bring forth brilliant illumination.
When the mind is chasing thoughts constantly this mantra opens the mind and results in a wide and spacious mind.
This mantra takes away all of your karma and allows you to see the truth and act appropriately.
This will protect the body so no bad energy can enter it, used when there is a sickness or to gain energy.
This mantra shatters the gates of Hell and opens the gate to nirvana.
This is an extra mantra (like an extra button on a shirt) it is used as a preventive measure even if things are going well.
This mantra is used for universal mystical energy, it can help you see through to your aspirations.
This is a mantra to begin ceremonies.
This is for when your mind is dark or small, when you cannot perform the correct actions. When cannot see and cannot hear correctly, this mantra will make your mind wide.
This is another mantra to clear away your karma and thereby help you to make changes in your life.
This mantra is for purification, when you need to purify the energy of a place that seems to have bad karma.
This is the universal mantra of repentance and is used to help correct an incorrect situation.
This is the last mantra in a ceremony – it is the ceremony is completed mantra.
This mantra helps to get rid of bad speech and uncontrollable desires.
Zen is Understanding Yourself
Zen is Understanding Yourself
One day a student from Chicago came to the Providence Zen Center and asked Seung Sahn Soen-Sa, “What is Zen?”
Soen-sa held his Zen stick above his head and said, “Do you understand?”
The student said, “I don’t know.”
Soen-sa said, “This don’t know mind is you. Zen is understanding yourself.”
“What do you understand about me? Teach me.”
Soen-sa said, “In a cookie factory, different cookies are baked in the shape of animals, cars, people, and airplanes. They all have different names and forms, but they are all made from the same dough, and they all taste the same.
“In the same way, all things in the universe – the sun, the moon, the stars, mountains, rivers, people, and so forth – have different names and forms, but they are all made from the same substance. The universe is organized into pairs of opposites: light and darkness, man and woman, sound and silence, good and bad. But all these opposites are mutual, because they are made from the same substance. Their names and their forms are different, but their substance is the same. Names and forms are made by your thinking. If you are not thinking and have no attachment to name and form, then all substance is one. Your don’t know mind cuts off all thinking. This is your substance. The substance of this Zen stick and your own substance are the same. You are this stick; this stick is you.”
The student said, “Some philosophers say this substance is energy, or mind, or God, or matter. Which is the truth?”
Soen-sa said, “Four blind men went to the zoo and visited the elephant. One blind man touched its side and said, ‘The elephant is like a wall.’ The next blind man touched its trunk and said, ‘The elephant is like a snake.’ The next blind man touched its leg and said, ‘The elephant is like a column.’ The last blind man touched its tail and said, ‘The elephant is like a broom.’ Then the four blind men started to fight, each one believing that his opinion was the right one. Each only understood the part he had touched; none of them understood the whole.
“Substance has no name and no form. Energy, mind, God, and matter are all name and form. Substance is the Absolute. Having name and form is having opposites. So the whole world is like the blind men fighting among themselves. Not understanding yourself is not understanding the truth. That is why there is fighting among ourselves. If all the people in the world understood themselves, they would attain the Absolute. Then the world would be at peace. World peace is Zen.”
The student said, “How can practicing Zen make world peace?”
Soen-sa said, “People desire money, fame, sex, food, and rest. All this desire is thinking. Thinking is suffering. Suffering means no world peace. Not thinking is not suffering. Not suffering means world peace. World peace is the Absolute. The Absolute is I.”
The student said, “How can I understand the Absolute?”
Soen-sa said, “You must first understand yourself.”
“How can I understand myself?”
Soen-sa held up the Zen stick and said, “Do you see this?”
He then quickly hit the table with the stick and said, “Do you hear this? This stick, this sound, your mind – are they the same or different?”
The student said, “The same.”
Soen-sa said, “If you say they are the same, I will hit you thirty times. If you say they are different, I will still hit you thirty times. Why?”
The student was silent.
Soen-sa shouted, “KATZ!!!” Then he said, “Spring comes, the grass grows by itself.”
The London Zen Centre Ja An Sa
Practice at London Zen Centre
The London Zen Centre is the home of the Kwan Um School of Zen in London and the head temple of the school in Great Britain. Members and visitors are welcome to attend any of the meditation practice sessions at the centre. Please contact the guiding teacher, Ja An JDPSN, in advance if you are attending practice or a retreat for the first time. Kong-an (Jap. koan) interviews take place most Sundays at the midday practice.
Our guiding teacher is Dharma Master Ja An, who lives at the London Zen Centre. She received inka, the seal of teaching authority in Zen, from Zen Master Wu Bong at the Warsaw Zen Centre on 19th September 2009.
Please always contact the guiding teacher before your visit to the London Zen Centre on 0207 502 6786 (evenings, till 21:00) or 07742 979 050 (daytime, mobile phone). International: +44 207 502 6786.
Email: Please contact her through firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com