We Humans Need It



A student was visiting the Minnesota Zen Center. He asked Abbot Dainin Katagiri, “You chant the repentance and the four vows every morning during service. Is that traditional?” Katagiri Roshi replied, “No, I decided to do it.” The student asked, “Is that because we Americans need it more?” Dainin replied, “No we humans need it.”


A Soto Zen temple traditional service usually consists of some combination of the Heart Sutra, the Dharani for Removing Disasters, the Merging of Difference and Unity, The Jewel Mirror Samadhi, reciting the Buddhas and Ancestors, and the Great Heart-Mind Dharani.

The repentance verse:
”All my ancient twisted karma
From beginning less greed, hate, and delusion.
Born through body, speech, and mind,
I now fully avow.”

And the four vows:
”Beings are numberless, I vow to save them.
Desires are inexhaustible, I vow to end them.
Dharma Gates are boundless, I vow to enter them.
Buddha’s way is unsurpassable, I vow to become it.”

make up part of the twice monthly full and new moon Bodhisattva precept ceremony.

India, China, Korea, Tibet, Japan and America all have different cultural backdrops. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. Each has much to learn and to teach. Arrogance is best learned within each of us.

VERSE by Dairyu

‘We humans need it.’
No pale faces here.
All Indians.

Kyle GetschowComment