Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Glossary

Always happy to respond to comments and requests, so here is a version of the 'Terms Used At Zen Center', with a few of the notable gaps filled. Please feel free to quibble over niceties or to point out any heinous omissions, and it does mean that I won't bother to define any of the terms on this list henceforth:

Anja: The Abbess’ or Abbot’s personal attendant.
Benji: The shuso’s attendant.
Buddha Hall: Room used for services, ceremonies and lectures.
Buddha tray: A formal food offering. Stop and bow when it goes past.
Chiden: The person who takes care of the altars, either lighting up or cleaning.
Densho: The large bell used to announce services and lectures.
Doan: The person who keeps time in the zendo and sounds the bells.
Dokusan: Formal interview with a past or present Abbess or Abbot.
Doshi: The officiating priest for a dharma event.
Eko: The dedication of merit after a chant during service.
Fukudo: The person who sounds the han to signal zendo events, and strikes the mokugyo to accompany chanting.
Fukuten: Second-in-command to the Tenzo in the kitchen. The person who directly supervises the kitchen crew and sees that the Tenzo’s menus and instructions are carried out.
Gaitan: The hallway leading to the zendo.
Gassho: A mudra or bow with palms together; it signifies gratitude.
Gatha: A short dharma-related verse.
Han: The wooden block near the zendo; struck to announce zazen.
Inkin: A portable bell, mounted on a handle, used in processions and other ceremonies.
Ino: The head of the meditation hall, or supervisor of the monks’ conduct
Jiko: The attendant to the doshi for a dharma event.
Jisha: The Abbess’ or Abbot’s ceremonial attendant.
Jundo: Ceremonial greeting by a leader, typically at the beginning of morning zazen. As the priest walks past, please raise your hands in gassho.
Kaisando: Founder's Hall, where monthly memorial services are held for our founder, Suzuki Roshi.
Kinhin: Walking meditation, usually between two periods of zazen.
Kokyo: The person who leads the chants for services.
Mokugyo: The red lacquered drum used as a "heartbeat" for some chants.
Mudra: Hand or body position or gesture with symbolic meaning.
Okesa: A large patched robe made like Buddha's robe, worn by priests.
Oryoki: Formal style of eating in the zendo, used during sesshin and on other occasions.
Practice Discussion: Formal or informal interview with a teacher.
Rakusu: A small patched neck robe made like Buddha's robe, worn by people who have received precepts in an ordination.
Roshi: An honorific title for a venerable teacher.
Seiza: Kneeling meditation posture with buttocks resting on heels.
Sesshin: Literally "to unify or touch the mind." An intensive all-day schedule of zazen, lecture, work, and meals, lasting from one to seven days.
Shashu: Mudra used in standing or walking meditation with the right hand wrapped around the left fist held at the level of the solar plexus.
Shika: The guest manager at a temple.
Shoten: Person who sounds the densho, announcing service or lecture.
Shuso: The head student for a practice period.
Soji: A brief period of mindful work, temple cleaning.
Sutra: A scripture attributed to Shakyamuni Buddha.
Tan: The raised platform for sitting in the zendo.
Tanto: the head of practice at a temple or monastery.
Tenzo: Head cook and person who oversees the kitchen practice.
Zabuton: A rectangular, flat cushion used for zazen.
Zafu: A round cushion used for zazen.
Zazen: Total presence of body and mind in an upright posture.
Zendo: The meditation hall.

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