Thursday, September 6, 2012

Home Practice

Gassho from the ChocoBuda Blog

Recently our Sangha received a letter from an inmate in a Texas prison wanting guidance and books to support his practice on the inside. I wrote a letter introducing myself and asking to know more about his practice so we could help. I also outlined my daily practice for him and sent him the verses and prayers that I use in my home practice. Since I’ve put all this down on paper, I thought I would share it with the Sangha. My home practice has evolved over the years. I’m a poet so I’m always tinkering with the verses that I use. Perhaps the verses I use can be of service to you. Add to them, subtract from them—do what you want. The important thing, however is to sit zazen. I sit an hour a day. 30 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes before lunch, and 15 minutes before dinner. But I’ve been doing this for a long time. Schedule your own zazen so you can have a regular schedule. Find a private place in your house where you can sit. If you can only do 5 or 10 minutes, that’s cool, but do them. You’ll find yourself sitting longer as zazen becomes more natural and important to you. 

Daily Practice Prayers and Verses—Bobby Kankin Byrd
September, 2012

First thing, when rising from bed
Today, together with all beings, I wish to see the world clearly as it really is. I vow to live today mindfully, resolving all the many addictions in my heart, mind and body. I vow not to squander this day. 
Verses and Prayers said before my morning zazen
Caught in the self-centered dream, only suffering.Holding to self-centered thoughts, exactly the dream.Each moment life as it is the only teacher. Being just this moment compassion’s way.  
I pray for the good health and spiritual well-being of my friends and family—especially… (I say aloud all the names of my family, those people I’m concerned about, and all the peoples of the world).
Then I say the Three Refuges— 
I take refuge in the BuddhaTogether with all beings;May I understand through our bodiesThis cosmic life leadingTo the incommensurate awakened mind.
I take refuge in the DharmaTogether with all beings;May I embody the scriptures,The great compassionate wisdom,Vast as the ocean.
I take refuge in the SanghaTogether with all beings;May I live with the SanghaThe life of harmony,Which is without attachment.
 After Zazen, I say the Four Great Vows—
Sentient beings are numberless: I vow to save them. My desires are inexhaustible: I vow to extinguish them. The dharmas are boundless: I vow to master them.The Buddha-Way is unattainable: I vow to attain it. 
Prayer for Meals
This food nourishes our lives and our practice,A gift from the universe, arriving at our tableFrom the efforts of all sentient beings past and present.We offer this meal to the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha,And to all life in every realm of existence.With this food we pray that all sentient beingsBe sufficiently nourished in their body, mind and spirit. 
Or a shorter form—
I give thanks for this food to all many beings who have brought it to my table. I vow to respond in kinds, especially to those in need, with wisdom and kindness.
And at the end of the day, before bed—
I give thanks for this day. I understand that as this day ends my life is diminished by one. I vow not to squander tomorrow. 

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