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Deep bows or prostrations. Normally done in a set of three and towards the altar, these are bows that lead…

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Raihai

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A Japanese word meaning "chamber" or "section," for example, the doan ryo ("instrument player section") or the tenzo ryo ("head…

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Ryo

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A small version of Buddha’s patched robe, suspended from cloth straps and worn around the neck. Usually, each initiate sews…

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Rakusu

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This has come to mean a certain kind of formal, ritualized eating, but the word oryoki actually refers to the…

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Oryoki

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From the Sanskrit “Kashaya,” a rectangular, patched robe made and worn as monks have done since the Buddha’s time. It…

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Okesa

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(Literally: "cessation or extinction.") Although nirvana is the ultimate goal of many Buddhists, it should never be confused with the…

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Nirvana

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A ritual position of the body which is symbolic of a certain attitude or activity, such as teaching or protecting.…

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Mudra

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A short Zen dialogue between master and student, usually from the past. The student asks a question that is troubling…

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Mondo

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(Literally: "wooden fish.") A traditional red lacquered Japanese temple instrument played during services to set the pace or “heartbeat” of…

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Mokugyo

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Awareness; remembering that all things are interrelated; living in the present moment. It would be difficult to overemphasize the importance…

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Mindfulness

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Literally: “Great Vehicle.” One of the three main branches of Buddhism, the other two being Hinayana (small vehicle) and Vajrayana…

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Mahayana

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A wooden stick, roughly a yard long and flattened at one end, sometimes carried by senior practitioners in the zendo…

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Kyosaku

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Originally: a public record or case. A Zen paradox, question, or episode from the past that defies logical explanation. Koans…

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Koan

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An enlightenment or awakening experience. While impossible to describe in words, a kensho experience reportedly gives one a glimpse of…

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Kensho

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Walking meditation. Although its meditative aspect is of prime importance, kinhin also serves the purpose of moving one’s legs after…

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Kinhin

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The Buddhist doctrine of cause and effect. The effect of an action taken today (or the effect of a thought…

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Karma

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Broadly speaking, "jundo" can mean any ritual circuit or circumambulation. At AZC each morning, the Doshi begins the jundo at…

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Jundo

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Also known as "lay ordination," or "bestowing the Precepts," this ceremony is an initiation into the practice of the sixteen…

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Jukai

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One of the seven positions of the senior staff, the Ino is the zendo (meditation hall) manager responsible for training…

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Ino

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A portable bell. Usually, it has a lacquered wooden handle and a drape of material that covers the user's hand.…

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Inkin

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(Literally: “small vehicle.") One of the three main branches of Buddhism, the other two being Mahayana (great vehicle), and Vajrayana…

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Hinayana

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In Zen monasteries, a wooden board struck by the fukudo with a mallet announcing sunrise, sunset, and the end of…

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Han

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A short sutra. As an example, here is a meal gatha often chanted before eating: "We venerate the three treasures and…

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Gatha

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(Literally: “palms together.”) A mudra, or hand positon, expressing nonduality. The palms are joined so that the fingertips are at…

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Gassho

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