Preparing for our yearly Sejiki Ceremony

The upcoming Sejiki Ceremony has an unusual chant, which the entire assembly participates in. We recommend that participants familiarize themselves with the chant prior to the actual ceremony at 6pm on the eve of Friday, October 30th. See below for the transcript and recording of the chant. The Obon Sejiki-e is a ceremony to comfort the ancestral spirits, and is an important ceremony in the Sōtō Zen School. This ceremony is performed as a way of making offerings to the family ancestors, to one’s parents, relatives, and spirits of other people we are connected with, as well as for spirits that are no longer connected to any living person.

Due to the pandemic, this ceremony will be available online as well as in-person to a limited number of participants. It will take place outdoors, using both live voices as well as recordings. 

Gate of Sweet Dew:
Homage to the buddhas in ten directions.
Homage to the dharma in ten directions.
Homage to the sangha in ten directions.
Homage to our original teacher, Shakyamuni Buddha.
Homage to the great merciful, compassionate reliever of suffering, Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva.
Homage to the expounder of the teachings, the venerable Ananda.

Giving rise to the awakened mind, we unconditionally offer a bowl of pure food to all the hungry ghosts in every land to the farthest reaches of vast emptiness in the ten directions, including every atom throughout the entire dharma realm.  We invite all our departed ancestors going back to ancient times, the spirits dwelling in mountains, rivers, and earth, as well as demonic spirits from the untamed wilderness, to come and gather here.  Now, with deep sympathy we offer food to all of you, sincerely hoping that you will each accept this food and turn it over, making offerings to buddhas, sages, and all sentient beings throughout the vast emptiness of the universe, so that you and all the many sentient beings will be satisfied.  Moreover, we sincerely wish that your bodies be conveyed by these mantrams and food so that you may depart from suffering, be liberated, find birth in heaven, and receive joy.  In accord with your intentions, may you travel freely through the pure lands in the ten directions and arouse awakened mind practicing the awakened way and in the future become a buddha without regressing.  We entreat those who have previously attained the way since ancient times to vow to realize liberation together with all beings.  Day and night, constantly protect us so that our vows will be fulfilled.  We offer food to beings throughout the dharma realm, so that every being will equally receive this fortunate offering.  Whatever virtue and merit this produces, we completely transfer and dedicate to the unsurpassed awakening with total clarity and wisdom of the whole dharma realm of true reality, that all may speedily attain buddhahood without incurring any other destinies.  May all sentient beings of the dharma realm take advantage of this teaching to quickly attain buddhahood.

Kān Ro Mōn [Italicized portions of the text are not chanted.]

Dharani for Summoning Deceased Spirits to the Great Assembly
Nō bō bohori gyari tari tatāgyata ya

Dharani for Breaking Down the Gates of Hell and Opening Throats
Ōm boho tēiri gyatari tatāgyata ya

Dharani for Blessing the Food with the Unimpeded Radiance of Innumerable Virtues
nō maku saraba tatāgyata baro kitēi ōm sām barā sām barā ūn

Dharani of the Flavor of Dharma covered with Sweet Dew
nō maku soro baya tatāgyata ya tanyata ōm soro soro hara soro hara soro sowaka 

Dharani for Contemplating Vairochana through the Word “Heart-Mind” on a Sphere of Water
nō maku sāmmān da botanān bān  (Repeat this line until doan hits clappers.)

Dharanis Summoning the Five Tathagathas with Precious Names
Homage to the Many Jewels Tathagatha,
Nō bo bagya batēi hara bota ara tānnō ya tatāgyata ya
Removing the karma of greed, fully complete with blessing and wisdom.

Homage to the Wondrous Form Body Tathagatha,
Nō bo bagya batēi soro baya tatāgyata ya
Destroying disgrace and vileness, fully complete with good marks.

Homage to the King of Sweet Dew Tathagatha,
Nō bo bagya batēi ami ritēi arān jaya tatāgyata ya
Pouring the Dharma into body and mind, granting pleasure.

Homage to the Boundless Body Tathagatha,
Nō bo bagya batēi biho ragya taraya tatāgyata ya
Opening wide all throats, satisfying them with food and drink.

Homage to the Freedom from Fear Tathagatha,
Nō bo bagya batēi aba ēn gyara ya tatāgyata ya
Completely banishing fear, freeing all from rebirths as hungry ghosts.

Dharani for Arousing Bodhi Mind
Doshi:        Ōm bōji shītta bodā hadāyāmi    (Call and response,
All:             Ōm bōji shītta bodā hadāyāmi    repeats three times.)

Dharani for Giving the Bodhisattva Samaya Precepts
Doshi:        Ōm sāmmaya sato bān                  (Call and response,
All:             Ōm sāmmaya sato bān                  repeats three times.)
(End gassho.  Third time continues into the following…)

Esoteric Dharani for Residing in the Great Virtuous Jeweled Pavilion
nō maku saraba tatāgyata nān ōm bihora gyara bēi mani hara bēi tata tani tashani mani mani soha rabēi bima rēi sha gyara gēn birēi ūnnūn jīn barajīn bara boda biroki tēi kugya chishūtta gyara bēi sowaka ōm mani baji rēi ūn ōm mani da rēi ūn bātta

Dharani of All Buddhas’ Radiant True Words Anointing the Head
ōm a bogya bēi rosha nō maka bodara mani hān doma jīn bara hara bari taya ūn

Dedication (chanted by whole assembly):
By the positive energy of this assembly, we repay the virtue of our parents’ toil and care.  May the living be blessed with joy and longevity without misery.  May the deceased be freed from suffering and be born into peaceful nurturing.  May conscious beings in the three realms, having received the four benefactions, together with those born to suffering in the threefold path and the eight difficult situations, all thoroughly repent their errors, wash away their defects, finally depart the round of samsara, and be born in the pure land.