zen glossary

I apologize in advance that the esoteric nature of my daily life leads me to think that posting a glossary might be useful.

These definitions are borrowed, edited, and augmented for my own purposes mostly from the SFZC City Center Residents’ Handbook; and from the Ino’s blog (which you are encouraged to visit, often), here:

the ino’s blog glossary

Buddha Hall:  Room used for services, lectures, and ceremonies.

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:  A formal, face-to-face interview with a past or present Abbess or Abbot.

Doshi: The officiating priest for a dharma event.

Fukudo:  The person who sounds the han to announce zendo events, and strikes the mokugyo to accompany chanting.

Gaitan:  The hallway leading to the zendo.

Gassho:  A mudra or bow with palms together, it signifies gratitude.

Han:  The wooden block near the zendo, inscribed with a reminder about impermanence; struck to announce zazen.

Ino: “Supervisor of Monks,” the Ino arranges the affairs of the meditation hall, Buddha Hall, and ceremonies.

Jiko: The attendant to the doshi for a dharma event.

Jisha: The Abott’s or Abbess’ ceremonial attendant.

Jundo:  Ceremonial morning greeting by a leader, typically at the beginning of morning zazen.  As the priest walks past, you are asked to raise your hands in gassho.

Kaisando:  Founder’s Hall upstairs, where monthly memorial services are held for the founder at San Francisco Zen Center.

Kinhin:  Walking meditation, usually between two periods of zazen.

Kokyo:  The individual who leads the chants for services.

Mokugyo:  The red lacquered drum used as a “heartbeat” for 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.

Rakusu:  A small patched neck robe made like Buddha’s robe, worn by people who have received precepts in an ordination.

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 the temple.

Shoten:  The person who sounds the densho to announce events in the Buddha Hall.

Shuso: The head student for a practice period.

Soji:  A brief period of mindful work; temple cleaning.

Sutra: A scripture attributed to Shakyamuni Buddha (the historical Buddha).

Tan:  The raised platform for sitting in the zendo.

Tanto: The head of practice at the temple or monastery.

Tenzo: The head cook and person who oversees kitchen practice.

Zabuton: A rectangular, flat cushion used for zazen, usually found underneath the zafu.

Zafu:  A round cushion used for zazen.

Zazen:  “Total awareness in an upright posture,” aka meditation, zen-style. (N.B.: some may argue that “meditation” and “zazen” are not at all synonyms but this is probably fine for our purposes.)

Zendo: The meditation hall.

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