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Terms Used at Ancient Dragon Zen Gate

Doan: The person who rings the bells during service or zazen. Doans also serve as Kokyo or Greeter on the Doan-ryo [the group of people who serve in doan roles].

Dokusan: A formal interview with an Abbot or Dharma Teacher.

Doshi: The priest who officiates at zazen, service, or ceremonies.

Eko: The dedication chanted usually at the end of service, dedicating the merit or energy of our practice to all beings, and sometimes specific persons.

Gassho (Literally “palms together”): A mudra expressing nonduality. The palms are joined so that the fingertips are at the height of the nose. The hands are approximately one fist width away from the face.

Greeter: At ADZG, the person who welcomes new arrivals, stays in the entryway for ten minutes into meditation events to let in people who are late, and strikes the Han.

Han: Fifteen minutes prior to the scheduled time of zazen, the Greeter begins striking this wooden sounding board with a mallet. We have roll-downs and then add one, two and three hits, at 15, 7 and 1 minutes before meditation events. Traditionally at larger temples the han hits every 50 seconds between roll-downs.

Inkin: A portable bell. It usually sits atop a lacquered wooden handle and has a drape of material that covers the user’s hand. It is used in our occasional formal ceremonies with a procession, where a portable bell is needed.

Ino: The meditation hall (zendo) manager, who is responsible for training the doans and helping coordinate ceremonies and services, and helping care for the zendo forms.

Jisha: The attendant who carries incense for the Doshi.

Jukai: Also known as “lay ordination”, or “bestowing the Precepts”, this ceremony is an initiation into the practice of the sixteen Bodhisattva Precepts for lay practitioners. During the ceremony, initiates receive the Precepts and a rakusu from a lineage-holding Teacher, along with kechimyaku, Zen lineage papers.

Jundo: Broadly speaking, “jundo” can mean any ritual circuit or circumambulation. At ADZG now done at the beginning of the day by the Dharma teacher during All-day sittings. After offering incense and bowing at the altar, the Doshi walks around the zendo behind the meditators, in what is called the “kentan”, or “inspection of the sitting platform”. As the Doshi passes, each practitioner raises his/her hands in gassho without bowing; this joins Doshi and sitters in mutual acknowledgement.

Kinhin: Walking meditation, usually between two periods of zazen. This is usually very slow walking, with half steps, raising the foot with each inhale, and placing it doan on the ground with the exhale.

Kokyo: Person who announces and leads the chants at service and chants the Dedications [Eko] at the end of service.

Mokugyo (Literally “wooden fish”): A traditional Japanese temple instrument played during services to set the pace of certain chants.

Mudra: A ritual hand position or gesture.

Okesa (From the Sanskrit “Kashaya”): A rectangular, patched robe made and worn as monks have done since the Buddha’s time. It encircles the body and is draped over the left shoulder, leaving the right shoulder uncovered. It is given to a new priest during the priest ordination ceremony.

Oryoki: The traditional system of eating bowls, wrapped in a cloth and used for formal zendo meals. Currently at ADZG we are doing formal oryoki practice at sesshins, but participants are also completely welcome to instead use bowls on a tray, which are provided.

Rakusu: A small version of Buddha’s patched robe [okesa], suspended from cloth straps and worn around the neck. Usually, each initiate sews his or her own and receives it from the Preceptor during ordination ceremony. In Suzuki Roshi lineage custom, blue rakusu are sewn for lay ordination, black for priest ordination, and brown for those with Dharma transmission; but these colors vary in other Zen lineages.

Ryo: A Japanese word meaning “chamber” or “section”, for example, the doan ryo (“instrument player section”) or the tenzo ryo (“kitchen section”).

Seiza: A sitting position where one kneels and sits back onto the heels. This is the standard position for chanting during service.

Service: A period of bowing, chanting, and making offerings to the Buddhas and Ancestors.

Sesshin (Literally “gather or touch the mind”): An intensive meditation retreat usually lasting 1 or 3 days, or more.

Shashu: A mudra used when standing or walking in formal practice situations. The left hand gently makes a fist around the thumb and is held against the body at the solar plexus (right below the breastbone); the right hand gently covers the left. This mudra is used whenever walking in the zendo, as well as during kinhin.

Sutra: A scripture regarded as having been spoken by the Buddha.

Temple Administrators: Director, Ino, Tenzo, Treasurer, Work Leader.

Tenzo: The Head Cook of the temple, in charge of the kitchen and related practices.

Zabuton: A large, rectangular mat made of fabric-covered cotton batting, usually placed under the zafu.

Zafu: A round cushion used for zazen.

Zazen: A Japanese word meaning “seated meditation”.

Zendo: The meditation hall.