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Q: Religion ( Answered,   4 Comments )
Subject: Religion
Category: Relationships and Society > Religion
Asked by: ken247-ga
List Price: $6.00
Posted: 11 Jul 2004 09:40 PDT
Expires: 10 Aug 2004 09:40 PDT
Question ID: 372714
Do Buddhists have gathering services like the Christian's Sabbath
gathering? If so-- do the Monks officiate the services? If not-- what
do Monks do?

Request for Question Clarification by digsalot-ga on 11 Jul 2004 10:54 PDT
What denomination or school of Buddhism are you asking about?  Some do
have congregational gathering on a weekly basis, some don't.

Some schools have monks, some don't.

I'm Jodo Shinshu, (Pure Land Buddhism) the largest Buddhist
denomination in the world.  We have no monks, we have priests.  We
gather weekly in most places, even if a priest is not present, and our
services are liturgical in nature sort of along the lines of Anglican
or Roman Catholic with prayers and responses.

If a priest is not present, a layman can also lead the services.

Let us know which practice of Buddhism you are asking about.  The
answer for each would be different.

Subject: Re: Religion
Answered By: digsalot-ga on 11 Jul 2004 13:18 PDT
Hello there

Well, your question asks if Buddhists gather for regular services as
Christians do.  Since you didn't ask if "all" Buddhists do that, then
I can give a qualified 'yes' as an answer.  Since Pure Land Buddhism
accounts for about half the world's Buddhists, I can safely say that
at least about 50% of Buddhists have regular scheduled congregational

Since we have nothing compared to a "sabbath" or a day set aside each
week for services, the custom is to have services on the same day most
of the non-Buddhist population does if we are in a country where
Buddhism is a minority faith.  In the US, our weekly services are held
on Sunday.  (In most of Europe and Australia as well)

In countries such as Japan, where Jodo Shinshu (Shin) is a major
denomination, the Sunday service rule has also taken root. - Website of the Seattle temple where
you will find the "order" for Sunday services as practiced there.  You
will also find information about temple etiquette for visitors, such
as stepping into the temple leading with the left foot and leaving the
temple leading with the right foot.  "...entering with the left foot
complements the gesture of bowing: entering with our left foot reveals
the degree to which we have entrusted ourselves to the Truth the Amida
Buddha reveals to us in his/her infinite Wisdom and
Compassion...Exiting with the right foot is symbolic of having
received the Truth taught by the Buddhas and the desire to take this
Truth with us wherever we may go." - quote from website.

As I mentioned, the liturgical parts of the service remind one of
liturgical Christian worship with its series of readings and
responses.  An example of part of a Shin Buddhist service:

Shinshu Pledge - Priest or service leader and congregation together.

1. I take my refuge in the Vow of the Buddha. Reciting his Sacred
Name, I will live through life with strength and serenity.

2. I adore the light of the Buddha. I will put my effort in my work
with self-reflection and gratitude.

3. I follow the Teachings of the Buddha. Discerning the Right Path, I
will spread the True Dharma.

4. I rejoice in the Compassion of the Buddha. I will respect and help
others and do my best for the welfare of mankind.

The Creed 
We rely upon Amida Buddha with our whole heart for the Enlightenment
in the life to come, abstaining from all sundry practices and
teachings, and giving up the trust in our imperfect self.

We believe that the assurance of our Rebirth through his Salvation
comes at the very moment we put our Faith in him; and we call the
Name, Namu Amida Butsu, in happiness and thankfulness for his

We also acknowledge gratefully the benign benevolence of our Founder
and the succeeding Masters who have led us to believe in this profound
teaching; and we do now endeavor to follw throughout our lives the Way
laid down for us.

Priest or service leader:

 Hard it is to be born into human life; now we are living in it.
Difficult it is to hear the Teachings of the Blessed One; now we hear
them. If we do not gain emancipation in this present life, we may not
be free from ill-faring in the ocean of births and deaths for kalpas.
Let us reverently take refuge in the Three Treasures.


We go to the Buddha for guidance. May we always walk in the way that
leads to Enlightenment.

We go to the Dharma for guidance. May we be submerged in the depth of
the Teachings and gain Wisdom as deep as the ocean.

We go to the Sangha for guidance. May we all with one accord live the
life of harmony in the spirit of brotherhood, free from the bondage of

Priest or service leader:

Even through myriads of kalpas, hard it is to hear such excellent and
profound Teachings. Now we are able to hear and receive them. Let us
try to understand the Tathagata's Teachings.

Eightfold Path 
Priest or service leader:

The Buddha-Dharma is the realization within one's deepest
consciousness of the oneness of all life. For the attainment of this
purpose, Our Blessed Master left for us to follow the Eightfold Path,
which is the way of prime importance.

Leader - First: Right Understanding

Response - To keep ourselves free from prejudice, superstition and
delusion, and seek to understand the true nature of life.

Leader - Second: Right Purpose

Response - To turn away from the evils of the world and direct our
minds towards righteousness.

Leader - Third: Right Speech

Response - To refrain from pointless and harmful talk and speak kindly
and constructively.

Leader - Fourth: Right Conduct

Response - To see that our deeds are peaceable, benevolent,
compassionate and pure, and to live the Teachings daily.

Leader - Fifth: Right Livelihood

Response - To earn our living in such a way as to entail no evil consequences.

Leader - Sixth: Right Endeavor

Response -  To direct our efforts incessantly to the overcom- ing of
ignorance and craving desires.

Leader - Seventh: Right Thought

Response - To cherish good and pure thoughts, for all that we say and
do arise from our thoughts.

Leader - Eighth: Right Meditation

Response - To consider often our indebtedness to Tathagata Amida and
repeat the Name in thankfulness.

Leader - May the sacred presence of him who said he would be present
in his Teachings be our guide. May we follow his Way with faith and
thanks and tread with unfaltering steps this Noble Path until we too
shall attain Enlightenment. Namu Amida Butsu.

1. Reverently we come before the shrine of our Amida Buddha, the Holy
One, the Perfect One. With gratitude we have brought our offering of
love and devotion to honor him. We earnestly resolve to strive to
understand his Holy Teachings and to walk everyday in his Blessed
Path, so that like him we may attain the peace of Nirvana. Namu Amida

2. We are solemnly gathered in the presence of the Buddha of Eternal
Light and Life to sing his praises and to hear his Words of Wisdom so
that our lives may be brightened in the knowledge of his presence and
that the Path of Truth may be revealed before us. May his great
Compassion embrace us all. Namu Amida Butsu.

3. We have gathered in this solemn company to express our gratitude
for the many blessings that we receive. We have gathered to learn the
wonderful Teachings of the Blessed One that our lives may become more
meaningful. We have gathered to enjoy the fellowship of these many
friends and to encourage one another to appreciate the Great Vow of
Amida Buddha. May this day bring us still closer to the realization of
our goal and inspire us towards a life of Wisdom and Compassion. Namu
Amida Butsu.

4. As we begin our activities for today, we raise our voices and reach
out with our hearts to give thanks for the countless blessings that we
enjoy. The faculties of thought, speech and action, the warmth of
friendship and brotherhood, the opportunity to gather in this manner
in true fellowship, the feeling of oneness that pervades this
gathering... for these and much more, we are truly grateful. May the
Light of Amida Buddha's wisdom shine upon the path as we strive
towards the higher goals of love and service. Namu Amida Butsu.

5. I take my refuge in Amida Buddha and dedicate myself to his
service. May his Teachings guide me during the day, in my work and in
my play. Namu Amida Butsu.

6. With a heart full of love and gratitude, I repeat the Holy Name and
take my refuge in Amida Buddha, in his Teachings, and in his Temple.
May my, family, teachers, friends and all humanity be surrounded by
the Life, Light and Love of the Eternal Buddha. Namu Amida Butsu.

Mettabhavana (Meditations) 
1. Amida Buddha surrounds all men and all forms of life with Infinite
Love and Compassion. Particularly does he send forth loving thoughts
to those in suffering and sorrow, to those in doubt and ignorance, to
those who are striving to attain Truth; and to those whose feet are
standing close to the great change men call death, Amida Buddha sends
forth oceans of Wisdom and Compassion. Namu Amida Butsu.

2. May the Wisdom of the All-Compassionate One so shine within our
hearts and minds, that the mists of error and the foolish vanity of
self may be dispelled. So shall we understand the changing nature of
existence and reach spiritual peace. Namu Amida Butsu.

As you can see, the format of readings and responses may be already
familiar even though the actual object of worship (The Dharma) may be

Here is a link to my "home" temple in Cleveland, Ohio.  You will find
a schedule of services.

So once again, yes, Buddhists do gather for weekly services - - though
not all of us do.

As for those denominations which have monks, in some, the monks lead
the services.  In many others, just as in Christian monasticism, the
monks have private monastic devotions as well as open public services.

Search - Google
Terms - Buddhist worship

If I may clarify anything, please ask.

Subject: Re: Religion
From: corwin02-ga on 11 Jul 2004 10:33 PDT
This site will tell you all you ever wanted to know about buddhism and then some
Subject: Re: Religion
From: archae0pteryx-ga on 11 Jul 2004 12:11 PDT
The Zen groups that I know of have regular services, but not like
those of a church.

For example, one large group I know has a period of zazen (sitting
meditation) at 5:30 every morning.  On Wednesday evening there is
zazen followed by a service; the service consists of chanting and
performing ritual bows, and there is a dharma talk afterward, which is
roughly similar to a sermon.  On Saturday morning there are several
periods of zazen through the morning, with work periods (zendo
maintenance) and breakfast interspersed, and a service but no dharma
talk.  There are other special services, classes, and events
throughout the month.  Regularly scheduled sesshins (retreats with
all-day sitting periods alternating with kinhin, walking meditation)
take place throughout the calendar year.

A small group or a group that is just a sitting group and not an
actual zendo might hold zazen and a service one evening a week.

There is no special day of the week on which prescribed events occur
in the way that church occurs on the Sabbath.

Subject: Re: Religion
From: stratus-ga on 13 Aug 2004 06:29 PDT
Ahh.. well.. this is where it gets confusing - I know some soto zen
pratitioners - including a few monks and nuns - who don't consider
themselves buddhists - or don't care one way or the other - However,
for simplicity we'll pretend.

In my group, we meet several times per week to practice zazen. 
Although we practice other things too (kinhin, bowing, chanting,
samu(work), sewing) the core and focus of practice - is zazen - one of
our teachers has said "all of the sutras and teachings are merely
footnotes to zazen".   At any one of our meetings - the standard
"service" is -  1 to 1.5 hours of zazen with 5-10 minutes of kinhin in
the middle followed by chanting of the Hannya Shingyo (heart sutra)
and 4 vows (shiguseigan) - and another short chant that begins Ji Ho
San.. - this is often followed by Sampai - or 3 bows where the
forehead touches the floor.

All practitioners sit, participate in chanting, and perform sampai -
zen is not a spectator sport -  but the meeting is usually led by a
senior practitioner - that person is usually ordained a monk or a nun
- unless they aren't.   At a temple or sesshin (meditation retreat) or
large center - this person is usually a head teacher and. This person
offers incense at the beginning of the gathering and may lead the
chanting at the end.  More senior practitioners may make make some
short teachings during zazen.

In our lineage, monks/nuns are not necessarily monastic -  requesting
and receiving the monk-nun ordination often represents a very sincere
dedication to practice, a committment to following the way and often
to following a specific teacher.  So what do monk/nuns do?  They
practice zazen.   what do non-monk/nuns do?  practice zazen..  etc

just my 2cents :-)

Subject: Re: Religion
From: mgeorge-ga on 24 Aug 2004 07:58 PDT
In Theravada Buddhism, practiced in Southeast Asia and particularly
Thailand, there is "wan phra" (monk's day) approximately every two
weeks on which the monks gather and chant the 227 precepts and have a
fresh head shave. Lay people often gather on that day as well,
sometimes spending a night or two at the temple practicing
renunciation by taking 8 precepts (instead of the usual 5). There are
also other regular gatherings at many temples. For example, at Wat
Phra Dhammakaya, Thailand's largest temple, they have a monthly
gathering called Bucha Khao Phra (offering sustenance to the Buddha)
the first Sunday of each month.

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