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Thread: Gathas reloaded :)

  1. #1

    Gathas reloaded :)

    Dear Treeleaf friends,

    Jundo reminded me of a practise recently, which some of you might find helpful or even inspiring.

    I am talking about Gathas. A former Treeleaf member had a wonderful way with Gathas and managed to remind us of their beauty and usefulness time and again through her own heartfelt compositions.

    Since she left a few years ago, the whole topic has had less of a limelight spot, which is why Ango might be a good time to at least remind us of this aspect of our practise.

    But what are Gathas?

    Traditionally Gathas would literally refer to pre-Mahayana "hymns", "songs" or "verses".

    In a Buddhist context, pithy excerpts of Sutra passages would also be called Gathas, but later on Chinese Buddhists luckily started the trend of calling some of their own compositions Gathas as well.

    Gathas are usually just a few lines long and are composed in a way that makes them relatively easy to remember.

    So writing a Gatha is not about putting loads of fancy words into written form, but rather to create something that can act as a gentle and poetic reminder of what is happening right NOW….the NOW can refer to particular times that the Gathas are pointing to.

    Obviously a meal Gatha (as included in our beautiful Oryoki ceremony) makes most sense when chanted during the time of actually having a meal.

    You can use traditional Gathas, or create Gathas yourself.

    As long as your Gatha expression comes from the heart and is actually useful to you and your practise, not a lot can go wrong. After all, all is equally an expression of Buddha nature, and as such qualifies to be made the topic of a Gatha

    Gathas can be wonderful "anchors" of the here and now and can also act as mindfulness lifebelts in the busy schedule of a modern individual's multitask existence.

    A traditional Gatha example relating to using the bathroom is the following (this version is one from the Nebraska Zen center):

    Bathing the body
    Vowing with all beings
    To purify body and mind
    Cleansing without and within

    Another Gatha example is related to the opening of Sutras (from the Village Zendo in Manhattan):

    Gatha on Opening the Sutra

    The Dharma, incomparably profound and infinitely subtle,
    Is rarely encountered, even in millions of ages.
    Now we see it, hear it, receive and maintain it.
    May we completely realize the Tathagata's true meaning.

    Why not give it a go yourself one of these days? How about a traffic jam Gatha? We find Buddha everywhere!

    Please share your Gathas with us, so that we can all realise the Buddha Way together!


    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Last edited by Hans; 09-08-2014 at 11:31 AM.

  2. #2
    Awake at 3 a.m.
    with a crowded life
    I can wiggle my toes
    and smile


  3. #3
    As we approach the beginning of another week,
    May we not view it as a punishment,
    But as an opportunity to find joy in our lives
    And share it with others.

  4. #4
    Here's one I came up with just a few minutes ago while changing a diaper:

    Changing this soiled diaper
    May we all realize the unsoilable buddha nature: not one, not two.


  5. #5
    Hi all

    I love this idea! Here are a few attempts:

    Filling the kettle
    with precious water
    may all beings
    have sufficent to drink.

    Washing the floor
    with the buddha’s hands
    my own face disappears
    the more I scrub.

    Putting out bird food
    seeds and nuts are scattered
    like dharma blossoms
    may all beings be free from hunger.

    Chopping up firewood
    the hands of my ancestors
    cut through delusion
    along with my own.

    Sipping my tea
    the elegant and subtle taste
    is like the many tastes of dharma
    all satisfying our thirst.


  6. #6
    Thanks all.

    Your words are soothing.

    I started the week with a lot of things to do, worries, etc.
    Certainly not in the best mood.

    I was trying to think of a gatha to calm down when one is falling in anger and pessimistic thoughts.
    But nothing came to my mind, maybe I was very angry to even think.

    I'll have to let it be to be able to let it go.


  7. #7

    I don't know if these might help or not?

    Feeling my anger
    like the heat of a fire
    I cast the suffering of all beings
    into the raging flames.

    Worrying thoughts cloud my mind
    Breathing in slowly
    I hold them gently
    like an upset child.


  8. #8
    Indeed they help, Kokuu.



  9. #9
    Going for a dump,
    Praying with all beings
    to remove all filth and destroy the
    Poison of greed, anger and ignorance.

    w.c. gatha

    "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

  10. #10
    Lovely gathas here, thanks for sharing!

    Here some gathas I've been using in the last years (I like to keep them short):

    When I feed the cats:
    Feeding my cats
    I am nurturing the whole universe

    Household chores:
    The profane is sacred.
    Everyday mind is Buddha's mind.
    (That one is from TNH)

    When taking out the trash:
    In the garbage, I see a rose.
    In the rose, I see compost.
    Everything is in transformation.
    Impermanence is life.
    (Also from TNH)

    My modified meal gatha:
    This food comes from the efforts of all sentient beings past and present
    From the earth, from the rain, from the sun
    All ten thousand things make life possible

    Here is a list with 68 lovely gathas from Thich Nhat Hanh:

    When angry, things have to be even simpler IMHO, as thinking is impeded then.
    This is totally non-Buddhist though.
    I take a deep breath, smile to myself and just think "F**k it!". Then I breathe out slowly.
    May be primitive, but it works. (Sometimes adding "It does not matter that much." can be useful).


    no thing needs to be added

  11. #11
    Thanks Daitetsu,

    What is most funny is that after anger has passed by, most times I can only laugh at what made me lost my temper.

    How tricky is the mind!


  12. #12
    Thank you Hans for starting this thread.

    Stop just stop
    Take a breath and observe
    This and all other
    May peace be my practice



    Aaaah Kokuu, I just knew you wouldbe good at this!

  13. #13
    This is awesome! I missed the Gatha thread. These are some awesome gathas guys

    This is one I chant when washing my hands.... I guess that's sort of obvious. lol

    Washing my hands,
    I vow with all sentient beings,
    to not let a single speck of dust remain.



  14. #14
    Wow folks,

    I am mightily impressed! Beautiful.


    Hans Chudo Mongen

  15. #15
    Not very original, but to the point. This phrase can deeply soothe me.

    This moment is enough.

    Last edited by Cooperix; 09-08-2014 at 09:59 PM.

  16. #16
    When I feel that sitting is difficult,
    I vow with all beings to see the ease in which my cat sits and to follow her lead.

    泰 Entai (Bill)
    "this is not a dress rehearsal"

  17. #17
    Wow great stuff everybody! Kokuu, you have a real talent for these!

  18. #18

    Gathas are a fantastic way to realize every moment and to focus the mind in what we do or eat.

    Thank you Mongen!


    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  19. #19
    Work Gatha

    May this work be done in the spirit of generosity

    Realizing that merit is the only wage we should seek.

    May this work not be motivated by greed, hatred or delusion

    May kindness sustain us and prevail in conflict,

    May compassion guide us and lead us to understanding,

    May we rejoice in the successes of others

    May we remain unshaken by praise and blame.
    To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
    -Dhp. 183
    My Practice Blog

  20. #20
    This morning while brewing coffee and preparing breakfast I came up some gathas for each activity. I don't remember the exact words as they just came to me in the moment, and I didn't want to over-think or memorize them, so what I'm posting here are pretty much the gist of what I recited in as much as I can recall them.

    Sipping Coffee Gatha
    Sipping this coffee,
    may I awaken to Buddhanature like Bodhidharma

    Slicing Orange Gatha
    Slicing this orange
    May I cut through the inexhaustible delusions

    Washing Dishes Gatha (Here I was riffing on my previous Changing Diaper gatha)
    Washing the dishes,
    May we all realize the un-soilable Buddhanature: not one, not two.


  21. #21
    Some very nice gathas here. I will try to use a few tomorrow.
    If I'm already enlightened why the hell is this so hard?

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Daitetsu View Post

    When angry, things have to be even simpler IMHO, as thinking is impeded then.
    This is totally non-Buddhist though.
    I take a deep breath, smile to myself and just think "F**k it!". Then I breathe out slowly.
    May be primitive, but it works. (Sometimes adding "It does not matter that much." can be useful).


    Great suggestion My goaless goal has been to eliminate anger (which may be impossible ) although my Plan B goaless goal is to create enough time between feeling anger and reacting to it. This "gatha" is fast and somehow makes the feeling of anger laughable
    Gassho Daitetsu,

  23. #23
    Good morning!

    A couple that have come to mind this morning:

    Running the bath water
    my body is the buddha’s body
    I wash away greed, anger and ignorance
    and vow to benefit all of life.

    Putting on my clothes
    I give thanks for the fibres that keep me warm
    Each garment is a precious reminder
    of the kindness of all beings.


  24. #24
    Sitting with the storm
    I seek shelter in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.
    As the rain falls down,
    May it clean our mind from the three poisons.
    May all sentient beings have pure water to drink.

  25. #25

    Gathas reloaded :)

    Meal ghatta:

    This food is a gift from the universe

    May it nourish my practice

    Simple enough that even I can remember it.

    Gassho, Jishin

  26. #26
    Stories are for books
    Melodrama is for movies

    Sitting there is no story or melodrama
    every day is a new day. every face is a fresh face


  27. #27
    Thank you all for these treasures.


  28. #28
    Thanks for sharing this gatha practice, Hans. Going to try some of these out. Gassho, Matt J

  29. #29
    Wonderful Gathas! Sometimes we encounter difficulty and difficult personae, here's one to say silently during those moments:

    Though there is irritation
    It is anicca and anatta
    And the irritant also is
    Buddha Nature

    Gassho, John

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Daizan View Post
    Stories are for books
    Melodrama is for movies

    Sitting there is no story or melodrama
    every day is a new day. every face is a fresh face




  31. #31
    I work with young adults in a mental health treatment home. One of my least favorite jobs is giving out medications, so I wrote this today:
    May these little pills
    allow the clouds to part
    And the true nature reveal itself long enough
    That they may never be needed again.

  32. #32
    upon waking I vow
    this day to Awaken.
    and neither are they otherwise.

  33. #33
    Making hot chocolate gatha

    Making hot chocolate for the family
    I vow to brew the bodhisattva's compassion and wisdom
    May I be the bodhisattva for them

  34. #34
    I was googling for a work gatha, something to say before starting working to keep feeding my practice for Ango.
    I came across this gatha which was written by a Treeleafer: Khalil Bodhi.

    I didn't ask for his permission but assume he will be ok with my quoting his gatha here:

    Work Gatha

    Last edited by Daiyo; 09-19-2014 at 02:07 PM.

  35. #35
    Hi Walter, Khalil posted this here in the same thread, actually (#19). It's really nice & worth to be read twice or more times!

  36. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by Nindo View Post
    Hi Walter, Khalil posted this here in the same thread, actually (#19). It's really nice & worth to be read twice or more times!
    hahaha, what a stupid I am!

    I looked here before and didn't see it.

    I'm not in my best day today...

  37. #37
    Hi everyone,

    I've been thinking about gathas a bit lately. I kill a lot of insects on a daily basis, unfortunately, and often by accident. Sometimes some larger things like snakes or mice get killed, as well. I've been looking for an appropriate gatha to say at times like this, and haven't really found one. I've written a brief one of my own, and would appreciate it if someone knows of something similar they could point me in that direction as well. Or any addition or adaptation of mine would be wonderful too, really.

    May this being forgive the loss of its life;
    May we remember our own impermanence
    is no different from another's.
    Let us strive for awakening together.


    However much we become enlightened, it is not very much.
    Rupan shunyata shunyataiva rupan

  38. #38
    Hi all, since I keep forgeting to say the meal gatha before starting to eat, I thought it could be a good idea to say a gratitude gatha after the meal, since I mostly remember the gatha upon finishing or right after.

    Here it goes:

    This food I have received
    Came from the efforts of many beings.
    May the merit of those efforts
    Return to those who suffered in the process.
    May the virtues of this food
    Nourish the will to save all beings
    May we all live our lives with wisdom and compassion.

  39. #39
    watching the evening news
    I vow to decapitate Anger
    and water Compassion with my tears.
    and neither are they otherwise.

  40. #40
    Found this old thread the other day & thought I'd use it as inspiration for my practice during Ango. I work in a call centre and sometimes it's hard not to get caught up with emotions when the centre is busy or I speak to irate customers. I came up with my own gatha that I recite every now and then before I pick up the phone.

    Taking each call,
    I vow to save all sentient beings,
    All customers happy or sad,
    May they all be free from suffering.



    Sat Today

  41. #41
    That is lovely, Simon! Wonderful to have a reminder of your practice at work.

    Thich Nhat Hanh also wrote a couple of gathas relating to telephone calls so you are in good company!


  42. #42
    Thank you for that Simon!

    Ah this old post,
    I remember a lot of these folks;
    I hope they are all happy,
    may our paths cross again.



  43. #43
    Cheers, Simon for re-opening this thread. It's good for treeleaf novices like me to be presented with some of the treasures from the vaults. I think these gathas will come in handy during this Ango-time.
    And thank you Kokuu. You are becoming the Treeleaf master of verse. Our poet in residence be it either your Haiku or Gathas.

    Many thanks and much appreciation.


    Sat Today.

  44. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by martyrob View Post
    And thank you Kokuu. You are becoming the Treeleaf master of verse.
    HE-MAN, master of the gatha verse!

    sat today

  45. #45
    That is very kind of you to say Martyn but there are many here with great skill in words.


  46. #46
    Thank you, excellent reminder.

    sat today

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