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Sutras of Zen Buddhism

Mahayana Buddhism spawned numerous sutras. Some are especially alive because they are still recited every morning after zazen – in all dojos. In this way they form an integral part of the actual practice of zen in Europe.

kesa soetra - Mei Ran Zen Dojo - Zazen Amsterdam

Takkesa Ge

Also called the Kesa Sutra, the Takkesa Ge is sung as a sign of veneration of the kesa, the garment of Buddha. Moreover, before putting on the kesa, one places it on top of one’s head, silently reciting the Takkesa Ge three times. During sesshins this sutra is sung by everybody together, while seated, after completing the morning zazen.

Hannya Shingyo

Hannya Shingyo, el Sutra del CorazónCalled the Heart Sutra because it represents the heart of the great wisdom, it was written between the first and the sixth century of our era. Common to all the different forms of buddhism, it is certainly the most well known of the sutras. The bodhisattva Avalokitesvara gives teaching to Sariputra about the emptiness of every being and every object, because none of these posess a fixed or substantial character. Everything is impermanaent and exists in interdependence, not in isolation.

The Hannya Shingyo is always recited during the ceremony which follows zazen.


Shigu Seigan Mon

This short sutra represents the ideal of the bodhisattva consisting of it’s four fundamental vows, whose first vow – to save all sentient beings – contains the other three. Sung every morning, this sutra reminds us of the highest mission as practicioner of Mahayana Buddhism and human being in this world. Every day we renew this vow.

The Shigu Seigan Mon follows the Hannya Shingyo during ceremonies.


Boddhidharma, se le agradece cada mañana en el Sutra Eko

This sutra is a commemoration of all the great masters mentioned. Not all the Budhhas and Patriarchs are mentioned in this brief recitation. The most important patriarchs of our Soto tradition such as Budhha, Bodhidharma, Dogen, Keisan, Kodo SawakiTaisen Deshimaru and Niwa Zenji are respectfully mentioned and thanked.

The Eko is recited during the morning ceremony.


This sutra is a universal invocation wishing that all sentient beings should awaken to the Way of the Budhha.

The Fueko is recited at the time of the short evening cermeony which closes the day.

Ji ho san shi

This sutra, which closes the ceremony, is recited as a sign of gratitude to all the Budhhas and the Patriarchs. The Ji ho San Shi is usually accompanied by sampaï; three prostrations.


The Fukanzazengi, a sutra written by Dogen, represents the essence of the practice of zazen.

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