Buddhist Service Terms

Hondo – “the main hall”. The Hondo is divided into two parts; the alter area and the seating area. Incense is burned to purify the air and to create the proper atmosphere.

Gohonzon – “honorific-principal-object of reverence”, the main or principal object of reverence in a Buddhist temple. In Jodoshinshu, the Ghhonzon is Amida Buddha. We do not worship the image of Amida Buddha, but rather bow in reverence before the wisdom and compassion that the Amida Buddha represents.

Kansho – “the calling bell”. It is rung immediately before the start of service to call the members of the Sangha (the Buddhist community).

Chanting Sutras – Sutras are the scriptures which convey the Buddha’s teaching. They have been translated from the Pali language into Japanese, Tibetan, Chinese. We chant aloud in unison in the traditional style, following what fellow Buddhists chanted for centuries before us. Chanting requires disipline and focus, bringing on a quieting of the mind.

The Nembutsu -“think Buddha”. In Pure Land Buddhism, we say the words Namo Amida Butsu (I take refuge in the Buddha Amida). In Jodoshinsu, the Nembutsu is not a mantra, meditation, or practice which leads to Enlightment, but rather the expression of Shinjin, the receiving of the True or Buddha Mind.

Gassho – “joined palms”, Anjali in Sanskrit. Among Buddhists throughout the world, this is used to express hello, goodbye and thank you. As a gesture of reverence for the Buddha, Gassho is performed with a deep bow from the waist called Raihai.

Gatha – the teachings of the Buddha. These are teachings written in verse form, sung in praise of the virtues of the Buddha.

The Three Treasures – Variously called the Triple-Gem Ti-Sarana, Tri-Ratna, etc., the Three Treasures is the basic affirmation of Buddhism. The Three Treasures of Buddhism are the Buddha (an enlightened person), the Dharma (the body of truth a Buddha becomes enlightened to), and the Sangha (the community that tries to live its life based on the Buddha’s teaching). It is the ritual of reciting: “I take refuge in the Buddha”. “I take refuge in the Dharma”. “I take refuge in the Sangha”.

O-Shoko – “honorific incense burning”. One steps in front of the Koro (incense burner), bows once, takes a pinch of Oko (ground incense), and sprinkles it over the embers in the burner, bows in Gassho with the O-juzu around the hands, bows once again, then retires.

O-nenju – “thought beads”. The O-juzu encircles the hands during Gassho and O-Shoko, symbolizing our Oneness with Amida Buddha (see above).

Gokifu – “honorific-collect-give”.
Our temple is supported by a traditional system of donations for services, special speakers, classes, newsletter and major Buddhist holidays. When cash or checks are given, it is placed in an envelope with the name of the donor, and put in the offering box at the entrance of the Hondo, put in the bowl when you oshoko, or mailed to the Temple.