Gate of Sweet Nectar

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  • Kokuu
    Treeleaf Priest
    • Nov 2012
    • 6737

    Gate of Sweet Nectar

    Hi all

    For those who might be interested, here is a series of five podcasts on the Gate of Sweet Nectar liturgy led by Tetsugen Bernie Glassman.

    The 5 part series Gate of Sweet Nectar is now published. You can access the desired part of the series by clicking on its link below: A History of the “Gate” Liturgy, in Bernie’s Life and Several…


    This is a version of the chant for those who don't know it: https://soundcloud.com/bernieglassman/sets/liturgy

    In addition to being used as a meal chant, I think Gate of Sweet Nectar could also be used very appropriately in cases of suffering when we want to take on the suffering of others and send joy and peace in return. In this case the meal could be seen as peace or joy. The words sound a lot like Tonglen (taking and sending) practice. Just my thought, anyway.

    I had not heard Bernie teach before and he is a very funny man, as well as greatly insightful. Not sure that the idea of American Jewish guys teaching the dharma will catch on, though


    Gassho
    Kokuu
    #sattoday
  • Jakuden
    Member
    • Jun 2015
    • 6142

    #2
    Thanks! Will check this out!
    Gassho
    Sierra
    SatToday

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    • Hotetsu
      Member
      • Jun 2014
      • 230

      #3
      Interesting. Thank you!

      Gassho,
      Hotetsu

      #SatToday

      Sent from my LGMS345 using Tapatalk
      Forever is so very temporary...

      Comment

      • Shugen
        Treeleaf Unsui
        • Nov 2007
        • 4535

        #4
        Thank you very much Kokuu. I look forward to listening.

        Gassho,

        Shugen

        #sattoday


        Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
        Meido Shugen
        明道 修眼

        Comment

        • Jundo
          Treeleaf Founder and Priest
          • Apr 2006
          • 39074

          #5
          The Gate of Sweet Nectar has an interesting history, as a literal feeding of the hungry ghosts in hell.

          A sequence of verses and dharanis used to ritually feed hungry ghosts (segaki 施餓鬼) and unconnected spirits (muenboke 無縁佛). Although this may be considered a Tantric rite that has its roots in the Shingon (C. Zhenyan 眞言) tradition of Tang dynasty China, the text entitled Ambrosia Gate used in Japanese Zen today derives from Tendai (C. Tiantai 天台) ritual manuals that circulated widely in the Buddhist monasteries of Song dynasty China. ... In Indian Buddhism, the dharma was likened to amta because it frees those who imbibe it from suffering in the round of rebirth. In China, hungry ghosts are called "burning mouths" because, it is believed, their bad karma causes whatever food comes their way to burst into flames before they can consume it. The ritual offering of ambrosia douses those flames and enables them to receive the same "offerings of nourishment" (kuyō 供養) - food, drink, and merit - that are given to ancestral spirits who have descendants to care for them.

          http://global.sotozen-net.or.jp/eng/...=ambrosia_gate
          I tend to avoid such ceremonies and beliefs around here as being on the more superstitious and mythological side of Buddhism. In the past, all this was taken very literally and (while it might be so, who knows) I rather tend to back away from a belief in such things.

          On the other hand, some folks in modern Buddhism tend to "psychologize" symbols so as the "hungry ghosts" and such as representing nothing more than our inner hunger and greed, and the hunger and greed in the world. In that sense, there may be some value in the ceremony. Bernie and some other have rephrased the words in translation to give it somewhat a more earthly meaning. However, I feel that when one looks at the ceremony with its shell trumpets, cymbals and the like, it still smacks a bit too much as hocus-pocus, and I back away. (About 22:00 minute mark in the video) ...



          The ceremony is also filled with various Dharani, a kind of Buddhist magical incantation, that I try avoid around here.

          Dharani for the Invitation for the Manifestation of all the
          Gods and Demons
          Ø
          NOBO BO HO RI GYA RI TA RI°TA
          TA GYA TA YA

          Dharani of Hell Crushing and Hungry Spirit Throat Opening
          Ø OM BO HO TEI RI GYA TA RI°TA TA
          GYA TA YA
          Gassho, J

          SatToday
          Last edited by Jundo; 10-13-2015, 02:42 PM.
          ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

          Comment

          • Kokuu
            Treeleaf Priest
            • Nov 2012
            • 6737

            #6
            Thank you for posting that, Jundo. I must admit I really enjoyed it but am not averse to the odd dharani or bit of hocus pocus. Good ritual can be very transformative.

            Bernie mentions in the first talk that Shakyamuni gave the liturgy to Ananda originally after he had a dream that his mother was in a hell realm. Is there a scriptural source for this that you know of? I tried searching the web but came up blank.


            Gassho
            Kokuu
            #sattoday

            Comment

            • Jundo
              Treeleaf Founder and Priest
              • Apr 2006
              • 39074

              #7
              Originally posted by Kokuu

              Bernie mentions in the first talk that Shakyamuni gave the liturgy to Ananda originally after he had a dream that his mother was in a hell realm. Is there a scriptural source for this that you know of? I tried searching the web but came up blank.
              Hi Kokuu,

              I believe that it is not Ananda, but another disciple, Maudgalyayana/Mulian ...



              Chinese Hell Scrolls, Buddhist Hell, K.E.Brashier, Brashier


              In the Ullambana Sutra (probably composed in China in the 6th century) "Buddha instructs his disciple Maudgalyayana on how to obtain liberation for his mother, who had been reborn into a lower realm, by making food offerings to the sangha on the fifteenth day of the seventh month. This practice is the basis of the East Asian Ghost festival, including the Bon Festival, in honor of one's ancestors."

              Mahamaudgalyayana had just obtained the six penetrations and wished to cross over his father and mother to repay their kindness for raising him. Thus, using his Way Eye, he regarded the world and saw that his deceased mother had been born among the hungry ghosts. Having neither food nor drink, she was but skin and bones.

              Mahamaudgalyayana felt deep pity and sadness, filled a bowl with food, and went to provid for his mother. She got the bowl, screened it with her left hand, and with her right hand made a fist of food.


              Gassho, J

              SatToday
              ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

              Comment

              • Kokuu
                Treeleaf Priest
                • Nov 2012
                • 6737

                #8
                Thank you, Jundo. I figured it must be from a Mahayana sutra but had not heard of the Ullambana before or the associated festival.

                It seems like Bon is still quite a big deal in Japan.

                Gassho
                Kokuu
                #sattoday

                Comment

                • FaithMoon
                  Member
                  • Jul 2015
                  • 112

                  #9
                  It might be worth adding that at the Zen Center of Los Angeles, where the Gate is practiced every Sunday morning, an important part of the ritual involves participants donating food to a local food bank. That food is on the alter along with all of the spirits and ancestors. It's a lovely ceremony and I never experienced it as hocus pocus or overly psychological (I have felt that when chanting chapter 25 of the lotus sutra but I love it just the same).

                  Faith-Moon
                  sat today
                  sat today!

                  Comment

                  • Shugen
                    Treeleaf Unsui
                    • Nov 2007
                    • 4535

                    #10
                    Originally posted by FaithMoon
                    It might be worth adding that at the Zen Center of Los Angeles, where the Gate is practiced every Sunday morning, an important part of the ritual involves participants donating food to a local food bank. That food is on the alter along with all of the spirits and ancestors. It's a lovely ceremony and I never experienced it as hocus pocus or overly psychological (I have felt that when chanting chapter 25 of the lotus sutra but I love it just the same).

                    Faith-Moon
                    sat today
                    That does sound lovely.

                    Gassho,

                    Shugen

                    #sattoday


                    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
                    Meido Shugen
                    明道 修眼

                    Comment

                    • Jundo
                      Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                      • Apr 2006
                      • 39074

                      #11
                      I might note where I come from on these things ...

                      I am actually about to appear on a podcast interview in a couple of weeks (yes, finally) with Ted Meissner of the secular Buddhist and Mindfulness podcasts (http://secularbuddhism.org/category/podcasts/). The theme was "Secular-Religious Buddhism - The Best of All Worlds". More on that another time. However here is a taste, my description ...)

                      There is not one “right” view of Buddhism suitable for all practitioners, and I will never claim my way as best for all. Different suffering beings may require medicines in varied mix and dosage ... However, I wish to offer a new flavor of Buddhism which avoids both (1) what may be baseless myth, unfounded superstition, primitive magic and historical ignorance among traditional Buddhist practices, and (2) the opposite extreme extreme of stripped down teachings and practices reduced to such a degree that the “baby Buddha” is thrown out with the bath water, whereby many worthwhile and challenging teachings and rituals are lost due to being wrongly limited or labeled as myth and magic. ... "Religio-Secular Buddhism” means forms of practice that maintain the option of and place for certain seemingly "religious" elements of Buddhist Practice ... for example, the possibility of statues, robes, incense ... but only to the extent that each speaks to and has meaning for the practitioner, is seen to have value as a symbol or poetic expression of some greater truths, and serves as a reminder or focus encompassing teachings, thus embodying a pragmatic purpose to facilitate and enhance Buddhist Practice. ... We don't insist that others abandon their beliefs in things we reject, and we remain open minded even if skeptical and agnostic or (based on present evidence) unbelieving. However, for our own practice, we reject certain aspects of traditional Buddhism … and all other religions and philosophies … if not meeting the above tests of substantiation and relevance.
                      Elements of a ceremony like this cross the line for me personally, but I do not speak for all Practitioners. One person's hocus-pocus is another person's power.

                      Gassho, Jundo

                      SatToday
                      ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                      Comment

                      • Seido
                        Member
                        • May 2015
                        • 167

                        #12
                        I really like the idea of ZCLA donating food along with the Gate of Sweet Nectar. That ritual isn't my cup of tea, but the food donation is a nice way of bringing it back to helping all sentient beings, including the hungry just down the street!

                        I'm looking forward to your podcast interview Jundo. Before I came here I looked heavily at the SBA for a Sangha to call home, but it was missing some of what I think you'll be describing in the podcast, which speaks to me at the level I need in my practice currently.

                        Gassho,
                        Ken
                        SatToday
                        The strength and beneficence of the soft and yielding.
                        Water achieves clarity through stillness.

                        Comment

                        • FaithMoon
                          Member
                          • Jul 2015
                          • 112

                          #13
                          I get it. There are plenty of things in Buddhism that I steer away from. Ceremonies and rituals, I'm fine with, but you really have to be in the room and throw yourself into it. May the mind-flower bloom in eternal spring, and may we realize the Buddha way together.

                          Faith-Moon
                          sat today
                          sat today!

                          Comment

                          • Kaishin
                            Member
                            • Dec 2010
                            • 2322

                            #14
                            Jundo, I am very grateful for your teaching style! Though I can see how some people appreciate ceremonies such as this.

                            -satToday
                            Thanks,
                            Kaishin (開心, Open Heart)
                            Please take this layman's words with a grain of salt.

                            Comment

                            • Jinyo
                              Member
                              • Jan 2012
                              • 1957

                              #15
                              Thanks for the link Kokuu and the video Jundo.

                              I wasn't expecting to enjoy the ceremony (not too keen on shell trumpets, cymbals, etc) but I found it quite compelling.
                              There is a lot of teaching in the words and I can see how meaningful it would be to be involved in the ceremony on a regular basis.

                              I also enjoyed hearing a female voice lead the chanting - very clear and beautiful.

                              Loved the joyful jumping about near the end

                              Just one query - what is it that individuals place on their foreheads when they approach the alter ?

                              Gassho

                              Willow

                              sat today

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