About the Verse of Atonement (Sangemon)

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  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39237

    About the Verse of Atonement (Sangemon)

    Our chant reads:

    The VERSE OF ATONEMENT:

    All harmful acts, words and thoughts, ever committed by me since of old,

    On account of beginningless greed, anger and ignorance,

    Born of my body, mouth and mind,

    Now I atone for them all


    Some places call it the "Repentence Verse" (Sangemon 懺悔文), and it is about being sorry, reflecting, wishing to make amends and to do better from here.

    We recently had a discussion among the priests about where the mouth goes in relation to the body! (Oh, that sounds bad!

    It all began when Shinshi noted:

    In the Treeleaf chant book the VERSE OF ATONEMENT is given as:

    All harmful words thoughts and acts
    Ever committed by me since of Old
    On account of beginning-less greed, anger and ignorance
    Born of my body, mouth and mind
    Now I atone for them all

    During the Ordination ceremony (from the document) we said:

    Jundo says: All harmful acts, words and thoughts, ever committed by me since of old,
    (Ordainees repeat)
    Jundo says: On account of beginningless greed, anger and ignorance,
    (Ordainees repeat)
    Jundo says: Born of my body, mouth and mind,
    (Ordainees repeat)
    Jundo says: Now I atone for them all
    (Ordainees repeat)
    To which I responded:

    Oh my gosh! That means the whole ceremony was invalid, and we have to DO IT AGAIN!

    Just kidding!

    I am not sure what happened there, but I actually now try to say "acts, words and thoughts," which seems a more logical order of degrees of behavior (from hitting some guy, which is more serious than just saying angry words, which is more serious than just thinking an angry thought, and the root of the other two).

    The Sino-Japanese actually speaks of just "Evil Karma" (akugō 惡業) born of "Body, speech, and mind" (shinkui 身口意) as the three modes of karma (sangō 三業). We used to say "evil Karma," but changed that to "harmful acts, words and thoughts," following the order "body, speech, mind," which is where I got that for the Ordination ceremony. So, our Verse of Atonement is actually a little out of order (I copied another Zen Sangha in making ours, and did not notice the problem). Really, the order does not really matter. However, should we change our Verse of Atonement this year?
    Then there was some discussion on which sounds better, and to be honest, I forget exactly what we agreed or where we made the change. It is possible that you will find either version popping up here and there at Treeleaf sometimes. I atone for that as well. However, I believe that our standard is now "acts, words and thoughts."

    It is also a common teaching in English, because of the happenstance that "atonement" can read "at-one-ment" that this is also a "Verse of At-One-Ment" ... tossing all into Emptiness. That is a little wordplay only available in English, not Japanese or Chinese.

    A Zazenkai Talk refected on the Verse of Atonement (and Four Vows too) ... from about 01:50:00 here:


    Sorry for my long post too.

    Gassho, Jundo

    stlah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE
  • AnGyo
    Member
    • Aug 2022
    • 28

    #2
    Seems like the intention is the important part, of course.
    Despite the saying; "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."

    The version that was taught to me, as I've been using for 15 years has been:

    All Evil Karma ever committed by me since of old,
    On account of my beginningless greed, anger and ignorance,
    Born of my body, mouth and consciousness,
    Now I atone for it all.

    I haven't been struck by lightning yet

    In Gassho,
    Cam AnGyo
    SatToday

    Comment

    • Tokan
      Treeleaf Unsui
      • Oct 2016
      • 1230

      #3
      Sorry for my long post too.

      Gassho, Jundo
      Hi Jundo, well seeing as you explained this so well, and avoided finding the in the detail, I don't think you need to atone for your long atonement post

      Gassho, Tokan (satlah)
      平道 島看 Heidou Tokan (Balanced Way Island Nurse)
      I enjoy learning from everyone, I simply hope to be a friend along the way

      Comment

      • Bion
        Treeleaf Unsui
        • Aug 2020
        • 3725

        #4
        Originally posted by AnGyo
        Seems like the intention is the important part, of course.
        Despite the saying; "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."

        The version that was taught to me, as I've been using for 15 years has been:

        All Evil Karma ever committed by me since of old,
        On account of my beginningless greed, anger and ignorance,
        Born of my body, mouth and consciousness,
        Now I atone for it all.

        I haven't been struck by lightning yet

        In Gassho,
        Cam AnGyo
        SatToday
        The one I have recited for years, and sometimes still do, during private practice, is:

        “All my past and harmful karma
        Born from beginningless greed, hate and delusion
        Through body, speech and mind
        I now fully avow”

        Let me tell you, when I joined Treeleaf and started chanting the Treeleaf wording, for the longest time my brain struggled and mixed the two versions till the point where many times I’d have to stop and start over cause I just couldn’t continue [emoji23]

        [emoji1374] Sat Today
        "Stepping back with open hands, is thoroughly comprehending life and death. Immediately you can sparkle and respond to the world." - Hongzhi

        Comment

        • Meian
          Member
          • Apr 2015
          • 1722

          #5
          [emoji120][emoji120][emoji120]

          Gassho2
          stlh

          Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk
          Last edited by Jundo; 09-01-2022, 01:48 PM.
          My life is my temple and my practice.

          Comment

          • AnGyo
            Member
            • Aug 2022
            • 28

            #6
            Originally posted by Bion
            The one I have recited for years, and sometimes still do, during private practice, is:

            “All my past and harmful karma
            Born from beginningless greed, hate and delusion
            Through body, speech and mind
            I now fully avow”

            Let me tell you, when I joined Treeleaf and started chanting the Treeleaf wording, for the longest time my brain struggled and mixed the two versions till the point where many times I’d have to stop and start over cause I just couldn’t continue [emoji23]

            [emoji1374] Sat Today
            There seems to be an unending amount of versions, just as there are numberless beings we vow to liberate.
            I enjoy the practice of learning the variations and seeing how other interpretations feel and sound. I tend to adjust my private practice as I come across versions that resonate more with my experience. For example, I had been chanting the 4 Great Vows the same way for about 15 years and then came across a very small change that Roshi Halifax had made. After reading her explanation on the change, I too made the change to my private practice. I also changed the way I do the English Heart Sutra after Thich Nhat Hanh offered his new translation.

            Kaizen - Always learning,
            In Gassho,
            Cam AnGyo,
            SAT

            Comment

            • Bion
              Treeleaf Unsui
              • Aug 2020
              • 3725

              #7
              Originally posted by AnGyo
              There seems to be an unending amount of versions, just as there are numberless beings we vow to liberate.
              I enjoy the practice of learning the variations and seeing how other interpretations feel and sound. I tend to adjust my private practice as I come across versions that resonate more with my experience. For example, I had been chanting the 4 Great Vows the same way for about 15 years and then came across a very small change that Roshi Halifax had made. After reading her explanation on the change, I too made the change to my private practice. I also changed the way I do the English Heart Sutra after Thich Nhat Hanh offered his new translation.

              Kaizen - Always learning,
              In Gassho,
              Cam AnGyo,
              SAT
              The version I first learned and have recited for years was the one from the Soto-shu Scriptures For Daily Practice, which is the one I wrote earlier. I now have both, the Treeleaf version being the most recent addition. [emoji3526]

              [emoji1374] Sat Today
              "Stepping back with open hands, is thoroughly comprehending life and death. Immediately you can sparkle and respond to the world." - Hongzhi

              Comment

              • Huichan
                Member
                • Jan 2022
                • 214

                #8
                I've been looking for a Chinese character version of this and can only find a very lengthy text (not sure if that was the original version?). Do you know where I could find it for this version in Chinese?


                Ross
                stlah
                慧禅 | Huìchán | Ross

                Comment

                • Jundo
                  Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                  • Apr 2006
                  • 39237

                  #9
                  Originally posted by Ross
                  I've been looking for a Chinese character version of this and can only find a very lengthy text (not sure if that was the original version?). Do you know where I could find it for this version in Chinese?


                  Ross
                  stlah
                  This should be basically the same Kanji ...

                  懺悔文
                  我昔所造諸悪業
                  皆由無始貪瞋痴
                  従身口意之所生
                  一切我今皆懺悔

                  In traditional Chinese characters, it should be as shown on this Vietnamese video, small variations from the Japanese ...

                  Enjoy the videos and music you love, upload original content, and share it all with friends, family, and the world on YouTube.


                  The source is said to be a few lines from the Flower Garland/Huayan/Avatamsaka Sutra in the Vows of Samantabhadra Chapter:

                  To Repent of Karmic Obstacles and Reform

                  “Moreover, Good Man, to repent of karmic obstacles and reform is explained like this: The Bodhisattva reflects, ‘From beginningless kalpas in the past, I have created all measureless and boundless evil karma with my body, mouth, and mind, because of greed, hatred, and stupidity. If this evil karma had a substance and form, all of empty space could not contain it. I now completely purify these three karmas, and before the assemblies of all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, throughout the Dharma Realm in lands as many as fine motes of dust, I sincerely repent of and reform my offenses and vow never to create them again. I will always dwell in all merit and virtue of the pure precepts.’

                  http://www.cttbusa.org/avatamsaka/avatamsaka40new.html
                  Gassho, J

                  stlah
                  Last edited by Jundo; 12-13-2022, 01:50 AM.
                  ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                  Comment

                  • Huichan
                    Member
                    • Jan 2022
                    • 214

                    #10
                    Thanks. Just having a quick check, the Kanji seems exactly the same as traditional Chinese according to my dictionary.


                    Ross
                    stlah
                    慧禅 | Huìchán | Ross

                    Comment

                    • Jundo
                      Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                      • Apr 2006
                      • 39237

                      #11
                      Originally posted by Ross
                      Thanks. Just having a quick check, the Kanji seems exactly the same as traditional Chinese according to my dictionary.


                      Ross
                      stlah
                      There are small differences. I think that the Chinese version has 從 and the Japanese is 従. The Japanese version above has mouth 口, while the version in the Vietnamese video has "speech" 語.

                      Gassho, J

                      stlah
                      ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                      Comment

                      • Huichan
                        Member
                        • Jan 2022
                        • 214

                        #12
                        Ah, I get you now. Just found the simplified Chinese version, which makes it easier for me to read and can work out traditional from there.

                        我昔所造诸恶业,

                        皆由无始贪嗔痴。

                        从身语意之所生,

                        一切我今皆忏悔。


                        Ross
                        stlah
                        慧禅 | Huìchán | Ross

                        Comment

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