Bodhidharma (died 532). The 28th Patriarch in the lineage oft he Buddha and the first patriarch of Zen. Bodhidharma brought the teaching from India to China.

Choka. Morning sutra recitation.

Daishi. Not ordained, female lay practicioner.

Dharma. Laws oft he mind, to which the Buddha awoke. Like Rinzai Gigen Zenji said: “The true mind has no form yet expands in all the ten directions.!

Densu. A position in a Zen monastery that is responsible for the Hondo and leads choka and ceremonies.

Dojo A place of practice, like a Zen Monastery.

Enzu. Gardener in a monastery.

Fuzui. A position in a Zen monastery, who takes care of guests and public events.

Gassho. Holding your hands in chest hight, palms against each other. An expression of respect, thankfulness and humility.

Hakama. A long skirt, which is being worn by lay practicioners during meditation and formal events. A hakama originally was also used for martial arts practice.

Han. A stricking board, which is being hit in a set rhythm. It is hit three times a day: at dawn, at dusk and at night before kaichin during sesshin.

Hondo. Also called sutra hall, the place where the Buddha statue or main statue (Honzan) stands. Choka is being read every morning in the hondo and special ceremonies take place there as well.

Inji. Attendant to the Roshi.

Inkin. Bell used by the jikijitsu to announce zazen periods. It is being struck 4 times at the beginning and once at the end of the period.

Jihatsu. Traditional 5 fitting bowls (for practicality we use only 3) used for formal meals. They are also called oryoki and are helpful in measuring the right amount of food good for oneself.

Jikido. Eating hall.

Jikijitsu. Head monk in the zendo.

Jisharyo. A position in the monastery, where the responsible takes care oft he needs of the sangha, watching from the back door how everyone is doing and introducing the rules to new comers.

Jokei. Helper oft he jikijitsu.

Kaichin. The ceremony that closes the day, in front of the altar of Itaten.

Keisaku. Encouragement stick. We are sitting together in the zendo, facing towards each other, to support our practice. In the same way the Keisaku is being used with the feeling of encouragement and support. Before receiving the keisaku, the giver and the receiver bow towards each other. 

Kesa.A piece of cloth wrapped around the body above the koromo (robe) of an ordained person. It is being worn at official ceremonies. Symbolically it is sown from mayn small pieces of cloth representing arice field. A shortened from of a Kesa is a Rakusu, that is also being worn by lay practicioners.

Ki. Universal life energy, that shows as vitality. We can work on Ki energy in our body and support it with good food and deep breathing from our Tanden. This Tanden is the central place of Zazen, and energy is gathered from heaven and earth

Kinhin. Walking meditation, usually every hour to stretch oneLs body and legs during sitting meditation.

Koan. Special words and experiences of the masters of old are being used to train our mind going beyond the intellectual abilities. In Zen training they are being used to help the student cut through their dualistic way of perception. They are being given from a Roshi to the student, and are chewed during Zazen in an intuitive way.

Koban. Meaning: incense table. The place of the highest monk in the hall, who is leading the zendo.

Kosesshin. A small sesshin, morning and night zazen while samu is being done during the day. 

Koji. Not ordained lay practicioner.

Koromo. The robe of an ordained person. There are winter and summer koromos, that all monks and nuns change at the same time with the change of seasons. The style of clothing originated in the aristocracy in China Tang dynasty.

Mokugyo. Meaning: wooden fish. A hollow piece of wood in the shape of a fish which is hit with a stick giving the rythm of the sutras.

Mozo. Unclear, unnecessary, extraneous thoughts.

Mu. Mu means nothing, emptiness, the state of mind we work on in our zazen. The koan MU is the first koan one receives in zen practice, when you work on becoming one with every action and situation of the day. The many thoughts start to melt into oneness with this mu and we can again experience our original open huge state of mind.

Nen. One mind moment. 

Nirvana. The state where the flames of greed, anger and delusion have been extinguished.

Osesshin. One week of intensive meditation. Only the mere necessities are being taken care of, the rest of the time is devoted to the practice of Zazen. It is a time set especially aside to purify and realise oneLs original mind. 

Patriarchs. Begun with Shakyamuni Buddha, the alive experience of true nature is being passed on through generations until this present age.

Rakusu. A shortened, simplified form of a kesa, also being a symbol of lay ordination.

Rinzai Gigen (died. 867). The founder of the rinzai sect of Zen buddhism. The 28th patriarch after Bodhidharma. He is know in China by his Chinese name: Lin-chi I-Hsuan The text: Recorded sayings of Zen master Rinzai reveal a strict and free way of being.

Rohatsu Osesshin. The Osesshin which is held in memory of the Buddha realizing awakening on the 8th of December when seeing the morning star. This Osesshin is especially strict, no lying down if possible, in order to show appreciation for the efforts of the Buddha and to follow in his foot steps.

Roshi. Zen Master.

Samadhi. A state of complete concentration, in oneness with simple awareness.

Samu. In a Zen Dojo it is said: ?First Samu, second Zazen and third reading the suit5ras.g Samu is the physical, meditative work in a Zen monastery. Forgetting yourself completely, learing to do the work while polishing on your state of mind.

Samugi. The traditional clothes that are being worn during Samu time.

Sangha. One of the three jewels: Buddha, Dharma, Sangha. It is a group of monks and nuns, practiciones, supporting and reminding each other, making efforts together on the path.

Sanzen. Meeting the Roshi individually, where he is a mirror to oneLs state of mind, showing clearly as to continue oneLs practice. It is like a coldron, over and over the hot iron is being hit free of all its accumulated impurities so that the same state of mind of the Buddha may be experienced.

Sarei. Tea round, officially in the zendo, or unofficially as a break during samu time.

Shakyamuni Buddha (567-433 B.C.): the wise of the Shakya clan, born as Hgautama Siddhartha in a place now in Nepal. He was the prince of the Shakya clan, with a wife and son, yet left his fortunate situation to search for the truth of human mind which is beyond the suffering of human experience. He staid in the forest as an ascetic before finding his middle path under the Bodhi tree when the experience of seeing the morning star Venus opened his awarness to his original being. Until his high age of 80 year, he taught the path of liberation from suffering.

Shashu. The hand being held in a position in front of the heart chakra, the flat left hand on top of the right flat hand.

Shugyo. Training in a monastery

Sixth Patriarch (638-713). The sixth patriarch after Bodhidharuma, know n in Japan as Rokuso Eno Zenji and in China as Hui-neng. He experienced enlightenment when hearing words from the Diamond Sutra.

Sussokan. Our breathing is with us from birth to death. We practice sussokan, counting theexhalations, with our complete concentration, following the breath to the last point, and letting go of the preconceived ideas and stord up memories in this process.

Sutra. The written down teaching of the Buddha. Some texts have a mantra character and have not been translated from the original Sanskrit. The sutras are the finger pointing to the actual true experience of the Buddha.

Taku. Wooden sounding clappers. They are being used for announcment in a Zen monastery.

Takuhatsu. Rounds of receiving offerings in town, while receiving them with an empty mind, reading a sutra in thankfulness.

Tanden. A place in the middle of our body, about 3 cm below the belly button. This is seen as the physical center of our spiritual energy as well as of the vegetative nervous system. There we gather and work on our Ki energy.

Teisho. Formal speach during an Osesshin, usually a commentary on an old teaching text.

Tenzo. Cook in a zen monastery.

Yamada Mumon Roshi (1900-1988). He is a student of Seisetsu Genjo Zenji (1877-1945)?in Tenryuji, in the Inzan line of Rinzai Zen. With him Shodo Harada did his training for 20 years in the monastery Shofukuji.

Yaza. Meditation at night, practiced alone after the official schedule of training is over.

Zabuton. Meditation cushion, usually sized 80x90 cm

Zafu. Round meditation cushion.

Zazen. Meditation, inside letting go of all preconceived ideas and outside not being moved around by circumstances

Zendo. Meditation hall

Zenni. An ordained woman, a nun

Zenji. An ordained man, a monk




Here is a collection of Japanese words and phrases which were compiled by Shosei Daishi and the Japanese added by Kubo san. These are words which the Roshi uses a lot, so a good way to start to understand him directly.

Vocabulary Japanese-English
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