Mantras in Zen Buddhism
Hello Hugo how are you ?
My name is Gianluca I’m 46 years old and I’m writing you from Venice ,Italy. Since I was a child I’ve been deeply interested in Buddhism and Far East studies. I practice Soto Zen meditation and I’m also interested in Tibetan Buddhism and Japanese Shingon.
I would like to know which mantras are used in Zen.
Thank you so much for your wonderful site!
All the best from Venice
Thank you very much Gianluca for the question and the nice words.
Venice seems to be a marvelous city and I intend on visiting it one day. I have never actually been to Europe. Only North America and Japan, of course.
About your question: What mantras are used in Buddhism?
I guess you refer to Sutras and not mantras.
Sutras are sacred texts recited for meditative purposes and they also contain teachings (even if most people do not understand them) mantras are short phrases recited for meditation purposes and they also serve as a focus.
A famous mantra in Japanese Buddhism, for example is Namu Myoho Renge Kyo. It is used in Nichiren Buddhism.
Sutras are common to all forms and all schools of Buddhism.
The most well known one is the Heart Sutra which is called Hannya Shingyo in Japanese.
It is widely used in Zen and other sects.
Other texts used are the Lotus Sutra, the Brahma Net Sutra and the Lankavatara Sutra. Those are not really recited in practice but more studied as guidance. Of course, Soto Zen also heavily relies on the works of Dogen which are called Shōbōgenzō.
As I am sure you know well, Zen practice is mostly sitting in silence. For this reason, Sutras and other mantras are mostly used by monks and priests during ceremonies and not for daily practice.
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Thank you for your question and I hope I answered it your satisfaction.