Services could begin with the lighting of a candle and incense, if used, and ringing
of a bell. Service content would depend upon the occasion; e.g. informal daily or
weekly service; a special occasion like a memorial service, gratitude service on
the occasion of receiving a special gift or marking an achievement, etc. The service
could be as simple as just sitting quietly or the chanting of a sutra from one’s
preferred tradition. Participants could one by one come up and burn incense or ring
the bell or make a flower offering by putting a flower in a vase. These rituals should
be preceded by a respectful bow or Gassho (putting hands together).
An appropriate Dharma talk could be given or a reading done (e.g verses from the
Dhammapada; articles from Rev. Gyomay Kubose’s books “Everyday Suchness” or “The
A formal Opening and Closing to the service could be done. For example:
An Opening Aspiration: “With deepest reverence and compassion, we are here together
in the spirit of Gautama, the Buddha, the Enlightened One. Life is One. We are one
with the Buddha. We are One with the Teaching. We are One in the spirit of Universal
Brotherhood. We resolve to be earnest followers of the Buddha and to dedicate our
lives to the Way he has pointed out. Then, may we like him attain the noblest and
most peaceful state of Nirvana.”
A Closing Benediction: “We surround all people and all forms of life with infinite
love and compassion. Particularly do we send forth loving thoughts to those in suffering
and sorrow; to all those in doubt and ignorance, and to all who are striving to attain
truth. May the light of wisdom and compassion so shine within us that the errors
and vanities of self may be dispelled; so shall we understand the changing nature
of existence and awaken into spiritual peace.”
A memorial service on the annual anniversary of a loved one’s passing is a good remembrance.
Use a photo of the loved one. Afterwards enjoy favorite foods of the loved one while
sharing good memories.
If a pet dies, a memorial service is especially helpful for children in the family.
A service could be done at a burial site too.
Instead of a bedtime prayer, children could recite The Golden Chain:
“I am a link in the Buddha’s golden chain of love that stretches around the world.
I must keep my link bright and strong. I will try to be kind and gentle to every
living thing, and protect all who are weaker than myself. I will try to think pure
and beautiful thoughts, to say pure and beautiful words, and to do pure and beautiful
deeds, knowing that on what I do now depends my happiness and misery. May every link
in the Buddha’s golden chain of love become bright and strong, and may we all attain
Daily Dharma Program
This is a program to help individuals develop an everyday spiritual practice of using
a home altar as a place to do daily Gassho every morning and evening.
These materials are for individuals who find it helpful or necessary to use the structure
of such external accountability measures as signing an agreement, following a definite
procedure, submitting written reports, etc.
After becoming familiar with the program’s Harmony and Gratitude Gassho’s, doing
Gassho can be extended or applied to many different contexts, themes and everyday
activities. Examples of such Gassho’s to try are a regular feature in “Oneness” our
quarterly newsletter. See YES (Your Everyday Spirituality) on the back cover. Individuals
are encouraged to discover/create their own Gassho’s.