Each moment of daily life is an opportunity to arrive in the present moment. Gathas are short verses that we can recite during daily activities to help us return to the present moment and dwell in mindfulness. As exercises in both meditation and poetry, gathas are an essential part of Zen Buddhist tradition. Using a gatha doesn’t require any special knowledge or religious practice. Some people like to memorize a favorite verse that they enjoy coming back to again and again. Others like to write the verse down in a place they are likely to see it often. Further, those who are inspired to do so are invited to create their own gathas to support their practice in specific situations.
Here we offer a selection of gathas that you can use right now in different contexts of your daily life:
Waking up this morning, I smile.
Twenty-four brand new hours are before me.
I vow to live fully in each moment
and to look at all beings with the eyes of compassion.
Brushing Your Teeth
Brushing my teeth and rinsing my mouth,
I vow to speak purely and lovingly.
When my mouth is fragrant with right speech,
a flower blooms in the garden of my heart.
The mind can go in a thousand directions.
But on this beautiful path, I walk in peace.
With each step, a gentle wind blows.
With each step, a flower blooms.
This cup of tea in my two hands,
mindfulness held perfectly.
My mind and body dwell in
the very here and now.
Talking on the Telephone
Words can travel thousands of miles.
May my words create mutual understanding and love.
May they be as beautiful as gems,
as lovely as flowers.
Driving a Car
Before starting the car
I know where I am going.
The car and I are one.
If the car goes fast, I go fast.
Washing the Dishes
Washing the dishes
is like bathing a baby Buddha.
The profane is the sacred.
Everyday mind is Buddha’s mind.
Sitting or Walking Meditation
I have arrived,
I am home
In the here,
In the now.
I am solid,
I am free.
In the ultimate
Laying in Bed
Resting in the ultimate dimension,
using snowy mountains as a pillow
and beautiful pink clouds as blankets.
Nothing is lacking.