Glossary of Zen Words

daisan – private interview between teacher and student for examining correct practice

dharma – The living truth, the universal teaching

gatha – verse

gassho – raising the hands with palms together as an expression of respect, gratitude, humility, or all three

han – a wooden implement used as a signal

jisha – attendant

jitsu – supervisor of the zendo who assists the teacher

koan – a perplexing paradox that points to ultimate truth

kin-hin – walking meditation

karma – the process of cause and effect

monitor – person who helps maintain zendo discipline

oryoki – the formal meal in the zendo

roshi – master teacher

samu – work practice

sensei – teacher

sangha – the Zen community

seiza bench – small bench on which to sit

sesshin – a Zen retreat

shikan-taza – just sitting

shippei – the Sensei’s teaching stick

sutras – scriptures

Tathagata – the “thusness” of the enlightened state; another name for Buddha

teisho – talk on the Dharma; Dharma Talk

tenzo – cook; person in charge of food

zazen – sitting meditation

zazenkai – all-day sitting

zabuton – mat on which one places the zafu or bench

zafu – pillow on which one sits

zendo – meditation hall

zenji – great or revered master