The Divine Liturgy of Vajrasattva
FIVE: THE DIVINE LITURGY OF VAJRASATTVA
*This section is divided into sub-groups and is too long for any single post. First up:
(A) LITURGY OF THE LOGOS*
* Meaning the expression of the animating principle as revealed through Sacred Actions and the “Word” of Sacred Sutras, Zen texts, Zen teachings, ect…
Structure of Liturgy:
1. Gathering: the assembly gathers round the Ritual/Meditation space. The Space itself is comprised of a circular-altar in the center, surrounded by four smaller circles representing the directions within a mandala (East, South, West, North). Depending on the nature of the liturgical day, appropriate meditation music is chosen for the occasion. Sometimes it would be slow, perhaps with repetitive chanting; other times it would be more rhythmic in style. The Gathering is a time for centering oneself before the sacred action commences.
(OM PADMO USHNISHA VIMALE HUM PHET; version by Juan Chia)
2. The Procession: the presiding priest representing Vajrasattva (the priest of the Five Dhyanī Buddhas) processes in wearing appropriate liturgical-vestments. Usually this consists of meditation/contemplative style flowing robe and wearing the five-pointed crown representing the Five Dhyanī Buddhas:
The priest is preceded by acolytes (also vested befittingly) bearing Five Banners—each banner representing one of the Dhyani Buddhas—which they proceed to put in place-holders in an appropriate space. The solemn procession is usually accompanied with meditative music, although times for a silent procession would also be appropriate given the nature of the ceremony. The priest then approaches a presiding chair just off-center from the Ritual Space and after the meditation selection ends the priest gives the Invocation:
3. The Invocation: the priest begins by gently touching his forehead with two fingers of the right hand, chanting the mystic OṀ; then the priest touches the center of the throat while chanting the mystic AḤ; the priest next touches the center of the chest while chanting the mystic HŪṀ. Lastly the priest brings the hands together in the gassho position while chanting Svā-Hā. While the action is occurring, the entire assembly joins in chanting each syllable as soon as the priest begins to intone it, while also simultaneously joining in the sacred action with the hands.
4. Inviting the Dharmapālas to the four-corners of the Ritual Space: the Dharmapālas are the guardians or protectors of the Buddhadharma; here they are invoked to aid in the protection of the Sacred Rites:
“OṀ nama Mahakala Panjaranatha hūm phat!”
The Great Mahakala Panjaranatha has made a special vow to protect Buddhist Monasteries; in special fashion he carries across the crook of his elbows an ornamented wooden gandi gong, always used to Buddhist Monasteries to call the monks to assembly. His formidable appearance takes on the fierce manifestation of Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion; hence he helps to overcome all negative elements that may attempt to disrupt the sacred proceedings, especially spiritual ones.
“OṀ namo Nāga Mahakala hūm phat!”
The invocation of the wrathful form of Avalokiteshvara whose many representations invoke the aid of a most ferocious Dharma Protector; this particular form is an ancient Lankavatarian hybrid of the Nāgas and Mahakala—a Tibetan form of Heruka. No evil spirits dare trespass his domain.
“OṀ namo Guhyasamaja Akshobhyavajra hūm phat!”
The invocation of the wrathful form of Akṣhobhya; essentially he is a hybrid that constitutes all the sacred symbolism of the Five Dhyanī Buddhas: the Vajra and Bell of Akṣhobhya, the Dharmachakra-Wheel of Vairocana, the Lotus of Amitabha, the adamantine scepter of Amoghasiddhi, and the triratna or three jewels of Ratnasambhava. This fierce protector transmutes all negative energies stemming from skandhic contamination into positive Wisdom-energies.
“OṀ namo Yamantaka hūm phat!”
The invocation of the wrathful form of Manjushri; the primordial legend states that Manjushri once transformed into Yamantaka—a multiple mirrored image of Yama, the demon of death, thus subduing him (represented above as his foot tramples Yama). This ferocious Dharma-Protector subdues the power of death of the evil one, thus the Sacred Rites are protected from death itself.
5. (Depending on the Liturgical occasion)—Readings from sacred text: like the Diamond, Heart, and Dharmakaya Sūtras.; or perhaps pertinent Zen Buddhist Texts, other salient Buddhist literature, or Mystical Teachings and writings pertaining to the Buddhadharma. An acolyte designated as Reader stands at the opposite side of the Presider’s chair and prepares to read from the text. Everyone sits down and meditatively listens and absorbs the teachings. Afterwards a time of silence prevails.