Temple Sounds

Zazen, lectures, services and ceremonies at San Francisco Zen Center are signaled by traditional Japanese temple bells and drums. Click on the links below to listen to the instruments and chants.  Audio files will open in a new browser window.

The Han

Playing the Han

The rhythmic rap of the wooden han begins 15 minutes before zazen, and calls the community to the zendo.

Listen to the Han (14:07)



The Densho Bell

Densho bell

The deep, regular ringing of the densho bell calls the community to the Buddha hall for a dharma talk or class. 

Listen to the Densho Bell  (10:22)



Lecture Chants:


At the beginning of lecture, the assembly joins together for the following chant:

Listen  (1:20)

Mujō jin jin mi myō no hō wa
hyaku sen man go ni mo ai-o koto katashi

ware ima ken-mon shi ju-ji suru koto o etari
negawakuwa nyorai no shin-jitsu-gi o geshi tatematsuran

An unsurpassed, penetrating and perfect dharma
Is rarely met with even in a hundred thousand million kalpas. Having it to see and listen to, to remember and accept,
I vow to taste the truth of the Tathagata’s words.


At the end of lecture, the assembly joins together again to chant the four bodhisattva vows:

Listen  (1:22)

May our intention equally extend to Every being and place
With the true merit of buddha’s way.

Shu-jō mu-hen sei-gan-dō
bon-nō mu-jin sei-gan-dan
ho-mon mu-ryō sei-gan-gaku
butsu-do mu-jō sei-gan-jō

Beings are numberless; I vow to save them.
Delusions are inexhaustible; I vow to end them.
Dharma gates are boundless; I vow to enter them.
Buddha’s way is unsurpassable; I vow to become it.

Additional temple sounds can be found, together with other recordings and texts, on the Services, Sutras, Texts & Songs  page.