Each moment of daily life is an opportunity to arrive in the present moment. Gathas are short verses that we can recite during the 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 find they can come back to again and again. Others just like to write the verse down in a place they are likely to see it often.
Here we offer a selection of gathas that you can use right now in different contexts.
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 being with the eyes of compassion.
Taking the First Step of the Day
Walking on the Earth
is a miracle!
Each mindful step
reveals the wondrous Dharmakaya.
Opening the Window
Opening the window,
I look out onto the Dharmakaya.
How wondrous is life!
Attentive to each moment,
my mind is clear like a calm river.
Driving your Car
Before I start the car,
I know where I am going,
The car and I are one,
If the car goes fast, I go fast.
Laying in Bed
Resting in the ultimate dimension,
using snowy mountains as a pillow
and beautiful pink clouds as blankets.
Nothing is lacking.