Event Description

Sunnyvale zen center holds Sunday ceremonies once a month as well as on special occasions. We invite everyone to attend and participate in these meaningful events. The ceremonies consist of many elements. Newcomers may not be familiar with the rituals but the Dharma Masters are available to answer any questions.

Inviting the Celebrant Master

We first invite the Abbess into the Chan Hall to conduct the ceremony. The assembly joins their palms to express their deep reverence to the Three Jewels (the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha)

Bows and Prostrations

The question is often asked, “Why do people prostrate to the Buddha; are they worshipping the statue or the person?”

Bowing and prostrating help us overcome our egoism and arrogance. They show our deep respect to the Buddha for his qualities such as compassion, concentration, and wisdom, and inspire us to develop these qualities ourselves.

Sutra Chanting

Sutras are a part of the Buddhist liturgy. By chanting the sutras together, we purify our karma, cultivate a pure mind, dedicate our merits to all sentient beings, and pray for world peace.


An offering is a practice in giving; it reduces our greed and helps cultivate our compassion. During the ceremony we make lamp, flower, and incense offerings.

  • Lamp symbolizes our intrinsic wisdom. The light of wisdom dispels the darkness of ignorance.
  • Flowers symbolize the impermanence of this life. We appreciate their transient beauty and learn to be mindful of each moment.
  • Incense symbolizes spiritual cleansing or purifying as well as the fragrance of pure moral conduct. The fragrance of the incense permeates all the worlds, imparting blessings to all beings.


A ceremony is an opportunity to cultivate our Buddhist practice and to dedicate merits to all sentient beings. Reverence and gratitude for the wisdom and compassion of the Buddha are integral aspects of Buddhist etiquette.

Read more detailed information about Dharma Ceremonies from Chung Tai Zen Center