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Dharma Chant: A Buddhist Oratorio in Three Parts for Mixed Chorus SATB a Capella

By Richard St. Clair

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Choir, SATB - Advanced - Digital Download
Composed by Richard St. Clair. 20th Century, Contemporary Classical, Post-Romantic, Sacred. Score. 171 pages. Published by Richard St. Clair (S0.188627).

Item Number: S0.188627

DharmaChant: A Buddhist Oratorio in Three Parts. Part I: The Path of the Sages (Text: Selections from the Pali Canon including the Metta Sutta on lovingkindness); Part II: Hymn of Aspiration for Birth in thePure Land (Text: Gatha of Aspiration for Birth in the Pure Land, a vision of Amida Buddha's Pure Land, from Jodoron by Vasubandhu Bodhisattva, India, ca. 400 CE); Part III: The Path of the Pure Land (Text: Kisamboge, by Shan-tao, China 7th c.). Total duration about one hour. All parts are in English. The MP3 Audio Clip is Part I, from the world premiere in 2016 by Commonwealth Chorale, West Roxbury, Massachusetts USA.

Here are the lyrics:

Part I

The Path of the Sages

 Excerpts from the PaliCanon

Homage to theWorld-Honoured One, the Worthy One, the Fully Enlightened One.I go to the Buddha forrefuge; I go to the Dharma for refuge; I go to the Sangha for refuge.Such indeed is the BlessedOne, Exalted, Omniscient, endowed with knowledge and virtue, well gone, Knowerof the worlds, an incomparable charioteer for the training of persons, Teacherof gods and men, Enlightened and Blessed.

Thus I have heard that onone occasion the Blessed One was staying in Savatthi in Jeta's Grove,Anathapindika's Monastery. Now at that time the Blessed One was instructing,urging, rousing and encouraging the monks with Dhamma talk concerned withunbinding. The monks receptive, attentive, focusing their entire awarenesslending ear, listened to the Dhamma. Then, on realizing the significance ofthat, the Blessed One on that occasion exclaimed:

There is that sphere wherethere is neither earth nor water, nor fire nor wind; neither sphere of theinfinitude of space, nor sphere of the infinitude of consciousness, nor sphereof nothingness, nor sphere of neither perception nor nonperception, neitherthis world nor the next world, nor sun nor moon. And there, I say, there isneither coming nor going, nor stasis: neither passing a way nor arising,without stance,  without formation,without support. This, just this, is the end of stress, of stress.

There is, monks, an unborn,unbecome, unmade, unfabricated. If there were not that unborn, unbecome,unmade, unfabricated, there would not be the case that the emancipation fromthe born, become, made, fabricated would be discerned. But precisely becausethere is an unborn, unbecome, unmade, unfabricated, emancipation from the born,become, made, fabricated is discerned.

One who is dependent haswavering; one who is independent has no wavering: there being no wavering,there is calm. There being calm there is no desire. There being no desire thereis no coming or going. There being no coming or going there is no passing awayor arising. There being no passing away or arising arising, there is neither ahere nor a there nor a between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress.

It is hard to see theunaffected, for the truth is not easily seen: craving is pierced in one whoknows; for one who sees, there is nothing.

Who seeks to promote hiswelfare, having glimpsed the state of perfect peace, should be able, honest andupright, gentle in speech, meek and not proud. Contented, he ought to be easyto support, not overbusy and simple in living. Tranquil his senses, let him beprudent and not brazen, nor fawning on families. Also he must refrain from anyaction that gives the wise reason to reprove him.

May all be well and secure.May all  beings be happy! withoutexception, long, huge, or middle-sized or short, minute or bulky, whethervisible or invisible, and those living far or near, the born and those seekingbirth: May all beings be happy! Let none deceive or decry his fellow anywhere;let none wish others harm in resentment or hate. Just as with her own life amother shields from hurt her own son, her only child, let all-embracingthoughts for all beings be yours. Cultivate an all-embracing mind of love forall throughout the universe in all its height, depth, and breadth, Love that isuntroubled and beyond hatred or enmity. So long as you are awake, pursue thisawareness with your might: it is deemed the Divine state here. 

Those buddhas of the agespast, those buddhas that are yet to come, those buddhas of the present time,forever do I revere. No other refuge do I seek, the Buddha is my refuge true:by the speaking of this truth may peaceful victory be mine! I revere with myhead the dust of His holy feet; if the Buddha I have wronged, may the Buddhaforgive me. Until life's end, to the Buddha I go for refuge. 

Part II

Hymn of Aspiration for Birth in the Pure Land 

Discourse on The Sutra of Eternal Life
And Gatha Of Aspiration to be Born in the Pure Land

Composedby Bodhisattva Vasubandhu (India,ca. 400 C.E.)

O World-Honoured One, Withsingleness of mind I take refuge in the Tathagata of Unhindered Light Shiningthroughout the Ten Directions and aspire to be born in the Land of Peace andBliss.

Upon the Sutras'sexposition of manifestation of True Merit, I write verses of aspiration,concise, holding to the Buddha Dharma. When I contemplate the nature of thatLand, I find that It surpasses all states of existence in the three worlds. Itis ultimately like space, vast and without bounds.

Out of the Great Compassioninherent in the Right Path, and from the root of supramundane good has itarisen. It is completely radiant like a pure light, like a mirror or the sun ormoon. It is composed of rare jewels, and endowed with exquisite adornments. Itspure and blazing light is brilliant, is brilliant and serene illuminating thewhole world. 

Jewelled ornaments, pliantand soft like grasses bend to right and left, they produce delightfulsensations, surpassing the sensation produced when kacilindika grass isstroked. A myriad varieties of jewelled blossoms are scattered profusely amongthe ponds and streams and springs. When a soft breeze moves the flowers andleaves, reflections of light interweave and shimmer in all directions.

The palaces and varioustowers command unobstructed views in the ten directions. There are treesdisplaying many colors all surrounded by railings of precious gems. Nets strungwith innumerable jewels hang across the sky. When bells of various kinds ringout they proclaim the message of the excellent Dharma. Magnificent flowers,flowers, and robes rain down and numerous varieties of incense pervadeeverywhere. 

The Buddha's wisdom is pureand brilliant like the sun; it dispels the darkness of the world's ignorance.The Sacred Name enlightens people far and wide, it is subtle and is wonderfuland is heard everywhere in the ten directions.

The Land is firmly upheldby Amida, The Enlighttened One, The Dharma King. The hosts of sages in thelikeness of pure flowers surrounding the Tathagata are born there transformedfrom within the flower of enlightenment. They enjoy the taste of the BuddhaDharma taking meditation and samadhi as food. 

Forever free from bodilyand mental afflictions, They always enjoy pleasure without interruption. Inthis realm of the goodness of the Mahayana, all beings there are equal and noteven the names of unworthy beings are found there. People of the differentgenders are not born there; and whatever aspirations sentient beings may have,They all will be fulfilled.

For this reason I aspire tobe born in Amida Buddha's land, where He is seated on the pedestal of anexcellent pure lotus flower and adorned with innumerable great treasures, andHis physical marks of excellence shine for one fathom; His form is incomparablysuperior to that of any other beings. The wondrous voice of the Tathagata isheard throughout the ten directions. 

Like earth, water, and windand space, He has no discriminative thoughts. Heavenly and human beings areborn out of the ocean of pure wisdom. The King of Mountains Amida is supremeand wonderful and unequalled. Heavenly beings and valiant men worship,circumambulate and look up to him adoringly.

When I observe the Buddha'sgreat power, I find that those who meet with it do not pass by in vain, theyare enabled to quickly attain the great sea of the treasure of merit. The Landof Peace and Bliss is pure and serene, The Buddha always turns the undefiledwheel of the Dharma. 

Transformed Buddhas andBodhisattvas illumine the whole world like the sun, remaining motionless likeMount Sumerru. The pure and glorious light of the Bodhisattvas in a flash ofthought and simultaneously illumines each and every Buddha's assembly, and givesbenefit to multitudes to multitudes of beings.

They manifest heavenlyinstruments of music, flowers, robes, fine incense with which they worship theBuddhas; They praise and extol the merits of the Buddhas without discriminativethoughts. If there is any world in the universe without the treasure of themerit of the Buddha Dharma, I resolve to be born there and to preach the Dharmalike a Buddha. 

I have written thisDiscourse and composed verses with the wish to see Amida Buddha, And, togetherwith all beings to be born there in the Land of Peace and Bliss.


Part III

The Path of the Pure Land

Gatha of Refuge in the Three Jewels

from Commentary on the Contemplation Sutra

by Master Shan-Tao (China, 613-681 C.E.)


Let all monks and laymen gatheredhere

awaken the mind of highestaspiration!

How difficult it is to reject allknown pleasures

and leave the world of samsara!

How hard it is to seek theteaching of Buddha!

Let us all develop thedetermination to receive

the mind of faith indestructibleand clear as a diamond!

Let us all close forever the gateto existence

ruled by four kinds of blindpassions: desire, anger, jealousy and delusion!

Let us all enter without anydoubt Amida’s Light,

which is the ocean-like Wisdomand Compassion.

Let us become one with Him and ina deep reverence

repeat after our masterVasubandhu:

"Being one with Buddha, wetake refuge

in the Buddha of Unhindered LightShining throughout the Ten Directions"

and in the Ocean of Dharmakaya ofall Buddhas

including every SambhogakayaBuddha and every Nirmanakaya Buddha.


We pay homage to everybodhisattva

as well as every practitioner ofthe Dharma

even though their number isinconceivable.

They all are the manifestation ofAmida’s Pure Land!

They all are the beautifuladornments of Amida’s Pure Land!

They promulgate the Law of tenstages as great as the ocean,

which has neither a shore nor abottom;

their Wisdom of the three lowerlevels sustains the world;

We pay homage to those who havepracticed during ten long kalpas,

as well as those who have not yetfinished their task;

To those who have alreadyperfected their wisdom,

as well as those who are stilltrying to accomplish it;

To those who have alreadyextinguished their blind passions,

as well as those who are stillstruggling with them;

To those who live among us due toresidual karma,

as well as those who are fullyemancipated;

To those who still practiceself-effort,

as well as those totally freefrom any self-effort;

To those already gifted with themind of true faith,

as well as those who are stillaspiring to such a treasure;

To those blessed by the happinessof perfect wisdom,

as well as those now approachingthat perfection;

They all are being transformedinto Amida’s Mind;

They all abide in oneness byentering the ultimate nirvana.

Therefore let everyone presenthere

take refuge in the Three SacredBuddha Bodies.


Let us accept the transcendentprotection of the Primal Vow –

the invisible power which knowsno obstacles.

We, the disciples of Buddha,

together with all possible sagesof the Three Vehicles,

Equally long to grasp the Mind ofCompassion,

equally seek the life ofnon-retrogression,

equally wish to be provided forby the Other Power

with the precious presence of allBuddhas.


Trapped in bodies sculpted byignorance,

life after life we have beenrolling along

like stones over the cliff of asteep mountain.

Through this gatha we encounterShakyamuni Buddha,

the special treasure in ourunfortunate time

which does not understand thetrue Dharma.

We learn from Him about Amida’sPrimal Vow –

the Ultimate Gate into EternalHappiness.

Everyone who thinks upon theseverses

will manage to see the exquisiteface of Amida,

shall realize in a single momentthe benefits of the visual contemplations,

and shall live henceforthemancipated from the blind passions.

The inconceivable nature of sucha realization

is a supreme-level teaching,itself protected carefully

in the treasure-house of theContemplation Sutra.

This gatha emerges from the Mindof Buddha

to lead us into Oneness withAmida.


All Buddhas, as numerous as thesands of the Ganges,

by a full bright spectrum oftheir mystic powers

affirm Amida’s teaching deliveredby Shakyamuni Buddha

as the Ultimate Gate called thePure Land.

Let us all vow to share the meritof this gatha

with all sentient beings withoutany discrimination

so as to enable them to awakenthe aspiration for Bodhi

and take birth in the Pure Landas Buddhas!


Joyful Chorale of Thanksgiving:

I Take Refuge in Amida Buddha


I take refuge in AMIDA BUDDHA;


Thank you, AMIDA BUDDHA.

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