Gāthā is Sanskrit for “song” or “verse” and is derived from the root word gai meaning to sing, speak or recite. Gathas come to us from several traditions including Jain, Buddhist and Zoroastrian.

Gathas in contemporary mindfulness practice are short sayings or verses – usually recited silently – that help focus our minds on the here and now. These short sayings draw our attention to the beauty and wonder of ordinary, day-to-day experiences and activities.

A Gatha is a fresh flower, a solid mountain, a child’s smile, the rising sun, a ringing bell, a bowl of berries, reflections in a tumbling stream.

Breathe in while reciting the first line; breathe out with the second line.

Present moment.
Wonderful moment.

Gathas for Daily Activities

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 beings with eyes of compassion.
Forgetfulness is the darkness, mindfulness is the light.
I bring awareness to shine upon all life.

Walking on the Earth is a miracle!
Each mindful step reveals the wondrous Dharmakaya.*
(*the whole universe)

If today I inadvertently step on a small insect,
May it not suffer too much. May it be liberated.
Homage to the Bodhisattva of the Land of Great Happiness.
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.
Water comes from high mountain sources.
Water runs deep in the Earth.
Miraculously, water comes to us and sustains all life.
My gratitude is filled to the brim.
Water flows over these hands.
May I use them skillfully to preserve our precious planet.
Brushing my teeth and rinsing my mouth,
I vow to speak purely and lovingly.
When my mouth is fragrant with right speech,
A flower blooms in the garden of my heart.
Awareness is a mirror reflecting the four elements.
Beauty is a heart that generates love and a mind that is open.
The peace and joy of one toe is peace and joy for my whole body.
Beings both great and small have worked hard to bring us this meal.
May we be truly grateful.
From our actions here today
May we work towards the cessation of suffering for all beings.
Looking at this bowl,
I see how fortunate I am
To have enough to eat
To continue the practice.
In this food, I see clearly
The entire universe
Supporting my existence.
The meal is finished, and I am satisfied.
The four gratitudes are deeply in my mind.
Turning on the computer,
My mind touches the Internet.
I vow to transform habit energies
To help love and understanding grow.
Before starting the car I know where I’m going.
The car and I are one.
If the car goes fast,
I go fast.

Two-thirds of accidents take place near home.
Knowing this, I am very careful even on a short trip.

This cup of tea in my two hands, mindfulness held perfectly.
My mind and body dwell in the very here and now.
Don’t think you are cut off, dear plant.
This water comes to you from the Earth and sky.
You and I have been together since beginningless time
Whose hand is this that has never died?
Has anyone been born? Will anyone die?
Words can travel thousands of miles.
May my words create mutual understanding and love.
May they be as beautiful as gems, as lovely as flowers.
The sunshine and the water
Have brought about this luxurious vegetation.
The rain of compassion and understanding
Can transform the dry desert into a vast fertile plain.
In these vegetables
I see a green sun.
All dharmas join together to make life possible.
Earth brings us to life and nourishes us.
Earth takes us back again.
We are born and we die
With every breath.
I entrust myself to Earth;
Earth entrusts herself to me.
I entrust myself to Buddha;
Buddha entrusts herself to me.
How wonderful to scrub and clean.
Day by day,
My heart and mind grow clearer.
As I carefully sweep the ground of enlightenment,
A tree of understanding springs up from the Earth.

In the garbage, I see a rose.
In the rose, I see compost.
Everything is in transformation.
Impermanence is life.

May I cut you, little flower, gift of Earth and sky?
Thank you, dear bodhisattva,
for making life so beautiful.
Washing the dishes is like bathing a baby Buddha.
The profane is the sacred.
Everyday mind is Buddha’s mind.
In this precious yellow liquid,
I see countless plants and animals,
Reaching through time,
to support me on my journey.
Rinsing my mouth, my heart is cleansed.
The universe is perfumed by flowers.
Actions of body, speech, and mind are calmed.
Hand in hand with the Buddha,
I walk in the Pure Land.
Defiled or immaculate, increasing or decreasing,
These concepts exist only in our mind.
The reality of interbeing is unsurpassed.

Gathas for Practice Activities

Noble Community, we gather here now to honor
The way of peace and non-violence,
The way of wisdom and compassion,
The way of joy and beauty.
Offering the light of countless Buddhas,
May the peace and joy I feel brighten the face of the Earth.
A lotus for you,
A Buddha to be.
The mind can go in a thousand directions,
But on this beautiful path I walk in peace.
With each step a cool wind blows.
With each step a flower blooms.
The day is ending and our life is one day shorter.
Let us look carefully at what we have done.
Let us practice diligently,
Putting our whole heart into the path of meditation.
Let us live deeply each moment and in freedom,
So the time doesn’t slip away without meaning.
May all suffering ones be suffering free,
And the fear-struck, fearless be.
May the grieving shed all grief,
And the sick find health-relief.
Entering the meditation hall, I see my true self.
As I sit down, I vow to cut off all disturbances.
Sitting here is like sitting under a Bodhi tree.
My body is mindfulness itself, free from all distraction.
In a lotus posture, the human flower blooms.
The udumbara flower is here, offering its true fragrance.
Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment,
I know this is a wonderful moment!
Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky.
Conscious breathing is my anchor.
Body, breath, and mind in perfect oneness,
I send my heart along with the sound of this bell.
May the hearers awaken from forgetfulness
And transcend the path of anxiety and sorrow.
Listen, listen, this wonderful sound brings me back to my true home.
Breathing in, I know I am breathing in.
Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.
As my in-breath grows deep,
My out-breath grows slow.
Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I feel ease.
Breathing in, I smile.
Breathing out, I release.
In, Out.
Deep, Slow.
Calm, Ease.
Smile, Release.
Present Moment.
Wonderful Moment.
Going back to the island of self,
I see Buddha is my mindfulness shining near, shining far.
Dharma is my breathing guarding body and mind.
Breathing in,
Breathing out.
Flower, fresh.
Mountain, solid.
Water, reflecting.
Space, free.
The dharma body is bringing morning light.
In concentration our hearts are at peace
A half-smile is borne upon our lips.
This is a new day. We vow to go through it in mindfulness.
The sun of wisdom is rising, shining in every direction.
Noble sangha, diligently, bring your mind into meditation.
Namo Shakyamunaye Buddhaya (three times).
With posture upright and stable,
We are seated at the foot of the Bodhi Tree.
Body, speech, and mind are one in stillness.
There is no more thought of right and wrong.
Our minds and bodies dwell in perfect mindfulness.
We rediscover our original nature,
Leaving the shore of illusion behind.
Noble sangha, diligently, bring your mind into meditation.
Namo Shakyamunaye Buddhaya (three times)
(for myself:)

May I be Well,
May I be Happy,
May I know Love,
May I know Peace

(then mindful of a loved one, say:)

May you be Well, May you be Happy,
May you know Love, May you know peace

(then mindful of someone you might encounter but do not know)

May she…

(then mindful of someone who has caused you pain or distress, say:)

May he…

(then mindful of all people and beings everywhere and say:)

May all people and beings everywhere…

(lastly, return to yourself and say:)

May I…