Sunday Service

Our family Sunday service begins at 09:30 AM (Excluding Summer Months) and Adult Service begins at 10:15 AM on most Sundays unless otherwise announced.


It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lifelong Buddhist or you are exploring Buddhism for the first time, all are welcome here. After entering the temple, please join us in the main hall to the left of the front door and sit anywhere you like unless the seating is marked as reserved. Our service chair(s) will provide guidance throughout our Sunday service to help you follow along by announcing what we will be doing and if there is a page number to accompany it. 

We hope to see you at the temple soon!

General Service Format

Family Service (09:30 AM - Not Held June, July, and August)

  1. Ringing of the Kansho (Service bell) – We begin our Sunday service by ringing the traditional bell used to call everyone to service and remind them it will begin shortly after.
  2. Opening Remarks
  3. Chanting of a Sutra (Buddhist text) – Chanting is ritually done in a Japanese form of Chinese, the Chinese having translated the sutras from Sanskrit. English translations are provided.
  4. Singing of a Gatha (Buddhist song) – As part of most services, we will sing a gatha in English or Japanese. These are an expression of our gratitude to the Three Treasures: The Buddha, the Dharma (Teaching), and the sangha (Buddhist community).
  5. Reading – We do a reading as a reminder of the teachings of Buddha.
  6. Dharma Message – Known as a sermon or homily in other traditions, these provide insights into Shin Buddhism and its doctrine. These are meant to give insight into how we can practice these in our everyday lives.

    During the family service, the Dharma message provided by the ministers are focused on the Dharma School children.
  7. Announcements – Informal time to share news about the temple or our community.
  8. Closing Remarks
  9. Oshoko (Burning of incense) – The time to contemplate on the impermanence of human life. Please take your time when you oshoko.

Adult Service (10:15 AM)

  1. Ringing of the Kansho (Service bell)
  2. Opening Remarks
  3.  Singing of Vandana Ti Sarana – Vandana Ti Sarana is the Three Treasures which are: The Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha (Community). We take refuge in the three treasures to make them central principles in our lives as Buddhists.
  4. Chanting of Sutra (Buddhist Text)
  5. Reading of the Three Treasures – We read the English translation of Vandana Ti Sarana sung at the beginning of service.
  6. Dharma Message
  7. Announcements
  8. Singing of a Gatha (Buddhist song)
  9. Closing Remarks
  10. Oshoko (Burning of Incense)

Common Terminology

Gassho (pron. gah-sho) –  A gesture of placing your palms together. The proper way to gassho is to keep all fingers straight up as you press the palms together softly and place your hands so that your thumbs are against your chest. Gassho is not done to pray or request favors. Gassho is a gesture of welcoming into ourselves the three treasures: the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, so that over time, this practice turns into appreciation for these gifts.

Itadaku (pron. ee-ta-da-ku) – A gesture performed before opening the service book. It is a motion of showing respect and preparing your mind to receive the Buddha’s teachings that we practice. The proper way to itadaku is to place the bottom tip of the service book against your forehead before you open the service book.

Nembutsu (pron. nem-boot-soo) – Nembutsu is to recite “Namo Amida Butsu”. Namo means “Refuge”, Amida Butsu is “Amida Buddha” which is the embodiment of the truth of enlightenment. The truth of enlightenment is expressed in many forms and ways but in our tradition of Shin Buddhism, it is expressed as Amida Buddha, Buddha of Wisdom and Compassion.

“Namo Amida Butsu is the call of Amida Buddha within everyone and their response to that call”

We are given the Nembutsu so that the wisdom and compassion of Amida Buddha can enter our hearts through hearing. In other words, the Nembutsu we hear as we recite it is Amida Buddha calling on us to realize our true self and to awaken an aspiration within us to seek the truth of enlightenment.

Therefore, Nembutsu is not a magic word that fixes our problems but rather, helps us to focus and realize the source of our own problems. Over time, the Nembutsu can turn into appreciation for the opportunity that was given to us.

Onenju (pron. oh-nen-joo) – Also called nenju or ojuzu, these are strings of beads which are the symbol of our blind desires (Hatred, greed, ignorance etc.) which are said to be the fundamental basis of our own stress and suffering in life. 

Among many theories our left hand is said to represent impurity and the right hand represents purity. In Shin Buddhism, purity represents Buddha, the representation of enlightenment and impurity represents the opposite; Unenlightened beings or ones with defilements. Thus, when we gassho and pass our hands through the circle of beads, the gesture shows that even though we are unenlightened beings, we are within the grasp of enlightenment, the world of Buddha.

Oshoko (pron. oh-sho-ko) – This is the action of ritually burning incense. The proper way of burning incense is to stop about one step from the incense table and bow to the altar. Then take a step forward, place a small pinch of incense and gassho and slightly bow. Then take a step back and bow, turn to your right and exchange bows of gratitude with the service leaders, and then return to your seat via the side aisles. 

Special Observances

The Tri-State/Denver Buddhist Temples also hold a number of special observances throughout the year to commemorate holidays or other special events. Please visit this page to learn more.