Branching Streams: Being One and Many

A Five Class Hybrid Series
Led by Reverend Jitsujo Gauthier
Saturdays, August 6, 13, 27, September 10 &17  11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m.

In person in the ZCLA Garden and via Zoom


The “Identity of Relative and Absolute,” or 參同契 in Kanji, is one of the chants we do during morning service at ZCLA. 參同契 (Chinese: Cāntóngqì; Japanese: Sandōkai) is a poem that was written by Chan Ancestor Shítóu Xīqiān during the Tang Dynasty. This poem derives its title from a 2nd Century Daoist Alchemy text and is considered to be one of the most important works of the Cáodòng or Soto School.


There are many English translations of 參同契. For example, “Inquiry into Matching Halves,” “Being One and Many,” and “the Agreement of Difference and Unity.” Various interpretations create many branches of meaning and diverse views. What is it that connect the branching streams together?


Direct transmission from Shakyamuni Buddha thru all the ancestors can happen in a flash and slowly over time. When we engage in ritualize methods of chanting, memorization, and recitation we water wholesome seeds in our store consciousness, we activate the many selves, and allow this transmission of Buddhist wisdom to enter our entire being.


  • What seeds are you currently watering in your store consciousness?
  • How do you nurture a sense of belonging in your many selves?
  • What methods are you utilizing to realize the one true Self?
  • Where do you see the harmony of Relative and Absolute reflected in your life?


This class will utilize the Infinite Mirror text by Chan Master Sheng-yen and the Infinite Circle text by Bernie Glassman. There will be 5 @ 1.25-hour classes consisting of a contemplative Zen practice on a themeless theme, recitation of the Identity of Relative and Absolute, a 20-minute teaching followed by group sharing and Q&A. Participants will be asked to practice a daily recitation of the 參同契between classes. At the end of the series, participants will be asked to commit to memorize a translation of this poem over the next year to intimately realize the “Identity of Relative and Absolute.”


While the zoom option is available for those distant from the grounds of ZCLA, please consider attending in person to engage in this Dharma transmission together as sangha. Also, feel free to bring lunch to eat after the class!


All are welcome to zoom in for this.  $20 per class for Members; $30 per class for Non-Members

(If you have concerns about payments or any other questions, please contact


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Jitsujo T. Gauthier is a Zen priest, preceptor and Dharma Holder at the Zen Center of Los Angeles, as well as a member of the Zen Peacemakers International. She is also an Assistant Professor and current Chair of the Buddhist Chaplaincy department at University of the West in Los Angeles county. She explores and practices of the Three Tenets in the classroom, chaplaincy work, as well as within seated meditation.