Since I’ve been busy these with learning Buddhist liturgy for ordination at the Jodo Shinshu temple here in Seattle, I’ve been learning a lot about different chants. Some are well-known, like the Shoshinge, while some are obscure, like this one: the Shishinrai (至心礼).
This is a small but very slow, melodic liturgy that is used to express taking refuge in the Three Treasures of Buddhism: the Buddha (teacher), the Dharma (the teachings) and the Sangha (the community):
Shi shin kei rei na mo shou chiu fu
With sincere heart-mind of reverence and obeisance I take refuge in the eternal abiding Buddha.
Shi shin kei rei na mo shou chiu ho
With sincere heart-mind of reverence and obeisance I take refuge in the eternal abiding Dharma.
Shi shin kei rei na mo shou chiu so
With sincere heart-mind of reverence and obeisance I take refuge in the eternal abiding Sangha.
The only time I’ve heard it used is in more solemn Buddhist memorial services, but even then it doesn’t seem very common. I can’t even find it in the main Shinshu liturgy book I got from the Nishi Honganji temple years ago (the same book I use to practice for ordination). However, it does appear in our English-language service book, as shown above. I’ve seen a few Japanese sources refer to it, but it appears to be only occasionally used, hence it is not widely found.
Anyhow, this act of Taking Refuge in the Three Treasures is the most fundamental act a Buddhist does. Regardless of their own faults and shortcomings, a person is encouraged to come as they are and take refuge in the Three Treasures away from the turmoil of the world.1 This chant above is one particular expression of this act.
P.S. More on how to read Japanese Buddhist chants.
1 Taking refuge is also how one formally becomes a Buddhist of course. 😉