Author Topic: What does chanting mean to you?  (Read 1785 times)

Offline curiousmind

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What does chanting mean to you?
« on: September 03, 2016, 12:45:26 am »
Hi everyone :)

I am trying to understand Buddhism, and hear people's experiences and stories. Books can tell me the facts but actual practicing Buddhists can tell me the good stuff and what life really looks like as an adherent! I am very interested.

I would like to understand chanting...

What happens when you chant? Are there rules, can you do it alone? What does it mean?

I would like to know what it means for those who practice it. How does it make you feel, and why??

Is it a prayer to a deity? Or is this part of meditation in oneself?

Is it something we should all be doing?

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: What does chanting mean to you?
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2016, 09:22:49 am »
Hi, curiousmind.

I am not now, nor have ever been much of a chanter.  My understanding is that the practice came from the fact that ancient practitioners used it as a device to memorize Buddha's teachings.  They would sit together and chant his lessons and in that way commit the lesson to memory.  It is an ancient tradition, which was necessitated from the fact that none of the suttas at that time were written, so they memorized them by chanting them en masse. (together or in a group)

Following is a link to a Book of such chants still practiced by Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis today in Pali, the language of The Buddha with English Translations:



  Appiyehi sampayogo dukkho piyehi vippayogo
dukkho yam-p’icchaª na labhati tampi dukkhaª.
association with things disliked is stressful, separation from things liked is
stressful, not getting what one wants is stressful.
Saºkhittena pañcup›d›nakkhandh› dukkh›,
In short, the five clinging-aggregates are stressful,
the form clinging-aggregate,
the feeling clinging-aggregate,
the perception clinging-aggregate,
the fabrication clinging-aggregate,
the consciousness clinging-aggregate.
Yesaª pariññ›ya,
Dharam›no so bhagav›,
Evaª bahulaª s›vake vineti,
So that they might fully understand this, the Blessed One, while still alive,
often instructed his listeners in this way,
Evaª bh›g› ca panassa bhagavato s›vakesu
Bahulaª pavattati:
many times did he emphasize this part of his admonition:
“RÒpaª aniccaª, “Form is inconstant,
Vedan› anicc›, Feeling is inconstant,
M 7 O R N I N G C H A N T I N G
Saññ› anicc›, Perception is inconstant,
Saºkh›r› anicc›, Fabrications are inconstant,
Viññ›˚aª aniccaª, Consciousness is inconstant,
RÒpaª anatt›, Form is not-self,
Vedan› anatt›, Feeling is not-self,
Saññ› anatt›, Perception is not-self,
Saºkh›r› anatt›, Fabrications are not-self,
Viññ›˚aª anatt›, Consciousness is not-self,
Sabbe saºkh›r› anicc›, All fabrications are inconstant,
Sabbe dhamm› anatt›ti.” All phenomena are not-self.”
Te (WOMEN: T› ) mayaª,
Oti˚˚›mha j›tiy› jar›-mara˚ena,
Sokehi paridevehi dukkhehi domanassehi up›y›sehi,
Dukkh’oti˚˚› dukkha-paret›,
All of us, beset by birth, aging, & death, by sorrows, lamentations, pains,
distresses, & despairs, beset by stress, overcome with stress, (consider),
“Appeva n›m’imassa kevalassa
dukkhakkhandhassa antakiriy› paññ›yeth›ti!”
“O, that the end of this entire mass of suffering & stress might be known!”
Cira-parinibbutampi taª bhagavantaª uddissa
arahantaª samm›-sambuddhaª,
Saddh› ag›rasm› anag›riyaª pabbajit›.
Though the total Unbinding of the Blessed One, the Worthy One, the
Rightly Self-awakened One, was long ago, we have gone forth in faith from
home to homelessness in dedication to him.
Tasmiª bhagavati brahma-cariyaª car›ma,
We practice that Blessed One’s holy life,
8 M O R N I N G C H A N T I N G
(BhikkhÒnaª sikkh›-s›jıva-sam›pann›.)
(fully endowed with the bhikkhus’ training & livelihood.) – NOVICES OMIT
Taª no brahma-cariyaª,
Imassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandhassa antakiriy›ya
May this holy life of ours bring about the end of this entire mass of suffering
& stress.
Cira-parinibbutampi taª bhagavantaª sara˚aª gat›,
Dhammañ-ca bhikkhu-saºghañ-ca,
Though the total Unbinding of the Blessed One, the Worthy One, the
Rightly Self-awakened One, was long ago, we have gone for refuge in him,
in the Dhamma, & in the Bhikkhu Saºgha,
Tassa bhagavato s›sanaª yath›-sati yath›-balaª
we attend to the instruction of the Blessed One, as far as our mindfulness
& strength will allow, and we practice accordingly.
S› s› no pa˛ipatti,
Imassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandhassa antakiriy›ya
May this practice of ours bring about the end of this entire mass of suffering
& stress.
M 9 O R N I N G C H A N T I N
« Last Edit: September 05, 2016, 03:08:10 pm by Ron-the-Elder »
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: What does chanting mean to you?
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2016, 02:53:12 am »
I don't go to the Buddhist center any more, and one of the things I miss is the occasional chanting of mantras. Chanting as part of a group is as different as singing in a choir is compared to singing by yourself. The experience has a different quality. In scientific terms, the physical vibrations have an effect on the brain, bringing about changes in a different way to doing the same thing in silence. I don't think anyone knows why, but then why should a blow to the head make you become unconscious? After all, the brain isn't clockwork!

I think it is useful to experience group chanting, but it wasn't central to my practice, so I don't know about long term effects. I do know, however, that for me it was never anything to do with any prayer to any deity. For me, and the group I was with, the closest to something like that would merely be paying respects to someone who deserves respect, for what they have done for us in the past. Perhaps, as you say, it is more a form of meditation, and can be seen as another way of making progress along the path.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka


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