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Postby Monsoon » Thu May 02, 2013 11:43 pm

Hi fellow forumites,

I am, as indicated above, a new member and a little unsure of all the relevant protocols and so on - so please be gentle! :thanks:

I guess I am not using the right search terms and so I have a question to offer here that I have been unable to find an answer for elsewhere.

When chanting sutras is there a reason behind the (often) monotone approach, and the use of original language? I have heard the Heart Sutra sung in Chinese, and of course heard many other chants in what I guess must be either a tibetan language or pali. As an English person these languages have no real resonance with me, and to recite or chant English one syllable at a time sounds quite strange and robs the language of its inherent structure, beauty and intent (in my humble opinion). So, I suppose a follow-up question would be whether it is acceptable or commonplace for practitioners to simply recite a sutra in their own native language without resorting to shoehorning it into a 'monotone chant'?

Okay, that was two questions - I clearly have issues with numbers!

Many thanks in advance for considering this request.

Monsoon
Let peace reign!

Metta,

Monsoon
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Re: New member

Postby Hickersonia » Fri May 03, 2013 12:15 am

Hello Monsoon, :) It is good to meet you.

I think the board's search features are broken at the moment, so I suspect it isn't you failing at searches as much as it is the search failing you.

At home I recite certain things in Pali or English, depending on length and availability, and chant in Vietnamese if I'm at my local temple. I'm not sure if the language matters much, but I prefer Pali chanting to Vietnamese because I can more readily find Pali/English side-by-side translations.

The monotone sound hearkens back to the Vinaya (monastic code) if I'm not mistaken. It is intended to prevent the hearer (or the chanter) from becoming attached to a "musical" sound.

Maybe someone else will have a little more to add on this... :)

Be well!
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throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned."

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Re: New member

Postby Jikan » Fri May 03, 2013 12:28 am

Welcome to the board!

There are many different ways to recite the sutras. In our community, we chant the Sutras in English. Some of the liturgies are sung with traditional melodies--some of these in adapted English, some of them not, depending on the material. This might be of interest to you:

http://jtrad.columbia.jp/eng/s_tendai.html


As far as "resonance" goes, I've found it comes with familiarity and exposure. It doesn't take many times experiencing a heartfelt recitation in Tibetan or Japanese (at least for me) to get a feel for the heart of the person doing the reciting, and then I feel as though I have a connection to it. Learning the meaning of the material is also essential. There are times when it's appropriate to chant in the original language, but mostly I prefer to do it in my native language. And much of this depends on the person, too; I could happily read Milton all day long but many people would find this to be a kind of prosody torture.

I hope some of that is helpful.
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Re: New member

Postby Monsoon » Fri May 03, 2013 2:43 am

Ah!

Many thanks, I thought this might be the case. When I write about the resonance of my own language to me I am referring (in part) to the rather simple fact that I understand the words and therefore some of the meaning. When I listen to a tibetan chant (for example) all I hear is a monotone recitation* of what sounds like random syllables that are, because of the language difference, devoid of any meaning for me. Even knowing the intent of the chanters or name of the sutra being chanted does not really help me with this barrier.

Perhaps I should explain. I am a beginning practitioner, and as yet do not have a clear feel for the sutras. Adding foreign languages into the mix is, at this stage, too much too soon. Having said that though I am more inclined to learn a 'foreign recitation' in Mandarin Chinese - partly as my partner is Chinese, and partly because I find the tones more restful than some other languages (a strange personal quirk I expect). At least this way I can render a recitation in monosyllabic form without it sounding too ridiculous! On the other hand I do appreciate that these things are only tools.

:bow:

*incidentally, I have wondered if the monotone chant is connected in any way with the concept of healing sounds?

Sorry, I have the mind of a monkey today.
Let peace reign!

Metta,

Monsoon
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Re: New member

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri May 03, 2013 7:10 am

Welcome to the forum Monsoon!

The Terms of Service for the board can be found here.

They are (purposfully) very basic.
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: New member

Postby Jikan » Fri May 03, 2013 3:35 pm

Monsoon wrote:Ah!

Many thanks, I thought this might be the case. When I write about the resonance of my own language to me I am referring (in part) to the rather simple fact that I understand the words and therefore some of the meaning. When I listen to a tibetan chant (for example) all I hear is a monotone recitation* of what sounds like random syllables that are, because of the language difference, devoid of any meaning for me. Even knowing the intent of the chanters or name of the sutra being chanted does not really help me with this barrier.

Perhaps I should explain. I am a beginning practitioner, and as yet do not have a clear feel for the sutras. Adding foreign languages into the mix is, at this stage, too much too soon. Having said that though I am more inclined to learn a 'foreign recitation' in Mandarin Chinese - partly as my partner is Chinese, and partly because I find the tones more restful than some other languages (a strange personal quirk I expect). At least this way I can render a recitation in monosyllabic form without it sounding too ridiculous! On the other hand I do appreciate that these things are only tools.


Sure, that is completely understandable. It takes time to feel your way into it, to get your footing in it.

*incidentally, I have wondered if the monotone chant is connected in any way with the concept of healing sounds?


I've heard this in some contexts, but I don't know for certain one way or the other. There are particular melodies and associated practices that are associated with healing, though. Here's one example:

http://www.tibetanchod.com/healing/

http://www.zangdokpalri.org/chod.html
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Re: New member

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat May 04, 2013 3:35 am

Welcome to Dharma Wheel!

:yinyang:
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Re: New member

Postby Huifeng » Wed Jun 05, 2013 12:11 pm

Monsoon wrote:Hi fellow forumites,

I am, as indicated above, a new member and a little unsure of all the relevant protocols and so on - so please be gentle! :thanks:

I guess I am not using the right search terms and so I have a question to offer here that I have been unable to find an answer for elsewhere.

When chanting sutras is there a reason behind the (often) monotone approach, and the use of original language? I have heard the Heart Sutra sung in Chinese, and of course heard many other chants in what I guess must be either a tibetan language or pali. As an English person these languages have no real resonance with me, and to recite or chant English one syllable at a time sounds quite strange and robs the language of its inherent structure, beauty and intent (in my humble opinion). So, I suppose a follow-up question would be whether it is acceptable or commonplace for practitioners to simply recite a sutra in their own native language without resorting to shoehorning it into a 'monotone chant'?

Okay, that was two questions - I clearly have issues with numbers!

Many thanks in advance for considering this request.

Monsoon


Hi Monsoon! :smile:

Welcome to the Dharmawheel, from another Kiwi with Chinese Buddhist affiliations. I'm with Fo Guang Shan. So, if you're in Auckland (out Tamaki way) or in Christchurch (Cashel St.), Fo Guang Shan has branches there if you are interested. I know there is also the Ci Ming Temple in Greenlane, Auckland. Probably several others too.

For most Chinese style chanting of sutras, the stock method is called "haichao yin", which means "sound of the tide". While the speed is set by the striking of the woodenfish, there is no set pitch. Each person follows their own natural pitch, which usually drops lower and lower as their full exhalation is completed, maybe even skips a character or two to breath in, then begins a bit higher with the new breath, again dropping as the exhalation is completed. When a group of people do this together, often natural rises and falls occur, but without any set pattern.

This is quite a bit different from chanting in Pali or Sanskrit, because the languages themselves usually have their own meter -- particularly for stock chanted material which is mostly in verse.

Other forms of Chinese chanting involve specific melodies, but that is quite a different matter. There are a number of styles and forms, but its hard to explain words in English.

Feel free to recite whatever sutras or sastras or other material in whatever language works best for you. Buddhism does not in general have the idea of a "sacred language" which is somehow more holy or superior to others. (Though such an attitude, mainly advocated by Brahmanism, did have an influence in some forms of Indian Buddhism, which was later exported outside of India.)

The main point is that recitation or reading or listening is the first of the three stages on developing insight: Insight from listening; insight from contemplation; and insight from cultivation. The first is "listening" because that was what it was back in the day, but nowadays, reading or whatever would also be equivalent in general. Once one has read and heard, then one goes to contemplate the meaning and significance of that. If one just reads or recites in a foreign language without understanding, then the rest of the process simply cannot take place.

So, find whatever language works best for you. Advice from a good teacher on which translations in English are of good quality, would of course also be very helpful.

Welcome to the Dharma Wheel!

~~ Huifeng
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Re: New member

Postby lobster » Thu Jun 06, 2013 10:26 am

How far is western plainsong being applied? Now that is pranayama in action . . . sounds good to me . . .

http://youtu.be/cTyzg0b1VX0

oh, hi . . .
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