Swaying during studying, praying, listening

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Swaying during studying, praying, listening

Postby SeekerNo1000003 » Sat Jul 20, 2013 5:42 am

This may be a trivial question, but something I've been curious about.
I once saw Buddhist monks swaying while studying texts, I believe.
In other religions, swaying may be a part of a given practice, such as praying.

What are the causes of this behavior? It seems involuntary. And what is its function?
My only guess is that swaying makes one more calm, and therefore may be a way to increase concentration...

If so, would such practice be encouraged? On the other hand, could it also be an obstacle?
For example, if it is used to enhance concentration, wouldn't one's ability to concentrate without the swaying,
actually diminish?

This reminds me of some children who rock or sway. Parents may discourage such
behavior...Not sure if the children's behavior here may be connected to what I have observed about swaying in general.
Anyway, insights regarding any of the questions above would be great!
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Re: Swaying during studying, praying, listening

Postby Ramon1920 » Sat Jul 20, 2013 11:10 pm

Swaying makes your muscles feel nice and dulls pain while reciting for a long time. It isn't a subconscious movement but a habit you develop because it feels nice. When you're reciting and having to lean over to read it is a little difference from just sitting and meditating.

Some monasteries really discourage it and the disciplinarian may come around if you're fidgeting like that during teachings for instance. lol it can be distracting for the one teaching I imagine.
You are not to do that while reciting mantras.
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Re: Swaying during studying, praying, listening

Postby LynyrdSkynyrd » Sat Aug 10, 2013 6:04 pm

Ramon1920 wrote:You are not to do that while reciting mantras.


Why not?
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Re: Swaying during studying, praying, listening

Postby Ramon1920 » Sat Aug 10, 2013 8:31 pm

It is prohibited by texts like the Nga(g) Rim (a general text on tantra) and other teaching cycles like the Grounds and Paths of Tantra.

The basis of the prohibition is that the swaying does something to the winds in the body and makes the mantra recitation less efficacious if I remember correctly. It has been several years since I heard one of these teachings taught, so forgive me if I am jumbling the explanation a bit.
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Re: Swaying during studying, praying, listening

Postby M.G. » Sat Aug 10, 2013 9:06 pm

Ramon1920 wrote:It is prohibited by texts like the Nga(g) Rim (a general text on tantra) and other teaching cycles like the Grounds and Paths of Tantra.

The basis of the prohibition is that the swaying does something to the winds in the body and makes the mantra recitation less efficacious if I remember correctly. It has been several years since I heard one of these teachings taught, so forgive me if I am jumbling the explanation a bit.

:good:

That's very interesting. I was raised in a completely secular household but I was sent to a religious school to study Hebrew and received a lot of exposure to the Orthodox Jewish mode of prayer, which encourages swaying during liturgical recitation. Apologies if this sounds hurtful to anyone reading this who identifies as Jewish, but it always seemed like an unhealthy spiritual practice to me, like a conflation of tension with piety, and one which encouraged neurotic expression.
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Re: Swaying during studying, praying, listening

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Sat Aug 10, 2013 9:32 pm

Plenty of people (including teachers and Lama's from what i've seen) sway during mantra recitation etc.

I don't doubt there are some with some reasoning against doing it, but I don't think the prohibition is universal at all.

There are also teachings about how saying "hum" instead of "hung" will ruin the entire mantra too, and all kinds of other minutiae so it depends what one is taught as authoritative I imagine.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Swaying during studying, praying, listening

Postby Ramon1920 » Sat Aug 10, 2013 10:18 pm

Johnny, there are a lot of lamas that do a lot of things. Some lamas are skilled at this, some at that, some are good, some are bad, some are mostly good, some are mostly bad, some are evenly good and bad. That's why there is a focus on sutras, tantras, and valid commentaries and why the personal ideas of lamas don't carry much weight.

This isn't a major offense by any means though. It wouldn't discourage me if a teacher of mine was rocking back and forth all the time.
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Re: Swaying during studying, praying, listening

Postby greentara » Sun Aug 11, 2013 1:37 am

I've noticed in documentaries on Islamic madrasa's the young students sway back and forth endlessly as they absorb reams of scripture by rote. Maybe it helps concentration or alleviates tension or perhaps even boredom?
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Re: Swaying during studying, praying, listening

Postby Ramon1920 » Sun Aug 11, 2013 1:54 am

Green, that brings back memories for me.

When I was a youth and memorizing some texts establishing some rhythm would help.
For me, memorizing in English from translations it was a little harder.
The Tibetans however have written their texts in a poetic and timed verses and the rhythm helps with the memorization process. Tibetans have a easier time.

Thankfully for many texts the Buddha and valid commentators have taught largely in a special format that makes it easier to memorize.

The number system is especially useful. So say there are 4 Noble Truths and 3 duties with respect to each. That's 12 permutations. The 4 you memorize, the 3 you memorize, then the 12 permutations are easy to remember or put back together even if you forget. So you remember 7 grouped things instead of 12 individual things. And if you forget say one of the Noble Truths, because one is missing you will know something is missing.

That same system of wheels of teachings is pretty common and it makes learning so much easier.
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Re: Swaying during studying, praying, listening

Postby LynyrdSkynyrd » Sun Aug 11, 2013 9:26 am

:thanks:
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Re: Swaying during studying, praying, listening

Postby SeekerNo1000003 » Tue Aug 20, 2013 12:11 am

Wow, thank you all so much for answering this! I'm sorry it took me a while to get back. I'm looking forward to
reading each post carefully.
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Re: Swaying during studying, praying, listening

Postby leinas » Tue Dec 03, 2013 7:57 am

The blessings of the incomparable Jewish lineage, the blessings of the incomparable perfection of Jewish teachings and the blessings of the Jewish family, secular or orthodox, are such that Jewish people can get away with swaying while Buddhists cannot.

" That's very interesting. I was raised in a completely secular household but I was sent to a religious school to study Hebrew and received a lot of exposure to the Orthodox Jewish mode of prayer, which encourages swaying during liturgical recitation. Apologies if this sounds hurtful to anyone reading this who identifies as Jewish, but it always seemed like an unhealthy spiritual practice to me, like a conflation of tension with piety, and one which encouraged neurotic expression."
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Re: Swaying during studying, praying, listening

Postby duckfiasco » Tue Dec 03, 2013 8:26 am

While reciting before giving a Chenrezig empowerment, I saw the Venerable Khenpo Lodro Donyo Rinpoche swaying.
Maybe as someone said it helped him keep the rhythm. It was a lot of memorized text he recited!
Namu Amida Butsu
The Perfect Way knows no difficulties
Except that it refuses to make preferences;
Only when freed from hate and love,
It reveals itself fully and without disguise.
- Sengcan (tr. Suzuki)
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Re: Swaying during studying, praying, listening

Postby M.G. » Wed Dec 04, 2013 3:05 am

leinas wrote:The blessings of the incomparable Jewish lineage, the blessings of the incomparable perfection of Jewish teachings and the blessings of the Jewish family, secular or orthodox, are such that Jewish people can get away with swaying while Buddhists cannot.

" That's very interesting. I was raised in a completely secular household but I was sent to a religious school to study Hebrew and received a lot of exposure to the Orthodox Jewish mode of prayer, which encourages swaying during liturgical recitation. Apologies if this sounds hurtful to anyone reading this who identifies as Jewish, but it always seemed like an unhealthy spiritual practice to me, like a conflation of tension with piety, and one which encouraged neurotic expression."



If you say so.
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Re: Swaying during studying, praying, listening

Postby Sherab » Wed Dec 04, 2013 5:08 am

leinas wrote:The blessings of the incomparable Jewish lineage, the blessings of the incomparable perfection of Jewish teachings and the blessings of the Jewish family, secular or orthodox, are such that Jewish people can get away with swaying while Buddhists cannot.

Context is everything.

There are many practices within Buddhism. If you are a beginner in meditation training, then training in stilling the body is part and parcel of the training in stilling the mind. If your prayers are used in the context of meditation, then bodily movements should be avoided other than those movements that are part of the meditation itself. As you progress, the need for specific postures is diminished and it does not matter if you body is moving or not. This is my understanding.
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Re: Swaying during studying, praying, listening

Postby M.G. » Wed Dec 04, 2013 6:07 pm

leinas wrote:The blessings of the incomparable Jewish lineage, the blessings of the incomparable perfection of Jewish teachings and the blessings of the Jewish family, secular or orthodox, are such that Jewish people can get away with swaying while Buddhists cannot.

" That's very interesting. I was raised in a completely secular household but I was sent to a religious school to study Hebrew and received a lot of exposure to the Orthodox Jewish mode of prayer, which encourages swaying during liturgical recitation. Apologies if this sounds hurtful to anyone reading this who identifies as Jewish, but it always seemed like an unhealthy spiritual practice to me, like a conflation of tension with piety, and one which encouraged neurotic expression."


Leinas,

To be honest, I originally thought your comment was meant as a barb; thus my initial reply. I see now that I was wrong.

My own conclusions regarding the nature and fruits of Jewish and Buddhist religious practice differ from yours. That said, whether or not Jews can "get away" with swaying during liturgical recitation, perhaps you can see how still contemplation might benefit people from any religious background?
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Re: Swaying during studying, praying, listening

Postby dimeo » Thu Dec 05, 2013 3:13 am

I was swaying while meditating on the weekend. I had this feeling of ache in my back, it seemed to reduce or go away somewhat if I kept rocking side to side slightly. Maybe with a all this sitting we all do, it's a common relieve/prevent back tension?
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Re: Swaying during studying, praying, listening

Postby Adamantine » Thu Dec 05, 2013 4:59 am

Please everyone, remember this from our TOS:
This is not a "comparative religion site", it is a site to learn and discuss the Buddha's teachings without animosity. In support of this:

~ Badmouthing of other spiritual paths is not allowed.
~ Proselyting/evangelizing other paths which includes for example arguing some other path is superior to the Buddhist path is not allowed.



Any further comments which go agains this will be moderated accordingly.
Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
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Re: Swaying during studying, praying, listening

Postby M.G. » Thu Dec 05, 2013 7:06 am

One of the strengths of the Vajrayana as I learned it is that it incorporates precisely controlled breathing, posture, and in some practices, movement, as ways of developing awareness.

Swaying during meditative practice basically strikes me as the very opposite of that. Some might disagree, but I'd rather cut a meditation session short if physical tension became unbearable than sway during practice.
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Re: Swaying during studying, praying, listening

Postby SeekerNo1000003 » Sun Dec 08, 2013 2:44 pm

M.G. wrote:One of the strengths of the Vajrayana as I learned it is that it incorporates precisely controlled breathing, posture, and in some practices, movement, as ways of developing awareness.

Swaying during meditative practice basically strikes me as the very opposite of that. Some might disagree, but I'd rather cut a meditation session short if physical tension became unbearable than sway during practice.


Now that I try to practice mindfulness I noticed that I instinctively stop myself from swaying whenever an urge arises. I think this is associated with restlessness in my case. As I reflect back on my observations, I believe they are mostly based on what I've seen on TV, and less on what I've seen in real life. It would be good to verify this information; I'm sorry if my first post was misleading.
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