Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

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Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby Mr. G » Sun Dec 19, 2010 8:55 pm

I came across a quote that was supposedly said by Dudjom Rinpoche on mantra recitation:

"For those of ordinary ability, 10,000 repetitions of the mantra each day seem easy. For those of below-average ability, 1,000 repetitions each day are the best they can do."

Just as a gauge, I took Green Tara's mantra and timed one recitation to be around 2 seconds. From this I derive the following:

30 mantras in 1 minute
1800 mantras in 1 hour
10800 mantras in 6 hours

Does anyone think at times you put too much pressure on yourself if you're a lay practitioner? Too little pressure? Thoughts in general?

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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby heart » Sun Dec 19, 2010 9:36 pm

mr. gordo wrote:I came across a quote that was supposedly said by Dudjom Rinpoche on mantra recitation:

"For those of ordinary ability, 10,000 repetitions of the mantra each day seem easy. For those of below-average ability, 1,000 repetitions each day are the best they can do."

Just as a gauge, I took Green Tara's mantra and timed one recitation to be around 2 seconds. From this I derive the following:

30 mantras in 1 minute
1800 mantras in 1 hour
10800 mantras in 6 hours

Does anyone think at times you put too much pressure on yourself if you're a lay practitioner? Too little pressure? Thoughts in general?

:namaste:


Most possibly Dudjom Rinpoche is talking about a retreat situation.

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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby Pero » Sun Dec 19, 2010 9:46 pm

heart wrote:Most possibly Dudjom Rinpoche is talking about a retreat situation.


Hm I don't know, why would anyone in a retreat situation be able to do only 1000 reps? That's not that little if you're not in retreat, but if you are it's nothing. Also I'm not sure with which capacity this is related to.

Oh and I don't do nearly enough. I don't put much pressure on myself either. Sometimes I feel really bad for not practicing as much as I could though.

As for thoughts in general, quality>quantity. :tongue:
Seriously, sometimes I get too caught up with the amount of mantras I'm going to do when it would be better to get caught up with how I'm doing them...
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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby kirtu » Sun Dec 19, 2010 10:16 pm

heart wrote:Most possibly Dudjom Rinpoche is talking about a retreat situation


He's talking about non-retreatants. However, which Dudjom Rinpoche said this and when did they say it? In traditional Tibet anyone could have done this. The quote us not likely intended for today's free time deprived society.

After all, pre-modern farming, husbandry, trading and light industry provide sufficient time to recite mantra as long as the society also supports it or if one is alone. One generally can't spend time reciting mantra in the workplace in modern society.

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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby conebeckham » Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:38 am

In my tradition, we don't count mantras we recite outside of formal Thun towards any accumulation.
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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby heart » Mon Dec 20, 2010 6:01 am

Pero wrote:
heart wrote:Most possibly Dudjom Rinpoche is talking about a retreat situation.


Hm I don't know, why would anyone in a retreat situation be able to do only 1000 reps? That's not that little if you're not in retreat, but if you are it's nothing. Also I'm not sure with which capacity this is related to.

Oh and I don't do nearly enough. I don't put much pressure on myself either. Sometimes I feel really bad for not practicing as much as I could though.

As for thoughts in general, quality>quantity. :tongue:
Seriously, sometimes I get too caught up with the amount of mantras I'm going to do when it would be better to get caught up with how I'm doing them...


My thought was that he was referring to the amount you do in a "thun".

Quality is a lot more important than quantity but quantity don't necessary mean you lose quality.

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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby heart » Mon Dec 20, 2010 6:10 am

kirtu wrote:
heart wrote:Most possibly Dudjom Rinpoche is talking about a retreat situation


He's talking about non-retreatants. However, which Dudjom Rinpoche said this and when did they say it? In traditional Tibet anyone could have done this. The quote us not likely intended for today's free time deprived society.

After all, pre-modern farming, husbandry, trading and light industry provide sufficient time to recite mantra as long as the society also supports it or if one is alone. One generally can't spend time reciting mantra in the workplace in modern society.

Kirt


I don't believe it was any more possible in Tibet than it is here. Like Cone says, if you don't do them during a formal session, you can't count them. No, I am pretty sure he is talking to full time practitioners in this statement, in retreat or not, monks and nuns and yogis most probably.

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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby kirtu » Mon Dec 20, 2010 7:01 am

heart wrote:
kirtu wrote:
heart wrote:Most possibly Dudjom Rinpoche is talking about a retreat situation


He's talking about non-retreatants.


I don't believe it was any more possible in Tibet than it is here. Like Cone says, if you don't do them during a formal session, you can't count them. No, I am pretty sure he is talking to full time practitioners in this statement, in retreat or not, monks and nuns and yogis most probably.


That's what I had thought too - he was talking about full time practitioners but not in a retreat setting.

It was more possible in old Tibet because they had more time. We don't have any time at all.

Jamgon Kongtrul gave advice more than once that says that recitation can be done basically continuously through the day. This is stated in "Creation and Completion" for example which would imply counting recitation outside of a retreat setting.

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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby narraboth » Mon Dec 20, 2010 12:21 pm

kirtu wrote:That's what I had thought too - he was talking about full time practitioners but not in a retreat setting.

It was more possible in old Tibet because they had more time. We don't have any time at all.

Jamgon Kongtrul gave advice more than once that says that recitation can be done basically continuously through the day. This is stated in "Creation and Completion" for example which would imply counting recitation outside of a retreat setting.

Kirt


In a retreat, only the mantra number on the seat count, even when you should recite all the time.
Traditionally, that's also the case in other practices such as ngondro.
But as you said, we are busier (although I am not sure if we 'don't have time at all'...), so some lama allow students to count in their mantra number when they are walking, waiting for a bus etc.
Depends on what your lama says.
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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby Blue Garuda » Mon Dec 20, 2010 12:47 pm

For ngondro I accumulated 1,000 per day of the relevant mantras.

I retired early and have time to devote to this, and agree that, whilst it is tempting to rattle through them, recitation is only valuable with the proper motivation, visualisations etc. as taught by your root guru.

In my case, accumulation was not restricted to retreats, but I was told it should always be in a formal setting at home. Again, I am fortunate in that I have a shrine area I can leave in place and simply enter and practise.

If at home and there is a possibility of disturbing others, I would recite silently, 'mentally', which I have been taught is acceptable.

Is it 'enough'?

Well, 100,000 is a 'target' for some purposes, and some people have commitments to recite a certain number daily, but I have never heard of 'enough?

I know some monastics who have chanted millions of mantras, but how many mantras it takes to move each person's mind to the same degree is surely an imponderable, as we all start at a different point and practice with differing effect. Imprints of past lives etc. - impossible to have any precision IMHO of 'enough'.

I think this very much depends upon the purpose of recitation. 'Mind protection', 'accumulation', as a condensed sadhana etc., maybe even praise or propitiation.

In the end, the purpose is to work on the mind, and to do so within the context of compassion, non-attachment and an understanding of emptiness.

Do enlightened beings chant mantras?

If not, I guess at the point of enlightenment we have chanted 'enough'.

What an interesting question. Thanks. :)
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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby dzoki » Mon Dec 20, 2010 1:06 pm

:lol:
one thing I have noticed is that almost everybody including Tibetans and Tibetan masters counts on the mala quicker than one would actually pronounce the mantra. So I would not take the lofty numbers that many practitioners boast about for granted.
In my opinion it is much better to rely on signs of the practice then on numbers of mantras that one has chanted. I someone can have vision of deity and siddhis just after one mala of mantras then why accumulate numbers? On the other hand even if one accumulated milions of mantras but did not change a slightest bit towards a compassionate outlook, then what´s all the bragging about?
In old India practitioners practiced until they had realisation, that's why the became mahasiddhas. In Tibet it seems the numbers became more important. Nowadays it seems that all that matters is whether one has done ngondro or not and how much mantras one has chanted. If you go to India and you request the teachings all you hear is: Have you done ngondro?
You reply: Yes.
Teacher asks: What kind of ngondro.
Reply: (for example) Drikung Kagyu.
Teacher: Oh well, but this is a nyingma teaching, you must do Longchen Nyingthig ngondro now.

Ok you do that, next time you go to some other teacher to request the teaching.
T:Have you done ngondro?
S:Yes, twice.
T:ok, what kind?
S:Drikung Kagyu and Longchen Nyingthig.
T: Ah, well, but this is a Drugpa Kagyu teaching. You should do Drugpa Kagyu ngondro.

And on and on it goes. I wonder how many ngondros have Tibetans done that they request every student do a ngondro of their own tradition in order to get the teaching.

Alas, we live in the age of degeneration.
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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby Mr. G » Mon Dec 20, 2010 1:45 pm

The quote was supposedly given when Dudjom Rinpoche gave the Dudjom Namchak Putri. I'm not sure if it was during a general empowerment/teaching or for retreatants. Regardless, the context I was concerned about was for daily practice. Yes, mantra accumulations for certain lineages aren't included for the ones made during daily practice, but that's a minor concern. If anything, the majority of people rarely have the opportunity to do a retreat that ranges anywhere from 3 months to a year. Hence, I was more interested in people's responses in reference to daily practice.

I also think it's fairly easy to have both quality and quantity. I don't think it's so hard to bring one's attention back when the mind wanders..just takes a little practice.

In terms of the amount of time available for people during the day...can we really say we have less time? Or perhaps we lack the discipline? Sure, we can't openly chant mantras during our work day, but we can do them mentally. But even if we don't do that, the free time that we have, we may decide to not use them for Dharma.

Just rambling :smile:
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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby Blue Garuda » Mon Dec 20, 2010 1:55 pm

Certainly, mental recitation does allow for more rapid accumulation and for greater accuracy - I don't recall mispronouncing etc. when doing so.

One should be careful in assuming that a very advanced monastic practitioner chanting rapidly is performing the mantra less effectively than someone chanting more slowly.

I also find it interesting that with ngondro, it seems not to be 'transferable' but I've been lucky and not felt the need to go to other schools or lamas.

One way to ensure slow and mindful recitation is to perform mantras simultaneously with prostrations. Each person is able to take account of physical restrictions - few people are unable to manage to perform this as palms together and a mental recitation.
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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby conebeckham » Mon Dec 20, 2010 5:34 pm

It's good (and actually, essential, at a certain point) to recite continuously, inside and outside of formal sessions.....I believe that's what Kongtrul was referring to...maintaining divine pride throughout all activities is helped along if one is mentally or even verbally reciting mantra. But I don't think he would say those mantras are to be counted towards one's accumulations.

There's a term or saying in Tibetan, regarding the stage of one's recitation where the fingers are flying on the beads faster than the mouth or mind can recite....and, depending on one's state of mind when this is happening, this can be a sign of a certain power with the mantra....I can't recall what it's called, though. But if one's consciously doing this, counting faster than one actually recites, that's cheating. :smile:
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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby Pero » Mon Dec 20, 2010 6:01 pm

heart wrote:Quality is a lot more important than quantity but quantity don't necessary mean you lose quality.


Sure, no disagreement here.

Yeshe wrote:Certainly, mental recitation does allow for more rapid accumulation and for greater accuracy - I don't recall mispronouncing etc. when doing so.


Yeah but I think that in a way it can be also more difficult.
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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby narraboth » Mon Dec 20, 2010 6:38 pm

dzoki wrote:In old India practitioners practiced until they had realisation, that's why the became mahasiddhas. In Tibet it seems the numbers became more important. Nowadays it seems that all that matters is whether one has done ngondro or not and how much mantras one has chanted. If you go to India and you request the teachings all you hear is: Have you done ngondro?
You reply: Yes.
Teacher asks: What kind of ngondro.
Reply: (for example) Drikung Kagyu.
Teacher: Oh well, but this is a nyingma teaching, you must do Longchen Nyingthig ngondro now.

Ok you do that, next time you go to some other teacher to request the teaching.
T:Have you done ngondro?
S:Yes, twice.
T:ok, what kind?
S:Drikung Kagyu and Longchen Nyingthig.
T: Ah, well, but this is a Drugpa Kagyu teaching. You should do Drugpa Kagyu ngondro.

And on and on it goes. I wonder how many ngondros have Tibetans done that they request every student do a ngondro of their own tradition in order to get the teaching.

Alas, we live in the age of degeneration.


Haha, I have heard Gyalwang Drubchen took a Taiwanese student, and he was asked to repeat full ngondro again and again. It was 5 years ago when I heard about him, he did 8 cycles of Ngondro at that time.

The number of mantra is kind of important, because at least it's objective. It's not that easy to measure your devotion or compassion, not to mention 'seeing diety' can be either great or dangerous. In a sense, if someone couldn't even have the deligency and stability to finish 1200000 VajraGuru, and he says he's qualified for main part of Dzogchen or Mahamudra, it's a bit laughable. If you can work as hard as Mileripa worked for his guru Marpa, then probably you don't need to recite that many.

As you said, it's a degeneration, thus it's quite difficult for common people to have correct signs of siddhi; also people can mislead or cheat about their true quality. You can't expect every lama has or uses supernatural ability to check students' mind.

It's true that some people might chant a lot but have no improve at mind... But I always think it's because they did it in a wrong way, or a self-decieving way. Mantra is the essence of Buddhas, is Buddha himself in a sound form; if you chant it correctly with faith and devotion, it's impossible that it brings no change to your mind. Otherwise why we chant it?

I know some people who claim that they can do 20000 or 30000 mantras everyday; if that's the case, he needs to spend about 6 hours on chanting. He could be really good at mind controlling, or he needs to chant like a backgroud music, when he works, eats, watches TV, uses computer.... I doubt that would be the same as you focus, no matter you are on seat or not.

I think people can still chant correctly when not on seat or at home, it's all about your mind. You can surely generate bodhicitta and recite correctly on a bus, maybe even better than sitting on your cusion as we all know how people can think other things wildly on a cusion. It's just that we need to be responsible for our own practice, don't cheat ourselves with numbers. It's not guru's obligation to check our mind, in the end it's our own liberation.
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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby Blue Garuda » Mon Dec 20, 2010 7:06 pm

In terms of speed, two things just popped into my head relating to mental recitation:

I sometimes experience the visible mantra rosary spinning in front of me as I recite.

I have also experienced mantras overlapping (one recitation starts while the other is simultaneously finishing).

In both of the above situations, it is faster than I could ever recite aloud, and only happens with mantras I have recited many thousands of times before, where I have no need to focus on individual words or sounds or Tibetan script as they are all very familiar and the experience feels holistic.

Again, although maybe not counting in terms of accumulation, using prayer wheels purposefully is of some merit, I feel. I'm not sure about the ones spinning on my PC screen, but they're a nice reminder.

If quality of experience is really important, then as I've said I can accept that some people may maintain that quality at high speed. However, I'm a little dubious about some things which appear to be short cuts, like creating 100 images of Buddha in one sweep of clay over a board full of moulds. If that is acceptable, why not copy and paste mantras and Buddha images into every cell of an Excel computer spreadsheet and knock off the lot in a few hours? Just like the Tibetans of medieval times, I would just be using the technology of the time to speed things up, so it must be OK. :stirthepot:

(Of course, I'm joking, but in order to make the point that quantity without quality is the worst outcome possible from striving to meet a target number of mantras rather than an effect upon the mind derived from proper motivation, understanding and execution of each mantra. This is where the guidance of a good Spiritual Guide is of the essence IMHO.)
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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby Chaz » Mon Dec 20, 2010 7:57 pm

Yeshe wrote:If that is acceptable, why not copy and paste mantras and Buddha images into every cell of an Excel computer spreadsheet and knock off the lot in a few hours? Just like the Tibetans of medieval times, I would just be using the technology of the time to speed things up, so it must be OK. :stirthepot:



I've wondered the same thing myself.

I could write a short program that could do what you suggest. It could write a mantra to an xls or some other file format and could do 100,000 such operations in a second or so.

For what it might lack in terms of aesthetic, it would make it up with raw, brutal efficiency.

Maybe I should build a web site and use that sort of program. A user comes in and enters the mantra they want to repeat and then inter the number of repetitons. I could charge a penny per repetition. So if someone wanted to do 100,000 repetitions of the 100-syllable mantra, I'd charge them $1000.

Not bad money for about .5 seconds of processor time, eh?
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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby heart » Mon Dec 20, 2010 8:23 pm

dzoki wrote::lol:
one thing I have noticed is that almost everybody including Tibetans and Tibetan masters counts on the mala quicker than one would actually pronounce the mantra. So I would not take the lofty numbers that many practitioners boast about for granted.
In my opinion it is much better to rely on signs of the practice then on numbers of mantras that one has chanted. I someone can have vision of deity and siddhis just after one mala of mantras then why accumulate numbers? On the other hand even if one accumulated milions of mantras but did not change a slightest bit towards a compassionate outlook, then what´s all the bragging about?


I used to think like you think here but I don't anymore. First, it is possible to do a lot of mantra very fast under certain conditions, even if it seems impossible. This because or mind don't have the limits our speech have. An other thing is that, according to my experience, we need to recite a lot more mantras than we think in order to get the blessing in particular if we only do everyday sessions. Retreat is a lot more efficient than everyday practice in that context so if we want the signs I think it is a lot easier if we do intensive retreat. Then one have to remember that the effect off our practice do depends on our motivation not our industriousness.

/magnus
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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby kirtu » Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:57 pm

In Jamgon Kongtrul's Retreat Manual he gives people 5 months to do the preliminaries so assuming 444,000 repetitions that's about 150 days and that's less than 3000 repetitions a day. He also says that one should work up to the 100,000 prostrations but covering the whole 150 day period that's less than 700 a day. And this is for people on a 3 year retreat.

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