Buddhism without chanting

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Buddhism without chanting

Postby odysseus » Fri May 11, 2012 1:23 pm

Can I be a Buddhist and not take part in chanting? I see chanting as a bit New-age and don`t want to take part in it. I´m not a very good singer anyway... I can meditate, though! Thanks.
Last edited by odysseus on Fri May 11, 2012 1:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The Three Jewels are higher than the ultimate truth. The ultimate truth is conventional wisdom, but enlightenment vision is transcendent wisdom - the doorway to Nirvana.

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Re: Buddhism without chanting

Postby Blue Garuda » Fri May 11, 2012 1:33 pm

The purpose is not chanting but recitation, so silent recitation is very acceptable.

of course, it depends what you are reciting and why and to take the guidance of the Guru who gives you a particular mantra or sutra, for example.

Edit: The sound of a mantra can be seen as very important. In such cases however it is done, even silently, the mind must be focused on the correct 'sound'.
Last edited by Blue Garuda on Fri May 11, 2012 1:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Buddhism without chanting

Postby odysseus » Fri May 11, 2012 1:36 pm

Reciting does`nt sound bad, I can do that. I don`t have a teacher yet, but I´ve been advised by the local lama to meditate a little each day.
The Three Jewels are higher than the ultimate truth. The ultimate truth is conventional wisdom, but enlightenment vision is transcendent wisdom - the doorway to Nirvana.

-- Tenzin Lhundup
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Re: Buddhism without chanting

Postby Jikan » Fri May 11, 2012 1:39 pm

These comments aren't really addressed to your question so much as the presuppositions behind the question.

*Chanting is actually a very old-age practice. Older than writing. Don't let the new-age knockoffs spoil the authentic practice.

*With practice (and not much practice either), you come to appreciate your voice. Self-confidence helps. It also helps to practice with others.

*Chanting is a form of meditation. If you can't practice meditation while doing things apart from sitting still & silent, your meditation practice is rather impoverished and limited, don't you think?
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Re: Buddhism without chanting

Postby Blue Garuda » Fri May 11, 2012 1:43 pm

Jikan wrote:These comments aren't really addressed to your question so much as the presuppositions behind the question.

*Chanting is actually a very old-age practice. Older than writing. Don't let the new-age knockoffs spoil the authentic practice.

*With practice (and not much practice either), you come to appreciate your voice. Self-confidence helps. It also helps to practice with others.

*Chanting is a form of meditation. If you can't practice meditation while doing things apart from sitting still & silent, your meditation practice is rather impoverished and limited, don't you think?



This is true. However, chanting as a Vajrayana practitioner was the OP's question, so the purpose of the chanting was defined.

I could chant rugby songs and enjoy the experience of singing, but it is unlikely to help my Vajrayana practice. ;)
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Re: Buddhism without chanting

Postby Seishin » Fri May 11, 2012 1:53 pm

I have to admit, when I first became interested in Buddhism I didn't want to chant at all. After I got over myself and started chanting it slowly became my preferred practice.

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Re: Buddhism without chanting

Postby Blue Garuda » Fri May 11, 2012 4:56 pm

Jikan wrote:These comments aren't really addressed to your question so much as the presuppositions behind the question.

*Chanting is actually a very old-age practice. Older than writing. Don't let the new-age knockoffs spoil the authentic practice.

*With practice (and not much practice either), you come to appreciate your voice. Self-confidence helps. It also helps to practice with others.

*Chanting is a form of meditation. If you can't practice meditation while doing things apart from sitting still & silent, your meditation practice is rather impoverished and limited, don't you think?




Um, has the OP changed or was I hallucinating? I thought it was about being a Vajrayana Buddhist, and about advice from a Lama, rather than Buddhism in general.

Apologies, as my response was specific to Vajrayana.
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Re: Buddhism without chanting

Postby Nighthawk » Sat May 12, 2012 1:03 am

Chanting is not necessary at all.
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Re: Buddhism without chanting

Postby Aemilius » Sat May 12, 2012 9:54 am

Historically buddhism started as an oral tradition, and continued as such for hundreds and thousands of years. It means that monks and laity learned by heart the sutras and poetical works called gathas and praises and hymns, and then also the explanations to them, line by line, or for each word.
It means that they sung them, and chanted them. Different styles of chanting and different melodies have developed and have disppeared during the course of history. There is nothing "new age" to it.
Buddha warns against a too musical style of chanting in Ghitassara sutta, which is found here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_chant
The important thing is learning the Dharma, this is you learn it by heart, so that you remember it even in your dreams. Then you may remember it even beyond the Bardo state, in your next birth.
Last edited by Aemilius on Sat May 12, 2012 10:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Buddhism without chanting

Postby Konchog1 » Sat May 12, 2012 10:37 am

odysseus wrote:Can I be a Buddhist and not take part in chanting? I see chanting as a bit New-age and don`t want to take part in it. I´m not a very good singer anyway... I can meditate, though! Thanks.

Yes.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

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Re: Buddhism without chanting

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat May 12, 2012 12:38 pm

Reciting is also a form of chanting but without a "singing" or "musical" style. Are you averse to that too?
:namaste:
PS I also used to have a negative opinion of chanting, but now I am used to it.
"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."
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Re: Buddhism without chanting

Postby NIRMAL2 » Sat May 12, 2012 4:11 pm

For wisdom to open up, reciting(chanting) and meditation have to be balanced up.Half an hour of reciting followed by half an hour of meditation or 20 minutes of reciting and 20 minutes of meditation works well.Tne more we chant and recite, the more the positive things happen to us in life.If enough reciting has been done, we will feel the reciting of mantras still going on in our heart even when we are talking to friends and even in our dreams.
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Re: Buddhism without chanting

Postby Jikan » Sat May 12, 2012 9:18 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Reciting is also a form of chanting but without a "singing" or "musical" style. Are you averse to that too?
:namaste:
PS I also used to have a negative opinion of chanting, but now I am used to it.


I used to HATE HATE HATE it. Turns out that intense emotion around it was just a reflection of my own hangups.

Sometimes having an open mind and trying something you don't think you want to do can teach you something about yourself, and free you from your own nonsense. Y'all's mileage may vary.
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Re: Buddhism without chanting

Postby Jikan » Sat May 12, 2012 9:22 pm

Blue Garuda wrote:
Jikan wrote:These comments aren't really addressed to your question so much as the presuppositions behind the question.

*Chanting is actually a very old-age practice. Older than writing. Don't let the new-age knockoffs spoil the authentic practice.

*With practice (and not much practice either), you come to appreciate your voice. Self-confidence helps. It also helps to practice with others.

*Chanting is a form of meditation. If you can't practice meditation while doing things apart from sitting still & silent, your meditation practice is rather impoverished and limited, don't you think?




Um, has the OP changed or was I hallucinating? I thought it was about being a Vajrayana Buddhist, and about advice from a Lama, rather than Buddhism in general.

Apologies, as my response was specific to Vajrayana.


Dunno, I thought it was a general-Mahayana question. I can't imagine vajrayana practice without reciting liturgy & chanting mantra. :shrug:
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Re: Buddhism without chanting

Postby Blue Garuda » Sat May 12, 2012 9:33 pm

Jikan wrote:
Blue Garuda wrote:
Jikan wrote:These comments aren't really addressed to your question so much as the presuppositions behind the question.

*Chanting is actually a very old-age practice. Older than writing. Don't let the new-age knockoffs spoil the authentic practice.

*With practice (and not much practice either), you come to appreciate your voice. Self-confidence helps. It also helps to practice with others.

*Chanting is a form of meditation. If you can't practice meditation while doing things apart from sitting still & silent, your meditation practice is rather impoverished and limited, don't you think?




Um, has the OP changed or was I hallucinating? I thought it was about being a Vajrayana Buddhist, and about advice from a Lama, rather than Buddhism in general.

Apologies, as my response was specific to Vajrayana.


Dunno, I thought it was a general-Mahayana question. I can't imagine vajrayana practice without reciting liturgy & chanting mantra. :shrug:


In Vajrayana, silent recitation is often considered the most powerful. There are different reasons to recite mantras and sometimes each recitation is accompanied by a visualisation so is not sound alone. In the case of mantras, the Guru will have communicated the sound, and in silent recitation the mind still experiences that 'sound'.

Sometimes I chant a sadhana aloud. At other times, I am silent. I also find whispering very powerful, more than loud chanting.

Chanting in a group is excellent, however, and is one of the supports Sangha can provide, so I recommend it if at all possible, as part of a person's practice.

I do wish people would let the OP stand and post an edit or clarification.
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Re: Buddhism without chanting

Postby odysseus » Mon May 14, 2012 9:06 pm

Hello, I edited my post because I meant Buddhism in general not only Vajrayana. I see chanting is in all traditions...

Thanks for all the answers!
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Re: Buddhism without chanting

Postby Aemilius » Tue May 15, 2012 10:12 am

gregkavarnos wrote:Reciting is also a form of chanting but without a "singing" or "musical" style. Are you averse to that too?
:namaste:
PS I also used to have a negative opinion of chanting, but now I am used to it.


I'm not averse to singing or to recitation, I was considering the issue theoretically, not personally. To continue a little: The danger is to get distracted by one's singing, to get distracted into singing, i.e. not developing a concentrated mind, but losing a state of shamatha, losing the stillness and clarity of mind.
There is also the meaning of words, or the visualisation that you are supposed to be doing while chanting. One can be chanting with the mind daydreaming at the same time.
Do you chant in chinese, or in an ethnic minority of china language? -or in some other language? There are centres where you chant for The Heart Sutra in european languages. It takes time for that to become natural. Each language has in itself different qualities. I'm not averse to chanting The Hridaya sutra in mandarin chinese, if one's centre is habitually doing that. You can then learn the meaning of its words in time.
The issue is not different from the use of latin in medieval Europe. In buddhism we have chanting in sanskrit and pali, which has continued outside of India for a long time. This means that people in buddhist countries have used other languages than their native tongues, in rituals and ceremonies.
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Re: Buddhism without chanting

Postby Blue Garuda » Tue May 15, 2012 10:41 am

I think that chanting with a variation in pitch, a melody and separation into phrases are all useful in memorising.

Whilst not singing, poetry all has this variation.

It may not be the case for others, but I find it hard to recall words without a rythm and/or melody of some sort, which I have in my mind even in silent recitation.

There are also mantras which I cannot remember whatever method I choose due to the similarity of the words:

LAM BAM RAM DRAM KHAM PLAM PRAM LIM PIM DIM HIM HRIM DRIM PLIM (made up) and so on for around 50 words.

I need the text to even get close to pronouncing the tongue twisters.
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Re: Buddhism without chanting

Postby Aemilius » Tue May 15, 2012 2:46 pm

Ever tried to memorize the Nilakantha dharani ? Or the Shurangama mantra?
Here is the first mentioned http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N%C4%ABlakantha_dh%C4%81ran%C4%AB
Have you ever sung it? It is a great mantra!
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Re: Buddhism without chanting

Postby oldbob » Mon Jun 11, 2012 1:26 am

odysseus wrote:Can I be a Buddhist and not take part in chanting? I see chanting as a bit New-age and don`t want to take part in it. I´m not a very good singer anyway... I can meditate, though! Thanks.


Dear Odysseus, all and All,

Many good answers. :bow:

I think the key point is to give yourself space to be comfortable in your practice so you feel like doing it. Whether you chant or not, isn't the key point. Chanting is one way to employ your voice in the purpose of Dharma practice. Perhaps keeping silent is the another.

I am sure you can be a good Buddhist without chanting. If you are worried about your voice when you are with people, you can chant under your breath, and then chant out loud, if you feel to, when you are by yourself.

When I do dark retreat I take a tape recorder - with no lights, and full-ear earphones, with me so I can sing along under my breath and do part of my practice that way. Then I get the benefit of that part of my practice from "reading" the text as a silent chant. Works for me.

Best,

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