Message Boards Message Boards

Toggle
Chanting
concentration goenka magick metta sutta mahasi sayadaw sayagyi u ba khin chant chanting dipa ma webu sayadaw
Answer
5/7/18 7:10 PM
Hello everyone,

I've scraped the forum for information on chanting specifically but couldn't find much dedicated to it.  I began practicing Mahasi Style Noting for almost a month after practicing Goenka style scanning for nearly 2 years.  One thing I started doing when I was practicing Goenka style was chanting the chants that Goenkaji would do in the mornings of the courses. 

When I'd do it for my friends when we would meditate together, I would get quite concentrated with anapana, then focus on the body until there was no intense sensations, a free flow, which seemed as if my body had been numbed by an anastesia but still had a detached, uniform feeling, only to make way for rapturous feelings of cold, that wasn't uncomfortable which reminded me of goosebumps but much subtler.  Maybe I experienced some jhana like effects but I'm not that knowledgeable on all that.  As I would chant I would focus on the meaning of the Pali or Hindi words being said (as they were said), the sound, as well as my bodily sensations which felt like a sprinkler of those rapturous feelings moving in different directions, in my legs and my arms especially.   When I would practice at home, sometimes it felt as if my body was spinning around very quick in circles but I suspect that that was because I was so focused on the chanting that I allowed my head to tilt which spawned the spinning.  If I remember correctly I believed that noticing anicca while chanting would help my mind be rooted in wisdom as opposed to ignorance and therefore pervade a purer vibration.  Sometimes my eyes could not stop flickering/blinking rapidly while doing the chanting but would stop when I was done.  I'm guessing based on what my friend said, that this was because the eyes move when accessing memory like when a person looks up when you ask them about something in their past.

In other words, my attempt to explain my experience with chanting is to get some more concrete direction on what people have been doing for centuries.  I feel as if Goenkaji was my grandpa, who left his piano for me, but my parents didn't really know how to play it, so I listen to tapes of my grandpa playing since they can't teach me, so I'm left without explaination but only imagination of what he was doing internally with an artifact of what happened externally, to learn from. 

Some people seem to say that melodies cause clinging due to the auditory enjoyment it can cause.  I believe there is even a quote from Buddha in the Tipitaka discussing this.  I personally love what Sayagyi U Ba Khin's chantings do for my meditations and some are more monotone like his Tikapatthana chanting (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6eU6xVJfno&t=8s) and others are more melodic like his Mahasamaya chanting (https://store.pariyatti.org/Mahasamaya-Sutta-chanting-by-Sayagyi-U-Ba-Khin-Download-and-Streaming-Audio-br-spanVipassanaspan_p_3291.html)

Dipa Ma has a chanting (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1G3qjKS2hjA) as well that is melodic which I feel allows for a more flexible space to put metta inside of it but monotone can probably allow you more space for concentrated metta since you're not focusing so much on the sound but maybe more so the meaning.  You can probably tell by now that I'm just estimating all these things from the crumbs of concrete information I've gathered from teachers and time on the internet.  Moreover, Dipa Ma's sounds like a paritta chanting since I recognized some of the verses are from the Pubbanha Sutta although the source of the melody is unknown.  I heard that U Ba Khin would create his own melodies so I wonder if Dipa Ma did the same, and apparently monks typically are confused upon hearing U Ba Khin's chantings since it strays away from traditional ways of chanting.  However, there's also apparently a tape of Webu Sayadaw and U Ba Khin chanting together floating out in the world that I'd love to meditate to. 

I'm interested in using chanting as a source of inspiration, concentration, metta and insight as a result to supplement my Mahasi noting practice but I'd like to go about it in a more calculated way rather than using guess work.  I feel like chanting may have gotten my foot in the door to be open to Mahasi style vipassana since chanting was my first experience of using words, thoughts, feelings, posture and sensations at the same time.  I just noticed this!  I like chanting even though I don't really know what I'm doing!  Help me to know!

Thanks for your donations of wisdom in advance,

MangalaMula

RE: Chanting
Answer
5/8/18 12:12 PM as a reply to Mangala.
Hi Mangala, 

In the past, chanting wasn't my favourite thing. When I went the frist time at Goenka retreat I felt this chanting imposed and meaningless. The second time I was doing a goenka retrat in Thailand. In the free times they put the goenka chanting in loud volume in all the center with speakers, It drives me crazy, I felt totaly imposed this and I was really hating the chanting, luckily it was only ten days.

The next step on my travel was in a Forest Thai Monastery in the mountains, I was meditating on my own, they give you a kuti for meditate, but there are not formal sittings or instructions.Every day at the afternoon they do chanting in a area of the temple, I didnt went, I felt it was stupid and it did not make sense, that was just dogmatic bullshit.

So, I was doing my thing, meditation on my own,  disicplined, meditating 7-8 hours and... I got a little dark night, I was not able to concentrate and I was feeling very dispersed, and low on energy, maybe pushed to hard by willforce, I was fighting myself becouse I was not able to do what I wanted to do correctly "good meditations" etc. So, one day I just join all the lay ppl and the monks in the chanting and was a very beautiful exprience. The energy of the place, the waves of love were so strong and the chanting was really beautiful, there was that monk with a wonderful voice and also all the nuns, as you said very inspiring. I felt totally recharged and I saw I was missing something important, the Shanga and loving kindness. I was trying to do all this stuff on my own, very isolated and closed to everyone. For that day I join everyday to the chanting to meditate and was the best I could do. I felt it was like an energetic shower, that clean my mind and body. I relate of what you said on "rapturous feelings of cold" and this kind of stuff, whitout looking to get any jhanic state.

They were doing loving kindess and devotion practices in this chantings,
in this monastery they teached me the importance of open and feel the heart, and be more open to love and compasion.

So if you have friends or a comunity that enjoy Chanting and can really do it wholehearted you are lucky emoticon! Most important thing is the intention of doing it, to conect with the feelings, you know what I mean!

Later I was in Birmania in the forest meditation center form mahasi and the chanting in the morning and evening and I had this impresion like : "oh, yes now have to read this lines,booring! ", ppl was not contected to the metta practice, and some ppl just leave before the chanting. So the intention, the disposition of doing it and open to conect with it, the group and the wholehearted act of doing it are very important in the chanting for generate some kind of effect, at least for my exprience.









RE: Chanting
Answer
5/8/18 7:21 PM as a reply to Mangala.
Hi Mangala,

Thanks for this interesting post, I'd never seen someone describe the insides of their chanting practice in such detail. Also thanks for these chanting audios, I'll be eager to check them out.

Personally I love Goenka's chanting and have been extremely inspired by it. The first time I ever got to do any Pali chanting was at Satipanya retreat centre in Wales (a Mahasi centre) where they do metta chanting every morning and evening and I found the practice very valuable and uplifting. I just focused on the physical sensations of intonation, or one of the brahma viharas, or tranquilizing the body, or just general noting, or the meaning, but I can't really say much deeper than that.

I would guess that the intricacies of how each of these masters chanted would be very varied, and I'd imagine would vary from sit to sit. I would guess that actually the way they would chant is much more intuitive and personal and less calculating and technical... since its part of the devotional puja aspect really. Thats just my guess. Surely one could do almost any practice while chanting... noticing anicca or anatta or dukkha.. the brahma viharas etc...

I don't know if the chanting would cause clinging, surely its the mind and grasping that causes the clinging and not the object.

Good luck!

RE: Chanting
Answer
5/11/18 4:50 AM as a reply to Mangala.
I had listened to U Ba Khin's Chanting and it is not part of meditation.
It is part of  Parate Ta prayer (Dhamma Sakya, also known as pahtann ) .
They are not necessary for meditation.
They are basically teaching of Dhamma in Pali.

RE: Chanting
Answer
5/11/18 7:41 PM as a reply to Jordi.
Nice to meet you Jordi!

Thank you for sharing this fantastic anecdote, I really felt like I was right there with you.  The intention is certainly an important aspect, and through meditation we've hopefully learned that volition is extremely important.  I've certainly chanted and felt as if my chanting had the same amount of robustness and meaning as someone ordering their routine combo at a fast food chain restaurant's drive thru!  But when your mind is quite clear and already a fertile ground for positive states, it can really become strong or rather when you're going through some negative, dark night states as you say, but have a moment of clarity when you realize the tough stuff that's happening is for the good and you use that mindset, it can also make for a great faith booster and result in a great reciting of a chant or listening of a chant.  Reciting and listening to a chant can sometimes fuse together and when you chant it feels as if you aren't chanting but you're just listening to your body or you could be listening to someone chant and it can feel as if it is you chanting, rather than listening.  I could possibly compare with a negative example, where somebody flips out on another and after the situation dies down they felt as if "something came over them" during the quarrel and they weren't doing the insulting, yelling, etc.  Some even say that it felt as if they were talking to themselves (or younger self), don't they?  Contrarily, what I described before can feel like this, although it's you flipping out with positive states of sympathetic joy, equanimity, compassion and loving-kindness free self consciousness.  

Another thing to note is that I've heard Krishna Das say that chanting is his sole practice, which is intriguing and somewhat begs that this      subject could use some more investigation! 

RE: Chanting
Answer
5/11/18 8:02 PM as a reply to Andrew S.
Andrew S:
surely its the mind and grasping that causes the clinging and not the object.
Hey Andrew,

It was nice to put what I'm doing mentally on here since it actually opened up my awareness to how many things I've tried and used.  I like what you've said here about the mind causing the grasping and not the object.  I've always been fascinated by how my mind doesn't seem to cling to the pleasant aspects of metta practice which seems to strengthen your point.  So my wondering of whether having a chant with intonation would cause clinging as opposed to chanting in a monotone form is cured to a degree.  This all goes back to what Jordi said about intention and disposition.  We don't chant to sound like American Idol contestants who solely care about how pleasant the singing is to the ear sense door. 

Here is a quote from Wikipedia on the critique of melodious chanting:

"
Ghitassara Sutta

In the Ghitassara Sutta (Anguttara Nikaya 5.209), the Buddha teaches:Bhikkhus, there are five dangers of reciting the Dhamma with a musical intonation. What five?Oneself gets attached to the sound, others get attached to the
sound, householders are annoyed, saying, “Just as we sing, these sons of
the Sakyan sing”, the concentration of those who do not like the sound
is destroyed, and later generations copy it.These, monks, are the five dangers of reciting the Dhamma with a musical intonation.[10]

Defense of chanting

John Daido Loori justified the use of chanting sutras by referring to Zen master Dōgen.[11]
Dōgen is known to have refuted the statement "Painted rice cakes will
not satisfy hunger". This statement means that sutras, which are just
symbols like painted rice cakes, cannot truly satisfy one's spiritual
hunger. Dōgen, however, saw that there is no separation between metaphor
and reality. "There is no difference between paintings, rice cakes, or
any thing at all".[12] The symbol and the symbolized were inherently the same, and thus only the sutras could truly satisfy one's spiritual needs.To understand this non-dual relationship experientially, one is told to practice liturgy intimately.[13] In distinguishing between ceremony and liturgy, Dōgen
states, "In ceremony there are forms and there are sounds, there is
understanding and there is believing. In liturgy there is only
intimacy." The practitioner is instructed to listen to and speak liturgy
not just with one sense, but with one's "whole body-and-mind". By
listening with one's entire being, one eliminates the space between the
self and the liturgy. Thus, Dōgen's instructions are to "listen with the
eye and see with the ear". By focusing all of one's being on one
specific practice, duality is transcended. Dōgen says, "Let go of the
eye, and the whole body-and-mind are nothing but the eye; let go of the
ear, and the whole universe is nothing but the ear." Chanting intimately
thus allows one to experience a non-dual reality. The liturgy used is a
tool to allow the practitioner to transcend the old conceptions of self
and other. In this way, intimate liturgy practice allows one to realize
emptiness (sunyata), which is at the heart of Zen Buddhist teachings."

I don't think I fully understand what Dōgen was saying in this quote but it sounds quite similar to what I said at the end of my reply to Jordi!

RE: Chanting
Answer
5/11/18 8:31 PM as a reply to Phyo Arkar.
Hey Phyo,

Do you mean Paritta Chanting?  Here is a page I found with a lot of the Paritta Chantings:

https://www.dhammatalks.net/Books9/Paritta_Protection.htm

I want to learn some of these!  But was compelled to make this thread in order to discover ways that people here in the DhO approach chanting before I delved into it fully.

I know that Sayagyi is chanting the Tikapatthana matrix in that chant, which I believe is all of the titles of the sections of the Tikapatthana Pali Sutta.  I also can make out him saying "Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhassa" and "Dhamma Savana Kalo Ayam Bhaddanta" at the beginning. 

If you meditate while playing this chanting, it generates such a strong dhamma vibration.

RE: Chanting
Answer
5/14/18 10:03 AM as a reply to Mangala.
Before meditation , we start with:

Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhassa
Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhassa
Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhassa

The meaing of this is : "Namo" = "I pay homage"; "tassa" = "to him";
"Bhagavato" = "to the Exalted One"; "Arahato" = "to The Worthy One";
"Samma Sambuddhassa" = "to The Fully Enlightened One."
(Translation : http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/history/devotion/devotion04.htm)

But we do not turn on Parata / Dammha Sakya during meditation.

RE: Chanting
Answer
5/14/18 11:39 PM as a reply to Mangala.
Gladdening the mind is a very vital part of the path in my experience. Being immersed in the Goenka tradition  for a number of years and even doing the Pali course at Dhamma Giri in India, I learnt Pali chants and used them to gladden my mind to then move to my practice with less emotional baggage clouding the mind.

Bhikkhu Thanissaro agrees. 
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/meditations3.html#gladdening