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Questions About Chanting And Blessings

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Hello.

I'd like to ask about your experiences on the following things. I'm gathering some data for my next book.

1. How long have you practiced on regular basis?
2. Do you chant anything? If you do, what do you chant?
3. Do you feel blessings or some kind of charge from the chants? If you do, describe what you experience.

Thank you all who answer.

RE: Questions About Chanting And Blessings
Answer
9/25/18 2:21 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
I'll give my questions some context.

With all chants, prayers and mantras, there is a blessing or energetic charge involved, and buddhists, in general, chant a lot. However, the subtle charge from chanting, that carries the energy of the Three Jewels, buddhas/deities or gurus, is not very often recognised, received and utilized. I've seen buddhists from all vehicles ignore it, although it is there. Consciously noticing it would make a great difference in practice but for one reason or the other, this is lacking. Even vajrayana buddhists often miss it. It is a great pity. 

For many years I've obervsed practitioners, teachers and sanghas of various schools repeatedly miss blessings. For clarity, a blessing is not something extra, like a dharmic foot massage on top of the real practice (whatever that may be), but direct means for recognising one's nature of mind, aka buddhanature. It is fascinating that blessings, whether they come from chanting of the Heart Sutra, Four Vows, Refuge, ordination ceremony or whatever, are there regardless of the emphases of the particular path. For example, zen buddhists regard themselves as the ones who rely on their own power and effort (j. joriki), and yet in their practice the air is thick with blessings of Shakyamuni, Chinese patriarchs and other lineage holders, compassionate blessing of Avalokiteshvara, Manjushri and so on. And yet... most of them miss the blessings. A few months ago I discussed this on a zen platform and could find only one person who knew what I was talking about. It is never pointed out in zen.

Even though vajrayana discusses extensively about deities and they practice deity yogas, it is a rarity that the blessings are pointed out. I've seen it happen numerous times that when extensive prayers of deities or gurus are finished, people immediately stand up and start doing other things, just when it would be the time to receive the charge and get the benefit of the practice. It is quite unfortunate.

Just yesterday Garchen Rinpoche in his teachings stated that it took him a long time to become aware of blessings in his deity practice. I agree that the sophistication and subtleness of blessings, and hence buddhanature, takes years of practice to properly recognise. However, that doesn't mean that blessings couldn't be pointed out and purposefully received from day one.

Would be lovely to hear of your experiences.

RE: Questions About Chanting And Blessings
Answer
9/25/18 9:31 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
I've practised vajrayana for a year ten years ago. There they never expicitly talked about blessing during/after chanting or prayers. I did 11 111 refuge chants intially, and later did 111 111 OM AMI DEVA HRIHs as a preparation for a retreat. I never once realized nor remember now, that I would have experience a blessing of any kind. I did have various meditative experiences, but I suspect I was blind to these sorts of things, or could not really fromulate and grasp correctly the fact that my mind became clearer.The only time I remember experiencing something, that I still to this day remember and associate with blessings, was when I attended a huge refuge ceremony. As I was listening to the refuge prayer and making the commitment, I could feel the air around me solidify and become electric. I was sharp as razor blade and felt superhumanly perfect in equanimity and clarity. That was really extreme. I always thought that it was just my expectations that were creating this high, sort of like when you watch a really good movie and your hair stands on end and you become super enticed.

So for me it was an eye opener when I found out about these matters on the Open Heart blog a couple of years ago. When the thing was explicitly spelled out, I knew what to look for and could detect it right away.  I realized that I had experienced blessings from the Kaguy lineage during the refuge ceremony. I also started to observe this feeling/mental state that arose in me when I chanted or turned towards a Buddha or a mahasiddha. Initially I started with Machig Labdron. The feeling of the blessing is kind of hard to describe, and there is some variation in it, and also some similarities. I have also gone through periods where I could not feel the blessing/connection at all for a few weeks which led me to wonder if I'm doing something wrong. Maybe I had made it into a habit and did not do it sincerely? I even considered being "cursed" or something. But eventually the connection came back.

At this point I'd like to say a few words for the sceptics out there. I'm personally at ease with the formalisim that I am experiencing blessing from Buddhas or some enlightened beings who "exist" in some sense in the experience field. I like the concept of nonphysical masters. But I'm not your average religious freak (and frankly I doubt if those even exist or if they are just being misrepresented by materialists). I have a scientific background in the STEM field. I consider my approach as pragmatic and in some fundamental sense I realize that all concepts, including the scientific truths, are partial and imperfect. And they way you choose (unconsiously also, partly) to constuct your reality, makes a difference in how you experience and live your life. I'm very acutely aware of many different aspects of this, and I am still experimenting and trying to understand better. But in my own private thinking I use the above formalism. And let's add that I do not like to talk about this stuff expect under very private conditions, and now here as an example and to hopefully benefit somebody else!

Ok, so I did familiarize myself with how the blessings from Machig Labdron felt like. This was maybe one year of daily meditation. What was quite interesting to me was when I switched to Guru Rinpoche. There was super clear difference between the blessing from the two masters. With Machig there was this feminine softness to the equanomous, feeling good and sharp -mental state. With Guru Rinpoche I had this warrior like, masculine energy being more prominent. State was super chrystal clear and colder, not that much emotional warmth. I also feel in my body this relaxing softness that makes my sits effortless. I have not fidgeted or felt uncomfortable whilst sitting since I discovered asking and receiving the blessings. Sometimes my leg gets numb, then I just move it, but there is no emotional restlessness.

I also sometimes tap into the energy and blessings of Jesus. That again feels somewhat softer, but the same sharpening of mental faculties happens also there. Sometimes I chant only mantras, like HU, and feel an effect on my mind. It is like a high expect that it is in no way debilitating, only making things better, brighter, more clear and sharp. It takes off the ego and makes you intimately connected with whatever is happening. That is why I'm very comfortable chanting in my car while driving. There is no absorption that would be a risk factor in traffic.

Another poetic way of describing the effects of the blessings is water in a pond. With mantras and blessing the debris sets to the bottom and the water becomes clear. Sometimes the water is more turqoise and under sunny skies near the equator, sometimes it's more like early morning sun rays striking a forest pond up north. But it is still a pond with water that you can see through, all the way to the bottom. And I have been able to get this effect constantly, for two years now, when given the right instruction. Namely, pay attention to the mind when reciting/asking for blessing and actually _receive_ the blessings. Pay attention. And relax and enjoy. emoticon

RE: Questions About Chanting And Blessings
Answer
9/25/18 10:13 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
I don't know if this relates fully to your question, but I'll share one experience 2 or 3 years ago I had after a chanting session. I've never shared that here.
For your first question, I've practiced for 20 years now in the Theravada tradition (we could say pragmatic dharma for the last 2 or 3 years of those years, which I see as a much related to Theravada).

Up to 2-3 years ago I would go to this local meditation group twice a week to meditate. The leader was a Theravada nun who was in the Mahasi lineage, ordained by Sayadaw U Kundala, a direct disciple of Mahasi Sayadaw. Mahasi style vipassana is what I've been mostly doing for all my years of practice.

After we finished our meditation sessions at this group, we would always chant a sharing of merits to devas, Brahmas, etc The nun would guide us through it and we eventually prety much learned it by heart. We chanted in Pali:

Akasata ca bhummata
deva naga mahiudhikka, etc..

This chant invoke all those beings to share (or rejoince) in our merits and to protect us and the teachings.

One evening after we had done that, I walked out of the center. It was on a small street close to a nature park that is quite beautiful. In any case, as I came out I stoped and decided to contemplate the beauty of the sky with the stars. It was a summer evening.

Then something caught my attention at the corner of my eye, so to speak. I turned my head and saw, some 30 feets away from me, and about 30 feets up in the air, a very, very bright "ball" moving quickly above the street and into (or toward) one of the forests in the park, behind houses. The bright "ball" seemed to be slightly shifting its shape as it moved accross.

I was stunned. My brain reacted the way I assume brains do when perceiving something it never saw before, trying to categorize it into things I know. First came the idea of a balloon. But ballons don't shine nor move like this. Furthermore, it was unlike anything I had seen before in terms of what we consider "light". A shooting star came to mind later but I've seen those and it was not like it at all. And it was too close for that too and shooting stars just don't move this way. I began to think of devas in Buddhist cosmology.

I contacted Bhikkhu Punnadhammo from Arrow River Forest Hermitage a while after, who was writing a book at the time on Buddhist cosmology (it's now been published online for free just recently). He said (and his book describes this) that devas are often first perceived this way (bright luminous balls) accordiong to scriptures.

In any case, I found it interesting that after chanting a sharing of merit and asking blessings or protection from devas, I had this "vision."

It doesn't really matter to me what it was, or what is was not. My practice is not about seeing such things. But it was an inttirguing experience nevertheless. 

Benoit

RE: Questions About Chanting And Blessings
Answer
9/25/18 10:33 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
Kim Katami:
Hello.

I'd like to ask about your experiences on the following things. I'm gathering some data for my next book.

1. How long have you practiced on regular basis?
2. Do you chant anything? If you do, what do you chant?
3. Do you feel blessings or some kind of charge from the chants? If you do, describe what you experience.

Thank you all who answer.
1. For meditation almost 20 years, spotty before that, but did not begin a regular prayer practice until 2011.

2. When at home in my very Christian city, I often recite the Our Father because it's gotten into the marrow of my bones and I was christened Catholic--it's just what seems to feel right. But this is not so different from my experience chanting on traditional Buddhist retreats.

3. Yes. Part of it must be the increase in energy from using it as a focus for samatha practice, but it seems to be more than that. My most intense group chanting experience was at Panditarama in Burma when I was one of just a couple of Western women and the group was mostly Southeast Asian nuns who really belted out the metta chants. An exquisite experience. There was an energetic resonance left in the meditation hall even after the sounds had died out and a very tangible sense of shared lovingkindness and connection. Tremendously powerful fuel for insight practice.

Reciting the Our Father leaves me with a similar sense of radical openness and connection, a pointing to experience. Kind of has a mahamudra feel. There's something very earthy about parts of it. Very complex, a lot going on with this prayer. Like everything else, it is evolving for me and I can only wonder what it will be like with more years of practice.

I happened to read the transcript of an interview with the Presbyterian pastor Eugene Peterson today and he said some things about prayer that I found quite compelling. "Prayers are tools not for doing and getting but for being and becoming."

RE: Questions About Chanting And Blessings
Answer
9/25/18 10:46 AM as a reply to Jehanne S Peacock.
Jehanne's quotes marked with >, my own comments with -.

>I've practised vajrayana for a year ten years ago. There they never expicitly talked about blessing during/after chanting or prayers. I did 11 111 refuge chants intially, and later did 111 111 OM AMI DEVA HRIHs as a preparation for a retreat. I never once realized nor remember now, that I would have experience a blessing of any kind. I did have various meditative experiences, but I suspect I was blind to these sorts of things, or could not really fromulate and grasp correctly the fact that my mind became clearer.

- Wow, that's plenty. Tbs are keen on numbers. 100 000, 1 000 000 and so on. They seem to think that high number of reps are a big deal which they are if the practice is done with recognition. However, often it just seems that they speed up the tempo just to hit a certain score with little or no inner meaning at all. To me, that is not a wise way of spending one's time.

>The only time I remember experiencing something, that I still to this day remember and associate with blessings, was when I attended a huge refuge ceremony. As I was listening to the refuge prayer and making the commitment, I could feel the air around me solidify and become electric. I was sharp as razor blade and felt superhumanly perfect in equanimity and clarity. That was really extreme. I always thought that it was just my expectations that were creating this high, sort of like when you watch a really good movie and your hair stands on end and you become super enticed.

- Right. Refuge and special events like that can be extremely powerful. However, they can too be missed. Its baffling to me how it is possible but here's a story. A few years ago I did a soto zen sesshin with a certain group. They had a lay ordination ceremony at the end of it. The moment it started, and the group repeatedly chanted Gautama's and other buddhas' names, the charge became very strong. It was as if a light dimmer had been turned higher in the room. I noticed, though, that the teacher and the students weren't much affected by the charge. They didn't connect with it. After the ceremony I went to the teacher and asked if he ever noticed the charge. He said it was interesting, but that he didn't. He had practiced over 20 years at that point. I could add that had he and his students properly received the charge, it would have corrected their zazen too. I say this because the vast majority of the group spent the whole retreat in subtle dullness (substrate mind).

>I have also gone through periods where I could not feel the blessing/connection at all for a few weeks which led me to wonder if I'm doing something wrong. Maybe I had made it into a habit and did not do it sincerely? I even considered being "cursed" or something. But eventually the connection came back.

- It can be because of one's own mind stuff, as well as sincerity.

>since I discovered asking and receiving the blessings.

- In Japanese they speak of self-power (joriki) and other power (tariki). In terms of Japanese schools of buddhism, these refer to Zen and Jodo which is Pure Land Buddhism. The core of PL practice is devotion to Amitabha Buddha, mostly through mantra repetition. Having studied both of these elements in practice I don't understand why it is necessary to choose between them. Combining the two makes a nice marriage. I understand why Westerners, prolly still fed up with the bs from Christianity, have hard time appreciating and understanding the other power approach but the thing is that we are speaking buddhism and emptiness here, not belief-faith-based religion. This should be remembered. Anyway, I feel that the world of Western buddhism would do much better if we/they understood blessings and devotion better.

RE: Questions About Chanting And Blessings
Answer
9/25/18 11:10 AM as a reply to Ben V..
Ben V quoted >, my own -.

>For your first question, I've practiced for 20 years now in the Theravada tradition...

- That's a stretch. Nice.

>After we finished our meditation sessions at this group, we would always chant

- By reading this I was reminded by a story narrated by Dae Bong, a dharma heir of Seung Sahn. I went to listen to his talk when he visited town. As you are listening to someone, you get a feel of him or her. I'm not talking about anything high flying but that you simply get a feel how somone feels like. In his case, I recall feeling that he felt pretty much like a typical zen/son senior. Then he told a story how he had once done a chanting retreat of Avalokiteshvara or Amitabha, can't remember which one, for a few days. They had kept chanting incessantly all that time. Then on the last day he said he had this experience of amazing brightness of mind that swallowed his common mind. As he narrated this, he relived that experience from few decades before. At that moment the energy spread into the room, to us listeners, and it was very different from his own presence (attainment). It was just a short flash but a noticeable change in his mindstate.

>a sharing of merits to devas, Brahmas, etc The nun would guide us through it and we eventually prety much learned it by heart. We chanted in Pali:

- OK. This is not what I'm referring to in the OP but interesting anyway. Thank you.

RE: Questions About Chanting And Blessings
Answer
9/25/18 12:38 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda >, my comments -.

>3. Yes. Part of it must be the increase in energy from using it as a focus for samatha practice, but it seems to be more than that. My most intense group chanting experience was at Panditarama in Burma when I was one of just a couple of Western women and the group was mostly Southeast Asian nuns who really belted out the metta chants. An exquisite experience. There was an energetic resonance left in the meditation hall even after the sounds had died out and a very tangible sense of shared lovingkindness and connection. Tremendously powerful fuel for insight practice.

- I love the image of nuns belting out metta chants! I used to hear zen nuns belt out sutras in Japanese, it was lovely. You are certainly describing blessings. 

>Reciting the Our Father leaves me with a similar sense of radical openness and connection, a pointing to experience. Kind of has a mahamudra feel. There's something very earthy about parts of it. Very complex, a lot going on with this prayer. Like everything else, it is evolving for me and I can only wonder what it will be like with more years of practice.

- Nice. Thank you.

RE: Questions About Chanting And Blessings
Answer
9/26/18 6:45 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
Correction--17 years of practice, not quite almost 20.

I think what's going on here, at least in my own experience, can be more generally described as magick. The chanting is just a way to focus energy and attention and sort of drive a stake deep into the subconscious, to form a very strong intention. Then that is released and one switches to a mode of open perceiving but there are still echoes of the intention and what comes into attention/awareness next is shaped by it. So that sense of radical openness unfolds in various flavors--dzogchen, mahamudra, centering prayer, etc., and the way that this presents can seem particularly meaningful. Plus there is that seed of intention which has been driven deep into the subconscious: what seeds did we plant in the past that are sprouting for us today? What circuits in the brain are we strengthening with repeated blessings?

I'm speaking fast and loose here, but this seems to me about what is going on at least for me personally.

So the vocalization/subvocalization of chanting/prayer is a skillful means but not necessary for just a blessing. You could also use a wand or prop to get the same effects. Or my personal favorite, simply using nonverbal conceptual structures--images, tactile-kinaesthetic constructs, pointing with the mind, etc. Every time I take a shower, I take that opportunity to do some sort of ritualistic cleansing/blessing and the experiential result is something in the neighborhood of metta chanting with nuns. Or at least, this is how I would categorize it.

With complex chants and prayers, I think you can get additional effects beyond the blessing. I'm reading a book on the Rosary as spiritual weapon and it would seem that there is the potential to use this for deep cognitive restructuring. Like the metta chanting that leads you through metta toward everyone--this is doing work on you. It's not just about the blessing. There's a lot going on.

Well, now I'm just rambling. Anyway, I agree that if people aren't finding or at least looking for these magickal potentials in Buddhist practice, they're missing out on a lot. I'm grateful to have gotten into the occult prior to Buddhist practice. 

RE: Questions About Chanting And Blessings
Answer
9/26/18 12:18 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
Correction--17 years of practice, not quite almost 20.

I think what's going on here, at least in my own experience, can be more generally described as magick. The chanting is just a way to focus energy and attention and sort of drive a stake deep into the subconscious, to form a very strong intention. Then that is released and one switches to a mode of open perceiving but there are still echoes of the intention and what comes into attention/awareness next is shaped by it. So that sense of radical openness unfolds in various flavors--dzogchen, mahamudra, centering prayer, etc., and the way that this presents can seem particularly meaningful. Plus there is that seed of intention which has been driven deep into the subconscious: what seeds did we plant in the past that are sprouting for us today? What circuits in the brain are we strengthening with repeated blessings?

I'm speaking fast and loose here, but this seems to me about what is going on at least for me personally.

So the vocalization/subvocalization of chanting/prayer is a skillful means but not necessary for just a blessing. You could also use a wand or prop to get the same effects. Or my personal favorite, simply using nonverbal conceptual structures--images, tactile-kinaesthetic constructs, pointing with the mind, etc. Every time I take a shower, I take that opportunity to do some sort of ritualistic cleansing/blessing and the experiential result is something in the neighborhood of metta chanting with nuns. Or at least, this is how I would categorize it.

With complex chants and prayers, I think you can get additional effects beyond the blessing. I'm reading a book on the Rosary as spiritual weapon and it would seem that there is the potential to use this for deep cognitive restructuring. Like the metta chanting that leads you through metta toward everyone--this is doing work on you. It's not just about the blessing. There's a lot going on.

Well, now I'm just rambling. Anyway, I agree that if people aren't finding or at least looking for these magickal potentials in Buddhist practice, they're missing out on a lot. I'm grateful to have gotten into the occult prior to Buddhist practice. 

Magick. I don't have a clear picture what that means.

There are many ways to access the nature of mind, blessings or energetic charges is one of them, and a particularly effective way. The key point, that probably is good to underline, is that the nature of mind is entirely selfless.

RE: Questions About Chanting And Blessings
Answer
9/28/18 2:40 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
I found this practice log account from Antero, describing what I think is a blessing during a Lung: https://apracticejournal.wordpress.com/2016/06/26/bon-six-lamps-retreat-ii-lung/

RE: Questions About Chanting And Blessings
Answer
10/15/18 3:09 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
I wonder if the blessings 'work' if chanted in English rather than Pali, or if there's something inherently special to the arrangement of the syllables or something.

I've been pretty interested in devotional buddhist lay practises, specifically Theravada, recently. Although, I haven't gone too deep into it yet.

RE: Questions About Chanting And Blessings
Answer
10/16/18 11:06 AM as a reply to D..
Yes they do. Its the idea behind the thought that matters. 

RE: Questions About Chanting And Blessings
Answer
10/17/18 2:04 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
1. 5 years of Thanissaro Bhkikkhu inspired body scan/breath meditation. The last 3 years I’ve also been working within a Christian branch of the western mystery tradition, with an increasing focus on prayer, both mantra like and complex, as well as energy work. Lately I’ve been more deeply engaged in exoteric ”normal” church life, both catholic style and evangelical.

2. Mainly the Jesus prayer, inspired spontaneous prayers, the liturgy of the hours, the Mass (I love it) and more esoteric stuff I could describe over PM if you are interested.

3. I don’t know how much of my slow progress, which mainly manifests as subtle energetic phenomena, somewhat improved intuition and higher emotional sensitivity, has to do with just basic meditation and how much is due prayer and empowerments. Sometimes prayers and rituals bring me to tears. I love to pray and believe, am naturally drawn to Christian devotion, but have a nagging doubt, a voice in the back of my head saying I’m wasting time and would be better off doing noting or something. I’m always looking for ways to justify prayer and living the mythology over theravadin/pragmatism that I in a way strongly believe in too. 
I know quite a few people who have crossed the A&P on this devotional path, but no one seems to relate to the idea of cessations and paths. 

RE: Questions About Chanting And Blessings
Answer
10/19/18 6:18 AM as a reply to Pål R.
Pål R:
1. 5 years of Thanissaro Bhkikkhu inspired body scan/breath meditation. The last 3 years I’ve also been working within a Christian branch of the western mystery tradition, with an increasing focus on prayer, both mantra like and complex, as well as energy work. Lately I’ve been more deeply engaged in exoteric ”normal” church life, both catholic style and evangelical.

2. Mainly the Jesus prayer, inspired spontaneous prayers, the liturgy of the hours, the Mass (I love it) and more esoteric stuff I could describe over PM if you are interested.

3. I don’t know how much of my slow progress, which mainly manifests as subtle energetic phenomena, somewhat improved intuition and higher emotional sensitivity, has to do with just basic meditation and how much is due prayer and empowerments. Sometimes prayers and rituals bring me to tears. I love to pray and believe, am naturally drawn to Christian devotion, but have a nagging doubt, a voice in the back of my head saying I’m wasting time and would be better off doing noting or something. I’m always looking for ways to justify prayer and living the mythology over theravadin/pragmatism that I in a way strongly believe in too. 
I know quite a few people who have crossed the A&P on this devotional path, but no one seems to relate to the idea of cessations and paths. 

It is challenging to be alone, doing practices and figuring how the pieces fit together, while having attraction towards practices that on the external level don't seem to fit together. I recall Francis Bennett's story how he was a Christian monk, then woke up, and suddenly what the system taught or how it viewed things, made little sense. He studied zen and vipassana too.

In our practice, we do tantric guru yoga and chant buddhist mantras in kirtan style but not in the same way as christians or hindus do (which some buddhists say is overemotional). Devotion and loving surrender certainly is effective but without simultaneous understanding and application of insight/emptiness principle gives limited results.

RE: Questions About Chanting And Blessings
Answer
10/19/18 6:22 AM as a reply to D..
@ S.

Of course, not everything can or need to be translated.

RE: Questions About Chanting And Blessings
Answer
10/20/18 10:09 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
Hi, I've been chanting mantras used in the Kundalini Yoga tradition for about a decade or so. (Been chanting before I began a vipassana practice.) Do I feel blessings? Well, I usually feel like I've tapped into some kind of universal vibration...that leaves me with a feeling of "perspective."

RE: Questions About Chanting And Blessings
Answer
10/21/18 3:56 AM as a reply to Darby.
Darby:
Hi, I've been chanting mantras used in the Kundalini Yoga tradition for about a decade or so. (Been chanting before I began a vipassana practice.) Do I feel blessings? Well, I usually feel like I've tapped into some kind of universal vibration...that leaves me with a feeling of "perspective."

All right. I don't have any exp with Sikh teachings. Buddhist vibes compared to hindu vibes are very different, though. Essentially they have the same essence but the wrappings feel very different.

RE: Questions About Chanting And Blessings
Answer
10/25/18 9:34 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
Kim Katami:
Darby:
Hi, I've been chanting mantras used in the Kundalini Yoga tradition for about a decade or so. (Been chanting before I began a vipassana practice.) Do I feel blessings? Well, I usually feel like I've tapped into some kind of universal vibration...that leaves me with a feeling of "perspective."

All right. I don't have any exp with Sikh teachings. Buddhist vibes compared to hindu vibes are very different, though. Essentially they have the same essence but the wrappings feel very different.
In terms of essence, a big difference is the concept of atma... in Sikhism of course, it's integral to the teachings. In Buddhism, there's anatta, no belief in an unchanging, everlasting soul. However, what about consciousness? Energy? Vibration? So much to ponder. In any event, I'll probably never stop chanting : )