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Thread: Purpose of Mantras

  1. #1

    Purpose of Mantras

    Hello everyone! I've been a little shy about asking any questions... But I'm going to be brave, here it goes.
    If there is already a topic on this, or one similar, I apologize in advance. The computers on the ship are quite slow, but I scanned to see if there was anything about my question on Mantras.

    I have been most familiar with "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" from when I went to Nichiren services ( upon first discovering Buddhism ). The lay leader, however, wasn't really able to explain Mantras well. And later the Prajna Paramita in the Heart Sutra. I understand Mantras are something you recite and they help you focus. But... (keyword here) is there MORE to it then that? I figured that if there are different Mantras, then it must suggest that you are "doing" something different with each Mantra. Is it "wrong" to still chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo if I am practicing Zen? This is probably an overload of fundamental questions, but after reading extensively I haven't found anything that addresses this question directly. I would like to see what others have to say about Mantras and what they think their purpose is...

    I hope that made sense. Anyways! Any thoughts?

    -Obadiah

  2. #2

    Re: Purpose of Mantras

    Quote Originally Posted by obadiah
    Is it "wrong" to still chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo if I am practicing Zen?
    Hi Obadiah.

    Well, zen is about going beyond opposites like right and wrong (though not in the moralistic sense I think, hence the precepts) so I don't think it would be wrong to chant a mantra anymore than it would be wrong to whistle Dixie while washing the dishes.

    Only don't whistle (or chant) during zazen :shock:

    I used to read Eknath Easwaran who suggested using a mantra such as the Jesus prayer or Om Mani Padme Hum to steady the mind when it became attached or angry or anxious or whatever. I think he said that using a mantra was just a way of calming the stormy sea of the mind.

    But in zazen the sea of the mind is crossed instantly! Even when you're floating in the middle of the ocean.

    The way I understand it, zazen is a perfect act. Action is always right now. Thought is always in the past or future. So zazen is beyond past, present, and future. In a way, zazen swallows all time. It is a perfect act that has no opposite. It is much different than meditation where one using the breath or a mantra or whatever. Action. That is beyond all concept. It is what it is. Zazen is that perfect act.

    Jeez! Why did I say all that? Because once one understands how liberating shikantaza is they will want to sit in that perfect-freedom-act-beyond-all-action always.

    gassho
    Greg

  3. #3
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: Purpose of Mantras

    Quote Originally Posted by ghop
    Well, zen is about going beyond opposites like right and wrong (though not in the moralistic sense I think, hence the precepts) so I don't think it would be wrong to chant a mantra anymore than it would be wrong to whistle Dixie while washing the dishes.
    I agree with your main point, Greg, but I don't necessarily agree that Zen can't go beyond moralistic "rights" and "wrongs". I may be "wrong," but since I've begun studying the precepts there seems to be the notion that the precepts are not meant to be followed like commandments, that every moment in life has it's own and different set of morals, based on cause and effect.

    Quote Originally Posted by ghop
    I used to read Eknath Easwaran who suggested using a mantra such as the Jesus prayer or Om Mani Padme Hum to steady the mind when it became attached or angry or anxious or whatever. I think he said that using a mantra was just a way of calming the stormy sea of the mind.

    But in zazen the sea of the mind is crossed instantly!
    Zazen is meant to embody this effect, but it doesn't necessarily happen for everyone who tries to practice it. That is why some people count breaths leading into Zazen... or say mantra. Mantra isn't Zazen, but it has it's own cause and effect.

  4. #4

    Re: Purpose of Mantras

    Thanks Amelia! Good points.

    I don't see the precepts as commandments either. I do however see them as the natural result of an awakened life, not steps leading to that life, but the effortless outcome of the actual life lived in the Way. Like a tree producing fruit because that is what it does when it is well rooted and nourished.

    Now, if I could just zip it and live it... :roll:

    gassho
    Greg

  5. #5

    Re: Purpose of Mantras

    Thank you for the input so far Greg and Amelia! I try to practice Zazen at least an hour a day. My schedule right now makes it a little difficult, though. Amelia, if I'm understanding right, do you see Mantras as one way to "lead up" to Shikantaza? Or maybe its something that is good before or after Zazen? I'm always interested in seeing how others practice. Also I was thinking about how mantras are different from each other, or are they all seen as the same? Just like how counting the breath is just that, counting the breath. Or do different words have different power so-to-speak?

  6. #6
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: Purpose of Mantras

    Quote Originally Posted by obadiah
    Amelia, if I'm understanding right, do you see Mantras as one way to "lead up" to Shikantaza?
    I see the two as separate. Both are different practices with different effects.

    Quote Originally Posted by obadiah
    Also I was thinking about how mantras are different from each other, or are they all seen as the same?
    All mantras are the same in that chanting them over and over will probably have an easing and perhaps meditative effect on the mind. All mantras are different in that the words within them contain different meanings.

    Quote Originally Posted by obadiah
    Or do different words have different power so-to-speak?
    Saying mantras to produce a spiritual or mystical effect is not a Zen practice, if I am correct. However, that doesn't mean I am against that practice. I often pray, or say mantras in a "law of attraction" kind of hope. I have some experience in Yogic and Neo Pagan practices.

  7. #7

    RE: Purpose of Mantras

    Mantra chanting isn't emphasized here, or in most Soto sanghas. But that's not true of all Zen. I know that the Korean Zen (Son) Kwan Um School puts great emphasis on bowing and chanting"Kwan Seum Bosal" (Kannon Bodhisattva) over and over as another way of dropping body and mind.

    Anyway I'm sure Jundo and Taigu will give you some food for thought

    Sent from my SGH-i917 using Board Express

  8. #8

    Re: Purpose of Mantras

    Quote Originally Posted by Matto
    ... some food for thought
    Food for Non-thought!

    Well, I would say that this all depends how one defines a Mantra in one's heart. In much of Buddhism and related religions of India (although something very similar can be found in about all religions really ... e.g., like "God Is Great/Allahu al-Akbar" in Islam, an orthodox Jew's reciting the sacred letters of Torah, or "Praise Jesus" in some corners of Christianity), it is a sound, word or words that create transformation in some way.

    Now, the meaning of "creates transformation" can mean anything from (a) a magic "abracadabra" incantation to the Buddhas or gods asking for their power, support or favor to cure one's disease, get a good grade on an exam, have business success or grant admission to some Heaven or good rebirth in a future incarnation etc. ... to (b) a simple reminder or focus of the mind on some subtle spiritual truth while calming and steadying the heart&mind. In most cases, I would say that Mantras have been used as a mix of (a) and (b) throughout their history. In my view, it depends on the heart of the chanter whether (a) or (b) is the dominant motive, but that most lay folks throughout history in Asia (including in many modern Buddhist groups active in the West) chant Mantra with a heavy dose of (a).

    Now, with regard to (b), those "spiritual truths" can range anywhere from "simple, yet subtle truths" of wisdom and compassion to incredibly dense and complicated systems, whole philosophies and esoteric systems, much like the Jews have found the whole system of Kabbalah in the sounds of the Hebrew Alphabet and some Buddhists or Hindus all levels-upon-levels of cosmic meanings in Sanskrit sounds.

    I feel in my heart that the little Mantra at the endless end of the Heart Sutra ... with its emphasis on Wisdom and Emptiness ... is (b), as is the whole Heart Sutra. Moreover, the lessons there are infinitely profound and subtle, yet simple too as the breeze or the sound of raindrops. In Zen, we tend to avoid the "intricate complicated, esoteric philosophies and systems". We are content to be simple minded.

    Nichiren Buddhism (my wife's family are Nichiren Buddhists) is a school of Buddhism which developed in Japan hundreds of years ago centered on the power of the Lotus Sutra ... on the power of faith and recital even in just the name of the Lotus Sutra. Thus, they recite "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" (Hail the Wonderful Law of the Lotus Flower Sutra). Many Tibetans chant "Om mani padme hum" (Om! Hail the Jewel in the Lotus!). Another school of Buddhism in Asia is the Jodo (Pure Land) school(s), who worship or rely upon Amida Buddha, and thus chant "Namu Amida Butsu" (or its equivalent in Chinese etc., Homage to Amida, Buddha of Infinite Light).

    In China, Vietnam and quite often in Korea, Pure Land Practice and Zen Practice have pretty much been all blended together for many centuries. In Japan, not so much. Nichiren traditions have generally kept pretty independent from other sects. However, even in traditional Zen practice in Japan, there are various Mantra (and Dharani, a kind of longer chant similar to Mantra) that are chanted ... sometimes for (a), sometimes for (b), usually for (a) and (b). There is also some blending of Zen and Esoteric (similar to Tibetan Buddhism) teachings in Japan, depending on which Lineage.

    Okay, so what about chanting a Mantra such as "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" or "Namu Amida Butsu" with Shikantaza Zazen Practice?

    In my opinion, of course, seated Zazen is "complete, whole, the only thing needed to do" in that moment of sitting. When we sit, it is very very vital to sit with the attitude sunk deep in one's bones that " there is no other place to be, nothing lacking, not one more thing to do" than this. (We do so because in daily life, running here and there and always feeling some lacks or discontents in life, we rarely if ever undertake one action with total heart and completeness in such way! Thus we call this "non-doing".)

    However, rising from the cushion ... one must come to express Zazen all through daily life. All of daily life is also "Zazen" in its wider meaning. So, if a particular person wished to also chant "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" or "Namu Amida Butsu" or "Allahu al-Akbar" or "Kwan Seum Bosal" or the Torah or "Praise Jesus" (or "Praise Richard Dawkins" for our atheist members 8) ) ... that is fine. Up to each person in their heart. All Zazen in its wider meaning, as is everything from changing the baby to cooking dinner to sewing a Kesa.

    And if one chants (or prays) feeling that this is "complete, whole, the only thing needed to do" and " there is no other place to be, nothing lacking, not one more thing to do" ... that is is 'okay' if life hands us what we are demanding or requesting in (A) or does not hand us that ... with no thought of gain or anything in need of gaining ... with simple gratitude for what is ... then this too is Shikantaza!**

    Gassho, Jundo

    ** Does not replace seated Zazen, but can go hand in hand. Seated, still, silent Zazen is yet very powerful and indispensible. Also, when chanting, just chant ... when sitting, JUST SIT.

    PS - Greg said, zen is about going beyond opposites like right and wrong , and Amelia said, "there seems to be the notion that ... every moment in life has it's own and different set of morals." I would say that in Zazen we taste a realm that is beyond all little human divisions of right and not right, just or unjust ... yet is very Right & Just ... Right and Just the way it is 8) But in this little dusty world, there is certain behavior which is beneficial and certain behavior ... arising through greed, anger and ignorance ... that is harmful or destructive, thus not good or right. The Precepts are arrows pointing toward the beneficial and constructive. Yes, every life situation is a little different ... and the Precepts need to be very flexible for that reason ... yet they provide surprisingly clear signals on what is "right and wrong".
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-07-2014 at 12:46 AM.

  9. #9

    Re: Purpose of Mantras

    Thank you Jundo for giving your extensive view on mantras. I have a further question however. I view the mantras and everything that we do in Zen/Buddhist practice as a "skilful means" i.e. having a particular purpose. You touched upon that in your post, but what about the fact that some mantras are chanted in a foreign (to most of us) language. For example, during our monthly 4 hour zazenkai we chant the Heart Sutra in Japanese, yet during other times it's chanted in English. From my personal practice I see a huge benefit of chanting a mantra in the language that I understand because the words somehow "sink" into me and eventually turn into a deeper understanding that is beyond words. Whereas chanting in Japanese, for example, doesn't have that profound effect. As you say, when chanting, just chant, so when chanting in Japanese one can just become the rhythm and the sounds of the mantra. But I believe that doing it in a language that one understands is more beneficial. I think that similar issues faced every country, where Buddhism was brought to. The Heart Sutra was originally in Sanskrit and early Japanese Zen practitioners had to make a choice of what language to use. What do you guys think?

  10. #10

    Re: Purpose of Mantras

    Quote Originally Posted by andyZ
    Thank you Jundo for giving your extensive view on mantras. I have a further question however. I view the mantras and everything that we do in Zen/Buddhist practice as a "skilful means" i.e. having a particular purpose. You touched upon that in your post, but what about the fact that some mantras are chanted in a foreign (to most of us) language. For example, during our monthly 4 hour zazenkai we chant the Heart Sutra in Japanese, yet during other times it's chanted in English. From my personal practice I see a huge benefit of chanting a mantra in the language that I understand because the words somehow "sink" into me and eventually turn into a deeper understanding that is beyond words. Whereas chanting in Japanese, for example, doesn't have that profound effect. As you say, when chanting, just chant, so when chanting in Japanese one can just become the rhythm and the sounds of the mantra. But I believe that doing it in a language that one understands is more beneficial. I think that similar issues faced every country, where Buddhism was brought to. The Heart Sutra was originally in Sanskrit and early Japanese Zen practitioners had to make a choice of what language to use. What do you guys think?
    Hi,

    We usually chant in English as the common language we share in this international Sangha. We also chant in Japanese (to be exact, "Sino-Japanese", the Japanese pronunciation of classical Chinese) from time to time out of respect for tradition and honoring our "roots" (Sometimes, but more rarely, we chant something in Sanskrit). I also agree that it is important to understand the philosophy and perspectives presented in the words of the Heart Sutra, the Identity of Relative and Absolute and all of the other chants we chant. (I even translated the little Mantra that closes the Heart Sutra into understandable English in our Chant Book).

    However, there is also a point where we "Just Chant" (like "Just Sit") ... throwing one-self into the chanting. In such case, it does not matter if we chant in English, Japanese, Esperanto, Martian or Silently. Got the point?

    On the other hand, I do not encourage around here the Chanting of "Dharani", even several traditional to the Soto school and Zen in general. I recently wrote the following as to my reasons. It is just too much "abracadabra" removed from all sense of meaning.

    Dharani are chants, sometimes intelligible but often unintelligible as the original Indian meanings have been lost and they are chanting phonetically, often felt to have protective, good fortune bringing or other special powers thought to derive from the power of the sound (more than the lost meaning). Mantra are similar, but typically shorter. Dharani are recited as part of standard Soto rituals, and in most other schools of Buddhism.

    I do not recite many Dharani here at Treeleaf, for I tend to consider them too much "hocus pocus and abracadarba".

    Read a bit more here ... by D.T. Suzuki

    http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/mzb/mzb02.htm
    Gassho, J

  11. #11

    Re: Purpose of Mantras

    Funny you should mention that, Andy. I actually prefer the sino-Japanese chanting of the Heart Sutra. Specifically b/c in English I get caught, trapped in the words. Whereas in s-J it seems to dissolve thinking. But of course important to understand in one's native tongue too.

  12. #12

    Re: Purpose of Mantras

    Thank you EVERYONE for your answers and input. That really helped a lot in my understanding of Mantras. And Jundo, that analogy about the "abracadabra" was kind of what I was searching for, and it makes sense. The A and B examples definitely answered my question on what a Mantra really is, depending on the sect of Buddhism and the followers.

    -Obadiah

  13. #13
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    Re: Purpose of Mantras

    This issue is on my mind lately, because I came to feel that I wanted to change my home ritual a little.

    Based on my experience with past religious systems, I have decidedly dropped the idea of asking some abstract entity out there for something...protection, a new computer, happiness, good grades, what have you. I am done with that notion and was glad to wash my hands of it.

    However I do feel that Sino-Japanese chanting is "right" for me (while reflecting on the meanings at a different time). It does feel very much like Jundo's (b) description. It feels to me just like verbal kinhin, another kind of (non-essential but good) meditation.

    Without knowing much about the views and background of mantra and dharani (and before seeing this thread), I added in the Dharani of Great Compassion, because I am being mindful lately of my anger issues which were brought forth for me to deal with in my recent relationship problems. Compassion is something for me to develop in dealing with them, that is for sure.

    Perhaps in a new thread I will discuss that more...but suffice it to say that without "requesting" anything, I thought my chanting of whatever -- and it's still pretty minimal despite addition of the dharani -- is one of many ways to generate some amount of positive karma while, as Jundo has said,
    (b) a simple reminder or focus of the mind on some subtle spiritual truth while calming and steadying the heart&mind.
    In this case, emptiness from the Heart Sutra, and compassion from the dharani. I also put the short Kannon sutra there.

    None of these are fixed and I do or skip over at will...except mostly keeping the Heart Sutra.

    Apparently I've done enough damage with my anger that I need to generate all the positive karma I can. But as I said, that's just one of a great many ways to do it. And I can kind of feel it, just some subtle vague positive energy that I hope (without asking anyone to effectuate this for me) penetrates in others' lives in a positive way just because I floated it out there with the intention of my heart and awareness.

    So I won't take the dharani out of the new lineup but will be mindful of all that you have discussed in this thread. My feelings very much reflect what Jundo said here:

    And if one chants (or prays) feeling that this is "complete, whole, the only thing needed to do" and " there is no other place to be, nothing lacking, not one more thing to do" ... that is is 'okay' if life hands us what we are demanding or requesting in (A) or does not hand us that ... with no thought of gain or anything in need of gaining ... with simple gratitude for what is ... then this too is Shikantaza!**
    Of course, all that having been said...I'm not doing any chanting at all, because I am sick and have completely lost my voice. More about that as a "practice" karma has given me, in another thread.

    gassho
    Julia

  14. #14

    Re: Purpose of Mantras

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by Matto
    ... some food for thought
    However, rising from the cushion ... one must come to express Zazen all through daily life. All of daily life is also "Zazen" in its wider meaning. So, if a particular person wished to also chant "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" or "Namu Amida Butsu" or "Allahu al-Akbar" or "Kwan Seum Bosal" or the Torah or "Praise Jesus" (or "Praise Richard Dawkins" for our atheist members 8) ) ... that is fine. Up to each person in their heart. All Zazen in its wider meaning, as is everything from changing the baby to cooking dinner to sewing a Kesa.

    And if one chants (or prays) feeling that this is "complete, whole, the only thing needed to do" and " there is no other place to be, nothing lacking, not one more thing to do" ... that is is 'okay' if life hands us what we are demanding or requesting in (A) or does not hand us that ... with no thought of gain or anything in need of gaining ... with simple gratitude for what is ... then this too is Shikantaza!**
    It seems to me that reciting mantras might actually be counter-productive to shikantaza. I was taught that one of the purposes of continually reciting mantras was to make it a continuous though form that never ended. Don't know if that is the best way to put it though. Basically, the ideal practice is that even when you're not consciously reciting the mantra, it is running in the back of your mind. This is the way that the Desert Fathers of the Catholic Church intended the Jesus Prayer to be, and I have heard Tibetan teachers say the same thing. If the purpose of zazen is the opposite of continually filling the mind with thought, even a single-pointed thought, than mantra practice might not be the best idea.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    Re: Purpose of Mantras

    Chanting was a barrier of mine when I first started practicing. I thought "this is weird, why am I chanting?" I kept getting caught on it, but I kept with it. "Dammit!, Who do these people think is listening to them?!" But still, I kept with it. Eventually, realizing without any realization, that the purpose of chanting is chanting. For me, that is all. I chant to chant, I sit to sit, I eat to eat, etc...No need to find purpose beyond purpose. Now I am completely comfortable, no barriers.

    One of the nuns at the Chinese monastery teaches lay westerners pure land chanting (I think to some level of frustration to the abbot ). She has the group do 48 full prostrations while chanting "Namu Ami Tuofo" on each up and down movement. I would have originally resisted this as "I don't believe in Pure Land Buddhism!" But now, I chant it so "passionately" I've been asked to be the bell ringer. So, I will ring the bell to ring the bell., and chant to chant, and bow to bow.

    Gassho

  16. #16

    Re: Purpose of Mantras

    Quote Originally Posted by ianadams
    [
    It seems to me that reciting mantras might actually be counter-productive to shikantaza.
    I can feel what Chuck describes. Dharanis and Mantras are not my personal Practice, and I feel that they smack of mumbo jumbo, hocus pocus and abracadbra at heart. However, I see no reason that they should interfere with Shikantaza, because nothing can possibly "interfere" with Shikantaza. Shikantaza takes on all comers!

    After all, we breathe from morning till night till morning again (until our last breath anyway). That does not "interfere" with Shikantaza, for it is just life ... and nothing in life is pushed out of Shikantaza. I give breathing usually not a thought. So, why should chanting morning till night till morning be any otherwise?

    Gassho, J

  17. #17
    Senior Member Ekai's Avatar
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    Re: Purpose of Mantras

    Years ago I used to chant Om Mani Padme Hum and I loved it. This chant inspired me to open my heart and strengthened my intent to cultivate deeper compassion for myself and other sentient beings. Om Mani Padme Hum planted the compassion seed in my mind and body and by repeating it over and over again the seed was watered to grow my capacity to feel and give love. I believe it was my connection to meaning of the chant and my motivation to create more lovingkindness awareness that was transformative, not anything esoteric or something that come from "out there". If one chants Om Mani Padme Hum or any other chant mindlessly without any true meaning or intent behind it, then it's just mindless chanting. It comes from deep within the heart and the felt-sense connection to your practice. And that's where the magic comes in.

    Now I just sit Shikantaza which is great, but Om Mani Padme Hum will always have a special place in my heart.

    Gassho,
    Ekai

  18. #18

    Re: Purpose of Mantras

    Ekai wrote

    'Years ago I used to chant Om Mani Padme Hum and I loved it. This chant inspired me to open my heart and strengthened my intent to cultivate deeper compassion for myself and other sentient beings. Om Mani Padme Hum planted the compassion seed in my mind and body and by repeating it over and over again the seed was watered to grow my capacity to feel and give love. I believe it was my connection to meaning of the chant and my motivation to create more lovingkindness awareness that was transformative, not anything esoteric or something that come from "out there". If one chants Om Mani Padme Hum or any other chant mindlessly without any true meaning or intent behind it, then it's just mindless chanting. It comes from deep within the heart and the felt-sense connection to your practice. And that's where the magic comes in.'

    I can really relate to that - and beautifully expressed.

    Chanting Namo Amida Butsu opened a doorway for me before I understood anything about different buddhist practices. I don't chant during sitting but during the day
    I might focus on the meaning of a particular chant as a reflective practice. And sometimes it can be calming just to chant and draw some inner strength from it.

    Gassho

    Willow

  19. #19

    Re: Purpose of Mantras

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    I can feel what Chuck describes. Chanting and Mantras are not my personal Practice, and I feel that they smack of mumbo jumbo, hocus pocus and abracadbra at heart.

    Gassho, J

    I should have written "Dharani and Mantras" above, not "Chanting and Mantras". Chanting is my practice most days in some way, although I like to chant words that actually has a teaching in there ... like the Verse of the Kesa or Heart Sutra on Emptiness. After I have studied the words however ... I see through the words, put the words down, and just chant the sounds ... all arising in Emptiness and as One.

    Of course, Mantras ... like classical music ... can have a profound meaning often beyond words that is spoken to the heart, I have no doubt. That is fine. All sounds arise from and return to Silence! The truly can resonate with the heart and outward into space.

    Heck, if you want to chant "Hail to the Lotus" or "God is Great" or an Aria from 'La Boheme' or hum "Coke is the Real Thing" ... and it touches one ... have at it! (Chanting "Heil Hitler", "God is Great" on a suicide mission, or the like is a problem, however, because of the anger, violence and division involved).

    My real objection is to those Dharani and Mantras used quite clearly as abracadabra magic spells and incantations to get some material benefit such as a new job or new car or love or even medical recovery. I believe that, for most people, that is the way they have been primarily thought of and used through the centuries. Often the ways in which we chant "to get stuff" can be much more hidden and subtle, and we should be cautious.

    Gassho, J

  20. #20
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    Re: Purpose of Mantras

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    My real objection is to those Dharani and Mantras used quite clearly as abracadabra magic spells and incantations to get some material benefit such as a new job or new car or love or even medical recovery. I believe that, for most people, that is the way they have been primarily thought of and used through the centuries. Often the ways in which we chant "to get stuff" can be much more hidden and subtle, and we should be cautious.
    This is the bottom line, know what you're getting at in, well, anything you do. Some crazy mind-theatre can be exposed when you take an honest look sometimes (not that I've ever found any of that in my introspection ops: :P ).

    "Getting stuff" doesn't have to be material; the medical recovery doesn't look like "stuff", and it can often times be for someone other than yourself, but you're still asking someone to intervene for you outside of your own circle of influence, which is not productive or applicable in this practice. I similarly mentioned something in my initial post about wanting good grades, same sort of thing. I don't like magic formulas to "get stuff", but that doesn't mean I can't fool myself into it.

    I like discussing this issue, not to create controversy or nitpick about something minor (I hate both activities), but it causes me to clarify my motives to myself.

    I am not comfortable as it is with inflexible and lengthy rituals; if I have time to chant (or a voice to do it) I chant, if not, nothing to add or take away. I should probably have been more clear in saying that I mostly took things we say in English and found Sino-Japanese versions (the Four Vows, for example). Added the Kannon Sutra and that one Dharani. Where was I at when I did this? I really just wanted more chanting for chanting's sake, but I will explore that and hopefully not develop too strong an attachment. It's hard to not want to do that because of my orientation toward human speech, verbalisation, the articulatory tract.

    Maybe I am looking for excuses to do that without the karmic cost of my usual blathering? That's been really coming to light for me lately. I am feeling the effects of a long time of speaking without mindfulness. I think I'm trying to find opportunities to say something "safe", even "positive", without sounding like I am being a people-pleaser. It's difficult to do that when most of the time I am used to being witty, sarcastic, snarky, something to say about everything, a last-word kind of a person. Using my words to convey the depths and details of my anger without first coping with it inwardly and editing it more appropriately. I want to get rid of some of that. Repaying karmic debt at the point where it has cost me the most -- the vocal tract. Then when I'm about to say something snarky, I remember that the same tongue dignified itself with a sutra earlier...probably not a good idea to throw that effort (and positive karma) away and stoop back down to shrew level.

    It's a kind of a personal journey but thank you for helping me think it over aloud here.

    gassho
    julia

  21. #21
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Re: Purpose of Mantras

    IMHO Mantras help you focus your mind on single task or idea at a time.

    I use mantras on my daily practice like the Heart Sutra and meal gatha. I even have created my own to inspire myself to never forget going out and run instead of staying home doing nothing.

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