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Thread: Question on chanting, maybe to the Inos, and others

  1. #1

    Question on chanting, maybe to the Inos, and others

    Dear all,

    sorry if this has been discussed - the search functions says "ino" is too short to be a search term...

    Having seen Kyonin and Dosho interact, and Jundo and Shingen (today, for me), I am curious about the work of the Ino.

    How does he know what to do when, and what is the meaning for what the priest is doing?

    Maybe ceremony is just ceremony, and the inkin is a nice instrument, but as Zen has so many symbols, I thought it might well be interesting to ask?

    Why does the bell sometimes go faster?
    Why is it sometimes muted? (or is it hit elsewhere, this wooden "clonk" sound?)

    Another practical question: I am reciting (since shortly before Ango, but one of my commitments to stick with it) the Heart Sutra every morning.
    Are there rules where to breathe?
    Breathing always gets me out of the beat (well, beat without beat...), especially with the long-worded German version.

    I've read somewhere the Heart Sutra should be chanted on one breath - is this possible in Japanese?
    So should one use as few breaths as possible or take short breaths at one's ease?

    Thank you very much.

    Gassho,
    Danny

  2. #2
    Thanks for your questions Danny. I am also interested in knowing the meaning and parts of the zazenkai ceremony.


    Gassho,
    Walter.
    Gassho,Walter

  3. #3
    Hi Danny,

    Years ago, I asked an older Japanese Zen Monk why certain bells were rung the way they were in the monastery. He was silent for a moment, then said, "They are rung that way because that is how we ring the bells".

    The Doan (堂行) is the traditional ringer of bells and gongs in a Zen monastery. The Ino (維那) actually had a much wider role in training monks in a traditional monastery, but in the West the term has come to be used for the lead Chanter.

    There are traditional scripts for ceremonies, the main one being the "Gyoji Kihan" in the Japanese Soto Tradition. It spells out the content, and what drum and bell is struck when, for dozens and dozens of ceremonies and rituals. Here is the table of contents of the official English translation.

    http://scbs.stanford.edu/sztp3/trans...1_contents.pdf

    You can see an example of an intricate ceremony here. However, most of our ceremonies here at Treeleaf are obviously much smaller, simpler, less elaborate and, yes, far less elegant than that. I tend to modernize and simplify, and be less formal and fastidious about things. I am also something of a klutz (is that also a German word?), and precise ceremony is not my strong talent.



    (If you are curious about what that long ceremony contains, I posted about that once here: http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...l=1#post132917 )

    Here is a list of the instruments one finds around a Zen temple ...

    http://terebess.hu/zen/szoto/hangszersz.html

    Basically, the bells and drums in various combinations serve as clocks and signals for activities during the day, and within ceremonies. A certain pattern means Zazen is coming so everyone should report to the Zen Hall, another pattern that it is time for a meal, another pattern is simply to tell the time of day (like a church bell), when to get up or go to bed. During ceremonies, the different rings signal the monks when to do various bows, or when one is on the last section of a long chant and should get ready for the final line, or the like. For example, the ring down ... where the ping ping on the Inkin handbell gets faster and faster ... means that 3 Prostrations are coming, and one should prepare ones bowing cloth. Of course, there is always some Teacher or Lineage somewhere who has assigned their own very esoteric and elaborate mystical interpretations to all the bells and whistles. But, basically, they are melodic time signals, and just lovely musical instruments to accompany the chanting.

    One rule of breathing during the Heart Sutra: Don't stop. Stopping breathing can be very dangerous.

    Actually, this is a big issue for asthmatic me, who sometimes huffs and wheezes during ceremonies, besides being a klutz. Perhaps someone can recite the Heart Sutra in a single breath, but it would be quite a feat!

    In the Japanese version of the Heart Version, you can hear that it sounds as the priest here takes a breath where he can, but taking long breaths that allow him to go quite a ways before his next breath.



    Also, if you do it for awhile in Japanese, you find that there are certain phrases that lend themselves easily to a breath (e.g., I find for me, right before the appearance of each "Hannya" later in the chant). I was once told to try to make it to the end of the sentence in Japanese too, but it is hard and does not really sound right to my ears. Also, if everyone were to take their breath at the same spot for a group chant, it might sound strange, so I am pretty sure people just breathe as needed.

    What is more, I do not think anyone has ever standardized exactly how to chant the Heart Sutra and other chants into English (and I have no idea about German). The reason is that the length of sentences and phrasing in English is really quite different from in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tibetan etc. There is no "official version" in English. And I have never heard of a breath standard for the English version.

    Hope that is helpful.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-11-2014 at 03:04 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  4. #4
    Thank you Jundo and Danny for engaging a wonderful teaching.

    Deep bows
    Yugen


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  5. #5
    "They are rung that way because that is how we ring the bells".
    Well, after my "Why is the Evening Gatha not the Morning Gatha?"-question, I was braced for something like that .

    a klutz (is that also a German word?)
    It is not everyday language, but I know it, and as it is Yiddish, I'm very happy it is a German word (again).

    means that 3 Prostrations are coming
    Don't ask how long it took me to figure that one out - but indeed!

    The obvious is hardest to see.


    Thank you very much for answering my questions, it was very interesting and helpful.

    Gassho,
    Danny

  6. #6
    Nindo
    Guest
    Just 2 observations from practicing with a group in the ZMM tradition:
    They sing the Heart Sutra as a group chant. When the Ino has to breathe, he/she just skips a syllable or two while the group keeps going. Obviously that would not work with one person chanting and the rest on muted mics! However, when I chant aloud by myself, I rather skip a syllable than lose the beat.
    In that group, the bows during the Heart Sutra were only done by the priest, everybody else stood in gassho while chanting and did not bow. I noticed that in our zazenkais, most people also bow when the priest bows. (I'm not talking about the three bows, which everybody did together, but the ones that happen while chanting.)

    Gassho,
    Nindo

  7. #7
    Nindo
    Guest
    PS The original Yiddish/German word is Klotz, which morphed to Klutz in 1960 according to the online etymology.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Nindo View Post
    In that group, the bows during the Heart Sutra were only done by the priest, everybody else stood in gassho while chanting and did not bow. I noticed that in our zazenkais, most people also bow when the priest bows. (I'm not talking about the three bows, which everybody did together, but the ones that happen while chanting.)
    Well, yes, that is generally correct. However, there is some variation on this in the West from Sangha to Sangha, so my rule is "When in Rome, Bow as the Romans Bow". In our Sangha, where I am trying to soften or drop the hard border between "Priest" and "Lay" that one still tends to find at more "Japanese" settings like ZMM, I have rather encouraged the feeling that we all bow together.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  9. #9
    A bow is never wasted.



    Gassho
    John

  10. #10
    To be honest, I never really liked chanting the Heart Sutra in English. I like to read it the same way one might read poetry out loud. For some reason, English doesn't feel right as a chanting language, perhaps because its my own native language.

    I read somewhere long ago that liturgical languages are useful in this context because a) disparate communities can recite the same liturgy in a "neutral" langauge and b) it is usually tailored for chanting and recitation anyway. In the same way that Church Latin has diverged from spoken/classical Latin, Buddhist liturgical langauges like Pali or Classic Chinese (which is what we're really reciting when we recite the Heart Sutra) have diverged from the original language and become what we know today.

    Granted, it's important to study in one's native language, but I guess chanting in the native language can feel awkward. At least to me.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by jphiled View Post
    To be honest, I never really liked chanting the Heart Sutra in English. I like to read it the same way one might read poetry out loud. For some reason, English doesn't feel right as a chanting language, perhaps because its my own native language.

    I read somewhere long ago that liturgical languages are useful in this context because a) disparate communities can recite the same liturgy in a "neutral" langauge and b) it is usually tailored for chanting and recitation anyway. In the same way that Church Latin has diverged from spoken/classical Latin, Buddhist liturgical langauges like Pali or Classic Chinese (which is what we're really reciting when we recite the Heart Sutra) have diverged from the original language and become what we know today.

    Granted, it's important to study in one's native language, but I guess chanting in the native language can feel awkward. At least to me.
    As I wrote elsewhere today .... English renderings of Chinese-Japanese renderings of old Sanskrit renderings of what ultimately cannot be expressed in words.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  12. #12
    Ha ha ha, good point. More like:

    Magadhi (the Buddha's own native language) -> Pali -> Classical Sanskrit -> Classical Chinese (with Japanese pronunciation) -> English or (insert Western Language of choice here)

    I guess it's kind of like the Pirates' Code from Pirates of the Caribbean: more like guidelines than actual rules.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by jphiled View Post
    H
    I guess it's kind of like the Pirates' Code from Pirates of the Caribbean: more like guidelines than actual rules.
    Oh, one can even Chant Like A Pirate ...

    Avast! Avolokitesvara, Dat' Blimey Bodhisattva ... arrrr ....

    In Ye Prajna Paramita ... arrr ... Davey Jones' Deep of Perfect Wisdom, ya scurvy scallywags ...

    Perceived, Maties, 'tis emptiness of 'dem five conditions ... rattle yer timbers ...

    And be free of sufferin', Ahoy!


    Gassho, arrr .. J
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-15-2014 at 03:17 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  14. #14
    Gyar, ye speak fair and true, cap'n. I savvy what you mean now.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Oh, one can even Chant Like A Pirate ...





    Gassho, arrr .. J
    Hahahaha, oh, the Internet has everything!

    re: which language to chant in... I prefer English because I actually understand what's happening. I've been in Japanese services before (New Year's and my grandfather's funeral) and it doesn't mean anything to me besides a sense of camaraderie that I'm chanting with loved ones. And I think English can be beautiful. If it's not beautiful, how can there be English poets?

    I actually thought the Kwan Um Zen recording they did of the Heart Sutra was very pretty. http://www.kwanumzen.org/chants/05-h...ra-english.mp3

  16. #16
    I believe that chants such as the Heart Sutra are to be understood for their meaning, a Buddhist philosophical statement. Do not neglect an understanding of what is being proposed (in our "Way Beyond Words And Letters", the monks of old first understood what was in the Buddhist Books before burning them! There is something important being described in the Heart Sutra. )

    Then they are to be felt beyond words, in the bones, because an experience of their meaning beyond mere intellectual understanding (the different between reading a cook book, cooking and tasting the soup. and letting the soup fill and become you!)

    Then, one chants beyond and right through the words ... throwing oneself, literally, into the chant. At that point Japanese or Greek, Pirate or Puff Daddy, Words or Silence do not matter!

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  17. #17
    Nindo
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Well, yes, that is generally correct. However, there is some variation on this in the West from Sangha to Sangha, so my rule is "When in Rome, Bow as the Romans Bow". In our Sangha, where I am trying to soften or drop the hard border between "Priest" and "Lay" that one still tends to find at more "Japanese" settings like ZMM, I have rather encouraged the feeling that we all bow together.

    Gassho, J
    Sure, no worries. Maybe it does need to be spelled out somewhere, though (in the chant book)? I would find it confusing to attend zazenkai as a complete newcomer and see different people on the screen doing different things and be told "just follow along"!
    Gassho,
    Nindo

  18. #18
    Hi guys.

    Last year when I went to see the Dalai Lama, he spoke about the Heart Sutra. Someone asked him about its length and he said that it was several scrolls long in Tibetan. In services he and his monks chant a short version in both English and Tibetan.

    Then he said that when he doesn't have time, he just chants...

    A

    (pronounced like in Avalokitesvara. Like A in Spanish, not like in English)

    Saying just A with your heart and knowing the Sutra is enough, according to him.

    I haven't tried it yet. I sometimes chant English, Spanish or Sino Japanese. The three work for me.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  19. #19
    H,

    "Saying just A with your heart and knowing the Sutra is enough, according to him."

    TY


    G,
    M
    "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

  20. #20
    A
    "A" like anchor? (Use, not pronounciation)

    Or my Ango wrist rubber band... All symbols for what the mind cannot say anyway.

    Smooth, thanks!

    Now we have "Insta-Zazen" and "Insta-Sutra".

    Gassho,
    Danny

  21. #21
    Hello,

    the seed syllable "A" has traditionally been known to be the shortest essential form of the Prajna-Paramita teachings. Focussing on and/or visualising the seed syllable A is an important practise in its own right in a range of Mahayana derived Vajrayane traditions like e.g. Japanese Shingon (google ajikan) and Dzogchen.

    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen

  22. #22
    My friend Hans is quite wrong. The shortest essential form of the Prajna-Paramita teachings is not even "A", yet holds every dictionary written or to be written and then some.

    A is Um is the alpha and omega, all reality chanting, but that don't even cover it

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-16-2014 at 11:59 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  23. #23
    Hello Jundo,

    quite right, quite right svaha...though one could split hairs and say that the form of the teachings and what they point to are both two and never divided...or instead one could just grab a cushion, drop off all stuff and see clearly for one's own no-self

    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Nindo View Post
    Sure, no worries. Maybe it does need to be spelled out somewhere, though (in the chant book)? I would find it confusing to attend zazenkai as a complete newcomer and see different people on the screen doing different things and be told "just follow along"!
    Gassho,
    Nindo
    Let me non-think about this, Nindo. Part of me appreciates the form of everyone bowing in the right places and together, with arms and elbows at the correct angles and such. The is a great beauty and power to such Japanese practices of form.

    And part of me likes the chaos and democracy of everyone just bowing when there is a bow, everyone in their way, barriers between priest and practitioners dropped away. Maybe it is the informal Yankee in me.

    Perhaps we should tighten up our form a bit, or take the Middle Way on this.

    By the way, if you would really like to see an incredible demonstration of Japanese precision, here are a couple of vids. I would say that this is more Japanese culture that came to add something to Zen, than the other way. But it actually tells one something about the precision with which Zen training is conducted here. No, these are not military guys, just folks doing this for fun! I do not believe we will go this far, but something to keep in mind ... (jump to about 1:30 and the 4:30 in the video to really see some stuff) ...



    Actually reminds me of this group, where the lead singer is a famous martial artist, Genki Sudo ...



    More on Genki Sudo ...

    http://www.graciemag.com/2013/10/tak...reer-in-japan/

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-21-2014 at 03:44 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Nindo View Post
    Sure, no worries. Maybe it does need to be spelled out somewhere, though (in the chant book)? I would find it confusing to attend zazenkai as a complete newcomer and see different people on the screen doing different things and be told "just follow along"!
    Nindo,

    I understand your confusion and I felt the same way. But, at least for me, that confusion really came down to fear of getting it wrong. I'm not saying that is the case with you, but over time I came to understand that I was working against myself in wanting things to be more clear. If it feels like chaos, be chaotic! If you feel completely at peace, pay more attention to the forms! And if you feel frustrated and want to chuck the computer out the window, lock the window and sit anyway!

    These experiences ARE practice. Without these things there would be little for us to discuss.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  26. #26
    @Jundo: if you want to see precision, you should watch Korean Pop music videos. ;-)

    Anyhow, I kind lean toward a gentler, more structured introduction. A couple years ago I briefly visited a couple Rinzai Zen temples. The first one had a nice "intro" class which helped us ease into day one. I felt much more welcome by that temple but sadly it was in another state.

    The second one did a more "throw you into it" approach where no one told me how to hold my teacup, etc. needless to say I stopped going after a few times.

  27. #27
    Nindo
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho View Post
    Nindo,

    I understand your confusion and I felt the same way. But, at least for me, that confusion really came down to fear of getting it wrong. I'm not saying that is the case with you, but over time I came to understand that I was working against myself in wanting things to be more clear. If it feels like chaos, be chaotic! If you feel completely at peace, pay more attention to the forms! And if you feel frustrated and want to chuck the computer out the window, lock the window and sit anyway!

    These experiences ARE practice. Without these things there would be little for us to discuss.

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    Jundo and Dosho,

    I am not advocating for military style sameness. I was just speaking on behalf of newcomers, who may appreciate a few pointers. True, it is a learning opportunity to pick things up as you go, but it's hard to do from a screen where you see only part of the action, often from a weird angle, and everybody else attending is downsized to a tiny icon. There are so many things to learn in Zen practice at the beginning .... yes it is a middle way to offer guidance and at the same time allow some stumbling.

    At my recent retreat with the Calgary Soto group, a lengthy intro session was held about posture, bowing, kinhin etc. and then when we practiced, it was still all over the place. Every now and then somebody remembered though!

    Gassho,
    Nindo

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Nindo View Post
    Jundo and Dosho,

    I am not advocating for military style sameness. I was just speaking on behalf of newcomers, who may appreciate a few pointers. True, it is a learning opportunity to pick things up as you go, but it's hard to do from a screen where you see only part of the action, often from a weird angle, and everybody else attending is downsized to a tiny icon. There are so many things to learn in Zen practice at the beginning .... yes it is a middle way to offer guidance and at the same time allow some stumbling.

    At my recent retreat with the Calgary Soto group, a lengthy intro session was held about posture, bowing, kinhin etc. and then when we practiced, it was still all over the place. Every now and then somebody remembered though!

    Gassho,
    Nindo
    It is an excellent suggestion Nindo.

    We have an introductory booklet ... Guide to Basic Sitting (PDF) ... with tips on basic sitting posture and the like ...

    https://sites.google.com/site/jundot...edirects=0&d=1

    ... but maybe we should make and post a video about basic Zen Hall procedure and decorum. Hmmm. I think it a good suggestion.

    Gasso, Jundo
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  29. #29
    Personally, I would like to see that video happen. Good resource.

    About chanting in English:

    Chanting in another language feels "special", "educated" maybe, and/ or "spiritual". When that is stripped away and I am chanting words that everyone around me can understand and judge as "nothing special, spiritual, or heightened", well, that's part of practice to me.
    求道芸化 Kyudo Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Amelia View Post
    Personally, I would like to see that video happen. Good resource.
    Me too!


    gassho,
    Walter
    Gassho,Walter

  31. #31
    Nindo,

    It would seem Jundo agrees with you and I do too...up to a point. I'll just say that I would be concerned with such a video that folks will spend more time on ritual than they do just listening and sitting. To me, that is what they should be focusing on...everything else will come with time.

    I am sure, however, that Jundo will find a middle way.

    Now if I could just get Jundo to make a video of what he does, particularly what we can't see. I've been asking for years.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

    Quote Originally Posted by Nindo View Post
    I am not advocating for military style sameness. I was just speaking on behalf of newcomers, who may appreciate a few pointers. True, it is a learning opportunity to pick things up as you go, but it's hard to do from a screen where you see only part of the action, often from a weird angle, and everybody else attending is downsized to a tiny icon. There are so many things to learn in Zen practice at the beginning .... yes it is a middle way to offer guidance and at the same time allow some stumbling.

    At my recent retreat with the Calgary Soto group, a lengthy intro session was held about posture, bowing, kinhin etc. and then when we practiced, it was still all over the place. Every now and then somebody remembered though!

  32. #32
    Nindo
    Guest

  33. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho View Post
    Now if I could just get Jundo to make a video of what he does, particularly what we can't see. I've been asking for years.
    Yes!
    求道芸化 Kyudo Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

  34. #34
    I do remember some very old treeleaf videos (back in the ancient days of the old website) where jundo showed how to do prostrations, chant the heart sutra and sandokai, how to hold the booklets, etc. I even have them saved in my laptop.

    In fact the way he chanted at the end of the heart sutra (gate gate paragate...) where the monotone changes into a minor key melody is how I usually chant. I was surprised the last few zazenkais I joined when the chanter would chant the entire sutra in monotone. But then, I HAVE been away for quite a while.

    Gassho,
    Raf

  35. #35
    Hey Raf,
    I would love to see those vids if you could repost them.

    Gassho,
    Scott
    Forever is so very temporary...

  36. #36
    Hi All,

    You wishes are our command! I have asked Yugen to work with me in making a video expressing basic Zendo behaviour and decorum. It may take us some weeks to get it made, but we will. As most folks have suggested, we will strike a Middle Way between "do what ya feel" and rigid formality!

    There is also a series of older videos leading up to our upcoming 2-day netcast Rohatsu Retreat. I believe those are what Raf means. Those will be posted soon in preparation for the Retreat.

    Gassho, Jundo
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  37. #37
    This is the one I do.

    "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."
    Henry David Thoreau, Walden

  38. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi All,

    You wishes are our command! I have asked Yugen to work with me in making a video expressing basic Zendo behaviour and decorum. It may take us some weeks to get it made, but we will. As most folks have suggested, we will strike a Middle Way between "do what ya feel" and rigid formality!

    There is also a series of older videos leading up to our upcoming 2-day netcast Rohatsu Retreat. I believe those are what Raf means. Those will be posted soon in preparation for the Retreat.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Yes, those are the videos I was talking about.

    Gassho,
    Rafael

  39. #39
    Awesome! I can't wait :-).

    Gassho
    Forever is so very temporary...

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