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Thread: Supreme mantra?

  1. #1

    Supreme mantra?

    I'm wondering about the end of the Heart Sutra, particularly the miraculous, bright, supreme, incomparable mantra that relieves suffering and is true, not false: Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha. That's some pretty strong language to indicate there's something quite valuable in that mantra. Yet I've never heard it chanted by itself, never heard of its being repeated as a mantra in the Hindu type of way, to my knowledge it's not used as a koan; I've never heard it used in any other way except at the end of the Heart Sutra, which tells us how miraculous it is. In fact, as a Hindu I was given this apparently Buddhist mantra to chant, but as a Buddhist, it's not used! Even if it's just a feeble linguistic attempt to describe what the state of prajna paramita is, I'm surprised it's not used in some way, other than attached to the Heart Sutra. Has anyone heard of any use of this supreme, incomparable, completely true mantra, and if not, why? We have meal chants, opening the sutras chants...but I've never heard of chanting the "supreme" mantra.

    Shinshou (Dan)
    Sat Today

  2. #2
    Hi,

    My supreme mantra is Diet Coke, Diet Coke, Diet Coke. It works great. Whenever in distress I chant it. Sometimes I also chant five o’clock, five o’clock, five o’clock on a tough day and this mantra also works great on some days.

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Shinshou View Post
    I'm wondering about the end of the Heart Sutra, particularly the miraculous, bright, supreme, incomparable mantra that relieves suffering and is true, not false: Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha. That's some pretty strong language to indicate there's something quite valuable in that mantra. Yet I've never heard it chanted by itself, never heard of its being repeated as a mantra in the Hindu type of way, to my knowledge it's not used as a koan; I've never heard it used in any other way except at the end of the Heart Sutra, which tells us how miraculous it is. In fact, as a Hindu I was given this apparently Buddhist mantra to chant, but as a Buddhist, it's not used! Even if it's just a feeble linguistic attempt to describe what the state of prajna paramita is, I'm surprised it's not used in some way, other than attached to the Heart Sutra. Has anyone heard of any use of this supreme, incomparable, completely true mantra, and if not, why? We have meal chants, opening the sutras chants...but I've never heard of chanting the "supreme" mantra.

    Shinshou (Dan)
    Sat Today
    Hi Shinshou,

    There are Mantra and Dharani used in traditional Soto Zen and throughout Buddhism, but I tend to not do so here as I believe that they have been traditionally used as "abracadabra" magic spells wishing for this worldly (wealth, health and preventing earthquakes) and other worldly payoffs. If you want, you can read more about my skepticism on such practices here ...

    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...l=1#post194904

    Some people try to say that Mantra had other rolls, such as just "mnemonic" devices as memory tags for longer doctrines, but I don't really think so. Mostly, they were "presto chango" spells recited to keep evil spirits and the doctor away.

    In fact, through the centuries, the Heart Sutra itself (in its entirety, as well as the "Mantra" at the end) has been used also as a protective talisman or magical formula by people who did not understanding the content beyond the "power" said to be there. It is like people who don't read the Lotus Sutra or the Bible or Koran, and just carry a copy for protection.

    However, if one reads the Heart Sutra itself, it clearly states that ...

    There/fore/ know/ that/ Praj/na/ Pa/ra/mi/ta/

    Is/ the/ sac/red/ man/tra
    /, the/ lu/min/ous/ man/tra/,

    the/ sup/reme/ man/tra/, the/ in/com/pa/ra/ble/ man/tra/

    by/ which/ all/ suf/fe/ring/ is/ clear/.

    ...

    There/fore/ set/ forth/ the/ Praj/na/ Pa/ra/mi/ta/ man/tra/.

    Set/ forth/ this/ man/tra
    / and/ pro/claim/:*

    (1x)
    Gate! Gate! (Already Gone, Gone)
    Paragate! (Already Gone Beyond)
    Parasamgate! (Already Fully Beyond)
    Bodhi! Svaha! * (Awakening, Rejoice)

    故知般 若波羅蜜多。是大神咒。是大明咒。是
    無上咒。是無等等咒。能除一切苦。真
    實不虛。故說般若波羅蜜多咒。即說
    咒曰。揭諦揭諦。波羅揭諦。波羅僧
    揭諦。菩提薩婆訶。
    In other words ... PRAJNA PARAMITA (the Perfection of Wisdom, i.e., Emptiness) is the mantra, the saving Truth, not the words at the end which just proclaim the outcome of Wisdom. ... Simple as that.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-09-2019 at 07:10 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  4. #4
    PS -

    The topic of our recitation of "Metta" (Loving Kindness) came up today, and some might wonder about that.

    RECOMMENDED DAILY Metta PRACTICE
    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...Metta-PRACTICE

    Here is how I hold that in my heart when reciting ...

    ... It need not be considered a "prayer" to some force outside us (we will leave that to silence), and can be thought of as simply our aspiration for a better world for all living beings. Truly, 'inside' and 'outside' are not two, and one can effect and greatly change the other.

    One can ask if there really is a power to this practice to work change. I will say yes. Our hateful thoughts, words and acts can have real impact on ourself and on the people around us, creating pain and problems for people. Such behavior adds some drops of poison and ugliness into the world. So, in equal fashion, our kind thoughts, words and acts can have real impact, direct and indirect, on ourself and those around us and impacted by our behavior. In this day and age of modern communications, actions and words far across the world can have effects, great and small, on all of us. One does not need to believe in some mysterious power to Metta in order to understand its positive effects. If I wish my friend or loved one ill or well, it will have great potential to touch them.
    In other words, feel "You S.O.B., drop dead" in your heart about somebody, even if it is just a thought or words without actions, has a real effect as anger and pain ... maybe on the person about whom you say it or dash it off in an angry email or phone call, but certainly to poison the person who says it even if the just feel it silently inside their own heart and mind and only thinks it.

    Likewise, to hope for someone's peace, health and freedom from suffering instead.

    Simple as that.
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-09-2019 at 07:03 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  5. #5
    Interesting question. I've made some use of mantras before. I've come across the "prosperity dharma" aspect of mantra chanting before (do this and you will get rich or get that job you always wanted). However, for me, mantra chanting is just a type of concentration meditation like vipassana. Very different from shikantaza, but if your mind is agitated, someone familiar with mantra mediation might find it useful to spend a minute or two on "Om Mani Padme Hum" or "Buddham/Dharmam/Sangham Sharanam Gacchami (The Three Treasures in Sanskrit)" to calm it down before going back to shikantaza. I do this sometimes, I only do it as a form of concentration meditation, not to get anything from it. I'm just a regular guy though, just telling you what I find useful. I don't think mixing mantras with shikantaza is very common in the practice, it's just something I personally stumbled on and use from time to time.

    Just my two cents. Hadn't thought about chanting the "Gate, Gate" mantra before. It is beautiful, maybe I will give that a try sometime.

    Gassho,
    Mitka
    SAT
    Peace begins inside

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi Shinshou,

    There are Mantra and Dharani used in traditional Soto Zen and throughout Buddhism, but I tend to not do so here as I believe that they have been traditionally used as "abracadabra" magic spells wishing for this worldly (wealth, health and preventing earthquakes) and other worldly payoffs. If you want, you can read more about my skepticism on such practices here ...

    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...l=1#post194904

    Some people try to say that Mantra had other rolls, such as just "mnemonic" devices as memory tags for longer doctrines, but I don't really think so. Mostly, they were "presto chango" spells recited to keep evil spirits and the doctor away.

    In fact, through the centuries, the Heart Sutra itself (in its entirety, as well as the "Mantra" at the end) has been used also as a protective talisman or magical formula by people who did not understanding the content beyond the "power" said to be there. It is like people who don't read the Lotus Sutra or the Bible or Koran, and just carry a copy for protection.

    However, if one reads the Heart Sutra itself, it clearly states that ...



    In other words ... PRAJNA PARAMITA (the Perfection of Wisdom, i.e., Emptiness) is the mantra, the saving Truth, not the words at the end which just proclaim the outcome of Wisdom. ... Simple as that.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    That’s interesting, the text I’m working with translates it differently. “Therefore
    we proclaim the prajna paramita mantra, the mantra that
    says: "Gate Gate ● Paragate Parasamgate ● Bodhi Svaha,” indicating the mantra is gate, gate, not the state of prajna paramita. I certainly like your version better, as it indicates the mantra is the state.

    Shinshou (Dan)
    Sat today


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Jishin View Post
    Hi,

    My supreme mantra is Diet Coke, Diet Coke, Diet Coke. It works great. Whenever in distress I chant it. Sometimes I also chant five o’clock, five o’clock, five o’clock on a tough day and this mantra also works great on some days.

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_
    When I worked inpatient cardiology, my mantra was for years “every minute is a minute closer [to quitting time].” It was comforting knowing that time was always running toward clocking out, never running away from it.

    Shinshou (Dan)
    Sat today


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

  8. #8

    Supreme mantra?

    Thanks for the question Shinshou and the reminder discussion, Jundo! I actually love the mantra and I do chant it... thinking “already gone beyond” has an infinite and peaceful depth that lends so much equanimity for me. No need to chant about five o’clock, it’s already five o’clock!

    At ZMM they used to chant it together as a Sangha before work practice, perhaps to remember it during whatever difficult situations might arise while working. They have replaced it with something a little longer though.

    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  9. #9
    Hi,

    Mantras do this:

    Thought substitution and thought blocking. There is nothing magic about them. Ultimately they have the butterfly effect and they benefit all. Anything else is superstition. The mantra “Diet Coke” works just as well as the Heart Sutra Mantra. Thought blocking and it replaces it with a positive thought. I personally like Diet Coke more than the Heart Sutra when thirsty.

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Shinshou View Post
    That’s interesting, the text I’m working with translates it differently. “Therefore
    we proclaim the prajna paramita mantra, the mantra that
    says: "Gate Gate ● Paragate Parasamgate ● Bodhi Svaha,” indicating the mantra is gate, gate, not the state of prajna paramita. I certainly like your version better, as it indicates the mantra is the state.
    The Chinese is ambiguous, and can be taken either way.

    The Soto shu version says, for example:

    Therefore, know the prajna paramita as
    the great miraculous mantra, the great bright mantra,
    the supreme mantra, the incomparable mantra, which
    removes all suffering and is true, not false. Therefore
    we proclaim the prajna paramita mantra, the mantra that
    says: "Gate Gate ● Paragate Parasamgate ● Bodhi
    Svaha.”
    However, Bernie Glassman and many of the White Plum teachers (my mentor is White Plum, and that is where ours comes from) use a version basically the same as ours ...

    Therefore know that Prajna Paramita is
    The holy mantra, the luminous mantra
    The supreme mantra, the incomparable mantra
    By which all suffering is cleared. This is no other than truth.
    Therefore set forth the Prajna Paramita mantra,
    Set forth this mantra and proclaim:
    Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha!
    https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=...20gate&f=false

    Remember that these are all translations into English from the original Chinese (it was most likely created in China, although inspired by some longer Sutras from india), So, all the translations could be right, as the Chinese is open to interpretation.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-10-2019 at 03:47 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  11. #11
    Jundo - I've been chanting it for years but had never considered the fact that 'Prajna Paramita' was the actual mantra!

    Thanks for pointing that out.

    Gassho,

    Neil

    ST/LaH

  12. #12
    Hi Shinshou

    I would agree with the position that mantras only have as much magic and significance as we give them. However, studies have shown that people who are given a 'spiritual' word, phrase or object to meditate on experience a deeper practice than those who are given something more mundane. It is as if the human brain is hardwired for some kind of religiosity.

    My own experience is that reciting mantras cuts through what some Buddhist teachers have called 'unconscious chatter' (basically the kind of random thoughts that run around own brains). I use them to deal with the worse parts of illness. they cushion against pain. Similarly to the studies, I find that mantras from the Buddhist tradition work better for me than any random word or phrase.

    In Tibetan Buddhism, the prajnaparamita mantra is recited if there is a need to dispose of dharma books or objects. They are generally destroyed by fire or in some other way and the mantra is used to convey their inherent emptiness and return to their costituent parts.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post
    Hi Shinshou

    I would agree with the position that mantras only have as much magic and significance as we give them. However, studies have shown that people who are given a 'spiritual' word, phrase or object to meditate on experience a deeper practice than those who are given something more mundane. It is as if the human brain is hardwired for some kind of religiosity.

    My own experience is that reciting mantras cuts through what some Buddhist teachers have called 'unconscious chatter' (basically the kind of random thoughts that run around own brains). I use them to deal with the worse parts of illness. they cushion against pain. Similarly to the studies, I find that mantras from the Buddhist tradition work better for me than any random word or phrase.
    I use the nembutsu for exactly the same purpose: to stop my monkey mind and reconnect with the reality right here and now. Especially when I’m working or cleaning the house.
    Glad to know I’m not that weird. Thank you, Kokuu.
    Gassho ,
    Mateu
    Sat/LAH

  14. #14
    I use the nembutsu for exactly the same purpose: to stop my monkey mind and reconnect with the reality right here and now. Especially when I’m working or cleaning the house.
    Glad to know I’m not that weird.
    Well, we might both be!

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday/lah-
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post
    Hi Shinshou

    I would agree with the position that mantras only have as much magic and significance as we give them. However, studies have shown that people who are given a 'spiritual' word, phrase or object to meditate on experience a deeper practice than those who are given something more mundane. It is as if the human brain is hardwired for some kind of religiosity.

    My own experience is that reciting mantras cuts through what some Buddhist teachers have called 'unconscious chatter' (basically the kind of random thoughts that run around own brains). I use them to deal with the worse parts of illness. they cushion against pain. Similarly to the studies, I find that mantras from the Buddhist tradition work better for me than any random word or phrase.

    In Tibetan Buddhism, the prajnaparamita mantra is recited if there is a need to dispose of dharma books or objects. They are generally destroyed by fire or in some other way and the mantra is used to convey their inherent emptiness and return to their costituent parts.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    I very much agree with this, even if it is just psychological and not "magic" (maybe they are not different?)

    Lighting an incense stick and candle on an Altar with a statue of Buddha does something to "re-Mind" the heart that this is a special place and moment which is different from turning on a flashlight in front of a picture of movie star Tom Hanks or a pick-up truck. Bowing 3x is not being sick in bed. Likewise, for some people, putting on a robe helps them get in the "right state of mind" more than jeans and a t-shirt, and a Gregorian Chant or Buddhist Chant is not listening to 80's pop music like our monk friend, Kakunen ..

    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...6872-Break-out

    There are studies on effects of sound to the heart and mind. Here is one, although I am no expert ...

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5223166/

    That said, in fact ... EVERY MOMENT IS SACRED! There is absolutely no difference between candle and incense stick in front of an Altar and a flashlight in a pick-up truck drinking a coke in front of Tom Hanks,or bowing and being sick in bed. Understand? The "Gate Gate ... " and the "Diet Coke, Diet Coke ... " are each magical.

    However, human beings forget this fact, thus we sit Zazen and maybe chant the Heart Sutra. This helps us remember. After Zazen and chanting, we get up and ride in our truck while drinking a coke. or are sick in bed ... also Zazen and Sacred. Understand? Not the slightest gap.

    As Kakunen says, 80's pop music is a Gregorian Chant is the Nembutsu is the Heart Sutra!

    Gassho, J

    STLAH

    PS - Most sacred chant is not "Diet Coke, Diet Coke ... " but "Pepsi Pepsi Pepsi" (you have to be American of a certain age to get the joke ) ...

    Last edited by Jundo; 04-11-2019 at 02:17 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  16. #16

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    I very much agree with this, even if it is just psychological and not "magic" (maybe they are not different?)
    Ten years of studying western mystery traditions and occultism led me to the conclusion that magic and psychology are indeed not different. Incidentally, that realization helped get me into Zen.
    Gassho
    Nick
    Satlah

    Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post
    Well, we might both be!

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday/lah-
    So it is...

    Mateus
    Sat today

  19. #19
    Hi Shinshou,

    Some Sutras like Prajnaparamita, Lotus Sutra or the Sanghata Sutra have self referencing words about their own power. In the Heart Sutra the Sutra itself tells us that it is the Supreme Mantra.

    I am not an expert in Sutras or anything, but my guess is that these kind of phrases were coined to make people understand how important reciting a Sutra could be for the prectitioner's life.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Sat/LAH
    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  20. #20
    Treeleaf Unsui Geika's Avatar
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    I used to practice with mantras. I had memorized dozens of them. This was around 10 years ago. Now I know that I can chant any word or phrase and get the same result, which is a less distracted monkey mind... and in the end I just sit and drop all the chatter.

    Sat today, lah
    求道芸化 Kyudo Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

  21. #21
    I find mantras useful sometimes. For me, when the ole brain is intolerably noisy, mantras can act like a white noise machine. I'll also repeat a few lines from time to time before sitting, just as an extra signal to myself "hey we're doing this now!"
    Gassho
    Nick
    Satlah

    Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk

  22. #22
    I know mantras are outside of our zen practice and are woo woo and magical. But i have used the protection of green tara mantra to keep my from bursting into big boy tears (you know like when run out of ice cream) in a hospital waiting room.

    Sometimes a little magic can go a long way

    Om tare tu tare turre svaha!

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-J727AZ using Tapatalk
    --Washu
    和 Harmony
    秀 Excellence

    "Trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all over your body" George Carlin Roshi

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by threethirty View Post
    I know mantras are outside of our zen practice and are woo woo and magical. But i have used the protection of green tara mantra to keep my from bursting into big boy tears (you know like when run out of ice cream) in a hospital waiting room.

    Sometimes a little magic can go a long way

    Om tare tu tare turre svaha!
    That sounds like a fun one to bring a smile, and might also magically make an ice cream appear!

    This works good too ...



    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  24. #24


    Thank you all.

    SatToday
    流道
    Ryū Dou

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