Le Chant des Moines Bouddhistes | Bouddha Bouddhisme™

Why Buddhist Monks Chant?

The chant of Buddhist monks is the music of meditation rituals, relaxation, or public ceremonies. In Buddhist countries like Tibet, Nepal, India, Ladakh, China, Japan, Bhutan, Mongolia... traditional verses, texts, and stories of the Buddha, whether used in liturgies or other ceremonies, are generally recited in Pali, the language spoken by the Buddha.

Tibetan Buddhist Chanting Meditation and its Binaural Sound

As usual, the purpose of religious chanting is to make sounds pleasing to the ear of the Creator, out of love or fear for Him. But Buddhists are not constrained by such an idea because the ultimate goals are internal, to be attained through one's own efforts and not through the propitiation of an external power. Lord Buddha spoke in praise of silence and restraint, thus in preparing to be silent, restraint is employed in the chant of Buddhist monks.

Armed with cymbals, conch shells, bells, tambourines, and various instruments, the chant of Buddhist monks is capable of subduing even the most intrepid devil with a powerful voice that soothes the mind and body and promotes positive thinking in all circumstances.

Rules of Buddhist Chanting

Buddhist monks

The chant of Buddhist monks is practiced in groups, whether sitting indoors, dancing in the monastery courtyard, or in a private home. Monks wear special costumes and make hand gestures (mudras) embodying the divine being of the Buddha, while the instruments convey the music in song and rhythm. The group is formed under the careful supervision of older monks. Each recites the texts frequently until memorized. The chants are performed daily in the monastery meeting hall, where they serve as prayers to the deities for world peace and the personal development of practitioners.

The principles of Buddhist monks' chanting

The chant of Buddhist monks begins with a slowed rhythm, a low and deep voice is heard in a recitative chant, soon followed by other voices in unison, in the same tone, austere and deaf. Then, suddenly, this collective chant becomes "vocalized," introducing cadent syllables into the verses, and then a single deep, vibratory sound, long held, which subjugates and hypnotizes, above which emerges a diaphanous and ethereal harmony.

Most Popular Buddhist Chants

Buddhist monks' chant

During the performance, each instrumentalist or group must perform their part according to the rules set forth in notation manuals and/or oral tradition, with the most popular texts being:

  • Upajjhatthana (The Five Remembrances)
  • Mettabhavana (Loving-kindness Discourse)
  • Buddha bhivadana (Reverence to the Buddha)
  • Tisarana (The Three Jewels)
  • Gautama Buddha vandana (Salutation to the Buddha)
  • Dharma vandana (Salutation to His teaching)
  • Sangha vandana (Salutation to the community of noble disciples)
  • Pancasila (The Five Precepts)
  • Thai monks reciting sutras.

Why listen to Buddhist chants?

Buddhist chants

Although the chanting and pronunciation traditions of the Pali language vary somewhat from country to country, the spirit remains the same regarding the use of chants in the tradition. That is, the swift attainment of enlightenment through Tantras (meditations). Listening to this chant is an experience that must be lived throughout one's life.

If these chants are made with attention to their meaning, they are not without good results for both physical and mental well-being. Furthermore, they act as powerful incantations to focus the mind "which in the morning may still be asleep, or in the evening may be distracted by the day's events." These chants lead to focusing the mind by reciting the "Refuges and Precepts, Remembrances" and meditating. We can thus see that these actions are in line with that quality of the Dhamma which is the means of training the mind, speech, and body called "leading inwards" (or opanayiko).

A bridge between therapy and the spiritual dimension

The Buddhist monks' chants are a bridge between therapy and the spiritual dimension. This style of chanting with striking roughness, called in the West throat singing, is named in Mahayana Tibetan Buddhism the "roaring voice of the god of death," or the "roaring voice of the dzo," and can be somewhat daunting to an uninitiated listener.

However, deep listening will transform this apprehension into a transcendent and hallucinated fervor, once the humility of the "self" has been realized and the nothingness of all earthly life has been revealed.

A boost for concentration

Buddhist monk

Even when the "minds" are not concerned with sensual external stimulation and only with internal reflection, they will still be discursive with words, concepts, images, and feelings, etc. In the state of meditation, the Buddhist monks' chants attempt to eliminate these disturbances by focusing the mind on a subject that is non-discursive. This will lead to the "minds" being only healthy states (kusaladhamma) which tend towards concentration and peace.

The mental stream of the "minds" concerned with many unhealthy states (akusaladhamma - often fueled by sensory stimulation), polluted by greed, aversion, and delusion (lobha, dosa, moha), are non-concentrated. Impurities lead to mental disturbances, among which are distraction, boredom, drowsiness, lust, attachment, and aversion.

Conclusion on Buddhist chants

The absence of all impurities means the growth of a strong and healthy mind and therefore an increase in clarity and concentration. It is no longer the time to think about the past or the future. Even thoughts about the present must be set aside and follow the path of Lord Buddha to make the mind firm and unshakable. These frequencies resonate throughout our bodies, they are like light that makes our "vibratory" bodies shine. When these chants have been listened to once, they remain anchored in our memory and make it vibrate eternally. So the audience only has to inhale... exhale... inhale... and let themselves be overwhelmed by the positive aura that circulates.

Excerpt from the YouTube channel: DeveloppementPerso

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