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The Role of Chanting in Sino Esoteric Buddhism

Updated: Aug 1, 2022

There are many kinds of Buddhist meditative practices. Some key acts of such practices are meditation and chanting. They are a continuation of the teachings of the Buddha, in that they are both felt to bring peace and fulfillment. They help us wake up to lead happier lives.

Buddhists believe that a single life possesses vast and limitless potential; and the goal for meditation and chanting practices is to discover and actualize the full potential of the mind. In practice to achieve this goal, Buddhist meditation generally takes a simple object, which can be the breath, a mantra, a phrase, or an image. In guiding a meditation, techniques are offered to practice mindfulness and arouse awareness and concentration with the object, so that the oneness of body and mind and the oneness of life and its environment can be felt, and Buddhahood in a single lifetime and in our present form may be attained.

The use of Buddha images and pictures in visualization meditation helps arouses the sense of peaceful alertness, tranquility, reassurance, and stability you might have felt upon seeing a Buddha image. Chanting practice helps strengthen these qualities of balance and serene equanimity as well.

In the practice of Sino Esoteric Buddhism, The Three Vajras, also as “three esoterica” or “three mysteries” (Ch. sanmi), are a formulation within Vajrayana Buddhism that hold the full experience of the śūnyatā or emptiness of Buddha-nature, void of all qualities and marks and establish a sound experiential key upon the continuum of the path to enlightenment. They are considered as a single seminal component of the radical, ritual-oriented approach of Esoteric Buddhism by which a practitioner attains Buddhahood in this very body. In other words, the Three Vajras is a ritualized replication of the body, speech, and mind of the Buddha. Buddhist chants thus correspond to the speech and mind of the Guru and of the Buddha.

Chanting helps bring your awareness together and settles the mind to enter meditation. Just like meditation, chanting is a method of cultivating mindfulness and a tool for facilitating the mind-awakening process to help us realize enlightenment. In awakening from our delusions of the ego and separate selves, we would realize the changes in how we experience and perceive, and find the awakened wisdom and peace within us.


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