Introduction

Buddha
Buddha

1. Chanting in Buddhism can be classified into two main types according to tradition: i.e., Theravada and Mahayana. Theravada uses Pālī as the principal language, but Mahayana uses Sanskrit translated into the native language of each country.


The Purpose of chanting can be outlined as follows:
    1. To maintain the original tradition by reciting the Buddha's teachings
    2. To use chanting as part of the religious ceremonies and traditional rituals
    3. To strengthen the faith of newcomers to Buddhism
    4. To aid meditation
    5. To be a basis for Buddhist education and increase wisdom
    6. To build up inner strength of mind and to enhance the power of meditation
    7. To dispel wicked and inauspicious thoughts occurring in one's mind


Introduction, Page 1
Introduction, Page 1
2. The chanting of the Thai Theravada sect is further divided into two styles. In one the chanting uses the original Pālī, in the other a Thai translation. Those who chant for the purposes of "d" and "e" above may like to use the translation, comprising Dhamma discussion from the Buddha, verse from senior monks and verses from senior nuns.

Section 3 of this books consists of important suttas from the Tipitaka (The Buddhist Canon), such as the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta. (see Editor's Note)

Daily chanting in morning and evening chanting includes special prayers used in rotation each day:
  • The Paccavekkhana, which contains reflections on the four requisites: clothing, food, shelter and medicine
  • The Dedication of Merit
  • The Prayer of Loving Kindness
The present book contains some changes to these passages for clearer understanding and for easier chanting in English. The translations here are derived from other sources (see 3 below). Chanting in the original Pālī follows the old custom for the most part. Consequently, the kind of result a person achieves in his or her mind depends on the effort. If one pays enough attention while chanting, one will get a good result. Otherwise little benefit will be gained. Each individual has a specific purpose for chanting according to their beliefs and understanding. Some may chant to transform their minds from wicked thought to pious ones. Others may chant to their attitudes so that blessings can come into their lives. 

So why is chanting important for Buddhism? Chanting is important for a variety of reasons.

In the first place, it is a way in which the teachings of the Buddha are brought to mind. The chants represent a significant number of Buddhist texts that can teach as well as inspire. Chanting reinforces our commitment to the Buddhist way of life by redirecting our sense of purpose at the beginning ad end of the day.

Secondly, chanting is important because it effects the purification of the mind in two ways. Chanting purifies insofar as the words are a guide for banishing  evil from the mind and directing thoughts toward the true and the good. Thus chanting is not just a ritual but also a spiritual tool deriving its power from the truthfulness of the words. Moreover, regular chanting purifies the mind insofar as the repetitive action produces wholesome habits for the chanter. The chanter gains merit through his participation in a virtuous activity. Chanting was taught by the Buddha as a direct route to Enlightenment. In this regard, chanting can help develop the perfections of morality, resolution, truthfulness and generosity.


Introduction, Page 2
Introduction, Page 2

Thirdly, chanting serves to provide a kind of emotional relief from the troubles of daily life and contemporary society. In the way in which it can calm and focus the mind it is somewhat akin to the more powerful sitting meditation. Furthermore, group chanting not only provides emotional relief but also a sense of belonging and common purpose as the chanters together engage in the purification of their minds together. 

Fourthly, chanting is important because it is a way of paying respect to the Triple Gem: The Buddha, The Dhamma and The Sangha -- The Enlightened One, The Path to Enlightenment and The Community of Monks. For instance, it is out of respect and humility that we fold our hands and bow three times: first to the image of the Buddha, then to the Dhamma and finally to the Sangha. 

In another respect chanting is now something that is intrinsic to every ritual or ceremony performed by Theravada monks on auspicious or inauspicious occasions. Above and beyond the aims of the aims of the Buddha Dhamma. Nowadays it is very popular to chant.

3.  The first part of this Pālī-English chanting book is a collection of various passages written by different scholars specializing in Pālī for the use of the Theravada sect. These passages are not the Buddha's own words. The sources of the passages are as shown in Appendix 1: Reference Books section.

4. The original reason for producing this English-Pali chanting book was the need of the Thai missionary monks abroad, especially in the U.S.A., to fulfil their duties regarding the propagation of the Theravada Buddhist teaching. As a priority apart from meditating, they are required to be able to communicate in English with members of the non-Thai community. Initially, only Thai translations of the Pālī were used. They produced these texts from the old books and altered them to suit the needs of each temple. However, not all temples used translations, even those into Thai. Besides, contents and styles varied from temple to temple as each sought to develop the chants in the best possible fashion.

5. The compilers, with long experience in chanting, carefully arranged the passages in the book according to the occasion as follows:

  1. Section 1 begins with morning chants comprised of passages revering the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha. It is followed by passages for reflection at the moment of using the four requisites, for the dedication and transferring of merit, and for sharing loving kindness. Altogether ten passages suitable for the morning period are included.
  2. Section 2  contains evening chants, fifteen passages in all. More  time is available in the evening because all the daily business is finished and the chanting period can be extended. Thus a variety of passages to be chanted can be selected, including the discourse on the benefits of loving kindness and verses on sharing blessings. If time is limited, different passages can be chosen each day. It is not necessary to do all the chanting in one evening.
  3. Section 3 contains special chants used as tools for meditation to help to understand the purpose of meditation practice and to gain confidence to continue with it. The chants originally came from the Wat Suan Mokkha Phalaram, the forest temple in Surat Thani in southern Thailand founded by Bhikku Buddhasdāsa.
  4. Section 4 contains how to practice meditation for beginners. 
Bhikkus



Editor's Note:

Parts of the original text have been omitted, changed or corrected. Omitted parts refer to sections that do not exist or exist but are labelled differently.  Changed text is for clarity. Corrected text is favoring grammar, spelling or modern style. 

As there are errors in this text it should not be disregarded! The content is extremely important and practical. We will work to make the English of this text correct and simple to understand. The Pālī has been well preserved and is correct.

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