Why do Monks/Bhikshus have to Chant early in the morning?

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Why do Monks/Bhikshus have to Chant early in the morning?

Postby Buddhist Prime » Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:24 pm

Why can't they just wake up when they want to and concentrate on doing meditations?
What does the Chanting and Prostrations do?
I see it as meaningless rituals that accomplishes nothing.

I would like to reference the Kalama Sutra when speaking of the above.

In the Kalama Sutra, Buddha says.
Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it..
Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.
Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.

But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and
is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.
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Re: Why do Monks/Bhikshus have to Chant early in the morning?

Postby Ferox » Tue Mar 20, 2012 11:43 pm

those more knowledgeable of these types of things will respond hopefully, but I will state that chanting is not really a ritual in that it has little apparent use or helpfulness(like holywater, candles, incense etc). The things they chant are remembering the dhamma and how to live the homeless life. recollecting the true nature of the food they eat and such things like this. as for the " early in the morning" part.. I suppose it is just tradition, but there also could be a good reason behind it.

in Theravada prostrations are not used as a long ritual or practice, you do the prostration a pon entering and exiting dhamma halls when you are going to do a talk or meditate etc. It is a recollection and taking refuge in the triple gem of Buddha, dhamma, sangha. This is something that can be seen as a waste of time for many who do not fully understand or grasp the reason for the refuge and I often advise people not to even bother doing so if its just because everyone else is doing it etc. I don't even bow each and every time I go in and out anywhere, I have done my prostrations when in my heart I feel a true trust and appreciation for the triple gem.
-just one more being treading the ancient path of Dhamma-

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Re: Why do Monks/Bhikshus have to Chant early in the morning?

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Mar 20, 2012 11:56 pm

Buddhist Prime wrote:Why can't they just wake up when they want to and concentrate on doing meditations?
What does the Chanting and Prostrations do?
I see it as meaningless rituals that accomplishes nothing.

Have you tried?
well sleeping an appropriate amount, not excessive nor to little is advised by the Buddha
The Chanting is for recollecting the teachings, and useful to internalise them, they are done in pali so a personal understanding can be developed rather than one translators, who may of gotten the context out of place, or may not be in ones own first language.
the prostrations are a traditional form of respect, and humbling, as it is a physical action which reflect the intent of renunciation.
Have you tried doing these?
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Re: Why do Monks/Bhikshus have to Chant early in the morning?

Postby Buckwheat » Tue Mar 20, 2012 11:58 pm

You seem to be coming from the perspective of a person who does not like chanting. I rather enjoy chanting. :tongue:

I recently stayed at a monastery and we chanted only briefly at 5:30am, and longer at the meal (~8:30) and in the evening at 7:30. There was some bowing involved in each round of chanting. Overall, I felt the chanting served a few functional purposes. One, it was a good way to settle into the meditation period. It calms anxiety and shakes of dullness by the exercise of deep breathing, throat vibrations, and thinking about the chants (something relatively easy to stay focused on). Another purpose was a summary of the key dhamma concepts that one should use to counteract unwholesome states during and after the meditation period. Also, the two dharma talks per day that started the meditation sessions were focused on meditative technique and how to apply dhamma to meditation. This was a great and constant reminder of what the priorities should be during meditation. the morning combo of a few minutes chanting, 10-15 min dharma talk, and hour of meditation really seemed to wake me up a whole lot better than a cup of coffee. It seemed functional on several levels.

There is a fine line between routine and ritual. Routine in my mind is a persistent effort toward a worthy goal. Ritual is a waste of time. I would consider the monastic approach to be heavy on routine.

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Re: Why do Monks/Bhikshus have to Chant early in the morning?

Postby Goofaholix » Wed Mar 21, 2012 12:01 am

Buddhist Prime wrote:Why can't they just wake up when they want to and concentrate on doing meditations?
What does the Chanting and Prostrations do?
I see it as meaningless rituals that accomplishes nothing.


Who says they have to? perhaps they want to.

In most monasteries I've stayed in it's usually meditation and toiletries first thing, and or followed by alms round. Chanting is occasional or not at all.

Chanting and prostartions are a form of meditation, perhaps you think meditation is meaningless rituals that accomplishes nothing.
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Re: Why do Monks/Bhikshus have to Chant early in the morning?

Postby Buckwheat » Wed Mar 21, 2012 12:06 am

Also, when I was at the monastery, only a few junior monks led the morning sessions. Most of the monks just did their own thing in their Kuti. Everybody showed up at mealtime and in the evening.
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Re: Why do Monks/Bhikshus have to Chant early in the morning?

Postby Terasi » Wed Mar 28, 2012 11:04 am

Ferox wrote:in Theravada prostrations are not used as a long ritual or practice, you do the prostration a pon entering and exiting dhamma halls when you are going to do a talk or meditate etc.


I watched a monk in Youtube saying that observing our bodily movement while prostrating is a good preliminary exercise for meditation or mindfulness practice, or something like that. Whenever I prostrate in front of the Buddha rupang, I try to notice my posture, my back bending, my arms shooting up, touching forehead, etc, and it does help with concentration.

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Re: Why do Monks/Bhikshus have to Chant early in the morning?

Postby cooran » Wed Mar 28, 2012 8:15 pm

Hello all,

This might be of interest:

The Practice of Chanting in Buddhism - Bhikkhu Dhammasami

Chanting is very common to any religion. Buddhism is no exception in this regard. However, the aim and purpose of chanting is different from one religion to another. Buddhism is unique in that it does not consider chanting to be prayer.
The Buddha in many ways has shown us to have confidence in our own action and its results, and thereby encouraged us to depend on no one but ourselves. This in fact is the sum and substance of His last message in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta. One of the passages in this discourse reads: "Ananda, be dependent on yourself, take refuge in yourself and not in others, by this mean be dependent on the Dhamma, go for refuge to the Dhamma -- the righteous principles".
When a Buddhist does chanting, he is not asking some one to save him from evil nor is he hoping to be given a place in heaven as a result after he dies. Instead, through chanting he may be learning, teaching, philosophising or re-memorising the discourse.
Actually, in the Anguttara Nikaya there are some discourses dealing with chanting like Dhammavihari Sutta. It mentions five categories of people who make use of the discourses.
The first one studies it just for the sake of study without putting it into practice or explaining it to others. He even does not reflect deeply on what he has studied. He is known as 'Pariyatti-bahulo' who is keen on studying it alone.
The second one preaches or teaches what he has learnt from the discourses but does not follow it himself. He is 'Pannyatti-bahulo' who is keen only on teaching.
The third one does chanting. He philosophises about the discourses, trying all the time to satisfy his philosophical thirst. He forgets to make use of as mode or life. He is called 'Vitakka-bahulo' who is eager only to indulge in philosophical aspects of the Suttas (Discourses).
The fourth one is the one who chants the discourses to make them last for a long time in his memory. He memorises and re-memorises. Nevertheless, he does not go further to follow it in daily life. He is 'Sajjhayaka-bahulo' who is enthusiastic only in memorising or chanting the teachings of the Buddha, He may even expect some magical power from chanting.
The fifth and last one is who studies the discourses, teaches them to others, reflects on their philosophical points, chants them regularly and above all actually practices it in daily life. He is the one the Buddha praises to be 'Dhammavihari' -- a practitioner of the Dhamma, which he has learnt from the discourses.
Having reflected on this Sutta, it is left to us to judge ourselves to which category we belong and why we study or chant the discourses.
I would like to dwell a bit more on chanting in general. This is, after all, an All-night Chanting ceremony. It is nothing but right for us to be fully convinced of what we are doing. Initially I did mention that Buddhism is unique because it does not consider chanting to be a form of prayer.
Then why do we, Buddhists, chant?
In the olden days, before there were sufficient support materials for study like books, translations and computers we had to memorise to learn a discourse. After we had learnt it, we still had to chant regularly to protect it and hand it down to future generations. If we did not recite it daily we might forget it and omit some part of it. The Anguttara Nikaya says that if the discourses are poorly maintained this will lead to the disappearance of the Sasana.[1] It was so important those days to memorise and chant it regularly. This must have definitely contributed in developing chanting practice. Chanting meant almost for the survival of the Dhamma itself.
Now we have sufficient support materials, why we should then be still chanting? Is there any more reason to do this?
There are some reasons sufficient to continue chanting practice. Regular chanting gives us confidence, joy and satisfaction, and increases devotion within us. This devotion is really a power. It is called the Power of Devotion (Saddhabala). It energises our life in general. I do not know about the others. For me I often have a joyous feeling when the chanting goes right. I become more confident of myself. I see it as a part of developing devotion.
In Buddhist monastic education tradition, chanting and learning by heart still forms a part of it. We study some of the Theravada Abhidhamma texts -- the highest teachings of the Buddha which deal with the ultimate nature of things -- in that way in Burma. We are explained the meaning and how the logic develops in the Abhidhamma. In the night we try to chant without having learnt it by heart. We could do it because of the technique. It is known as evening-class (nya-war) over there. It means a certain technique of studying the Abhidhamma and some of the Suttas. It is very helpful as it helps you to reflect very quickly.
When we examine the nature of the discourses, the reasons for chanting will become clearer to us than ever.

THE NATURE OF THE DISCOURSES
A Sutta (Discourse) like Mangala Sutta was an answer to the Deva who asked the Lord Buddha about the real progress in social, economic and spiritual life. It is the vision of the Buddha on those issues as much as his advice to all of us who genuinely want those progresses in social and spiritual life. It is some thing that we should follow throughout our life starting from childhood to the day we take our last breath. Most of the Suttas are of this nature. They are descriptions as well as prescriptions for the common diseases like Lobha, Dosa and Moha (Greed, Hatred and Delusion).
Another nature of the discourses is protection or healing. Ratana Sutta is one of the best-known examples here. It was first taught to Venerable Ananda who in turn chanted in Vaisali to ward off all the evils and famine the people were then facing. Angulimala Sutta also falls into this category as it relieves the pains and trouble of a would-be mother. Mahasamaya Sutta and Atanatiya Sutta come under the same category because they emphasise much on protection and healing. Remember that Venerable Ananda and Venerable Angulimala did cultivate love and compassion before they chanted the discourse for this particular kind of blessing.
The three Bojjhanga Suttas [2] (Maha Kassapa/Moggallana/Cunda) [3] have been in common use to help relieve the suffering of a patient. This is the third nature of the discourses I am trying to understand and reflect.
Even the Buddha asked Venerable Cunda to chant this Bojjhanga Sutta when He was ill. He himself did the chanting of the Bojjhanga Sutta when his senior disciples, Venerable Maha Kassapa and Venerable Maha Moggallana, were sick. These are the kind of Suttas that have both instructions for meditation practice and healing power. Karaniyametta Sutta has these same natures: instruction for daily practice to develop our spiritual benefit and to ward off the evils.
In other words, Buddhist chanting serves as a reminder of the practice we need to follow in daily life. If we understand and learn how to do it properly, it is another type of meditation in itself. It is also at the same time a healing or blessing service.
The last benefit we may get from chanting discourses is meditative one. When we chant if we try to concentrate well on the chanting, our mind becomes contemplative, not wandering, not engaging in unwholesome thoughts. The late Venerable Dr. H. Saddhatissa Mahanayaka Thero, the founder of SIBC [4], has rightly remarked in his work [5] that almost all Buddhist practices are nothing else but some form of meditation./.
http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma2/chanting.html

Why do Buddhists chant?

The practice of chanting goes back to the days of the Buddha, when writing was not common. His teachings were memorised by monks in chant form and passed on. This was how the Buddha’s words were transmitted for several centuries. They were finally written down on ola (palm) leaves in the first century AD in Sri Lanka. The teachings are preserved in the ancient Pali language, which has many words that cannot be directly translated without losing the meaning.

The entire collection of teachings is known as the tipitaka (meaning three baskets) and comprise the vinaya pitaka (disciplinary rules for monks), sutta pitaka (discourses) and abhidhamma pitaka (higher teachings).

Chanting is done today as a form of veneration, to help purify the mind, and as a means of protection against undesirable events.
http://www.londonbuddhistvihara.org/qa/ ... practices4

Why do Buddhists chant?
It reminds one of the Dharma so that it is not forgotten; when meditation is not possible and when bare mindfulness does not give much consolation, it can be used to great advantage as an extension of meditation into words to produce calm, some peace within; and certainly, it expresses one’s strong confidence in the Dharma. Reciting the same chants day after day also has an advantage - the making of wholesome repetitive karma which of course will bear very good fruit.
http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/history/b_faqs.htm

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Chris
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Re: Why do Monks/Bhikshus have to Chant early in the morning?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Mar 29, 2012 5:03 am

Greetings,

Buddhist Prime wrote:What does the Chanting and Prostrations do? I see it as meaningless rituals that accomplishes nothing.

... and whilst you see it this way, it will remain without meaning and accomplish nothing.

Buddhist Prime wrote:Why can't they just wake up when they want to and concentrate on doing meditations?.

Recollection of the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha is an excellent way to cleanse the mind, inspire, and prepare it for the task ahead.

Without this, it would be very easy in the pre-dawn hours to be in a daze, drifting in and out of sleep, and building no momentum at all.

So tying that back to the Kalama Sutta you referenced...

after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Why do Monks/Bhikshus have to Chant early in the morning?

Postby dhammafriend » Thu Mar 29, 2012 11:53 am

Hi Buddhist Prime

You attitude seems to be based on a very bad translation of the Kalama Sutta. Please do some more research. There are many excellent translations by monks who have spent years studying Pali. Ven. Thanissaro & Ven Gunaratana for example.

Please do some research on this topic. I used to think like you many years ago, but was finally exposed to the views and research of practicing Buddhists (not just Western academics).

If you want to get close to what the Lord Buddha taught, seek that knowledge in the established living traditions that claim his lineage. Also, do you have access to a temple, monastery or centre? if not, do not assume that what you read about Buddhism is gospel.

PS: in the Kalama sutta the Lord Buddha asks us not to go by logic, reason and inference. But by what we experience. there is a difference. Stephen Batchelor uses logic, reason and inference and look where he ended up.

Yours in the Dhamma
Dhammafriend
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Re: Why do Monks/Bhikshus have to Chant early in the morning?

Postby fabianfred » Thu Mar 29, 2012 7:00 pm

Buddhist Prime wrote:Why can't they just wake up when they want to and concentrate on doing meditations?
What does the Chanting and Prostrations do?
I see it as meaningless rituals that accomplishes nothing.

I would like to reference the Kalama Sutra when speaking of the above.

In the Kalama Sutra, Buddha says.
Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it..
Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.
Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.

But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and
is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.


A bad understanding of the kalama sutta....
Buddha was explaining how to judge a teacher to the kalama people who were confused by many teachers teaching different things. Often Westerners who just want to do their own thing and not be restricted by precepts or other dhamma just use this bad type of traslation as an excuse to do what they want saying... 'Buddha said we could believe what we want and not take the teachings literally'...... especially prevalent amongst those who do not want to believe in karma and rebirth but still call themselves Buddha's followers.
Although excessive chanting is often is often done in Thailand, to the detriment of the real practice, meditation, a certain amount is still useful. ( At our temple this means half an hour to an hour chanting with only ten minutes meditation....aught to be the other way around IMHO.)
Our temple only practice morning chanting during the rains-retreat, and during that period the lay followers also attend the evening chanting. This brings them into the temple and cements the feeling of a community amongst all.
Chants to share metta and merits after meditation and other ways of merit-making are always useful.

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Re: Why do Monks/Bhikshus have to Chant early in the morning?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Mar 29, 2012 10:04 pm

Greetings,

And to follow on from the good venerable's words, there are many monestaries with different standards / schedules / practices.

This gives people an opportunity to find a "program" that works for them. There is no one size fits all.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)


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