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8 years ago  ::  Apr 26, 2010 - 1:01PM #1
Posts: 1

Is it essential for  for the language of chanting practices to be in the original source Tibetan language?

What obstacles do chanting practices in the practitioners native language represent?

Conversely, might chanting in the practitioners native language be of more skillful means than the source language "mantra" practice?

I presume that the source Tibetan text usually pays semantic homage to the outer meaning.

However, I notice that in most study guides, that the inner and ultimate meanings are provided in English for an increasingly English audience.

Wouldn't the presumed benefit of Tibetan apply to these meanings as well, and wouldn't one expect to be given those in Tibetan as well?

I find myself attracted to chanting the ultimate meaning in my native language of English, and if the above questions are not getting at this point, then I ask for your comment on this arising intention?

Or will you take the short route out of this debate and simply say "the vajra master said..." and disengage from the discussion?


Sopa Cholu

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8 years ago  ::  May 11, 2010 - 10:24AM #2
Posts: 595

Buddha's wisdom is always addressing itself to the times and peoples capacity to grasp the true intent. That said, all of Buddha's merit and wisdom are stored in the three Jewels.  These are the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. It is not surprising however that there is much contraversy "down in the saha world" surrounding the true meaning and source of these three "dharmas".  As you know at the time just before the Buddha's physical death Ananda, in expressing the consternation of all disciples, asked the Buddha where to find the source of authority upon the Buddha's passing. The Buddha replied that the truth is to be found in both the pure Law of the Buddha's teachings and within the pure heart of each person. Therefore the teachings which uncover the heart of hearts, the heart that beats in rhythm with the perfect truth, this is the true source of Buddha's wisdom. 

While the Buddha's truths are based on wisdom it is difficult for the unawakened to recognize that which is truly and purely universal.  Therefore the Buddha said we should substitute faith for wisdom and make faith the basis of practice. Therefore applying earnest faith will guide us from that which is corrupted to that which is truly true.  You may move from teacher to teacher or you may find the right teacher quickly.

Since Buddhism derives from Asian countries it is not surprising that the most qualified teachers are possibly of Asian descent at this time. Even western teachers today can trace their own training within one generation to an Asian source. Some teachers who are now teaching in the west have decided to translate the traditional sutra recitals into English or other western languages. 

Like I said in the final analysis it all comes down to faith, practice and study. In my own view those western teachers who remain true to their original training, whether Asian or Western, learned to recite the sutras in the language of the great masters who taught them.  

For example, the Nichiren school recites the Lotus Sutra and the Great Title in the language of the Chinese masters who are credited with uncovering the complex meaning of the Mahayana sutras. Why do the Japanese credit the Chinese Masters over the Indian teachers? The Buddhism that was transmitted from India to China displayed many different views and perspectives. The Chinese of the time were already a very ancient and relatively stable culture and civilization with a highly disciplined and organized intellectual bureaucracy. Yet they still took over 500 years of debate before they came to settle upon the Lotus Sutra as the highest expression of the Buddha's true intentions. This entire system was transmitted to Japan. Therefore the Japanese came to practice the Mahayana Buddhism in the Chinese language devised by the Chinese masters.

Those of us who have inherited this system of ideas through the Japanese Nichiren school remain comfortable with the universal quality of the meanings expressed in these Chinese translations of the teachiings and therefore consider the traditional Chinese language medium (albeit with a Japanese phonic accent) to be an expression of ultimate truth whose true meanings are best preserved within the Sino-Japanese tradition itself. Therefore we practice them in the "sound system"  of the great Japanese master Nichiren in the spirit of faith.  

But there are also some Nichiren schools who have decided to translate the sutra recitation into English.  It therefore appears to me that it depends upon the character and view of the school and the philosophical stance of the tradition in question.

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8 years ago  ::  May 30, 2010 - 2:32AM #3
Posts: 167

Like Etoro said. In addition, I found it particularly comforting to visit a meeting in Cambodia and find the daimoku chant, "Nam Myoho Renge Kyo", and the Sutra chant to sound exactly like they would sound in my country of origin, America. That lent a certain universality to the practice that cannot be achieved by any other means.



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8 years ago  ::  Jun 04, 2010 - 5:30AM #4
Posts: 14,245

I was dragged through a European religion. If anyone could understand a word of the liturgy, it wasn't holy enough!

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