Chanting meditation means keeping a not-moving mind and perceiving the sound of your own voice. Perceiving your voice means perceiving your true self or true nature. Then you and the sound are never separate, which means that you and the whole universe are never separate. Thus, to perceive our true nature is to perceive universal substance. With regular chanting, our sense of being centered gets stronger and stronger. When we are strongly centered, we can control our feelings, and thus our condition and situation.

In  our  Zen  centers,  people  live  together  and  practice together.  At  first,  people  come  with  strong  opinions,  strong likes and dislikes. For many people, chanting meditation is not easy: much confused thinking, many likes, many dislikes and so  on.  However,  when  we  do  chanting  meditation  correctly, perceiving the sound of our own voice and the voices all around us, our minds become clear. In clear mind, there is no like or dislike, only the sound of the voice. Ultimately, we learn that chanting meditation is not for our personal pleasure, to give us good feeling, but to make our direction clear. Our direction is to become clear and get enlightened, in order to save all beings from suffering.

So when you are chanting, you must perceive the sound of your voice: you and the universe have already become one, suffering  disappears,  true  happiness  appears. 
This  is  called Nirvana. 
If  you  keep  Nirvana,  your  mind  is  clear  like  space.
Clear  like  space  means  clear  like  a  mirror. 
Red  comes,  red. White comes, white.
Someone is happy; I am happy.
Someone is sad; I am sad.
Someone is hungry; give them food.
The name for this is great love, great compassion, the great Bodhisattva way.

That also means great wisdom. This is chanting meditation, chanting Zen.

One famous Zen Master only heard the sound of a rooster crowing and was enlightened. Another Zen Master was just sweeping  the  yard  when  his  broom  threw  a  rock  against  a piece of bamboo with a loud knock and he was enlightened.

He and the sound had become one. So this matter of sound in Zen practice is really very simple. Any sound will do. What’s important  is  to  perceive  the  sound  and  become  one  with  it, without separation, without making “I” and “sound.” At the moment of true perceiving, there is no thought, no separation, only  perceiving  sound.  This  is  the  crucial  point.  So  during chanting time, perceive yourown  voice and the voices of others, just perceive this bell or drum sound, and cut off all thinking.

Then your wisdom-mind will grow, you will get enlightenment, and thus save all beings.

Zen Master Seung Sahn


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