When you go to a temple to pray to Buddha, you must have encountered many Buddhists reciting sutras with the same sound and melody. Is this an important practice in Buddhism? And why should Buddhists recite sutras? Let’s learn about this topic with Lotus Buddhas!
“The purpose of reciting sutras in Buddhism is not to recite one’s lesson with the Buddha, but to learn exactly what the Buddha taught and then apply it to daily life.” Venerable Thich Nhat Tu shared
The Meaning of Reciting Sutras
Buddhist sutras are the Buddha’s teachings on ethics and practice methods to transform body and mind, bringing happiness to oneself and others in this life and the next, so the recitation of sutras has great moral significance.
Reciting sutras first and foremost is to “understand correctly the Buddha’s teachings, apply them in daily life, and benefit ourselves and others.”
Reciting is the best opportunity for us to learn, reflect on the Buddha’s teachings and apply them to our daily lives. It is the application of the Buddha’s teachings, after a process of thought and experience, that helps us to achieve what we want in life, such as peace and happiness.
The recitation of the sutra itself has no merit at all, if the person who recites and chants does not pay attention to the sutras to find out the meaning of the path hidden in it. The forms and habits of chanting the sutras like a machine, obviously bring no practical results, on the contrary, waste time and effort without any benefit.
The Buddhist scriptures are the map, the guideline to guide us to live the righteous life, to reap the results of happiness in this life and the next. Read the map to know the way, to stay on the right path, to reach the right destination.
That path is the right path consisting of eight elements (The Noble Eightfold Path):
- Right view (Samma ditthi)
- Right thought (Samma sankappa)
- Right speech (Samma vaca)
- Right action (Samma kammanta)
- Right livelihood (Samma ajiva)
- Right effort (Samma Vayama)
- Right mindfulness (Samma sati)
- Right concentration (Samma samadhi)
This is the path that the Buddhas have walked, eliminating the root of suffering, achieving peace and liberation. Buddhists need to diligently practice and remember, apply that middle path to save themselves, through the guidance of the Buddha in the sutras.
In other words, reciting sutras is a way to learn the Buddha’s righteous dharma to apply the right dharma to life, to bring peace and happiness to oneself.
Chanting sutras in Buddhism is also a good opportunity to help us cultivate and develop the three pure and peaceful karmas. During the moment of chanting, by focusing solely on the sutras, our mind ceases to cling to worldly conditions. Our mind thus becomes peaceful and pure.
Our mind is far away from harmful mentality such as greed, anger, delusion and other negative psychology, which is harmful to our mind, emotions, personality and morality.
In the sitting motionless posture to recite sutras, our body is gradually becoming calm and pure, so that we avoid all the evil actions of the body such as killing, stealing, sexual misconduct.
In addition, due to oral recitation of sutras, negative speech such as lying, cruelty, adding or subtracting, and talking nonsense have no chance to develop. When we recite sutras, our mouths speak with words of wisdom and morality, so that we have the opportunity to cultivate good seeds.
Thus, in the act of reciting the sutras, we are separated from the ten evil karmas, the three of the mind, the three of the body, and the four of the words. In other words, while chanting we have trained our three karmas on the honest and virtuous path. That training helps us to stay away from bad karma and accumulate good things. Sutra recitation has thus become a Buddhist practice of body, speech and mind.
The purpose of reciting sutras in Buddhism is not to recite one’s lesson with the Buddha, but to learn exactly what the Buddha taught and then apply it to daily life.
Chanting sutras is not to pray to Buddha and Bodhisattva to protect themselves, their families and relatives from accidents, get promoted, prosper in business, increase their lifespan, and fulfill all their wishes.
Reciting sutras is also not a purchase or exchange of health, wealth, wealth and blessings. Recite sutras to cultivate the three pure karmas, develop virtuous actions, live a virtuous, selfless life, so that oneself and others can be peaceful and happy.
To do so, when chanting sutras, Buddhists must be sincere, direct their mind to the content of the sutras, inscribe the Buddha’s teachings deeply, apply them to each specific case of life, to overcome suffering, and uproot them. The root of suffering is greed, hatred and delusion.
Such recitation of sutras is a practice: abandoning evil and doing good, a peaceful three-karma, developing the good qualities in each of us. Reciting sutras has so many benefits, so Buddhists must diligently recite the Buddha’s teachings every day.
How to Recite Sutras in Buddhism
The method of reciting sutras in Buddhism is somewhat different depending on the tradition. In Theravada Buddhism, the recitation of sutras is simply the repetition of the Buddha’s teachings, in order to remember his teachings more deeply and to apply them to life when the right conditions arise.
In Mahayana Buddhism, recitation of sutras has become a proper ritual and ceremony, with the support of dharma instruments and musical instruments, such as bells, mules, drums,… chanting in many places has become a music ceremony with melodious tones, causing a lot of good inspiration in listeners.
Whatever tradition you follow, the important point that you must pay attention to is chanting in order to understand and apply the Buddha’s teachings in your life. Therefore, while reciting, you should not let the technique of chanting become the mainstay of the course, although this technique can help both the reciter and the listener to ease into peace and generate faith.
The content and ideas of the sutras are the ‘most essential’ part that we need to pay close attention to before we can fully comprehend it. Therefore, focusing only on the ‘recitation techniques’ without grasping the meaning of the sutras can result in futile and time-consuming recitation.
The correct way of reciting the sutras is that the chanter must fully focus on the meaning of the sutra, think and associate about that meaning, in order to understand the Buddha’s teachings, and then apply that understanding in daily life.
It is the application of sutras to life that really brings blessings, peace and liberation to us. Therefore, we should not only chant with our mouths, but also with our minds.
By chanting with the mind, we can avoid the attitude of chanting such as to answer a lesson to the Buddha or like a repeater, which only makes the sound of the Dharma but does not generate true faith as well as understanding and attitude, determination to practice the Dharma.
Reciting with the mind, as soon as we chant, we are dwelling in every moment of the state of Samadhi and this is the foundation for wisdom and liberation to arise. Thus, in an act of chanting with the mind, the three states of Discipline – Meditation – Wisdom can be achieved through a sincere attitude when practicing.
In short, reciting sutras is not a way to pray for blessings, but an opportunity to cultivate the three karmas for purity and happiness. Chanting is not a prayer or begging session, but time when we should focus, listen, and think about the Buddha’s teachings, to apply them to our daily lives.
Reciting the sutras is also a way to learn the true Dharma, to generate true faith in the Buddha’s teachings. Recite sutras to plant the seeds of compassion and wisdom in the mind, to reap the fruits of peace and happiness in the present and future, for oneself and for others.
Reciting sutras has so many positive moral meanings. As a Buddhist, one should diligently read and recite sutras so that the Buddha’s message of compassion and wisdom shines everywhere. The above article has provided full information about reciting sutras in Buddhism. Hope this information can help you better understand the amazing benefits of this practice.