Lotus Buddhism / FAQ / How Does Chanting Work?

How does chanting work?

Safwan Darshams

Chanting is using one’s voice in self-empowerment to experience the highest state of mind. 

It is a practice that harmonises the physical and mental aspects of the individual.

Rhythmic chanting self-optimises the flow of two physiological functions of breathing and rhythm of heartbeat - and it creates a feeling of harmony and lack of tension. 

One’s voice carries within its physical vibrations the mental aspect of meaning and emotions.  Through using one’s voice in chanting – the three elements of “body-mind-spirit” are integrated.

The practice of chanting is based on the belief that one has the capacity (or the potential) to achieve a higher state of mind and feelings: a state of deeper maturity, wisdom, compassion and warm heart.  This is the highest state in the spectrum of human nature, called the “enlightened-nature” or the “Buddhanature”. 

This state of life is encoded by the name: Myoho-Renge-Kyo”.

The Buddhanature features wisdom, compassion and the energy of empowerment. In order to access or reveal the Buddhanature, a certain way of practice is needed, and this practice is chanting.

Chanting is a conscious action, which resonates with the field of Buddhanature - residing in one’s subconscious mind.  The Buddhanature is the original energy of the Law of Life - encoded within the phrase of chanting: Nam Myo Ho Ren Ge Kyo (which is derived from the Lotus Sutra).

Nam encodes the desire and devotion of the individual to “be in harmony with” - MyohoRengeKyo - the natural Law of Life (the Law of Cause and Effect).

Literally, the phrase can be translated as Devotion to the Universal Law of Life.  In its background essence, the spirit of one’s chanting NamMyohoRengeKyo can be understood as :   I lead my life to wisdom, harmony and confidence.

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In effect of chanting one experiences:

  • the feeling of inner harmony (dissolving tension or anxiety),

  • thoughts expressing clarity of mind (focus on reason and beneficial solutions),

  • confidence or empowerment (capacity to act to transform reality).

This state of inner harmony, clarity of thinking and courage - constitutes the fuel necessary for correct action (aimed at realising one’s goals). 

Nichiren Buddhism describes chanting “as a solemn ceremony in which our lives commune with the universe. In Buddhism, this communion is described as the “fusion of reality and wisdom”.

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Chanting unifies the subjective individual with the objective reality:

The objective reality of life is the natural Law of Cause and Effect (MyohoRengeKyo).

The subjective wisdom of the individual is one’s desire for harmony and fusion (Nam) with this Law of reality (MyohoRengeKyo). 

Therefore, the expression of NamMyohoRengeKyo unifies the two elements of the “subjective desire” (of the individual) and the “objective truth” (of reality; the Law of Life).

Wholehearted chanting removes one’s psychological barriers of uncertainty and low self-esteem, and prevents the influence of negative forces of doubts, arrogance or inferiority - (that constitute a barrier before the emergence of the Buddhanature).  The energy of one’s lifeforce and wisdom (emerging from one’s Buddhanature) naturally blocks negative influences.

Chanting can be judged by its results.  To test its validity, the direct way is to set a certain goal to achieve (such as self-development, improving a work situation, a relationship…).  Through chanting for a set purpose - the emerging clarity of mind and empowerment provide the fuel for further action to realise the desired goal - giving thus the Actual Proof of its validity.