English | Vietnamese
September 19, 1973, Wednesday evening
On Reciting and Chanting
Ven. Master Hsuan Hua
When Dharma Master Huiseng is teaching you, allow him to speak and listen to what he says. Pay attention to how he explains the lesson. Yesterday you all studied the Flower Adornment (Avatamsaka) Syllabary and practiced chanting parts of it. What do you think of it? Bring up your opinions and we will investigate them together.
Every day I hear you reciting the Buddha’s name quite stiffly, in a most constrained way. It’s not very lively. The sound from your recitation of the Buddha’s name should be unconstrained and unimpeded, not as if tied up with a rope and unable to get free. Set it free. The sound should resemble flowing water that nothing can stop, and wind that rustles the grass and flowers, trees and shrubs as it blows.
As people chant, they should feel blissful and elevated, as if they had become spiritual immortals. They should recite the Buddha’s name in such a way that the Buddha appears before them. That’s how it should be, not stiff and dead with no resonance to the sound. It’s fine for the recitation to be somewhat slow, but it shouldn’t sound dull and lifeless. I’ve wanted to mention this for a long time, but up to now I haven’t said anything. Also, you are not reciting with one sound; each person has his or her own sound. Although we have different mouths, we should recite with one voice.
You should not sound as if you cannot set your sound free. That way it becomes very constrained. During the recitation of the Buddha’s name, whether you are a monastic or a layperson, you should recite out loud and join in the recitation. You shouldn’t just be silent and listen to others recite. All of you should recite the Buddha’s name with a single mind and produce a single sound. Then it will be easy to obtain the Samadhi of Buddha Recitation.
Timely Teachings, page 361.