Learning chants for formal meditation with weak saddhā, strong viriya?

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    • #18631

      My goal is twofold: 1) develop the habit of formal meditation sessions via chanting (not just watching the breath), 2) not to chant mechanically, but with understanding. I’ve an obstacle, though: if a Buddha were to measure my Five Faculties it’d probably look something like:

      As you can imagine, the overpowering Effort I’ve been blessed+cursed with is a great hindrance to just about every goal I try to pursue! I’m hoping for a much easier means than the pile of ideas I’ve been churning through for about an hour without getting anywhere (like editing the sound files from the chant pages so I have time to read the English translations over and over and over until I’ve generally memorized the meanings and THEN get to chanting — yeah, I always go overboard :( ).

    • #18632

      Hello Eirc,

      Yes. Your chart makes sense based on your accounts.

      You are making an intense effort. While one really needs to make an effort, too much of it can be a burden to the mind. Let me give an example from the Tipitaka.

      One time a musician by the name of Sona became a bhikkhu. He was trying very hard to get to magga phala, but could not make much progress. Eventually, he became discouraged and came to the Buddha to say that he was giving up and going to disrobe. He said, that he thought he just did not have enough wisdom to make it.

      But the Buddha could see that Sona was capable of becoming an Arahant. He also knew that Sona played the violin in his lay life. He asked Sona: “What would happen if you have the strings too right when you were playing the violin?’. Sona said that it would not yield the right sound. Then the Buddha asked: “What would happen if you have the strings too loose when you were playing the violin?’. Sona said that it would sound dull if the strings were too loose, and that he had to get them tightened “just right” to get proper sound.
      So the Buddha told Sona that he was trying too hard. That Sona should not totally give up, but must find a balance. Sona understood and went on to attain the Arahanthood.

      So, there is a danger of “burning out” if one tries too hard and become disappointed. Furthermore, some people say, “I will give 100% for such and such a time period and if that will not work I will give up”. Both those are wrong approaches.
      – One should find “the middle way”.

      When you can feel the mind “heating up”, take a break and may be listen to soothing music, read a novel, or listen to sutta chanting; whatever that makes you relax. Take a walk, or do some exercise. Mind can take in only so much at a time. In fact, it is a great idea to exercise whenever possible. This could be just me, but if I don’t exercise for a few days, I run out of energy and don’t feel good.
      – Whatever you do, don’t turn to loud music or video games. That will make it worse.

    • #18653

      Thank you for that; it’s good to be reminded to rein oneself in when “common sense” advice is to give it your all, for the best advice never seems to be common. :)

      As for exercise that’s also great advice; I ought to blow the dust off my stationary bike! There’s too much traffic and stop signs to get in really good cardio just biking to and from work anymore. That’ll also give me an extra push to get in more epsom salt baths like I should be doing anyway thanks to my acts-twice-its-age lower back pain. It’s all coming together.

      Soothing music would definitely be a great help when needed. Many of the mostly-loud bands I’ve taken a “noise detox” on per your advice (which is helping with being overexcited at home, now if only I could turn down the sound at work…) also have calm and slow tracks that I can re-introduce. There’s always myNoise.com, too.

      And then for chanting, to start off with I’ve edited some parts of the panca sila one: slowing down the more hard-to-pronounce parts (and speeding up the parts I’ve already memorized) so I can better follow along or just listen. Hopefully that’ll be a help in memorizing it so I can someday do it alone. :)

      Again, thank you.

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