What is chanting?
Chanting is practiced for self-cultivation and as a service to the community. The rhythmic sounds of the chanting calm the mind, while the regular deep breathing strengthens and cleanses the body by exercising the diaphragm and allowing the internal organs to relax. One finishes a chanting session with renewed vigour and a calmer disposition. The Sutras chanted are Taoist, Buddhist and Confucian scriptures. Chanting is practiced for such reasons as health and longevity, protection from disasters, seeking forgiveness and relief from suffering for ourselves and others.
Do I need to know the Tai Chi set?
The Introduction to Chanting course is the starting point to learn Taoist meditation. It is highly recommended that one completes the Introduction to Tai Chi course prior to starting to learn the chanting techniques. The Tai Chi set is an excellent way to open the body so that the energy can circulate freely in the body. Tai Chi can help strengthen the body so that the chanting is not too uncomfortable. The best way to become aware of upcoming courses is to subscribe to the London Branch newsletter – The Plum Blossom News.
Introduction to Chanting Course
The meditation practice comes through the instruction passed to us by Mr. Moy Lin-shin and Mr. Mui Ming-to, with a focus on Quiet Cultivation. Participants will be given instruction on: Standing Meditation (Standing like a post – Zhan Zhuang); Walking Meditation (Jing Xing); Quiet Sitting (Sitting in silence – Jing Zuo); Sleeping Meditation; and Moving Meditation (Movement in stillness with Tai Chi). Each type of meditation has various postures that will be taught.
Fall 2018 Meditation and Chanting
An Introduction to Chanting and Meditation course is being offered in London on Sundays from 10 AM to 1 PM. The first class is on September 9 at Spencer Lodge – Scouts Canada, 531 Windermere Road. Click to download the class information.
Getting More Information
The best source of information about Chanting is your instructor. If they don’t have an answer they will know whom to ask. This website has some additional resources that can provide some background information. General information can be found in the About section. We have collected answers to commonly asked questions under the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section. If you have a specific question, please contact us using any of the channels on the Contact page.
Chanting – Three Teachings Tradition
The chanting practice can be viewed as a physical exercise on several levels. The chanting promotes the circulation of energy in a natural way. The rhythm of the chant as well as the tones, vocalization of the words including the kneeling, standing and bowing postures all contribute to the promoting the circulation in the body. Since most people do not understand the Chinese texts being chanted, there are opportunities to discuss and learn their meaning at various times. The chanting can become a meditative practice as well. The texts do not so much as express the praise or worship of the various deities as they do the revelation of proper conduct in human life in all its aspects. The Scriptures can be viewed as educational in nature. The Deities, Immortals and Bodhisattvas of the Taoist Temple all represent or express in their lives and teachings of the various great ideals and virtues of human life that we seek to embody in our own conduct.
Scripture chanting plays an important role in aligning the body, regulating the breath, and massaging the internal organs. In chanting, the kneeling posture maintains a straight spine and upright chest. Chanting to a rhythm regulates breathing so that every inhale and exhale exercises the diaphragm, moving the breath into the abdomen and massages the internal organs. On one level scriptures are written such that when chanted, the scriptures provide a centering effect on our consciousness shutting out distractions. This centering has positive effects on stilling our mind during meditation and our Tai Chi practice. On another level the content of the scriptures provides guidance on the techniques of meditation and internal alchemy. Therefore, chanting the Scriptures from the Three Traditions is an important component in the practice of Taoist Internal Alchemy.
Three Teachings – San Jiao (三教) / The Three Teachings Harmonious as One (三教合一)
The three great philosophical traditions of China embody teachings of practical living: how we should interact with others, with ourselves and with nature. They teach us to be helpful to others, to recover our original nature of goodness and not to dominate and exploit the world around us. According to Si Juen, the three traditions are not contradictory to each other. In fact, many of the holders of Immortal Lui’s transmission were from all traditions. The three traditions should be combined into one practice since all of them are paths that lead towards the same goal. Each path complements and strengthens each other. It is the combination of the three streams that make our lineage unique with a focus on not only recovering the Original Nature (cultivating an attitude of mind) but also with a focus on recovering the Original Body (alchemical transformation). In our practice, the training of both mind and body are equally emphasized.
Si Juen (Venerable Teacher) is the fifteenth holder of the transmission and the patriarch of the Sect of the Three Religions. He is regarded as the incarnation of the Dipankara Buddha (Buddha of the Eternal Lamp) and the last patriarch and author of many scriptures. The Si Juen tradition, represented by Mr. Moy Lin-shin and Mr. Mui Ming-do, involves the training of both body and mind where the Buddhist teachings guide the principles of belief, Taoist teachings provide the basis of practice of internal alchemy, and Confucian teachings govern the code of personal behavior. Si Juen said that the current era is a time when the tradition is to be made available to all.
Chanting may be practiced alone or in conjunction with other Taoist arts such as Tai Chi, Lok Hup Ba Fa and weapon sets as well as with temple activities like meditation and scripture study. The moving forms provide a foundation for strengthening the spine and tendons as well as opening the joints so the chanting postures can be maintained with less difficulty. The more natural the sitting posture becomes, the greater an effect the chanting can have on changing mind and body from the imperfect state to the perfect state.