--- In Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com, "Bill Smart" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:
>
> On Tuesday, April 25, 2006 Susan wrote:
> 
> > 
> > Who knows, it [chanting] might even make more sense in a language 
you
> don't 
> > know! :)
> >
> 
> Actually that's a very insightful statement.  Chanting is not meant 
to 'make
> sense'.  'Nonsense' syllables are the best - like 'OM' or 'MU'*.  A 
foreign
> language is second best.    Chanting is not done in order for you to
> contemplate of the words you're chanting, or figuring out what the 
phrase
> you're chanting means.  Chanting is done, like most everything else 
in zen
> practice, to develop a single focus which more easily allows the 
notion of
> 'self' to drop away.  Chanting in a language you know, especially 
groups of
> words that communicate a coherent thought can interfere with this.
> 

There are other functions of liturgy in zen training that work better 
when it's in your native language.  It makes most sense in a broader 
context, like in a sangha where these things are done regularly.  
It's "part of a complete breakfast" you might say.  

The heart sutra being a good example.  It is done with the whole mind 
and body, with complete and total immersion in the act, without 
thinking about what the words mean, but with a direct experience of 
the words themselves.

I've found that liturgy in a community like this becomes and 
extention of the breath, and better still, not "your" breath but that 
of the sangha.  

Also expressions of gratitude, such as before a meal, bring you away 
from the notion of your "self" by realizing that the act of eating is 
not something you are just doing yourself, but is tied in closely 
with the works others have done.  "72 labors brought us this food."

You may or may not agree of course, and it is often tough for people 
to "buy" this idea of liturgy as being important in zen, especially 
in the U.S. where we shy away from anything that looks 
too "religous."  But I have found it to be just an extension of zazen 
that provides a continuity to practice.







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