Hello Bill,

You wrote :I agree with you that chanting does serve the same purpose as 
breaths.  They're both used to quiet the mind - the rational mind.  This is
why I am still curious at your belief that knowing its meaning would better
serve this purpose.  For me, knowing its meaning while chanting, and worse
yet appreciating that meaning, does not serve to quiet your mind.  'Knowing'
and 'appreciating' are functions of your rational mind, and as long as you
continue to know and appreciate, your rational mind is not quiet.  Referring
back to your first paragraph, 'images' and 'compassion' are also products of
your rational mind.  As long as you visualize images or feel compassion your
rational mind is not quiet."

I suppose at first this was true that I was not quieting my mind by thinking 
about the chant OM MANI PADME HUM.  Now it is more like a comfortable place 
rather then a thought.  It is like finding a comfortable position before 
meditating.  Lighting incents does the same thing. It puts me in a state of 
mind to meditate.

I certainly don't have a traditional approach to Buddhism.  I have not been 
lucky enough to be part of a Sangha except online.  I just keep learning as 
much as I can.

I am reading a history of Asia and I am interested to learn the path 
buddhism took from India to china to Korea and to japan and beyond.  As 
Buddhism travels it changes from culture to culture and I think that as it 
travels to the west, it will change here too.

I suppose I just try to stay with the basics.



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