What is a benefit of chanting in Tibetan?

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Re: What is a benefit of chanting in Tibetan?

Post by windoverwater » Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:33 pm

My personal journey with this...

When I was a fairly new practitioner, and knew absolutely no Tibetan, it was suggested to practice using the transliteration, to come as close as possible to the sound of the original Tibetan words. The rationale, as many here have pointed out, was the power and blessing that those words carried.

I didn't really believe that rationale at the time, but out of respect for my teacher, I was willing to suspend judgment and follow the suggestion.

Later, I learned enough Tibetan to be able to read my main practices directly (albeit slowly) from the Tibetan script. During a period of longer retreat, I had some experience of the blessing. It seemed to me that somehow the sound and imagery of the Tibetan words themselves conveyed the enlightened qualities of the author's mind, so that I actually could feel something of that presence and power as I read them and chanted.

Interestingly, I learned that the English version of that text, which had been translated by a committee, underwent multiple published revisions as the translation committee consulted additional teachers and gained more nuanced understanding of the original Tibetan. As a practitioner, it would have felt a bit strange to have chanted one English translation for a number of years, and then switch to different English text. By using the Tibetan directly, however, I could integrate the additional levels of meaning conveyed by the revised translations without changing what I actually chanted.

All that said, however, it is crucial to understand the meaning of the text, and the purpose of the liturgies, in order to really benefit. It takes time and some effort at study to learn a liturgy, just as it takes time and practice for a musician to learn a complex musical score. In the beginning it seems awkward, but with patience and practice, one gains a sense of flow, ease and enjoyment.

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Thomas Amundsen
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Re: What is a benefit of chanting in Tibetan?

Post by Thomas Amundsen » Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:42 pm

My sangha does pretty much all chanting in Tibetan. We will sometimes read the visualization descriptions in Tibetan and then English. Our lama has instructed us to do our practices at home in English so that we can learn the meaning. Then when we are practicing together, we can chant in Tibetan and hopefully understand the meaning behind it.

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Re: What is a benefit of chanting in Tibetan?

Post by JKhedrup » Wed Aug 01, 2012 4:26 am

The problem too is the metre of the verses, often works perfectly in Tibetan, and can be chanted very nicely but this is usually not the case in English.

After it is translated into English it often has many more syllables, and the rhythm of the prayer is lost. The structure of the Tibetan language lends itself to easily dropping or adding syllables where necessary, the same cannot be said of English.

Personally I find that the English chants that have been developed so far sound pretty robotic, while the Tibetan is quite nice. But hopefully some pleasant ones will be developed in the future.

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Jangchup Donden
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Re: What is a benefit of chanting in Tibetan?

Post by Jangchup Donden » Wed Aug 01, 2012 5:09 pm

I just use a mix of the two. When I get to sections of the Sadhana I think are worth repeating, or saying in my own language (ie., bodhisattva vows, etc) I'll either do it in English or say it once and Tibetan and repeat it in English for good measure. No reason that you have to do just one.

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