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Chanting as Practice

11 Dec 2017 2:35 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

With gratitude to FCM member Maria Teresa Jaureguizar for this sharing about her practice

I, like others, was asked to share a personal experience with transformation.   I put this email aside with the idea that if something came to mind, I would jot it down; then one day at tea the topic of chanting came up and I spoke of my experience in a natural and unscripted manner.  A sangha sister said, “you know, you should write about that and send that in to Mindfulness Matters.”  So here it is, thank you sister.

Chanting is defined as rhythmic speaking and that is why at first, I accepted that even I could do it.  Singing is freeing, and music is transcending, I have no training, just an ear for beauty and an open heart. I believe I knew that through chanting I may begin to touch a voice in me that I had buried out of fear, a voice of living freely, expressing myself freely, and loving freely.

I began to practice the morning chant, over and over until it was memorized. I learned it like you do a favorite song, listening to it and reading the words until you hear it in your sleep.  I only shared my aspiration of chanting with a few, but apparently, word got out, and one Sunday at sangha, we were without a chanter. 

The bell master said “hey, I heard you have been practicing, we need a chanter today, will you please do it?” These words cut right to the fear inside but then I remembered Fred’s teaching on being a big fool and what’s the worst that could happen?  You see, at this point, it was still all about me.   So, thanks to my dharma brother, public chanting was born. (smiling)

Through time, I have learned all the chants in the FCM chanting book, except Trust in Mind, still learning that one, and Thay’s 2014 version of the Heart Sutra.  The chants are practice, study, and reflection not just words to “sing”. 

I remember Fred saying once that the words should become us, when we speak them we speak them wholeheartedly.  I’m not sure when this happened, but today when I chant, it’s not about me, it’s about all of us.  My intention is not that I don’t flub it, it’s twofold, one is to offer instruction in whatever we are about to do, i.e. begin meditation practice, touching the earth practice, and the greater is the desire that one of us and all of us awaken at the this very moment and be free of all suffering. 

Chanting is practice, study and reflection. 

In gratitude,

Maria Teresa

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