Chant Your Way to Health and Wisdom
A Message From Grandmaster JinBodhi
The following is an excerpt from an address given by Meditation Grandmaster JinBodhi, founder and leader of Bodhi Meditation. He speaks about the benefits of chanting.
The Benefits of Chanting
Does everyone know the benefits of chanting? It doesn’t matter if you don’t. First, it awakens wisdom in us. The very first part of our body that benefits from our practice is the brain. This is my experience. Many people that I’ve taught have a similar experience, and their overall health is improved, too. Chanting is a special method that not only benefits health, but also enables us to access unspeakable, endless energy and wisdom.
Wisdom seems to be linked to brain develop–ment whereas energy, regarding how it works on our body and where it comes from, is an unknown factor. When I meditated intensively in my younger years, I was totally absorbed in it by the final stages and I had no thoughts in my head. However, at some point, I’d suddenly think of food, a detailed picture of a certain type of food, because I hadn’t eaten for many days. Usually within two days I’d receive exactly the food I had thought of. Someone may bring you food because he knows you. However, I experienced a phenomenon whereby whenever I needed anything, that thing would appear within a short period of time. There are countless things in the world, yet I would receive what I needed most at the moment. Meditation practice can bring us amazing, inconceivable results.
What did you chant just now? It was Medicine Buddha‘s Heart Mantra. It connects our hearts with the Medicine Buddha’s. What kind of Buddha is the Medicine Buddha? He is the Buddha who regards human beings as his primary concern. When we talk about Medicine Buddha, people who are versed in Buddhism recall his 12 vows. These 12 vows all help humans attain happiness and perfection.
The first is about great compassion. What is said in the first vow is actually the Greater Illumination we have cultivated. When we use this compassion to influence the world, hope appears. May all become richer and receive what they need for a happy life. May all stay on the right track without falling into drugs, gambling or other behaviors that harm the person, his family and society. The Medicine Buddha wished to help the human race by giving people what they lack. For instance, unwise people would receive wisdom. If a person were disabled, such as being deaf or blind, the Medicine Buddha would help the person to hear or see. May all humans have a healthy, functional body. All the important needs in a person’s life are included in his vows.
When we chant the Medicine Buddha’s Heart Mantra, if we can connect our ordinary human hearts with Medicine Buddha’s, we can obtain a blessing from him, a kind of protection.
How to get this blessing? Through sincere chanting. The more sincere, the better. The mind mustn’t wander. Sincerity counts more than purity and calmness. Is there anyone who has something to pray for? Does anyone have issues you can’t solve yourself? Or things you wish to have or to have some help with? Raise your hand if you want help. I know I need help. I see some people’s hands are not raised. Is your life perfect already? Really? If you want help, you must be sincere. If you take chanting as a triviality, then it matters little if you chant or not. If you’re not serious about it, you’ll get bored and tired.
But if you chant sincerely, miracles start to happen. Has anyone felt leg pain since our retreat started? Some have, some haven’t. Both are normal. Does your mind wander off toward home sometimes? Or to work? Or to movies? Or to some past trouble? Has this happened to you? This is normal. After all, we’re still ordinary humans. It shows your mind is flexible: It goes on trips, like the Monkey King. The Monkey King’s body stays here, but its mind and spirit are gone. Gone where? To Heaven, its home, Fruit and Flower Mountain. Our mind is like this, but don’t give up. You may become as powerful as the Monkey King, able to transform yourself.
Some of you want to be enlightened like Buddha. I’d like to ask those who want to pursue self-cultivation until enlightenment to please raise your hands. Very nice, good luck to you, may you reach your goal. Some students self-cultivate not for their children or any specific purpose. They just hope that dharma’s light shines on them, that their hearts resonate with Buddha’s, and that whenever they think of Buddha and bodhisattvas, their images appear immediately in mind. There is a state of mind where Buddha appears whether one consciously thinks of him or not. This state is called “union with Buddha.” It’s a state of extreme compassion and wisdom. Close to total enlightenment. As long as you work hard, you’ll get there.
Chanting With Every Cell
Let’s begin. But don’t cry or shout, just chant with a relaxed, sincere heart, with all the cells in your body. How many cells in our bodies? There are countless cells. Billions of cells build our bodies. I always visualize all my cells chanting with me. I invented this chanting method. I visualize that every cell is a “little me.” This concept is found in the study of genetics. It’s possible to clone a creature using cells. When we understand this, we know each cell is actually a little “I.” Now billions of cells of mine will chant with me, and chant sincerely.
In this way, one line of chanting becomes billions of lines. Accordingly, the effect is multiplied billions of times. If you find it difficult to think of each cell as a “little you” because there are too many, you may visualize that the whole Universe is full of you. Each little dot in the Universe is an “I,” and they all chant together with you. Imagine how huge the effect is. Let’s start chanting.