Thursday, September 17, 2009

Korean Chanting

For some reason, who knows?, I've been feeling tender-hearted about Korean Buddhist chanting lately. Reminds me of a tradition that has helped me personally, good friends, and an ancient history connecting people who are using every human means, including the voice, to search un-cynically for what lies at the heart of the human being.

You can make Korean chanting sound pretty by adding synthesizers or flute on top of it, as here:

That's the heart sutra, chanted at Zen Centers all over the world and even here in my own garage on a regular basis. (I also chant it silently when I lay down to sleep every night.)

In its own element, however, Korean chanting sounds more like this:

or this:

This sounds a little more like the chanting we do in the Kwan Um School of Zen, where we treat repetitive chanting as a meditation form:

Here is my old friend, Kwan Sahn Sunim, currently in residence at the Empty Gate Zen Center in Berkeley, California. He is chanting the evening bell chant as it is performed in all of our Zen centers. The translation is below the video box:

Hearing the sound of the bell, all thinking is cut off.
Wisdom grows, enlightenment appears; hell is left behind.
The three worlds are transcended.
Vowing to become Buddha
and save all people.

The mantra of shattering hell:
om ga-ra ji-ya sa-ba-ha
om ga-ra ji-ya sa-ba-ha
om ga-ra ji-ya sa-ba-ha

I hope we can all shatter hell together. Go in peace.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

Interesting and in some instances, quite beautiful.