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Is Chanting A Crutch?

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Posted by Richard Ruquist on December 19, 2003 13:29:26 UTC

Dear Glenn,

You claim that the truths of Buddhism are eternal. Yet we see that in India, buddhism has gone through three developments. The original atheistic Theraveda Buddhism [still practiced by the Dai Lama] developed into Mahayana Buddhism with its concept of a trinity that is rather like the Christian trinity God, and thereafter developed into Tantric Buddhism [I would say declined] with its emphasis on magic and chanting rather than conduct and rightful thinking. Buddhism essentially disappeared from Indian life during the Tantric period even before the Islamic invasion.

It seems to me that you have presented a valid argument that chanting is a crutch. Like Tantric magic, all you have to do is chant and everything else follows. Its more like the born again formula of fundamentalist Christianity than true Buddhism. Chanting is a crutch. It is helpful. But it is useless if not combined with the greater truths of Buddhism or of any other religion.

However, you say:
"This is achieved by bringing out the inherent strength and wisdom which everyone possesses within themselves - their Buddhahood - by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon. As Nichiren Daishonin states,

"In Buddhism, that teaching is supreme which enables all people, whether good or evil, to become Buddhas. So reasonable a standard can surely be grasped by anyone." "

Sorry but Buddhahood cannot be attained by evil people. In my opinion this contributes to the declins of Buddhism. That chant is just a crutch.

I am afraid that what you are presenting is the simplistic form of Buddhism represented by Tantric Buddhism which led to the decline of Buddhism in India. In your first post you presented the noble truths of Mahayana Buddhism and compared them to Christianity. That gave me hope that you had developed beyond the magic of chanting. But now I see that I was wrong. You even mention the use of chanting to obtain material ends while not admitting that science has eliminated suffering, at least in the western world, with the opportunity to extend such salvation to the rest of the world. Buddhism is no longer needed to relieve suffering.

You say:
"Fundamentally, all human beings are seeking happiness. Whether or not we can achieve happiness, while not denying the reality of life's inherent suffering, depends on our attitudes. "

In America for most Americans, life does not consist of inherent suffering, unless you consider having to die as inherent suffering. And not all human beings are seeking happiness. Some of us are willing to suffer and even sacrifice ourselves for the welfare of others. Many of us have no choice.

Your attitude is important. But the simplistic belief that a chant can give you a positive attitude and resolve all your difficulties, even where your environment is concerned, just blinds you to the highest truths of Buddhism and the reality it teaches.

I have to retract my 'Profound words' statement. In Buddhism, that teaching is in no way supreme.

Richard Ruquist

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