Re: mantras for real?

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Posted by Zolla ( on October 22, 2000 at 02:15:22:

In Reply to: mantras for real? posted by curtis on October 21, 2000 at 03:56:31:

I haven't got the time to go thru' the answers provided by others. I think there might be something helpful.

Anyway, I seek to offer my own view especially regarding the using of mantra in more classical Buddhism.

Isn't prayers and mantras regarded as useless by The Buddha? Is mantra only used by Tantric buddhism?<-----No, mantra is not only used by Tantric/Vajrayana. In fact, Theravada Buddhism also uses mantra such as "Buddho".

I read in the Tibetan buddhism sites that if you recite the quan yin mantra 300,000 times you will cleanse away alot of bad karma, how's that possible? If that is the case then buddhism is even more absurd that prayers in christianity, don't you think? please comment.<-----To understand your question, I think it might be useful to refer to the purposes of all Buddhism practices in terms of Buddhist psychology, including Tantric practices.

Smriti-upasthana, or satipatthana in Pali, is really the basics of all practices, from classical methods such as mindfulness of the coming and going of the breath or walking in the walking meditation, to the more complicated visualization techniques, all those skills can be classified into two categories, concentration (or tranquillity) and wisdom (insight). According to Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche's The Practice of Tranquillity and Insight, methods such as Deity Visualization are to develop concentration, so in a more classical language, it is called Shamatha practice. The main goal is to develop concentration or tranquality to the level of Samadhi, in the case of Visualization, one can see the object (e.g. Buddhist Deities) very clearly and in great detail.

Mantra practices, again, is Shamatha practice. In Theravada practice, the word "Buddho" is used to train the mind. So it is possible that if one is very good at using mantra as an object of concentration, he'll be one whose mind is very very developed and refined. But you know, Samadhi is not our main goal, even tho' the mind is very very fine at this stage. But the Buddha also taught the methods which enable to reach Samadhi because it is useful for us to develop wisdom/insight.

We should bear into mind this. As Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche also mentioned that Shamatha-vipashyana is really the only path that is taught. Without having really gone thru' such process, one has misunderstandings of all three yanas. To me this sounds very true because there are many people who go into Tantra teachings with the idea that they can have the protections of Deities or have some very secret kind of powers...I wouldn't like to say that they're wrong, but we should always remind ourself the reason why the Buddha taught us the Holy Path and don't waste our time on those wrong paths.

Afterall I am not quite sure how Karma can be actually purified using mantras. Maybe it's a skillful means to encourage people to practise Shamatha? I would like to listen from others on this.

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