Chanting the Dharma attains countless merits

Update: 11/09/2021
 

Chanting the Dharma attains countless merits

 

Chanting the Dharma attains countless merits...

That deliver to everywhere

All creatures and I 

Will get enlightenment for happiness.

We have all heard the above verses at least twice. This is the dedicating part after each morning and evening's time of recitation. However, even when we keep chanting the verse many times, not anyone can clearly understand its meaning. Especially   the   first sentence   "Chanting the Dharma brings the termless   merit" makes many people perplexed. So, what does it mean? Does chanting the Dharma really bring valuable merit? We will look into the saying "Chanting Dharma will light Buddha's teaching":

This is the explanation of the meaning of chanting Dharma. Chanting or reading the Dharma   helps   us,   Buddhists,   approach   the   doctrine   which   Buddha   taught us. Buddha went into Nirvana 26 centuries ago, therefore, we can only see Buddha by chanting Dharma left in this world. Chanting is the very first step to ones who want to become a Buddhist. The one who studies Buddhism must follow the path of   Three   Wisdoms:   "Listening   –   Thinking   –   Practicing".   The first   step "Listening" is   studying,   reading,   chwanting the Dharma in concentration, from which we can understand the doctrines of Buddha. The second step"Thinking"   means researching,   understanding,   and   oberving   from   doctrines   we studied; therefore, we can determine what is right and what is wrong. We must believe and follow what is suitable with the truth and our mind. The third step "Practicing" means practicing upon what we believe is the truth that we must cultivate   so   that it   can bring   us   happiness   and   peace.   Therefore,   we   can  see   the importance of chanting Dharma, two times a day. This is the basic step of the stairs, the first step - Listening - to study Buddhism.

Methods and benefits of chanting Dharma: 

Besides orally chanting the Dharma, we should use our mind to understand and think about what we are reading, studying. While reading in speech, thinking in mind , this is beneficial.   Vice  versa,   if using our   mouths  read   but   our   minds   keep  thinking  about something  else   instead of focusing on the meaning,   we  cannot understand  the
information of the verses. Once we cannot understand it, we cannot influence the direction for practicing. Then, we cannot achieve peace and happiness.

If we focus on each word of the  Dharma while chanting, our mind creates determination so as to avoid the distraction. Then it creates mindfulness, which can help us solve our anxiety and sufferings. 
Besides,   when   we   pray   to   the Buddha,   we   should   be   kind   and   open-minded   to everyone around us, to love others and creatures, invisible or visible. To the invisible ones, especially the ones which are suffering in The Three Penalties, we must show our love to them and dedicate our merit from praying and practicing, so that they can stop from grief.

Some have wrong conceptions while chanting the Dharma:

There are some sayings that chanting Dharma doesn't bring merit but only our actions do. There are some people who understand the verse "Chanting the Dharma brings the termless merit" in a way that only chanting brings more merit but not the other actions, these people only focus on chanting Dharma but don't want to take any action. These two conceptions are not right. We must treat the two methods equally, between practicing and taking actions. The actions of giving away things help us build our merit. Practicing and chanting Dharma create our wisdom. If these two are complete, we can achieve our goals of studying Buddhism.  

Buddha teaches us Dharma on purpose of helping us studying, thinking and practicing. But there are some who think that chanting the Dharma will prove that they study for the Buddha to acknowledge their merit. This is a wrong conception, and we need to reform it.
There are people who only focus on reading words and verses but not to understand its meaning. Among the systems of Dharma, especially the Mahayana of the Buddist developing system, these verses are based on true stories. It means that the lessons come with images, illustrated by examples with a true story to explain doctrines (The Lotus Scripture Essence). If we judge only words in the Mahayana, then we cannot   understand   themeaning   of   the   whole   verses.   It can   lead   to misunderstood   and   study   using the   wrong   method   is   harmful   to   us,   as   we  are Buddhist students. Therefore, while we study, especially to the verses in the Mahayana system, we should be very careful to understand the whole meaning of the lecture, the deep Dharma of the verses.

"Chanting the Dharma brings countless merits":
We can see that "Chanting the Dharma brings the termless merit" is right. But how does chanting Dharma bring merit? If we chant the Dharma with the purpose of understanding and practicing it right, we can hope for immense merit. In contrast, if we only do it half-heartedly, for Buddha to listen, merit is found nowhere.   There   is an   exsample   that   Buddha   once   related   to, which   is the comparison between the soup ladle and the tongue. No matter how long the soup ladle stays in the soup, it will never be able to taste the soup itself. Only the tongue can do   that. The   ladle represents the  ones who  only  read the  Dharma without practicing it, therefore they never are able to enjoy the feeling of being rescued. The tongue represents the ones who keep studying, reading, and practicing at the same pace, in the end they will be the one to taste the feeling of being enlightened and released. 

 

Tâm Thiện
Translated into English by Nguyen Thi Mai Thảo

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