Background on Chanting
Chanting Sutras is a universal characteristic of all forms of Buddhism. The Sutras are the “words of the Buddha” and were originally chanted as a means of remembering the spoken teachings of the historical Shakamuni Buddha. For a Shin Buddhist, the ritual of chanting is a tradition to help one prepare to “Listen to the Dharma (Teaching)”. It could be considered a meditation to say the words of the Buddha.
The chants we do are in classical Buddhist Japanese which has the form of Chinese characters without the Japanese grammar so it becomes almost impossible to translate directly. It can be said that chanting is not done to “read” and understand, but it is a participatory ritual to collectively appreciate the wisdom which is beyond comprehension.
About these videos
In these videos Rev. Katsuya Kusunoki, of the Buddhist Church of Lodi, chants a series of traditional Sutras. Rev. Kusunoki has been certified as a “chanting instructor” by the Ritual Department of the Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji (international Jodo Shinshu headquarters). While chanting is typically done with the Sangha (congregation), here Rev. Kusunoki chants solo so one can clearly see the proper sequence of movements and hear the tones and pitches involved. These videos were made possible in part by a grant from the Rev. Gyodo Kono Fund.