What is the value of chanting?

อาจารย์ ชยสาโร

What is the value of chanting?

Most of the more popular chants found in the Thai Buddhist tradition consist of passages selected from the Tipitaka. They include verses listing the qualities of the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha; discourses expounding key teachings; passages of wise reflection; and verses for radiating thoughts of kindness and for sharing merits with all sentient beings.

For many Thai lay Buddhists chanting is their main spiritual practice. It particularly suits those of a more active disposition who find sitting meditation practices difficult. Some people choose to chant verses in the original Pāli language, without understanding the meaning, as an act of devotion and for the calming meditative effect it produces. But these days it is popular to chant in the modern style, whereby each line of Pāli is followed by its Thai translation. Here the benefit shifts more to the recollection of the meaning of the texts chanted.

In monasteries, the chanting of important discourses is a practice that goes back to the time of the Buddha. Before the teachings were written down they were preserved by communities of monks regularly chanting them together. Chanting also performs a social function in monasteries, where the morning and evening chanting session helps to create a sense of community and harmony.

This reflection by Ajahn Jayasaro is from the book, Without and Within, (pdf) p. 169.