Sister Khema advises Rachmaninov before meditation and guidelines for Chanting

Dhamma Greetings Anja.
Good to hear from you!
Sometimes getting the feeling of
metta going can be tough before it is reawakened in the heart. Starting wtih the
seed of a SMILE seems to help to get it going and just beginning by sending out
the smile along with the wish.
Your idea of becoming absorbed into
any melody is correct. It is this kind of absorption that will keep on running
inside the head and mind will use this to move away from the object of a
meditation. That is why it isn’t good to get a tune in the head,
With the working EAR, Sound hitting the ear, and EAR consciousness;
the meeting of these three is EAR CONTACT; with ear contact as condition, a
pleasant ear feeling arises; and if the I like it mind FEEL warm in the heart;
that is what you remember and go with.
So, for instance, perhaps after calming down in a snuggly chair and
listening to the Rachmaninoff concerto
#2 in C Minor, and
feeling the warmth that can bring up in the heart, you could then move out
of your chair and into meditation with a good feeling to send out to your
friend. Worth a try? Let me know what happens. We westerners are different is
some ways I think.
But, we have to bare in
mind that repeatedly hearing the music run in your mind can get just like a drug
and turn into barrier to our meditation. Just beware of that. If something you
heard warms your heart,something you remember, some picture in your mind that
can grow into this warm feeling to couple with your wish, try it and see what
This is of course an IMHO….
Now, about
We have to remember that in the
beginning chanting in Buddhism was originally done only with cadence and not
with melody for the express purpose of memorizing the parts of the
The most important chants repeated the foundation teaching including
the 5 Aggregates, the 6 sense doors, the 3 kinds of feelings, the Dependent
Origination links, and Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta. The demonstrated how suffering
comes to be and how the cessation of suffering comes  to be.
The idea was to infuse ourselves with the protection of the Precepts
and learn to recognize arising 5 Hindrances and let them go.
These chants brought
into the consciousness of the monks all 37 requisites of enlightenment including
the 4 Foundations of Mindfulness, the 4 steps of Right Effort, the 4 bases of
Spiritual Power, the 5 faculties, the 5 powers, the 7 Factors of Awakening, and
the 8-Folds of the Noble 8-Fold Path AND most especially the 4 steps of RIGHT
EFFORT….. as found in our own 6 RS practice.
These chants were largely responsible for the preservation of the
information we have TODAY!
If we don’t really learn
these, then we will never be able to see the mechanism o cessation working in
front of ourselves.
The 6Rs help us to
recognize tension and to let go of unessential arising phenomena that begins to
pull us away from our present moment and tasks at hand. This would be thoughts
of past events and the emotions they evoked OR worries about the
We need to infuse
ourselves with the 6steps of the practice cycle and run this RIGHT EFFORT all
the time to reach a state of automatic Releasing and Relaxing  to experience
cessation moments adn the calmer responding in our lives this leads up to,
If we go into the early
chanting this is what we find.
These topics had their order for a
reason too. They are NOT up for grabs to change around in their order or meaning
either. They were in an order that worked in the practice or developed along the
BUT we certainly can
create our own cadences in our own languages and find the most comfortable ways
to remember these important parts.
Chanting that follows these guidelines will help us to keep on
Hope this helps you understand.
Metta and
Rev. Sister Khema
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