Chants was supposed to reach the heart

Why do monks chants to us householders in Pali as Catholic did in the past in Latin. And no person understand. Wasn’t the point of some chant to inspire the heart in Dhamma, then the listener feel the meaning and might get joy, rapture, happiness. Go meditate better for example??


Traditionally paritta and other chanting is only deemed effective if all parties involved know and reflect on the meaning of the words uttered.

I’m not sure if that was as well an expectation in Catholic chanting , but surely in Buddhism we have a threefold model for one’s endeavour in the spiritual practice: study (pariyatti), practice (patipatti) and realisation / witnessing (pativedha) of the teaching and discipline left behind by the Tathagatha.

Hence, chanting is mostly a mnemonic device in the first two elements, as it encourages and supports study and practice of the principles leading to awakening.



Interesting but Buddha did say that we should be able learn Dhamma in one own language. And I think there was a reason for it. So it can be proper understood. I think it’s easier for Asian monks to turn Pali in language than it for western Sangha. Since they start from early on. For example I’m multi dialect. But still after all these years my mind treats each Panča sila chant as meaning one thing. Although I know the words meaning but the mind doesn’t act as if words with each their meanings. It became more like a mantra that you know the benefit to chant it but it just letters so you just chant. But I think here in the west we have to keep sometimes chant in Pali but most of the time in English. And ofcourse monks and nuns while gathered without Householders chant is in Pali.

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I don’t chant, but I regularly listen to bilingual suttas with Pali/English interleaved segment by segment. The Pali is gradually becoming less foreign and I’m actually learning Pali. This is only possible because I hear the English translation immediately after the Pali audio. The Pali alone is immersive but not educational without translation.

However, listening to both Pali and English together is twice as long as just listening to English or Pali. I actually prefer listening to Pali chants, and I’m happy to look up the English translation on Google. I wouldn’t want to chant in Pali/English–that would be a bit long.


Yes . I sometimes do English only for that reason. Pali when I’m trying to memorize. I tried but it’s hard I think it need training everydays like monks and nuns do.