Zen and singing

Does Zen apply toward singing? VocalPosture.com has not found any evidence of historical Zen Buddhism applied toward singing. Does anyone know?  Please inform us.

Is it reasonable to assume then that Zen can be applied toward singing? Recall, Zen Buddhism is really a derivative of Chan Buddhism (Chinese), and Buddhism started in India, which was and still is Hindu. One would expect these Eastern cultural techniques to have been applied toward singing; and perhaps we just don’t know anything about it.

So, is it reasonable to assume that Zen is applicable to singing?

Well, consider all the other influences Buddhism has in Japan– Zen in tea ceremonies, Zen in archery, Zen in sumo wrestling, Zen in samurai, etc. It would be surprising that Zen wasn’t applied toward singing.

Buddha was known be love singing.


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10 Responses to “Zen and singing”

  1. Niels Says:

    Interesting question. I’ve been wondering the same thing. Maybe in Indian classical music the connection between meditation and singing is more part of tradition than in Japan, I don’t know…

  2. rsussuma Says:

    A contemplative approach can be applied to any experience, why not singing. I use mindfulness-awareness practice and contemplation as part of my singing practice and studio.

  3. rebekaissance Says:

    I believe there is reference to Zen singing.

    To sing from a center of peace and harmony, you would have to tune your vibration to the equilibrium of the universe.


    In Hinduism and other Indian religions, a sacred syllable, om was considered the greatest of all mantras.

    Thus om mystically embodies the essence of the universe. It is uttered at the beginning and end of Hindu prayers, chants, and meditation and is also freely used in Buddhist and Jain rituals.

  4. rebekaissance Says:

    Several chants and mantras have been sung, ex:

    “Om mani padme hum ”
    Hail the jewel in the lotus!

    “Om shanti shanti shanti vyanah!”
    Let there be peace!

    “Om sat chit ananda!”
    Love, Joy, Healing

    Mantras like these were sung over and and over in a purely devotional prayerlike way.

    They were considered to help purify the mind, body, and spirit, illuminating harmony inside and out, thus promoting zen.

    • webandnet Says:

      What you say is true.

      These are devotional singing that are suppose to make a person spiritual and happy. Plato’s Republic discusses this– happiness are hunter warriors who at night sing around the bonfire and sing praises to the gods.

      Thank you for the excellent input!

      As a side-note, VocalPosture is far less refined. We’re at the stretching stage of yoga-meditation, and our aim is not the spiritual gains, as pop singing is socially detrimental according to Plato and I imagine also the Hindu yogis.

      I once attended a chanting session with a Hindu cult. Quite an experience!

      Yikes, better singing skills enhances decadence. 🙂

  5. Sandra of Enso Monkey Says:

    There is chanting, yes. Zen can absolutely be applied to singing, as it can be applied to writing (see Natalie Goldber’s work) and painting…all of the arts. If Zen can be applied to eating rice, it can certainly instruct singing.

    And, singing can instruct the Zen practice.

    Thanks for the question, and the conversation.

  6. moe219 Says:

    I like singing. The chanting we do at the monastery is monotone though.

  7. TheBuddhaWay Says:

    The sutras of Buddhism themselves were originally chanted, so yes, of course. And chanting is even today a regular part of every Asian or western Zen liturgy service in every tradition I know of.

  8. A little ways down the road Says:

    In other words: “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.” –Bertrand Russell

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