Special Topics

Q&A about Mantra Recitation: Q1: What is the difference between chanting the Buddha’s name and reciting the mantra?

Mantra recitation is one of the methods of Buddhist practices. Also known as the "secret words", mantras are often shrouded in mystery, and are therefore easily misunderstood. Former Abbot of New York Chan Meditation Center and Dharma Drum Retreat Center, Venerable Guo Xing, will clarify some common queries and doubts that we may hold about mantra recitation, and guide us towards reciting mantras using the right mindset.

Venerable Guo Xing

Q1: What is the difference between chanting the Buddha's name and reciting the mantra?

A1: Chanting the Buddha's name and reciting mantras are both practice methods that can help us keep the precepts and practice meditation, with their only differences found in their level of difficulty. In his book "Questions and Answers to the Pure Land Method of Practice", the Buddhist lay practitioner, Bing-nan Li, pointed out that reciting the Rebirth in the Pure Land Mantra and chanting the Amitabha Buddha's name differ only in difficulty, not in effect. Both methods directly lead to single-pointed concentration. 

The method and function of mantra recitation is similar to that of chanting the Buddha's name, with emphasis on oral recitation, listening, and  mental focus. After all, only when our mental, verbal, and physical actions align with one another will mantra recitation be truly effective.

As for the question of whether mantra recitation or chanting Buddha's name is more suitable for us, the merits of both methods are the same; one is neither superior nor inferior to the other. However, the ability to practice the Buddhadharma differs with everyone, each with their own preferences. Some may be happy with mantra recitation, while others are comfortable with chanting the Buddha's name. Nonetheless, the purpose of practice remains the same: to attain single-minded concentration from our unsettled minds, and thereby develop wisdom.



Extended Reading:

Dharani Recitation Practice: Learning the Spiritual Codes of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas

Understanding the Structure of Dharanis

How to Choose Which Mantra to Recite?

The Methods of Reciting Mantras

Q&A about Mantra Recitation: Q1: What is the difference between chanting the Buddha's name and reciting the mantra?

Q&A about Mantra Recitation: Q2: Will mispronunciation of the mantras impact its meritorious effect?

Q&A about Mantra Recitation: Q3: Is the chanting of a mantra effective only when we know its meaning?

Q&A about Mantra Recitation: Q4: How can reciting mantras eliminate karmic obstacles and prevent disasters?

Q&A about Mantra Recitation: Q5: Can a wish be fulfilled by reciting a mantra?


Resource: Issue 356 of Life Magazine, Dharma Drum Publishing Corporation
Photos: Issue 356 of Life Magazine, Dharma Drum Publishing Corporation

Translation: Jonathan (演森)
Editing: Cheng-yu Chang (張振郁), Keith Brown