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Ask A Buddhist: Recitation

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By Ven. Thubten Chonyi

What is recitation?

Dictionaries define recitation as the action of repeating something aloud from memory. That’s exactly what we do in Buddhism, repeating texts—words of the Buddha or commentaries by great masters—in order to think about them and have these words make strong impressions in our minds.

At Sravasti Abbey, the Buddhist monastery where I train, we do recitations at the beginning and end of our morning and evening meditation sessions, before breakfast, before and after lunch, and before and after receiving Buddhist teachings.

Personally speaking, it’s so much better to fill my mind with words meant to help cultivate love, compassion, and wisdom than with pop song lyrics!

When we do recitations at the Abbey, by the way, we provide the words. It’s good to memorize the texts, but reading them is OK too.

About Ven. Thubten Chonyi

Ven. Thubten Chonyi is a nun in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. She has studied with Sravasti Abbey founder and abbess Ven. Thubten Chodron since 1996. She received novice ordination at the Abbey in 2008 and full ordination in 2011 in Taiwan. Ven. Chonyi regularly teaches Buddhism and meditation at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Spokane and other local locations.

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