(Photo above by Alina Vilchenko / Pexels)
Recent studies show that those who sing—or, in our case, chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo—are happier. While singing releases endorphins, associated with feelings of pleasure, singing in a group is said to release oxytocin, which enhances feelings of trust and well-being toward others, and alleviates anxiety and stress.
Sitting up straight and voicing something like a song or a chant can also improve lung and heart function, according to some medical professionals. Breathing from the abdomen seems to have a relaxing and calming effect, improves circulation and warms the extremities (see On Health and Long Life, pp. 15–16).
From the Buddhist perspective, sound and voice have great significance. When we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the act of voicing this wonderful sound fuses our lives with the universe.
The Buddhist philosopher Daisaku Ikeda explains:
The sound of our voices resolutely chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo reverberates throughout the entire universe, turning everything into a positive force that will support and protect us.
Nov. 9, 2018, World Tribune, p. 3
When we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, as the 13th-century Buddhist reformer Nichiren Daishonin says, we not only manifest our own Buddhability, we call forth the Buddhability in others too. We can actually make the entire universe our ally.
Ikeda continues about the significance of chanting out loud:
The voice is very important—it has profound power. If a wife is scolding her husband, for example, her words won’t have any effect if she speaks in a weak voice. To get his attention she has to shout, “Hey, you!” with a voice that reverberates throughout the house. While naturally being careful not to disturb your neighbors, I hope you will try to chant cheerful and powerful daimoku [Nam-myoho-renge-kyo].
My Dear Friends in America, third edition, pp. 433–34
Chanting powerfully doesn’t refer to loudness. It is about using our great voice of compassion that seeks to bring all people to happiness. Nichiren emphasizes, “It is the heart that is important” (“The Drum at the Gate of Thunder,” WND-1, 949). As long as our underlying intent is sincere, there is no need to feel guilty about chanting in a low volume.
The point is that chanting should leave you feeling invigorated, refreshed, positive and full of vitality. This is the driving force for winning in our daily lives.
Chanting powerfully doesn’t refer to loudness. It is about using our great voice of compassion that seeks to bring all people to happiness.