BCA has a rich history of chanting and music that is incorporated into temple services and special events. The spread of Mahayana Buddhism from India through Asia to Japan and then to America is reflected by hymns sung in Pali, chanting and music composed in Japanese, and English-language music developed in Hawaii and the mainland United States since the 1920s.
Sutra chanting is a religious action recommended for Shin Buddhist followers to carry out in their daily lives. We express our joy to be able to encounter Namoamidabutsu and the Pure Land teachings through chanting the sutras.
Buddhist chanting also contains meditative, ritual, and learning aspects. Being fully engaged in chanting enables us to focus on the present moment; this focus is helpful to receive the dharma message. Shin Buddhist chanting relies on simplified melodies that can be chanted together, uniting the sangha.
Temple service chanting may include:
Dedications to the Three Treasures (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha) common to all Buddhist traditions; selections from The Three Pure Land Sutras, which record the teachings of the Buddha; compositions of Pure Land Buddhist teachers such as Nagarjuna and Shandao; and the writings of our founder, Shinran Shonin.
Examples of Shin Buddhist chanting were more limited until dharma services moved online during the pandemic. Today, nearly all temple YouTube channels feature service videos with chanting.