by Julie Blue
Singing, in and of itself is a joyous and uplifting experience. It taps us into the power of breath and the world of resonance and vibration. I love to sing all kinds of songs and discovered I felt most in harmony when I invited others to sing with me. During performances, healing sound courses, a big choir I led for years or the singing circles I offer now, the same kind of magic would always happen. Science is now showing all the reasons why when people move into their hearts, the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin lower, and the happy bonding hormones of oxytocin and dopamine rise. I have so much to share about this from years of research and will do so in my next blog. In this blog I want to focus on the healing power of chant.
The first time I experience the power of chant I was living and performing in Japan. A friend took me to a temple in Kyoto where hundreds of people were chanting to send love and solace to survivors of a terrible mudslide in Columbia. Like a light bulb going on in my music school conditioned mind, I understood on an experiential level that energy was being created that transmitted as tangibly as a radio or television signal. I didn’t understand the words in the chant. I didn’t subscribe to any religious view but I could FEEL something and it felt like love.
This experience influenced my composing work and I began collecting and creating original versions of traditional chants and mantras from different spiritual paths. I also began a 30-year journey of channelling my own healing chants. As a professional composer I haven’t yet been brave enough to publicly use the term “channelling”. The experience of creating my series of chants is more like transcribing something I am hearing on what I call “the creation station”, rather than setting out to craft a piece of music.
On a visit to Maui I met a woman who had a tremendous impact on my life. At the time I met her, Arlette Alexander lived in the jungles of Maui. She held a doctorate of psychology, was a dedicated Tibetan Buddhist practitioner and a Queen of fun and mischief. During our many visits back and forth, Arlette introduced me to her practices and taught me the Medicine Buddha chant. She brought me to meet her teacher Thrangu Rimpoche, and I received his transmission of the Medicine Buddha teachings.
Arlette’s dedication and enthusiasm touched and inspired many people. With this article and recording, I honour her and our deep friendship.
I’m writing this as someone who is not a practicing Buddhist or scholar. I’m writing this as a singer, composer and vibrational healer who is in awe at the profound healing that occurs for me and those that sing and chant with me.
There are so many chants to share with you. For today, very close to a year after Arlette’s death, to honour her memory I’ll share the chant she first taught to me all those years ago walking in the Maui jungle. To respect and offer just a little bit of the profound teachings in this chant, the following is edited and condensed from a talk during Medicine Buddha Puja by Lama Zopa Rinpoche
“When speaking of the Medicine Buddha chant, the Fifth Dalai Lama explains that the reason it is so powerful is due to Medicine Buddha’s strong compassion and dedications for his name to be wish fulfilling and bring happiness. It is extremely important in our daily life to practice Medicine Buddha and to chant his name for the animals. It’s an unbelievably easy way to liberate yourself and to help others too. Normally people think that Medicine Buddha is for healing but it’s not only that, it’s also very powerful for purifying negative karma and very powerful for success. The Medicine Buddha practice is so precious. It seems that you can do Medicine Buddha for ANY purpose, ANY problem, ANYTHING. You can use the Medicine Buddha practice for any kind of problem, for court cases, to stop wars, to stop violence, anything. It is very good for business, for mothers who are pregnant to give birth successfully, anything”.
Medicine Buddha’s Mantra: Tayata Om Bekandze Bekandze Maha Bekandze Radza Samudgate Soha.
- Tayata – means “like this”.
- Om – is composed of the three pure sounds A U and MA, which signifies one’s own body, speech and mind that get transformed into the holy body, speech and mind.
- Bekandze bekandze -“eliminating pain, eliminating pain”. What eliminates pain is medicine. This pain is not ordinary pain – even animals do not want to experience that. The first eliminating pain is true suffering, the second is the true cause of suffering.
- Maha bekandze -“the great eliminating pain” eliminates the three poisons of ignorance, hatred and attachment, the sicknesses of the mind from which come the physical sicknesses – cancer, depression, etc.
- Radza – is king.
- Samudgate – ocean of goodness.
- Soha – to establish the foundation in the heart, the blessing, the devotion from which the realization comes.
It helps to have the intellectual understanding of what you are chanting and why you are chanting it. Yet, I have experienced that the power of the vowels, the breath, and the intention to calm the mind and connect with the heart is medicine in and of itself. This beautiful chant is the most powerful healing chant that I know. You can listen to it on my website. I look forward to sharing more healing chants with you and wish you every bright blessing in your life.