I woke up to the harmony of chanting, prayer and song outside my stucco hut…. the humidity was so high I had opened the windows hoping for relief. ….. this spiritual concert was an unexpected bonus.
On another side were the Christian’s. They were singing devotional songs of worship—harmonious prayer and celebration to humble themselves, as I later discovered, a way they begin every day around here.
On the third side was a Buddhist Temple—the monks had been chanting since mid-night as it was a full moon night and many of the village people came to meditate and chant in front of The Buddha.
I like the call to prayer—it’s got a cadence and rhythm that feels good to me, I like that people gather around a common intention… and I love that they are reminded to pause and get intentional, regardless of religion throughout the day.
The Christians sounded like America, my home— like childhood and Sundays mornings.. minus the funny eastern accent.
I was happy to hear the welcomed diversity of these different faiths in a land that isn’t always so open to such things.
The monks chanting really got me; I’d studied much of what they were chanting and was excited to understand some of their ancient language.
Spiritual chanting is central to Buddhist practice. Chanting is a form of study about the teachings and the nature of this life. Both the musical quality of chanting and the meaning of the words aim to bring peace and stillness to the mind… wow, do I need that.
I love the rigorousness and repletion of their voices, the way they come together and then fall off—it’s a sacred harmony that fills me up and on that hot sticky morning… it was a noble way to begin.
I sat a long time listening, desiring a chant or prayer or whatever of my own, a commitment I can get on my knees and make each and every day to align my head and my heart with who I want to be—and to ensure my feet and my mouth follow suit as best as possible.
For months after, I wake and think about all of these people who had begun their day again the same way.. inspired by them and feeling sorry for myself for not having a similar beginning.
Occasionally I try something of my own—I attempt a “ritual” of sorts.. something to start my day with. I get a few days under me, then it falls off, not quite right.
I have a couple of prayers I really like and rely upon in critical moments…… the set aside prayer is one of my longtime faithful companions.. “please help me set aside everything I know, and everything I think I know, for an open mind and new experience…” I couldn’t even document the amount of trouble that’s kept me from…
I love the serenity prayer.. It sum’s up just about everything and I’ve spent a lifetime trying to master the last line…. “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference”….
I end meditation nearly everyday with My Wish: “May I become, at times both now and forever, A protector for those without protection, A guide for those who have lost their way, A ship for those with an ocean to cross, A sanctuary for those in danger, A lamp for those without light, A place of refuge for those who lack shelter, And a servant to all in need. By means of this meritorious deed, May I never join with the unwise, only the wise, until the time I attain Nirvana.” . It’s a powerful intention to leave practice with.
In the end, none of these felt right to begin every single day with, to recite with the devotion that so moved me on that hot morning……until, I come across a statement that came not from the exotic and sexy place I’d traveled 10,000 miles to explore… but from a rather common meditation group in Louisiana.
I can’t imagine anything more perfect than this:
I am responsible for
the growth and maintenance
of mindfulness in my own life.
Each day is an opportunity
for me to discover deeper truths
about myself. Every moment is
an invitation for me to grant
others the space they need to
be themselves. Within me exists
a world of awe and splendor,
and every morning is a reminder
of my innate obligation to
participate in my own majesty.
This life is my inheritance as a
human being and I will claim
it by living as fully as I
possibly can through mindful
and compassionate participation.
May any reward I receive
be recycled through my
service to others.