When studying the sutras should that be considered a form of meditation, if so what are the guidelines for sutra meditation?

5 Answers 5


Contemplate sutras and you are doing vipassana meditation. Vipassana meditation is the form of meditation Lord Buddha preaches we do.

Blindly reciting sutra's might lead to miccha ditti.


For Theravada sutta study is considered part of the overall practice. It is an important part that goes along with practicing Sila and meditation. So I'm not sure if it is considered " a meditation" but it is a large part of the practice which includes more than just meditation.

Across time and location meditation has been stressed over sutta knowledge, or sutta knowledge stressed over meditation, but there is one Sutta I am failing to find in which the Buddha basically shows that one who listens to dhamma(aka learns the suttas) and practices is one who is developed in dhamma.

"And how is a monk one with a sense of Dhamma? There is the case where a monk knows the Dhamma: dialogues, narratives of mixed prose and verse, explanations, verses, spontaneous exclamations, quotations, birth stories, amazing events, question & answer sessions.[1] If he didn't know the Dhamma — dialogues, narratives of mixed prose and verse, explanations, verses, spontaneous exclamations, quotations, birth stories, amazing events, question & answer sessions — he wouldn't be said to be one with a sense of Dhamma. So it's because he does know the Dhamma — dialogues... question & answer sessions — that he is said to be one with a sense of Dhamma. This is one with a sense of Dhamma.

"When, on observing that the monk is purified with regard to qualities based on delusion, he places conviction in him. With the arising of conviction, he visits him & grows close to him. Growing close to him, he lends ear. Lending ear, he hears the Dhamma. Hearing the Dhamma, he remembers it. Remembering it, he penetrates the meaning of those dhammas. Penetrating the meaning, he comes to an agreement through pondering those dhammas. There being an agreement through pondering those dhammas, desire arises. With the arising of desire, he becomes willing. Willing, he contemplates [lit: "weighs," "compares"]. Contemplating, he makes an exertion. Exerting himself, he both realizes the ultimate meaning of the truth with his body and sees by penetrating it with discernment.

"There are these five rewards in listening to the Dhamma. Which five?

"[1] One hears what one has not heard before. [2] One clarifies what one has heard before. [3] One gets rid of doubt. [4] One's views are made straight. [5] One's mind grows serene.

"These are the five rewards in listening to the Dhamma."


Nichiren. Nichiren gongyo, or daily practice, involves changing the title of the Lotus Sutra, but also large chunks of the sutra itself. Since it's usually chanted in Japanese, followers may not actually understand it. So it works like a dharani, a mantra that you don't know the meaning (as opposed to mantras, which have some meaning that is clear, or at least clear after it's translated from the Sanskrit)

Chinese. Chinese monks chanted entire sutras. A leader would hit a drum shaped like a wooden fish. Nowadays this shows up in the service manuals of modern Chinese Buddhist organizations. Here is a youtube vid where you can get a feel for the pace.

This guy confirms my idea that meditative sutra chanting isn't necessarily about reading comprehension:

Some of the keys to retaining the conscious mind’s engagement with sutras is to recite them, rather than read them. To recite them in your native language rather than the original language will also keep the mind engaged. Some teachers, however, would argue that allowing the mind to become disengaged is the point. As with mantra practice, repeated sutra recitation in Tibetan, Sanskrit or Pali, ultimately from memory, can allow the conscious mind to detach, one of the goals of mindfulness.

I couldn't find a reference, but I wouldn't be too surprised if the chanting came from the tradition of memorizing and reciting Pali suttas. (Majursri's mantra, for example appears to be a mnemonic for remembering parts of a sutta)


OK this is an answer based on personal experience of study of the White Lotus Sutra.

The sutra itself is highly repetitive and plays with concepts of time and space throughout. Although there are parables (for instance the burning house) throughout which can be easily seen as teaching points the suta as a whole seems to be something else. I believe it is the sutra itself that is the practice and the boredom, aggrevation and frustration with it is part of that. I felt it was more like a very long koan. The point wasn't to understand it as such just to bear with it almost and see what comes up in your own experience.

I often hear people complain about Mayahana sutras as been too long, too mystical, too rarified, too religious maybe or just ridiculous. But if the sutras as seen as a (meditation) practice rather than a guidebook that i think that goes a long way to understanding what they actually are and understanding how to work with them.

Just my experience as I say.


Vimutt’āyatana Sutta mentions what reciting and studding the Dhamma can lead to liberation. When doing this you have to reflect what the Dhamma trying to experience of it. Study of and recitation of the Dhamma will lead to joy and from joy to zest and from zest to tranquillity and from tranquillity to happiness and from happiness to concentration and from concentration to clear vision which leads to revulsion. Dhamma vicaya should be present though out.

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