Firstly I'd like to provide some context:

When I first began getting into the Buddhist teachings, specifically that of the Theravada tradition, I'd often do things such as passively play the Dhammapada in my earphones while riding my bike, or keep it on low volume in the background while I did something else. My goal was to be able to gain a basic grasp of the dhamma through forced repeated listening, and to an extent it worked in the sense that I memorized a lot of verses and ideas found in the Dhammapada, and upon hearing a verse quoted, I have an "aha" moment in the sense that It feels familiar. Furthermore, my mind and speaking style had a subtle change as well, with my head being fixated on "illusions" found in everyday physical existence.

Overall, there was definitely a change in my physical being.

In Buddhism, mindfulness is praised and shown as the key to making spiritual progress. While I did employ mindful practices such as watching my mind in everyday life and meditating every once in a while, the practice I used for the longest time was definitely not that of a mindful one.

Yet, it seemed to have occurred to me that reaching a certain point in Buddhist practice, even through mindful meditation, requires a certain degree of destroying the old and replacing with the new, in the sense that old beliefs such as those cultivated through childhood can prevent one from going forward in their spiritual practice, or in that sense any practice, be it learning a skill or whatever (i.e saying to yourself constantly that "I'm this, I'm this kind of person/ I was made to do X").

Whether through the words of Buddha or through the teachings of other Buddhist practices such as those of a tantric origin, what is the Buddhist perspective on knowingly "brainwashing" or "rewiring" yourself via methods of repeated listening, binaural beats, and other various forms of hypnosis and subconcious alterations to make changes to your life and perspective on things?

  • I can advice you on how to alter your subconscious, but it is an active process. I do not know how one can do this in a passive way. What if you edit / revise the OP & take out the word 'passively'? May 31, 2017 at 16:44
  • @SapthaVisuddhi 'passively' is used in regards to methods such as subliminal messages, hypnosis, forced repetition, etc
    – Sorav
    May 31, 2017 at 16:57
  • 1
    I think that all they had that was like that was music or chanting unless you mean a modern Buddhist development?
    – Lowbrow
    May 31, 2017 at 20:20
  • @MettaforBullies Personally I was also wondering what the general consensus was in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.
    – Sorav
    May 31, 2017 at 21:26

4 Answers 4


Kammattana helps to passively alter your subconcious. During the time of the Buddha, sixty monks realized and attained the fruition of holiness (arahant phala) having received the subjects of meditation or working ground (kammatthāna) from a female lay adherent by the name Matika Matha (mother of Mathika Gama) at the village called Matika in the kingdom of Kosala.

The Buddha said “bhavanaya bahuleekathaya…..”. Bhavana (or meditation) if used frequently, thinking about it and examine it in many different situations as much as possible, then the true meaning starts to “sink in”. Formal recitations are part of this process.

Reciting a phrase repeatedly while contemplating on it is called kammattana in Buddhist Meditation. It is an excellent way to retain and comprehend a given a concept. For this it is good to at least vaguely understand the concept. Pali words tend to condense a lot of meaning. Also Pali words have more than one meaning. One meaning would be of a mundane level, while another would be at a deeper level.

Such recitations help subside the five hindrances that makes the mind agitated and not receptive. This helps at least temporarily subside greedy, hateful, and irrelevant thoughts. The mind will not be lethargic or agitated as kammattanas help make the mind calm.

A meditation session can be made more effective by calming the mind by listening to or doing some well-planned recitations. The following is one such recitations:

“Ethan santhan ethan paneethan, sabba sankhara samatho, Sabbhupathi patinissaggo, tanhkkhayo, virago, nirodho, Nibbanan ti“
Etan santan etan paneetan, yadidan sabba sankhara samato, sabbupati patinissaggo, tanhakkhayo virago, nirodho Nibbananti
Etan santan etan paneetan, yadidan sabba sankhara samato, sabbupati patinissaggo, tanhakkhayo virago, nirodho Nibbananti

[“It is the only peace, the only happiness: prevent sankhara from arising by eliminating tanha and excess greed, and thus stopping the arising of defilements, which is Nibbana“.]

Aniccä vatha sankhärä; Uppäda vaya dhamminö
Uuppajjitvä nirujjhanti; Te san vüpa samö sukhö

This verse tells about the “fleeting nature” of life. It explains why we face sorrow inevitably (because death is inevitable), and how it can be permanently removed to attain the Nibbanic bliss. This verse was uttered by Sakka, the King of the Devas, just after the Parinibbana of the Buddha. A common translation is:

All things are impermanent; They arise and pass away;
Having arisen they come to an end; . Their coming to peace is bliss

This is a very good kammattana (meditation subject) for cultivating the “anicca sanna“. One could recite the verse and contemplate on its meaning. Think about all those loved ones who passed away and led to much suffering. And one’s own death is also inevitable.

A few other kammattana examples are:

Itipi so Bhagavâ Arahan Sammâsambuddho Vijjacarana sampanno Sugato Lokavidu Anuttarro purisadammasarathi Sattha devamanussanan Buddho Bhagavati

Svakkhato Bhagavata Dhammo Sanditthiko Akaliko Ehipassiko Opanayiko Paccattam veditabbo Vinnuhiti.

Supatipanno Bhagavato savaka sangho, ujupatipanno Bhagavato savaka sangho. nayapatipanno Bhagavato savaka sangho. Samicipatipanno Bhagavato savaka sangho Yadidam cattari purisa yugani atthapurisapuggala esa Bhagavato savaka sangho. Ahuneyyo, pahuneyyo, dakkhineyyo,anjalikaraniyo, anuttaram punnakkhetan lokassati

Kayena vaca cittena pamadena maya katan, accayam khama me Bhante bhuripanna Tathagata
Kayena vaca cittena pamadena maya katan, accayam khama me Dhamma sandittika akalika
Kayena vaca cittena pamadena maya katan, accayam khama me Sangha supatipanna anuttara

ldam me nati nan hotu Sukhita hontu natayo
ldam vo nati nan hotu Sukhita hontu natayo

May all living beings forgive me for any misdeeds that I have done to them in this long sansara and accept these merits. May I be free of all debts to all living beings.
May all living beings be free from any debts that they have for me, due to any misdeeds that they have done to me. May all living beings, including myself, be free of all debts to each other. May all attain Nibbana.

Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!



Interesed, serious and the Tripple Gems respecting readers,

listening to the teachings, if done right, straightens ones Right view. Doing it wrong increases wrong view and primaly respect. Althought even foolish and respectless monks merely even force to make Dhamma simply food for consuming and throw it on the worlds market for short and poor livelihood, one should not follow their way and use the medicine right.

Listen unattentive Dhamma while doing even unwholesome deeds manifest on and on latent disrespect an closes up the door to Dhamma.

Some good advices in this regard are found in "Abidhamma in daily live" (dhammadesana), by Ven. Ashin Janakabhivamsa.

It's not mindful and not conductive to just consume Dhamma, since it requires giving at fist place.

To answer short on "What is the Buddhist perspective on passively altering your subconcious?"

The "Buddhists" perspective here is trade for gain and the world, while this of the Buddha and his following discipeles is letting go and Nibbana. One way is that in the world, another to Nibbana. Knowing this clearly one is not a little after any gain.

(Since detail discussion is not so welcome here, and the enviroment not so proper for Dhamma Desana, feel free to raise question, even audio here.)

[Note: This is agift of Dhamma, not meant for commercial purpose or other wordily gains]


It will depend on the individual attentiveness on Dhamma. And what Buddha taught is volition depend on this one will have kusala or akusala. And mind(either kusala or akusala) is occurring once at a specific moment. If it is akusala, it can be called kusala. So in your action of every day activity interspersed every fine moment with dhamma, you will be getting kusala but not uninterrupted ones(sometimes it is better while there is absolutely not). Even animals listening attentively (though not knowingly the meaning), get kusala leading to higher abode. It is not brain washing. With these knowledge, contemplate the arising piti on what has done, will surely lead to higher nana stage. Mind matter most.


Firstly, when something agreeable, disagreeable and neither agreeable or disagreeable arises you should note their impermanence with equanimity.

Secondly, you should see in which direction your mind swings when encountered something agreeable, disagreeable and neither agreeable or disagreeable and develop the opposite perception.

Finally, when something agreeable, disagreeable and neither agreeable or disagreeable arises you should develop a sense of revulsion and try to be fully equanimous and aware.

See Indriya Bhāvanā Sutta

The above will perhaps alter your subconscious so you do not negatively react (create negative roots or craving, aversion and ignorance).

Also there might be different techniques of "altering the subconscious" but not all of them may be wholesome or be tied with the Buddhist goal.

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