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Other chanting answers tend to explain tradition, but this question only concerns practicality.

Are the benefits of chanting exclusive, or can your practice easily be full and productive using other techniques?

For example, I don't sit lotus for any special reason. Simply to maximize stability and lessen distraction while meditating. Could someone develop a great practice sitting in a chair instead? I would guess they could, without necessarily missing something important.

On the contrary, if someone wanted to understand and fully benefit from Buddhism by becoming a master scholar, yet without putting in serious time meditating, I can't see how they'd even really achieve understanding let alone full benefit.

So which is it in this case? Is chanting just one of many paths of practice that is good, but not the only way? Or is it something fundamental such that omitting it is necessarily a detriment?

(if it matters, I most often study metta meditation personally, but often sit with diverse groups where chanting is done)

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    Hello Lee and welcome to Buddhism SE. We also have a Guide and a Resource tab for new users, that you might like. Enjoy your time here. – Lanka Jul 10 '17 at 19:41
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Chanting is not essential. I can't think of a single instance where the Buddha advised it in the Pali canon. That being said, it is a lovely practice for so many reasons. Chanting provides a nice break during long periods of sitting (as on a retreat). It's a great way to wake yourself up in the morning; going right to the cushion is generally a one way ticket back to sleep! Chanting also develops concentration. Try chanting the Lotus Sutra in a phonetic transliteration of Japanese...it takes a ton of brain power! Most importantly, however, chanting helps strengthen the bonds of community. All voices find unity in Buddhist chants. You keep pace with your neighbor. Your breathing starts to synchronize. The whole room permeates with a shared spirit. It's a really beautiful practice.

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It is an antidote for the Hindrance of Sloth and Torpor

(3) RECITATION. If, Moggallāna, that drowsiness still would not go away, then, Moggallāna, you should recite in detail a teaching that you have learned.

It is possible that when you do so, that drowsiness would go away.

Pacalā Sutta

It starting point to builds concentration also take you to the final goal of liberation.

he himself recites the Dharma in detail to others, just as he has heard it, just as he has mastered it in theory.

Bhikshus, just as the monk recites the Dharma to others, he knows the goal and he knows the Dharma, he knows the goal and he knows the Dharma.

Knowing the goal and knowing the Dharma,

gladness arises in him;

because of gladness, zest arises;

because of zest, the body becomes tranquil;

when the body is tranquil, he feels happy;

a happy mind becomes concentrated.

This, bhikshus, is the third ground for liberation where the unliberated mind of a monk, dwelling heedful and exertive, finds liberation; or where the mental influxes, not wholly destroyed, become wholly destroyed, where the unattained unsurpassed safety from the yoke is attained.

Vimutt’āyatana Sutta

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