I like combining the two big forces in my life, Rationality and Zen. For some time, I've had the notion that it'd be nice to have a rationalist dharani, perhaps for chanting during Solstice.

The basic idea of a dharani is that it's a chant made up of sounds that are supposed to have some effect, like a magic spell. Although originally written in Sanskrit or Pali, they've been translated and modified over the centuries such that many of them (or at least the ones I know via Zen) no longer have literal meanings, and are instead just sounds meant to convey a particular mood or desire.

It seems very extremely unlikely to me that dharani's are actually magic spells, but they do have an effect on the world via the people who chant them. In particular, when chants are done not just by a priest but by everyone in the congregation, they create a shared experience. There's some opening up of the closed, individual sense of self as we all lift (our voices) together to express a shared intention. That intention is carried on by we who chanted in the background of our minds, slowly working change on us.

This morning inspiration struck, and at last I have penned a rationalist dharani. If I can arrange it, a recording will be forthcoming, though I'll probably be too busy to get to it for a while.


Notes: (o) small bell (O) big bell (^) stifle (gatz) big bell, (X) mokugyo, (*) last time only
To be accompanied by mokugyo on each syllable

(chant leader only) Bayesian Dharani, Great Dharani for Conserving Evidence (X) (O)

(everyone 3 times) (O) pee of ay given bee equal pee of bee given ay time pee of ay over pee of bee (O*) or pee of ay given bee equal pee of bee given ay time pee of ay over pee of bee given ay time pee of ay plus pee of bee given not ay time pee of not ay (O*) or pee of bee equal (o*) sum for jay of pee of bee (o*) given ay sub jay time pee of ay sub jay (^*) (ritard)

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That seems to be designed to in large part to work throught literal meanings. Sus for seeming like scientism.

This seems to prove too much. You seem to have a fully general argument here against using words.

Starting out with "Gold doesn't heal you" and then offering to sell water that contains gold seems not to work even within the sellers own theory.

One could have the observation that "gold is not the active ingredient" but then the question is what is? Premable the chants are only allowed to transform within the tradition if they still retain their functionality. But someone who doesn't know what the functionality is or how it does work seems unlikely to provide a variant that would be guaranteed to retain the functionality. Some traditional medicine preparation is followed so verbatim because it might be that nobody knows what is actually the active ingredient (and for some this is a separately discoverable fact). Not knowing what makes it work doesn't provide license to make it how one wants. There is a difference between being a user and a minter.

I think it at the face of it seems that reading out loud math formulas would be lousy for "setting mood". Trying to directly assses for mood and artsy qualities it seems it is pretty long even longer that haikus would be imagine that chants would be singficantly shorther than haikus. It also mixes nice clear vocals with complex unyieldy consonant complexes. So it smells like a compromise where being the total formula exactly is eating away room from other values. I don't consider to have good taste in these matters but there is a differdence between being a fan of music and a composer.

If people would start to pray to Charles Darwin I would have serious reservations that they would be committing the error of false idol. There are theories under which what your conception of what you are devoting to is not super important. Just copying surface asthetics seems not well oriented to preserve the core functionality. Even if the nominal apperance is not core to the thing it attracts and makes confusion for novices much more likely. One way that Islam fights people forming a belif that god is materially localised, anatomically human being is to set limits on depictions of the entity so such lineages of interpretaion have lesser grounds to arise. Here a similar issue could be of reverance for the letter of the law vs the spirit of it. Undue codification and frozenness of the references are more likely to make the applications "dead" and "distant".

And it is not a proof but bad-woo would look pretty indistinguishable.

The problem with guessing the teachers password is not that they have the wrong solution as the key but the whole approach to the content. I don't know how widespread it is but there is a pretty standardified meme about referring to short term-cramming strategies of repeating "Pike is a fish. Pike is a fish. Pike is a fish" to learn biology. Arguably "repetition is the mother of learning" and I could concieve that having a mantra of "consider probablities" that would associate to any question could nudge a person to answer questions with more nuance but having whole formulas in this mechanism seems not to be beneficial for that. And having the wrong shape of adaptation can be anti-utility in that repeating "pike is a fish" can become an obstacle of considereing and imagining pikes to be a kind of fish (trivia bank vs world modelling). One critism of standardised test is that they overload person with data intake and prevent them from processing and internalizing any of it. This approach seems to be very "written on paper" focused which seems very distant from the vibe of reverence and deep dwelling.

I do think that such a thing as "Bayesian Dharani" could probably be done but this seems more like a lipservice. I guess having such a thing gets started with the first draft but I would also question the desire to have such a thing. Why you can't just have a burger, why it needs to be a McDonalds burger? And then if we don't want there to be bread or stake then are we still making a burger?

Also why it is not the minor dharani or the moderate dharani? Do dharanis get to be born as great instead of proving against time to be great pieces?

I feel like this really misses the point of what a dharani is and why something like this might be something to chant, by which I mean you get what's literally going on but are missing the big picture by taking it too literally. I feel a bit like I'm presenting an impressionist painting and your complaint is that it's not realistic enough, which is true, but also not the point.

Maybe it would help to know that we think early dharanis just had a clear meaning like "please make it so bad stuff doesn't happen" and this got lost over time, so in making a new one I start from the literal but in a way that allows it to morph over time to become sounds for an intention. Also compare the two rationalists litanies to similar religious ones. This is meant to have the same energy, but a different form.

I would have thought that the critique would be that it is too realistic.

I would imagine that crystallising or honing a already existing and pinpointed feeling would be quite different than starting from a muddled and unformed one and hoping that one solidifies.