Author Topic: Buddhist Relics, Rituals, & Offerings  (Read 12363 times)

Offline Samana Johann

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Re: Buddhist Relics, Rituals, & Offerings
« Reply #60 on: September 28, 2017, 01:52:33 am »
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Merits kindlt shared by Kensho (probably "our" Dharmaflower here), on D&D

Devotionalism goes back to the beginning of Buddhism:

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The Buddha taught that the biggest barrier to realization is the notion that “I” am a permanent, integral, autonomous entity. It is by seeing through the delusion of ego that realization blooms. Devotion is an upaya for breaking the bonds of ego.

For this reason, the Buddha taught his disciples to cultivate devotional and reverential habits of mind. Thus, devotion is not a “corruption” of Buddhism, but an expression of it. Of course, devotion requires an object…

For more discussion of this kind of devotion, see the essay ”Devotion in Buddhism“ by Nyanaponika Thera.
https://www.thoughtco.com/atheism-and-devotion-in-buddhism-449718
Devotion in Buddhism
by Nyanaponika Thera
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanaponika/devotion.html


Here is Thanissaro Bhikkhu explaining how he came to the realization that devotional practice is a legitimate expression of Buddhism, rather than the corruption of it:

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What are the discoveries that have broken the frame? Among the most interesting rediscoveries are some very early texts known as the avadanas [lessons]. These are stories about how the Buddha and famous arhats [those who have attained the penultimate stage of awakening] got started on the path many aeons ago. Like the jatakas [tales of the Buddha’s past lives], the stories are aimed at inspiring a sense of devotion.

A lot of these texts were written when the stupa cult was becoming popular in India. They were advocating the idea that in order to get started on the path one needs to have the merit field of the Buddha. By performing services to the Buddha or his relics, you plant the seeds of merit that will eventually result in awakening.

The avadanas changed my understanding of some the rituals and ceremonies I experienced as a monk in Thailand. Until the rediscovery of the avadanas, it was assumed that popular devotional Buddhism as practiced in Southeast Asia today was a corrupted form. But looking at the avadanas you see that the practices are in fact very old.

These texts, with their emphasis on Buddha-fields and vows for awakening, also provide the missing link between the early canons and the Mahayana, thereby rewriting the story of how the Mahayana arose.
https://tricycle.org/magazine/its-not-buddhism-its-buddhisms/2




In addition:

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Awareness Itself, by Ajaan Fuang Jotiko (Bhante Thanissaros teacher, who's ways he explains here)

§ There is an old tradition in Buddhism — based on the Apadana tales — that whenever you make a gift to the religion or perform some other meritorious deed, you should dedicate the merit of the deed to a particular goal. There were times when Ajaan Fuang would tell his students to make similar dedications every time they meditated, although the dedication he'd recommend would depend on the individual. Sometimes he'd recommend the dedication King Asoka made at the end of his life: "In my future lives may I have sovereignty over the mind."

Other times he'd say, "There's no need to make any long, drawn-out dedications. Tell yourself: If I have to be reborn, may I always encounter the Buddha's teachings."

But it wasn't always the case that he would recommend such dedications. Once a woman told him that when she made merit she couldn't think of any particular goal to dedicate the merit towards. He told her, "If the mind is full, there's no need to make any dedication if you don't want to. It's like eating. Whether or not you express a wish to get full, if you keep on eating, there's no way you can help but get full."


And at least here, to make the story of the woman more understandable and that one does not need to worry in regard of devotion directed to worthy ones but also to understand why certain gifts, in certain circumstances are not accepted by them:

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The Story of Lajadevadhita 

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (118) of this book, with reference to Laja, a female deva.

At one time Thera Mahakassapa stayed in the Pippali cave and remained in sustained absorption in concentration (samapatti) for seven days. Soon after he had arisen from samapatti, wishing to give someone a chance of offering something to a thera just arisen from samapatti, he looked out and found a young maid frying corn in a field-hut. So he stood at her door for alms-food and she put all the pop corn into the bawl of the thera. As she turned back after offering pop corn to the thera, she was bitten by a poisonous snake and died. She was reborn in Tavatimsa deva world and was known as Laja (pop corn) devadhita.

Laja realized that she was reborn in Tavatimsa because she had offered pop corn to Thera Mahakassapa and felt very grateful to him. Then she concluded that she should keep on doing some services to the thera in order to make her good fortune more enduring. So, every morning she went to the monastery of the thera, swept the premises, filled up water pots, and did other services. At first, the thera thought that young samaneras had done those services; but one day, he found out that a female deva had been performing those services. So he told her not to come to the monastery any more, as people might start talking if she kept on coming to the monastery. Lajadevadhita was very upset; she pleaded with the thera and cried, "Please do not destroy my riches, my wealth." The Buddha heard her cries and sent forth the radiance from his chamber and said to the female deva, "Devadhita, it is the duty of my son Kassapa to stop your coming to the monastery; to do good deeds is the duty of one who is anxious to gain merit."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 118: If a man does what is good, he should do it again and again; he should take delight in it; the accumulation of merit leads to happiness.

At the end of the discourse, Lajadevadhita attained Sotapatti Fruition.

Retold often from Monks with certain connections to Ven. Kassapa


(It's worthy to note, that the Jatakas, hold in Thailand, are often more extended as the translations we are gifted from Burma. That might make it understandable why certain stories appear differently. The Thai-versions, here represented by Ajahn Lees story about the Deva, are more in accordiance with the Suttas images.)
« Last Edit: September 28, 2017, 02:14:53 am by Samana Johann »
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Offline allen-uk

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Re: Buddhist Relics, Rituals, & Offerings
« Reply #61 on: September 28, 2017, 04:57:04 am »
Samana. I know I said I was off, but glancing back I see that a sensible discussion is emerging.

My main observations are these.

Just because a thing, a practice, a belief, is 'old', doesn't make it correct or sensible. It has to be arguably sensible, too.

Idlechater, for example, is convinced that the philosophy that we profess to follow is a religion. I believe the Buddha said (sorry, I don't know the origin of the quote):

Do not accept any of my words on faith,
Believing them just because I said them.
Be like an analyst buying gold, who cuts, burns,
And critically examines his product for authenticity.
Only accept what passes the test
By proving useful and beneficial in your life
.

To me, that doesn't sound at all like a 'religion', where you are expected to take certain things 'on trust'!

I don't worship anyone, including the Buddha, but I do have unlimited, boundless, total respect for the man and his works.

I sign off 'with metta', not out of habit or an attempt at self-aggrandizement, but because I feel deep loving-kindness to all, particularly to my fellow travellers.

With metta,

Allen.

Offline Samana Johann

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Re: Buddhist Relics, Rituals, & Offerings
« Reply #62 on: September 28, 2017, 05:22:58 am »

Lost in Quotation, the other short and beyond-leading essays there, would also help in certain corrections needed to be done, Allen.

Of course it is very risky to blame or praise, this or that, therefore, aside of the need to know ceratin skill for yourself, have things actually practiced, the Buddha gave a two-fold check advice. It's all a "come and see for yourself"-thing, for those willing to get taimed, searching for a refuge that holds.

Don't worry if breaking a promis or change you mind for a better. It's an indication that you seek for clarification. Beings come again and again, if not found firm refuge, able to walk forward even alone.
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