Paying Respect or Veneration - apacāyana

Samana Johann

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(currently in) Cambodia
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Respect and veneration

- Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammā-sambuddhassa -[5]

Paying Respect or Veneration (also regard, obeisance, high esteem, honour, admiration) (piapacāyana, apa + cāy root pūja = abound, scarify; verb apaciti; gārava) , is the fourth of the traditional listed ten skilful/meritorious deeds (pi puññakiriya-vatthus), a practice which would be maintained beginning in childhood within families and societies in Buddhist environments. Within the three major kinds meritorious deeds (dāna, sīla, bhāvana) it counts to the virtue group as an aspect of sila. More known accesses, which will be maybe not suddenly regarded as aspects of respect, is the Refuge into the Three Jewels, honour and respect as the access point into the Dhamma and one of the Four Sublime Attributes (brahma vihara), Mudita, often translated as sympathy joy or appreciation. Mudita means joy and appreciation, and with it respect, in regard of one own goodness that one has developed and that of others.

An attitude of proper respect is a sign of intelligence. As SN VI.2 indicates, it is a requisite condition for gaining knowledge and skill, for it creates the atmosphere in which learning can take place. This is especially true in a bhikkhu's training, where so little can be learned through impersonal means such as books, and so much must be learned through personal interaction with one's teachers and fellow bhikkhus. AN VIII.2 notes that the first prerequisite for the discernment basic to the holy life is living in apprenticeship to a teacher for whom one has established a strong sense of respect. This attitude of respect opens the heart to learn from others, and shows others one's willingness to learn. At the same time, it gives focus and grounding to one's life. SN VI.2 reports the Buddha as saying, "One suffers if dwelling without reverence or deference." This was why, after his Awakening — when he had nothing further to learn in terms of virtue, concentration, discernment, release, or knowledge and vision of release — he decided to honor and respect the Dhamma to which he had awakened.

However, an attitude of respect benefits not only the individual who shows respect, but also the religion as a whole. AN VII.56 maintains that for the true Dhamma to stay alive, the bhikkhus, bhikkhunīs, male lay followers, and female lay followers must show respect and deference for the Buddha, Dhamma, and Saṅgha; for the training, concentration, heedfulness, and the duties of hospitality. If the proper respect and deference were lacking, how would the true Dhamma survive?

Before going to developing a proper mind state, the door of verbal and bodily deeds are used for the training. Gestures of respect and appreciation subserve as an outwardly instrument for orientation and regulations within particular groups while they work as proper role and example model for Buddhist communities and gatherings (pi parisā).[7] Love and respect in regard of those who are able to impart Dhamma is seen as prerequisite for the ability of receiving.[8]

A successful exercise of Apacāyana depends (1.) on the object of reverence, (2.) the quality of the deed in word and speech, and (3.) the intention and mind state.

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