Meaning of Buddhist prayer?

Discussion in 'Eastern Religions and Philosophies' started by Susma Rio Sep, Nov 2, 2003.

  1. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2003
    Messages:
    828
    Likes Received:
    1
    Please bear with me. I am trying to start a new thread, but I could not find any button for new thread; so I just use the reply button. Anyone here, please tell me how to start a new thread. Thanks.

    By supplicatory prayer I mean asking favors from the powers that be beyond the visible world.

    I have been told time and again that Buddhism is not a religion like Christianity and Islam and Judaism where adherents pray to God and saints for favors.

    Now, I have seen Buddhists praying for all kinds of favors to Buddha and his saintly departed followers.

    So, do Buddhists pray for favors or not, like Christians, Jews, and Muslims?

    Now, about meditation, what do they meditate on or about, and expect to achieve by meditation?

    Susma Rio Sep
     
  2. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2003
    Messages:
    6,537
    Likes Received:
    6
    Normally "new thread" is started by the "new thread" button, which is at the top and bottom of most pages. :)

    Either way, an interesting question, so I've created a new thread for you. :)
     
  3. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2003
    Messages:
    828
    Likes Received:
    1
    Thansk, Brian, for your kind reception and reaction.

    I still can't find the new thread button, and the quick reply function does not seem to be working either.

    I am using IE 6, Nestscape 4.75, and Mozilla of a late edition.

    Anyway, I am glad for your kind reception.

    Back to my query on supplicatory prayer in Buddhism, my own academic inclination is that when it comes to the masses level, Buddhism is also engaged in a lot of supplicatory praying on the part ot its devotess.

    On the part of elites or intellectuals, I really don't know what they are after except that they do observe reverence for life and practice vegetarianism.

    What they intend to arrive at by meditation is what I find very engrossing as a topic for academic curiosity.

    Susma Rio Sep
     
  4. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2003
    Messages:
    828
    Likes Received:
    1
    May I post another message here in this thread...

    I am working on a definition of religion that is applicable to all religions called as such by people who exchange views or who are read-and-write literate.

    Definition of religion by Susma Rio Sep:

    A human behavior founded upon a belief in an unknown power resulting in affection and action intended to influence the unknown power to react favorably toward the believer.

    I seem to see this definition validated in every religion. But in Buddhism I have been told that my definition does not apply; because in Buddhism there is no expectation of favors from the powers that be.

    However, what I know about common Buddhists and their practices tells me otherwise. My definition applies also to them; for they are also asking favors from the powers that they believe in, that these latter can help them. Proof: visit a Buddhist temple where devotees are praying and engaged in various acts; and you will notice that they are asking favors from Buddha and his saintly deceased disciples.

    My problem is with the elites or intellectuals among Buddhists. Do they also ask favors from the powers that be like Buddha and his sainted departed followers? Or do they just meditate, on what or about what, and for what end?

    The elites and intellectuals of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, are also validation of my definition of religion: they ask God to help them to be holy, don’t they? – if they are not keen on earthly favors.

    Susma Rio Sep
     
  5. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2003
    Messages:
    3,786
    Likes Received:
    43
    Namaste all,

    thank you for the post, Susma.

    i shall attempt to reply as expansively as possible.

    perhaps... the first thing that i should say is that there are several extant schools of Buddhism and they emphasize different pratices, as such, you may observe a Pure Land school where they rely upon "other power" rather than "self power". in a Pure Land temple you would see Buddhists prayer for favors and that sort of thing.

    in many ways, the Pure Land is analogous with Christian practice.

    however... Pure Land is the only school that engages in this practice. Generally speaking, the Sutras (scriptures) of Buddhism teach one to rely upon themselves. they specifically state that even an all compassionate Buddha cannot save anyone else... all they can do is point the way.. the individual must do the work by themselves.

    so.. the general answer to the question is "no, Buddhists do not engage in supplicational prayers. There is an exception, however, with the Pure Land school."

    this exception exists due to the Buddha Amida (Boundless Light) who claimed that if a practiconer can generate faith in Him, He will ensure that they are reborn in His Pure Land and attain complete and total enlightenment without obstruction.

    the Pure Land school is part of the Second Turning of the Wheel of Dharma which corresponds to the Mahayana.

    depending on the school and tradition that one follows, you will find everything from an spartan Zen temple to a brightly lit and colorful temple filled with Buddhas and Bodhisattvas ala Vajrayana or Tibetan Buddhism.

    i suppose that, in a sense, even the Vajrayana teachings are applicable here, in that there are other things out there which one could call upon for assistance. this would, however, show the mistake in the practiconer rather than a mistake in the teachings. it is difficult, if not impossible, to have a meaningful discussion of Buddhism without all parties having a solid, working understanding of Buddhist philosophy, specifically the teachings on Sunyata.

    now.. as for meditation. there are, in essence, two "types" of meditation, analytical and absorbtion. they've got some fancy Sanskrit names, but these should suffice for the purposes of our conversation.

    analytical meditation is used when we meditate on a teaching or an application of a teaching. absorbtion meditation is used when we are stilling or calming the mind. depending on the tradition that one follows, there are other "types" employed, such as Tantric visisualizations, Tumo, waterwheel and various others. i shall leave it to a teacher to provide the correct method for the student.

    as for the point of meditation.. well... that would really depend on whom you ask... as there are plenty of folks that aren't Buddhists that meditate.

    Buddhist meditation is a tool and that tool can be put to many uses with different purposes.

    as the Zennist would say... there no point, no goal and no gain. because there is no point, something is done; because there is no goal; something is achieved and because there is no gain, something is accomplished.
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2003
  6. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2003
    Messages:
    828
    Likes Received:
    1
    apologies and statistics

    Apologies for not reading this reply earlier. And to everyone who might be unhappy with me for bringing up my questions on Buddhism again, I will try to be more frugal, and attentive, so as to avoid the impression of stubborn insistence.

    Might it not be helpful toward obtaining a better landscape picture of Buddhism, if we know the statistics of followers of Buddhism who engage in praying for favors and those who are doctrinaires-ideologues-intellectuals: how many in each sector?

    I suspect the praying for favors number is much much larger than the doctrinaires-ideologues-intellectuals'.

    In which case, I think that we can make a distinction that in Buddhism there is a big division between the praying for favors kind of which is the great majority and the minority of doctrinaires-ideologues-intellectuals.

    Susma Rio Sep
     
  7. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2003
    Messages:
    3,786
    Likes Received:
    43
    Namaste Susma,

    no worries :)

    it may be of some value, though i'm not sure that it would be. it would be similar to ascertianing the number of charasmatic Christian chruches that run around with snakes in their hands. whilst it's interesting information, it does not represent the completeness of the Chrisitan teachings, in my opinion.

    why would you suspect this?

    by the way.. those are very odd terms... Buddhism doesn't have a doctrine that one must adhere to and any Buddhist that would consider themselves "elite" is not a very good Buddhist, in my opinion. i'm really not sure which group you are trying to indicate here... as the general description you've provided in other posts would lead me to believe that the entire Hinyana School and Vajrayana Schools would be classed in these categories along with every sect of the Mahayana with the exception of Pure Land.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2003

Share This Page