Devotions with Devas/Spirits/Ghosts

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Devotions with Devas/Spirits/Ghosts

Postby Coyote » Fri Apr 19, 2013 9:40 pm

I am looking for information on traditional devotions, if one might call them that, with Devas, Ghosts/Spirits that are canonical i.e not folkloric but part of Pali theravada tradition. Recently in a thread it was mentioned that DN 20 is recited for the benefit of Devas, and I also heard similar things recently in a Dhamma talk by Bhikkhu Bodhi that that there is an idea that Devas and spirits can become happy if merits are shared, which I know is done for pretas. I have no access to a local Buddhist community and wonder what place such devotions and the Devas ect. in general have in theravada tradition.
Also within the traditional cosmology there are many Devas who are Buddhist, for example the anagamis of the pure abodes. Do these beings hold a special place within the tradition in any way?
Any Dhamma talks touch on the subject in a more detailed manner?
Thanks in advance.
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
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Re: Devotions with Devas/Spirits/Ghosts

Postby Ben » Fri Apr 19, 2013 10:56 pm

Greetings Coyote,
I think you will find some evidence in the ancient pali canon and some practices that don't have a direct link to the ancient literature. However, in my humble opinion, I don't think it really matters. Within the Theravada, non-visible beings are part of the cosmological landscape. In some Theravadin societies, some entities are venerated and some not. If you like, these entities are manifestations of particular mental qualities or behaviours.
The Atanatiya Sutta, a paritta (protection) is a recitation of the names of the yakkhas which provides protection in the forest.
kind regards,

Ben
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Re: Devotions with Devas/Spirits/Ghosts

Postby EmptyShadow » Fri Apr 19, 2013 11:26 pm

I dont know if this counts as devotion but the recollection of the devas is one of the 10 recollections that was taught by the Buddha.

[6] "Furthermore, you should recollect the devas: 'There are the devas of the Four Great Kings, the devas of the Thirty-three, the devas of the Hours, the Contented Devas, the devas who delight in creation, the devas who have power over the creations of others, the devas of Brahma's retinue, the devas beyond them. Whatever conviction they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of conviction is present in me as well. Whatever virtue they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of virtue is present in me as well. Whatever learning they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of learning is present in me as well. Whatever generosity they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of generosity is present in me as well. Whatever discernment they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of discernment is present in me as well.' At any time when a disciple of the noble ones is recollecting the conviction, virtue, learning, generosity, and discernment found both in himself and the devas, his mind is not overcome with passion, not overcome with aversion, not overcome with delusion. His mind heads straight, based on the (qualities of the) devas. And when the mind is headed straight, the disciple of the noble ones gains a sense of the goal, gains a sense of the Dhamma, gains joy connected with the Dhamma. In one who is joyful, rapture arises. In one who is rapturous, the body grows calm. One whose body is calmed senses pleasure. In one sensing pleasure, the mind becomes concentrated.

"Mahanama, you should develop this recollection of the devas while you are walking, while you are standing, while you are sitting, while you are lying down, while you are busy at work, while you are resting in your home crowded with children."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/stud ... s.html#six

:anjali:
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Re: Devotions with Devas/Spirits/Ghosts

Postby polarbuddha101 » Sat Apr 20, 2013 5:52 am

If you go to this link and type in devas there will be a few talks on recollection of the devas:

https://www.abhayagiri.org/audio
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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Re: Devotions with Devas/Spirits/Ghosts

Postby Coyote » Sat Apr 20, 2013 2:22 pm

Thanks for the replies. Recollection of Devas is interesting but not exactly what I was thinking of, as it is more passive if you see what I mean. I was more thinking of examples like DN 20, where these beings are specifically interacted with. Maybe there is nothing else, I have no idea. There is an attitude I have encountered from several monastic teachers that if you help devas, give them Dhamma, respect and so on they will protect you, and that there are Devas devoted to protection of the Dhamma generally. Does this attitude find its roots in the Pali Canon, and if so, where?
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
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Re: Devotions with Devas/Spirits/Ghosts

Postby EmptyShadow » Sat Apr 20, 2013 4:56 pm

From Mettanisamsa Sutta:

Thus have I heard:

On one occasion the Blessed One was living near Savatthi at Jetavana at Anathapindika's monastery. Then he addressed the monks saying, "Monks." — "Venerable Sir," said the monks, by way of reply. The Blessed One then spoke as follows:

"Monks, eleven advantages are to be expected from the release (deliverance) of heart by familiarizing oneself with thoughts of loving-kindness (metta), by the cultivation of loving-kindness, by constantly increasing these thoughts, by regarding loving-kindness as a vehicle (of expression), and also as something to be treasured, by living in conformity with these thoughts, by putting these ideas into practice, and by establishing them. What are the eleven?

1. "He sleeps in comfort. 2. He awakes in comfort. 3. He sees no evil dreams. 4. He is dear to human beings. 5. He is dear to non-human beings. 6. Devas (gods) protect him. 7. Fire, poison, and sword cannot touch him. 8. His mind can concentrate quickly. 9. His countenance is serene. 10. He dies without being confused in mind. 11. If he fails to attain arahantship (the highest sanctity) here and now, he will be reborn in the brahma-world.

"These eleven advantages, monks, are to be expected from the release of heart by familiarizing oneself with thoughts of loving-kindness, by cultivation of loving-kindness, by constantly increasing these thoughts, by regarding loving-kindness as a vehicle (of expression), and also as something to be treasured, by living in conformity with these thoughts, by putting these ideas into practice and by establishing them."

So said the Blessed One. Those monks rejoiced at the words of the Blessed One.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .piya.html


Another thing that could be of interest to you is "The Background to the Metta Sutta" in this article. However it's from the comentaries and not from the suttas.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... 5.html#ch2
It basically describe how practicing metta can affect the hearts of the devas and turn them from hostile to very friendly and helpfull towards the monks. :smile:
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Re: Devotions with Devas/Spirits/Ghosts

Postby khlawng » Sun Apr 21, 2013 8:01 am

Here is one that is devoted to Pretas. In particular, this sutta touched on the following subjects:

1) The reapperance of beings in different states upon "break-up" of the body
2) Dedicating gifts to relatives that has reappeared in the hungry shade realm
3) Lower realm avoidance

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an10/an10.177.than.html
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