Theravada & bodhisattvas

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Theravada & bodhisattvas

Postby shaunc » Mon Jul 15, 2013 11:01 am

Hi, I was just wondering what the theravadan position is on summoning help from bodhisattvas (Kuan yin etc) devas, deities & other life forms that I can't prove or explain. I've heard 2 conflicting views on this. 1 is that theravadan Buddhism is quite atheistic & won't accept things that are outside this world & the other view is that it's not all that different from Mahayana Buddhism in this respect, all though different bodhisattvas, devas & deities are involved.
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Re: Theravada & bodhisattvas

Postby santa100 » Mon Jul 15, 2013 1:47 pm

The Buddha was a bodhisatta in his many previous lives before His last life as prince Siddhattha. The future Buddha Metteyya also has to fulfill His bodhisatta function before becoming the future Buddha. While Kuan Yin wasn't specifically mentioned in the Nikayas, someone somewhere is following the bodhisatta path to carry on the great Buddhas lineage. Anyway, if someone prayed to Kuan Yin everyday but s/he never abstain from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, and taking intoxicants then it'd be difficult to see how the bodhisattvas and other deities would be able to help that individual when his/her unwholesome kamma bears fruit. So it all has to start with the individual's efforts like observing the five precepts, the eightfold noble path, the brahmaviharas, etc.. These are the foundation that all Buddhist schools share in common. So next time if one prays to Kuan Yin wholeheartedly and have yet to see any result, s/he should start with the foundation mentioned above first..
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Re: Theravada & bodhisattvas

Postby Zenainder » Mon Jul 15, 2013 3:13 pm

shaunc wrote:Hi, I was just wondering what the theravadan position is on summoning help from bodhisattvas (Kuan yin etc) devas, deities & other life forms that I can't prove or explain. I've heard 2 conflicting views on this. 1 is that theravadan Buddhism is quite atheistic & won't accept things that are outside this world & the other view is that it's not all that different from Mahayana Buddhism in this respect, all though different bodhisattvas, devas & deities are involved.


Shaunc,

My understanding is that there is no "summoning" of enlightened beings for help, nor am I aware of it for devas. In the end, the way I have been taught is only we can walk the path and there is no divine intervention (that I am aware of). Generally it is an "athesticish" path in the respect there is no personal god / gods engaged in human affairs. I do not pray, nor appeal to any invisible deity.

There is primarily only heedfulness on the path and we must choose to walk it ourself.

Metta,

Zen
If the words "I", "me", or "you" are used, they are for the use of convenience related purposes. None of these exist, of course. ;)
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Re: Theravada & bodhisattvas

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Jul 15, 2013 7:37 pm

There are certainly many mentions of devas in the suttas. They are often mentioned as an inspiration for practice:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... call-devas
"There is the case where the disciple of the noble ones recollects the devas, thus: 'There are the Devas of the Four Great Kings, the Devas of the Thirty-three, the Yama Devas, 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.' As he is recollecting the devas, his mind is calmed, and joy arises; the defilements of his mind are abandoned, just as when gold is cleansed through the proper technique. And how is gold cleansed through the proper technique? Through the use of a furnace, salt earth, red chalk, a blow-pipe, tongs, & the appropriate human effort. This is how gold is cleansed through the proper technique. In the same way, the defiled mind is cleansed through the proper technique. And how is the defiled mind cleansed through the proper technique? There is the case where the disciple of the noble ones recollects the devas... As he is recollecting the devas, his mind is cleansed, and joy arises; the defilements of his mind are abandoned. He is thus called a disciple of the noble ones undertaking the Deva-Uposatha. He lives with the devas. It is owing to the devas that his mind is calmed, that joy arises, and that whatever defilements there are in his mind are abandoned. This is how the mind is cleansed through the proper technique.

See also:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... ml#iti-082
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .html#gods
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/index-subject.html#deva

:anjali:
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Re: Theravada & bodhisattvas

Postby SarathW » Mon Jul 15, 2013 11:17 pm

:goodpost: and great answers!
Great way to start the day. :)
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Re: Theravada & bodhisattvas

Postby shaunc » Tue Jul 16, 2013 5:32 am

Thanks for the replys. I do keep the 5 precepts as best I can & also follow the noble 8 fold path. But as you follow your spiritual journey there are times when a bit of outside help is both welcomed & comforting. What I'm trying to find out is whether if as a Theravadan Buddhist you. Were to petition outside help, whether that would be considered bad Buddhism (wrong view) or not, or would it be considered neither here nor there. Thanks.
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Re: Theravada & bodhisattvas

Postby santa100 » Tue Jul 16, 2013 1:18 pm

There're Paritta(protection/safeguard) chants..

General Info.: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paritta
The Book of Protection: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ction.html

As always, the "effectiveness" of the paritta depends on the one's own effort in observing the precepts, practicing the noble path, and developing compassion. There's a great sutta that shows how the practice of metta(loving-kindness) can serve as a powerful protection against harm..
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s Park. Now on that occasion, in Sāvatthī, a certain bhikkhu had been bitten by a snake and had died.758 Then a number of bhikkhus approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said: “Bhante, a certain bhikkhu here in Sāvatthī was bitten by a snake and died.”

[The Blessed One said:] “Surely, bhikkhus, that bhikkhu did not pervade the four royal families of snakes759 with a mind of loving-kindness. For if he had done so, he would not have been bitten by a snake and died. What are the four? The virūpakkha royal family of snakes, the erāpatha royal family of snakes, the chabyāputta royal family of snakes, and the black gotamaka royal family of snakes. Surely, that bhikkhu did not pervade these four royal families of snakes with a mind of loving-kindness. For if he had done so, he would not have been bitten by a snake and died.

“I enjoin you, bhikkhus, to pervade these four royal families of snakes with a mind of loving-kindness, for your own security, safety, and protection.”

I have loving-kindness for the virūpakkha snakes;

for the erāpatha snakes I have loving-kindness.

I have loving-kindness for the chabyāputta snakes;

for the black gotamakas I have loving-kindness.

I have loving-kindness for footless creatures;

for those with two feet I have loving-kindness. [73]

I have loving-kindness for those with four feet;

for those with many feet I have loving-kindness.

May footless beings not harm me;

may no harm come to me from those with two feet;

may four-footed beings not harm me;

may no harm come to me from those with many feet.

May all beings, all living things,

all creatures, every one,

meet with good fortune;

may nothing bad come to anyone.

The Buddha is measureless, the Dhamma is measureless, the Saṅgha is measureless; creeping things, snakes, scorpions, centipedes, spiders, lizards, and rats are finite. I have made a safeguard, I have made protection. Let the creatures retreat. I pay homage to the Blessed One, homage to the seven Perfectly Enlightened Ones. ~~ AN 4.67 http://palicanon.org/index.php/sutta-pi ... rthy-deeds ~~
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