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Prostration - Dhamma Wheel

Prostration

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
nem
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Prostration

Postby nem » Thu Jun 13, 2013 3:08 am

I'd like your thoughts on the subject of prostration. When I attend my local Buddhist center for meditation, I do the 5 point prostration 3 times to the triple gem before meditation. As a matter of respect. I learned the value and meaning of this by practicing at a Sri Lankan monastery a little bit. However I feel that maybe this makes people in my Buddhist Center a little disturbed since no one else does this except the monks and me. My center is Sri Lankan, but the attendees are more...I don't know..Western secular and people come there saying they are there for some benefit like stress reduction and things like this.

I wonder if I'm putting off newcomers when they arrive and see me prostrating. I remember there was a time when I was new to the teachings when if I saw a Westerner prostrating toward the Buddha, I would have thought they were worshiping him like a god, and would have thought that was a little fruity and be put off by this. I don't want to drive people away from the Center and turn them off, however I know that I would have never learned the value of the practice if I hadn't seen people doing it and learned.

So, what is Clear Comprehension here? To save the prostration for the home and monastery visits only, or continue doing this in the Buddhist Center too, risking turning people off to attending, but setting an example where maybe people will learn the value like I did?

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Sekha
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Re: Prostration

Postby Sekha » Thu Jun 13, 2013 6:03 am

Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

http://www.buddha-vacana.org

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Ben
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Re: Prostration

Postby Ben » Thu Jun 13, 2013 6:59 am

Nem,

By making prostrations you are paying respects to the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. It is only a 'rite or ritual' only if it is mechanical or done only out of obligation.
I don't think you should concern yourself of what others think. In your situation, I would also do them.
kind regards,

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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Sekha
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Re: Prostration

Postby Sekha » Thu Jun 13, 2013 7:57 am

Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

http://www.buddha-vacana.org

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Ben
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Re: Prostration

Postby Ben » Thu Jun 13, 2013 8:33 am

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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cooran
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Re: Prostration

Postby cooran » Thu Jun 13, 2013 8:58 am

Hello Ssekha,

I can't find any evidence of such a prohibition - can you give a link to support your statement?

This link might be of interest:
http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/dha ... /fdd35.htm

With metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Doshin
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Re: Prostration

Postby Doshin » Thu Jun 13, 2013 11:23 am

Knowing about dhamma, does not imply knowing dhamma

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steinghan
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Re: Prostration

Postby steinghan » Thu Jun 13, 2013 12:36 pm


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Sekha
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Re: Prostration

Postby Sekha » Thu Jun 13, 2013 1:28 pm

Last edited by Sekha on Thu Jun 13, 2013 1:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

http://www.buddha-vacana.org

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Sekha
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Re: Prostration

Postby Sekha » Thu Jun 13, 2013 1:47 pm

Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

http://www.buddha-vacana.org

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Anagarika
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Re: Prostration

Postby Anagarika » Thu Jun 13, 2013 1:56 pm

I'm with Ben and others on this issue. Prostrations are an important part of practice, IMO, and are not to be seen or felt as a demonstration or performance, but as an act of humility and respect. Bowing to the Buddha is to bow to him and his Dhamma, and not to a statue. For lack of a better resource, here's Wiki:

"In the Pali canon, laypersons prostrating before the then-living Buddha is mentioned in several suttas.[3] In Theravada Buddhism, as part of daily practice, one typically prostrates before and after chanting and meditation. On these occasions, one does typically prostrates three times: once to the Buddha, once to the Dhamma, and once to the Sangha. More generally, one can also prostrate before "any sacred object of veneration."

Theravada Buddhists execute a type of prostration that is known as "five-point veneration" (Pali: patitthitapanca) or the "five-limbed prostration" (Pali: pañc'anga-vandana) where the two palms and elbows, two sets of toes and knees, and the forehead are placed on the floor. More specifically:

... In the kneeling position, one's hand in añjali [palms together, fingers flat out and pointed upward] are raised to the forehead and then lowered to the floor so that the whole forearm to the elbow is on the ground, the elbow touching the knee. The hands, palm down, are four to six inches apart with just enough room for the forehead to be brought to the ground between them. Feet are still as for the kneeling position and the knees are about a foot apart....

In Thailand, traditionally, each of the three aforementioned prostrations are accompanied by the following Pali verses:

First Prostration
Araham samma-sambuddho bhagava
Buddham bhagavantam abhivademi.
The Noble One, the fully Enlightened One, the Exalted One,
I bow low before the Exalted Buddha.

Second Prostration
Svakkhato bhagavata dhammo
Dhammam namassami.
The Exalted One's well-expounded Dhamma
I bow low before the Dhamma.

Third Prostration
Supatipanno bhagavato savakasangho
sangham namami.
The Exalted One's Sangha of well-practiced disciples
I bow low before the Sangha.

In Theravadin countries such as Sri Lanka, when one goes before one's teacher, in order to "open one's mind up to receive instructions," one bows and recites the phrase, "Okāsa ahaṃ bhante vandāmi" ("I pay homage to you venerable sir")."

(3) Khantipalo (1982). In addition to making this general statement, Khantipalo quotes an example of lay people prostrating before the Buddha from the Kalama Sutta (AN 3.65).

Keep prostrating. It's a humble act. It can be a nice precursor to meditation and/or chanting. If others are affected by your humble prostrations, perhaps they will learn in time how and why prostrations are practiced, and the dust will clear from their eyes. They, then, with the guidance of one of the monks, might commence this practice too.


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