Is it wrong to pray to the Buddha?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
perkele
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Re: Is it wrong to pray to the Buddha?

Post by perkele » Fri Mar 02, 2018 3:10 am

rightviewftw wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 2:04 pm
What need is there for divine intervention...
Dhammapada;
“Oneself, indeed, is one's own protector.
One does, indeed [make] one's own destiny.
Therefore, control yourself
As a merchant does a fine horse.”
Probably not so much for direct intervention, and I don't know what kind of intervention by beings from higher realms is actually possible.

Certainly there cannot be a direct intervention by others in one's own karma, one's own action, and it is one's own action by which one goes to good or bad destinations, as I think the suttas clearly teach us. Hence the repeated emphasis on relying on one's own effort. That is all well and good.

But as long as we are deluded, trying to associate with the wise and seeking their guidance is something the Buddha recommended; making a mental effort to do so, even if it starts out with only imagination seems like a good mental habit.
IMO, we have to start with imagination for everything. There is no way around it, as I think the Dhammapada teaches as well:
Dhp. verses 1 & 2 wrote:All phenomena are preceded by mind,
Mind is their master, they are produced by mind.
If somebody speaks or acts
With a corrupted mind,
Hence suffering follows him,
Like the wheel the foot of the bearing animal.
(from here, modified by me)

So it is good to produce wholesome and positive images in the mind, produce good and wholesome imaginations for every effort and aspiration that follows.

After all, the Buddha also recommended these as a topics for recollection:
AN 11.13 wrote:[1] "There is the case where you recollect the Tathagata: 'Indeed, the Blessed One is worthy and rightly self-awakened, consummate in knowledge & conduct, well-gone, an expert with regard to the world, unexcelled as a trainer for those people fit to be tamed, the Teacher of divine & human beings, awakened, blessed.' At any time when a disciple of the noble ones is recollecting the Tathagata, his mind is not overcome with passion, not overcome with aversion, not overcome with delusion. His mind heads straight, based on the Tathagata. 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 experiences ease. In one at ease, the mind becomes concentrated.

/.../

[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 /.../, the same sort of virtue is present in me as well. Whatever learning ... generosity ... discernment they were endowed with /.../ 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.

/.../
It is interesting that in the sixth topic of recollection the Buddha recommends recollecting the devas in order to compare oneself to them in regards to wholesome qualities which one should have developed, presupposing that one actually has developed wholesome qualities of that sort to draw from. I guess for many (including me) this can often rather lead to perceiving a lack in one's own qualities, rather than reassurance. But the main point seems to be that the devas (or their previous actions which led them to be reborn as devas) should simply be viewed as to be emulated as role-models, rather than as saviours of sorts who can intervene and help.

Regarding imagination, and imagining to speak/pray/communicate directly to the Buddha, I think it is more realistic (and thereby IMO a more helpful imagination) to mentally address instead those many devas who must be out there that have gained a sense of Dhamma but are not yet tatagatha - out of reach (like the Buddha, I think there is no way to reach him anymore):
AN 6.54: Dhammika sutta wrote:In[1] ancient times when seafaring merchants put to sea in ships, they took with them a bird to sight land. When the ship was out of sight of land, they released the bird; and it flew eastward and westward, northward and southward, upward and all around. And if the bird saw no land, it returned to the ship; but if the bird sighted land nearby, it was truly gone.[2]

[2]The word used here for "truly gone" is tathagatako (translated by E.M. Hare in the PTS edition as "gone for good"), and this story helps us considerably in understanding how the Buddha used the epithet "Tathagata" to describe himself.
:anjali:

perkele
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Re: Is it wrong to pray to the Buddha?

Post by perkele » Fri Mar 02, 2018 3:35 am

DooDoot wrote:
Fri Mar 02, 2018 2:17 am
Thanks for explaining what you meant. Better when imagination is well-informed, so that it turns more into mindfulness of things one knows realistically to be helpful.

I was more thinking of prayer as an actual means to try and reach other beings out there who might hear and compassionately intervene in some way (or even only listen); which I would not regard as impossible, although that seems not to be something the Buddha particularly recommended.

The imagination that there must be some devas out there who know the teachings and the Buddha and the way out of all this mess, who can see from afar, and might for whatever reason even come to look at poor me, who is in trouble, and may have some ways to compassionately guide me towards the light, towards better ways and more helpful circumstances, has been helpful to me at some point. Not sure how much of that was only auto-suggestion for not feeling so lost and alone anymore and more confident self-motivation based on that.

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Re: Is it wrong to pray to the Buddha?

Post by alfa » Fri Mar 02, 2018 4:17 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 7:17 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 6:57 pm
alfa wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 4:27 pm

I thought this was a Buddhist form. My bad.
It is a Buddhist forum, but your "bad" apparently consists of no more than thinking that everything that is posted should be approved by the Buddha. "Go, and sin no more" (John 8:11).
I think that when we have a thread that uses the word "pray", then the clarification that Sam Vara gave about what "pray" can actually mean in a Christian context (i.e. not necessarily just asking for favours) is very relevant.

It's very common for Thai people to use the English word "pray" (when they are conversing in English) for all manner of activities: chanting, bowing to the Buddha statues, and so on. I don't think it's the best choice of words, but we're stuck with it.


:heart:
Mike
That may be, merely pointing out that in the Buddhist context, prayer of any kind is useless, isn't it? Buddha encouraged people to practice right speech, right effort, etc.

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mikenz66
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Re: Is it wrong to pray to the Buddha?

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Mar 02, 2018 4:20 am

Recollection of the Buddha is recommended by the Buddha. And that could be interpreted as prayer in a some sense.

Mike

James Tan
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Re: Is it wrong to pray to the Buddha?

Post by James Tan » Fri Mar 02, 2018 4:40 am

alfa wrote:
Fri Mar 02, 2018 4:17 am
mikenz66 wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 7:17 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 6:57 pm


It is a Buddhist forum, but your "bad" apparently consists of no more than thinking that everything that is posted should be approved by the Buddha. "Go, and sin no more" (John 8:11).
I think that when we have a thread that uses the word "pray", then the clarification that Sam Vara gave about what "pray" can actually mean in a Christian context (i.e. not necessarily just asking for favours) is very relevant.

It's very common for Thai people to use the English word "pray" (when they are conversing in English) for all manner of activities: chanting, bowing to the Buddha statues, and so on. I don't think it's the best choice of words, but we're stuck with it.


:heart:
Mike
That may be, merely pointing out that in the Buddhist context, prayer of any kind is useless, isn't it? Buddha encouraged people to practice right speech, right effort, etc.
If you don't mind I say , say if you at 4th stage terminally ill cancer patient and really in sufferings , and people came to you and preach to you practise right this right that , would you able to accept and do the practice ?!
Especially if you are not a well versed in the dhamma person .

alan
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Re: Is it wrong to pray to the Buddha?

Post by alan » Fri Mar 02, 2018 4:53 am

I think Mike is right. Recollection of the Buddha is always good.
But, this is not like prayer.

alan
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Re: Is it wrong to pray to the Buddha?

Post by alan » Fri Mar 02, 2018 4:55 am

Because, to "Pray", you have to believe that there is someone out there who can answer your prayers, Right?

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Re: Is it wrong to pray to the Buddha?

Post by alan » Fri Mar 02, 2018 5:02 am

Therefore, to answer your question--Yes, it is wrong to pray to the Buddha.

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No_Mind
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Re: Is it wrong to pray to the Buddha?

Post by No_Mind » Fri Mar 02, 2018 5:51 am

perkele wrote:
Fri Mar 02, 2018 3:35 am
DooDoot wrote:
Fri Mar 02, 2018 2:17 am
Thanks for explaining what you meant. Better when imagination is well-informed, so that it turns more into mindfulness of things one knows realistically to be helpful.

I was more thinking of prayer as an actual means to try and reach other beings out there who might hear and compassionately intervene in some way (or even only listen); which I would not regard as impossible, although that seems not to be something the Buddha particularly recommended.

The imagination that there must be some devas out there who know the teachings and the Buddha and the way out of all this mess, who can see from afar, and might for whatever reason even come to look at poor me, who is in trouble, and may have some ways to compassionately guide me towards the light, towards better ways and more helpful circumstances, has been helpful to me at some point. Not sure how much of that was only auto-suggestion for not feeling so lost and alone anymore and more confident self-motivation based on that.
That is a slippery slope.

An atheist may argue .. perkele not killing a rat because it would bring him/her bad Kamma is also auto suggestion since there is no concrete proof that killing one rat (or a hundred thousand) or even thousand humans .. amounts to any consequential suffering .. hundreds of people have done it and lived happily ever after ..

In their forthcoming lives they may face punishment for such sins is auto suggestion to keep one calm and composed when faced with such evil about the perpetrators of which one can really do nothing.

An ex US President is living a perfectly healthy and happy life in spite of causing a war (supposedly against WMD) which left 200,000 dead and double that number crippled and orphaned .. maybe next three dozen lives he will be born as a lab rabbit and have to suffer dreadful cancer induced by researchers .. but we do not know it for sure .. do we?

How is praying to an unknown angel or arch angel or gods or God or Buddha any worse than believing in the Dhamma (assuming belief in Dhamma also includes belief in rebirth and the cosmic ledger balancing mechanism called Kamma) .. you cannot see angels but you also cannot see Kamma .. I see bad people living extraordinarily healthy and happy lives everyday.

:namaste:
I know one thing: that I know nothing

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No_Mind
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Re: Is it wrong to pray to the Buddha?

Post by No_Mind » Fri Mar 02, 2018 6:16 am

-- post deleted --
Last edited by No_Mind on Fri Mar 02, 2018 10:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
I know one thing: that I know nothing

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Sam Vara
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Re: Is it wrong to pray to the Buddha?

Post by Sam Vara » Fri Mar 02, 2018 7:32 am

thepea wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 10:42 pm

I’m going by this definition of prayer
“wish or hope strongly for a particular outcome or situation.”

This is craving, doesn’t matter if you pray to Buddha or baby Jesus it’s craving and it’s the root cause of suffering,

If you have another definition then perhaps we’re talking about something different?
My definition would certainly be different (your definition is just one very narrow conception) but that's not what I'm getting at here. Your initial point was
Praying to Buddha is the root cause of the entirety of universal suffering.
This is wrong. It contradicts what the Buddha said, what nearly everybody thinks the Buddha said, and your own statement above. If praying to the Buddha really was the root cause of the entirety of universal suffering, then there could have been no suffering before the Buddha appeared, could there? Praying to the Buddha might well cause suffering, but it can hardly be the cause of "the entirety of universal suffering".

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Re: Is it wrong to pray to the Buddha?

Post by thepea » Fri Mar 02, 2018 12:35 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Fri Mar 02, 2018 7:32 am
thepea wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 10:42 pm

I’m going by this definition of prayer
“wish or hope strongly for a particular outcome or situation.”

This is craving, doesn’t matter if you pray to Buddha or baby Jesus it’s craving and it’s the root cause of suffering,

If you have another definition then perhaps we’re talking about something different?
My definition would certainly be different (your definition is just one very narrow conception) but that's not what I'm getting at here. Your initial point was
Praying to Buddha is the root cause of the entirety of universal suffering.
This is wrong. It contradicts what the Buddha said, what nearly everybody thinks the Buddha said, and your own statement above. If praying to the Buddha really was the root cause of the entirety of universal suffering, then there could have been no suffering before the Buddha appeared, could there? Praying to the Buddha might well cause suffering, but it can hardly be the cause of "the entirety of universal suffering".
“Praying to the Buddha” = craving
Craving is the cause of suffering

What I think your talking about ( but would be better if you defined your definition of prayer) is loving kindness.

Praying to Buddha was and has been done since the beginning of I. Buddha is not the formation known as mr. Gotama.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Is it wrong to pray to the Buddha?

Post by Sam Vara » Fri Mar 02, 2018 12:44 pm

thepea wrote:
Fri Mar 02, 2018 12:35 pm

“Praying to the Buddha” = craving
Craving is the cause of suffering

What I think your talking about ( but would be better if you defined your definition of prayer) is loving kindness.

Praying to Buddha was and has been done since the beginning of I. Buddha is not the formation known as mr. Gotama.
You might think that "Praying to the Buddha" is a synonym for "craving", but that's an idiosyncratic view which could do with some support from the suttas, or ethnography, or some other source. You're welcome to such a view, of course, but it is likely to lead to your being misunderstood.

binocular
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Re: Is it wrong to pray to the Buddha?

Post by binocular » Fri Mar 02, 2018 2:01 pm

No_Mind wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 1:44 am
I know the Buddha said
Therefore, Ananda, be islands unto yourselves, refuges unto yourselves, seeking no external refuge; with the Dhamma as your island, the Dhamma as your refuge, seeking no other refuge.

Mahāparinibbāṇa Sutta
but does it prevent us from praying to him?
Apparently not.



How many people pray (as in: petitionary prayer) to the Buddha, with the quiet conviction that it is safe to do so, because the Buddha ain't gonna reply anyway ...
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Re: Is it wrong to pray to the Buddha?

Post by Disciple » Fri Mar 02, 2018 9:08 pm

Isnt wrong to pray to the Buddha but quite useless from a theravadin perspective.

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