Do you like or dislike devotional practices?

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Wizard in the Forest
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Do you like or dislike devotional practices?

Post by Wizard in the Forest » Fri Jun 01, 2018 4:21 am

I personally love devotional practice. I was born into a pretty lax catholic household, and when I began practice I was first bombarded by a lot of people trying to suggest to me to practice meditation. I was enthusiastic and I loved taking the practice of meditation and using it to help further my mental purification, but when I looked for a preceptor and a teacher I wondered why there were a lot of meditation centers around major cities in this country, but no viharas. It took me a while to figure out, but a lot of people aren't interested in devotional practice itself, and that was the reason. I also came to realize that because a lot of Western Buddhists have migrated out of a Christian Background and/or an Atheist background, many of them have aversion to devotional and merit making practices. I found that to be pretty sad, because it cultivates a beautiful mindset, and merit making is one of those things that are pretty easy to do. Well, except if you are trying to offer things at a distance it's pretty hard to give alms in person if the nearest vihara's two states away. I think it is one of those things that practitioner can really personalize and make meaningful to themselves and they can share it with others. It's hard for me to really see fault with it, but it also means that resources for devotional practice is slim pickings and you have to dig through a lot of books or know a lot of people who practice to get a feel for what you're doing, and sometimes it's outright discouraged. I find it best as a good refresher before meditation.

What's your experience with devotional practice, and do you like or dislike it?

To those born in a Buddhist Country or who had parents with background in dhamma, did you ever have the same kind of difficulties learning devotional practice?

To those who converted or who have parents who aren't Buddhist, did you feel like devotional practice was in touch or out of touch with your personal practice?
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Re: Do you like or dislike devotional practices?

Post by retrofuturist » Fri Jun 01, 2018 4:24 am

Greetings,

I respect them for what they are, I like that they exist, and I like that they are practiced, but personally I find that extended devotional ceremonies are a bit too much for me.

A few "namo tassa bhagavato..."s, Refuge in the Triple Gem, and the Precepts, and I'm good.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

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Re: Do you like or dislike devotional practices?

Post by pilgrim » Fri Jun 01, 2018 7:43 am

I think the practice grows on one. To an observer, sitting thru devotional practices may sometimes appear awfully boring. But one can experience strong piti when taking part in paritta chanting sessions, esp with a large crowd and better when there is good acoustics. Although I participate rarely, I remember being very charged at these events. I imagine the cave temples which reverberated with the chanting of monks must be quite an experience.

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Re: Do you like or dislike devotional practices?

Post by Sam Vara » Fri Jun 01, 2018 9:02 am

Wizard in the Forest wrote:
Fri Jun 01, 2018 4:21 am
It's hard for me to really see fault with it, but it also means that resources for devotional practice is slim pickings and you have to dig through a lot of books or know a lot of people who practice to get a feel for what you're doing,
I think that this bit is really interesting. With a lot of Buddhist practice, people are "reasoned into it" through books and dhamma talks, or through talking with friends. Even with meditation, there tends to be quite a lot of instruction, including "why we are doing this". In the case of devotional practices, though, it is often a question of just joining in with the bowing, chanting, making of offerings, etc., and seeing whether you "get it". The same applies to explaining it to other people, especially hard-headed rationalists who want to know the benefits and will gladly meditate if they can see a result, but don't appreciate why one might want to burn incense at home.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about it. It provides a strong sense of "I'm not doing this alone", which can carry one through tough patches and provide inspiration. Often, though, I find part of my mind watching with a kind of amused and embarrased incredulity. I find that I need a "story" which can justify my devotional practices to myself ("This will help the mind settle down to meditation in a minute...") whereas people who are born to it, and lots of other Westerners, clearly don't.

How much more refreshing it is to be around Thais and Sri Lankans who have a "natural" devotional practice, than Western obsessive "dhamma-lawyers" who have got it all worked out and want to prove how stupid or unenlightened one is...

Thanks for an interesting point on a topic which is under-represented here.

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Re: Do you like or dislike devotional practices?

Post by JamesTheGiant » Fri Jun 01, 2018 9:22 am

I like devotional practise, for the first 5 minutes.

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Wizard in the Forest
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Re: Do you like or dislike devotional practices?

Post by Wizard in the Forest » Fri Jun 01, 2018 9:43 am

@pilgrim
Oddly I see a lot of devotional practice being much like baseball. Playing baseball is a lot more fun than watching it, and there are going to be people who just don't get the sport at all, but it's still worth learning to play.

@Sam vara
Those guys aren't the worst. The "I heard meditation gets you high, so I'm looking into Buddhism and I heard you were one. Teach me how to get high." Are easily the worst! At least self righteous dhamma lawyers love dhamma.

Though I find sincere devotional practice to be a neglected topic when I engage other practitioners in the west and I find that odd. There's a sad point that it also means the literature is more limited, and thus learning what people do by tradition is actually hard.

I can't say I know as much about them other than what I piece together and I wasn't born in a Buddhist family, don't have friends who are Buddhist or were raised Buddhist either, sadly. So I'm left looking for books, and there isn't really Dhamma talks on cultivation of saddha or on devotional practice.

It's sort of taken for granted which is ironic given the fact that more people are skeptical nowadays.

@JamesTheGiant
Concentration is part of practice too, tranquility and concentration go hand in hand. It also helps that in many cases you're learning the language and are memorizing various formulas that are constantly in suttas.

You can pick up specific formulas and recognize how they're recited in the sutta and will find yourself internally saying the sutta as a chant in your head as you reflect on it.
"One is not born a woman, but becomes one."- Simone de Beauvoir

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Re: Do you like or dislike devotional practices?

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Jun 01, 2018 9:49 am

Thanks for the topic WitF!

I started with devotional practices, not meditation, so perhaps I'm unusual for a "convert Buddhist". I find them useful in maintaining confidence in the teachings and momentum in my practice.

I recall in some talk or other Ajahn Amaro recalling how at one point he realised he had developed enormous gratitude to the Buddha for his teachings, much the same feeling of gratitude he had for his flesh and blood teachers.

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Mr Man
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Re: Do you like or dislike devotional practices?

Post by Mr Man » Fri Jun 01, 2018 12:29 pm

I like traditional devotional practices.

They give me a sense of timelessness and connection with those who have gone before.

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Re: Do you like or dislike devotional practices?

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Jun 01, 2018 9:32 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Fri Jun 01, 2018 9:49 am
I started with devotional practices, not meditation, so perhaps I'm unusual for a "convert Buddhist". I find them useful in maintaining confidence in the teachings and momentum in my practice.
Having said that, I mostly do devotional practices as a monastery. It's a combination of the place and the devotional/gratitude feeling that helps me. As Mr Man says:
Mr Man wrote:
Fri Jun 01, 2018 12:29 pm
They give me a sense of timelessness and connection with those who have gone before.
And, to me, that's important. I don't identify with the idea that the "real meaning" has been nutted out by a few clever moderns. I identify with the idea that for over two millennia these teachings have been practiced and explained well, and that most of my Buddhist friends are, in various ways, practicing well.

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Re: Do you like or dislike devotional practices?

Post by SarathW » Fri Jun 01, 2018 10:50 pm

I do not like devotional practice (used to hate as a child) and I do not do it even now.
However I see the benefit of it.
It helps you to lay the foundation for the Buddhism.
The main advantage is that is the foundation for learning Pali.
I wish I was a devotional kid when I was young.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: Do you like or dislike devotional practices?

Post by Dinsdale » Sat Jun 02, 2018 8:15 am

Wizard in the Forest wrote:
Fri Jun 01, 2018 4:21 am
What's your experience with devotional practice, and do you like or dislike it?
I find it inspiring, but don't do much of it these days.
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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Re: Do you like or dislike devotional practices?

Post by ieee23 » Sat Jun 02, 2018 8:21 am

I don't do devotional practices.

Meditation, precepts, and reading up on the Buddha's teachings have a story behind them how they might work to move you forward in life and without requiring dogma. That isn't the case with devotional practices.
Whatever a bhikkhu frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. - MN 19

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Re: Do you like or dislike devotional practices?

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Jun 02, 2018 8:38 am

Here's the Buddha's advice:
If you’ve gone to a wilderness, or to the root of a tree, or to an empty hut and you get scared or terrified, just recollect me:
‘sace tumhākaṃ, bhikkhave, araññagatānaṃ vā rukkhamūlagatānaṃ vā suññāgāragatānaṃ vā uppajjeyya bhayaṃ vā chambhitattaṃ vā lomahaṃso vā, mameva tasmiṃ samaye anussareyyātha:

‘That Blessed One is perfected, a fully awakened Buddha, accomplished in knowledge and conduct, holy, knower of the world, supreme guide for those who wish to train, teacher of gods and humans, awakened, blessed.’
“itipi so bhagavā arahaṃ sammāsambuddho vijjācaraṇasampanno sugato lokavidū anuttaro purisadammasārathi satthā devamanussānaṃ buddho bhagavā”ti.

Then your fear and terror will go away.
Mamañhi vo, bhikkhave, anussarataṃ yaṃ bhavissati bhayaṃ vā chambhitattaṃ vā lomahaṃso vā, so pahīyissati.

https://suttacentral.net/sn11.3/en/sujato#9.1
The highlighted Pali will be a familiar chant: viewtopic.php?t=26134

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Re: Do you like or dislike devotional practices?

Post by budo » Sat Jun 02, 2018 9:26 am

I don't perform rites and rituals. I do Brahma viharas naturally throughout my meditation, when I feel the bliss of deep jhana I naturally wish for all of humanity, friends and family to feel what I'm feeling, I am thankful for not being in a state of suffering and wish for everyone the same.

When I was a beginner just entering the jhanas for the first time I had fear because I was no longer breathing, seeing white, I thought I was dying. I used the Brahma viharas or recalled the Buddha to suspend the fear , otherwise the fear would prevent me from entering Jhanas.

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Re: Do you like or dislike devotional practices?

Post by James Tan » Sat Jun 02, 2018 9:46 am

If a person is too rational it is difficult to become devotional . Being devotional is emotional . However , devotional is essential to soften the hardened mind. It does help a person to be spiritual instead of being philosophical all the time .
:reading:

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