Christian prayer as skillful means

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
befriend
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Christian prayer as skillful means

Post by befriend » Fri Oct 26, 2018 11:09 pm

I get a lot of healing through saying the Hail Mary and find it useful to talk to God or Jesus. I will always believe in kamma vipaka. But am wondering if it's ethically alright to use talking to God and chanting our fathers and Hail Marys. It does help me. And because of my illness I cannot do Buddhist jhana practices. I would never proselytize, or adhere to biblical writings as authoritative. I would simply talk to God, pray Hail Marys and visualize Jesus smiling at me and me smiling back at him. I would remain agnostic to gods existence but use him as a skillful means to cultivate healing.
Take care of mindfulness and mindfulness will take care of you.

befriend
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Re: Christian prayer as skillful means

Post by befriend » Fri Oct 26, 2018 11:16 pm

Maybe I can try praying to Jesus and Mary and forget about God.
Take care of mindfulness and mindfulness will take care of you.

SarathW
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Re: Christian prayer as skillful means

Post by SarathW » Sat Oct 27, 2018 12:40 am

If I can pray to God or anyone and get help (money and health etc) I will do it by all means.
At the moment I am prying to my boss for money and the doctors for health so there is no difference to me.
I can save a lot of money and have free time.
Only thing I do not pray for is for my liberation.
According to Buddhist teaching, it amounts to a clinging to rites and rituals.

In the past, I used to pray and got things. (I am not sure whether it is my hard work as well)
But everything I got leads me to more Dukka.
So I stopped prying and asking from supernaturals.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Sam Vara
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Re: Christian prayer as skillful means

Post by Sam Vara » Sat Oct 27, 2018 8:41 am

befriend wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 11:09 pm
I get a lot of healing through saying the Hail Mary and find it useful to talk to God or Jesus. I will always believe in kamma vipaka. But am wondering if it's ethically alright to use talking to God and chanting our fathers and Hail Marys. It does help me. And because of my illness I cannot do Buddhist jhana practices. I would never proselytize, or adhere to biblical writings as authoritative. I would simply talk to God, pray Hail Marys and visualize Jesus smiling at me and me smiling back at him. I would remain agnostic to gods existence but use him as a skillful means to cultivate healing.
It depends what you mean by "ethically right". If you derive genuine benefit from this, and nobody else is harmed, then I can't see any ethical objections. The worst that might be said of it is that it might lead you into a type of delusion, so that you become confused and stop making progress later. But the Buddha has provided monastics with a guide to practices which we might base our self-examination on:
you might know that certain things don’t lead solely to disillusionment, dispassion, cessation, peace, insight, awakening, and extinguishment. You should definitely bear in mind that such things are not the teaching, not the training, and not the Teacher’s instructions. You might know that certain things do lead solely to disillusionment, dispassion, cessation, peace, insight, awakening, and extinguishment. You should definitely bear in mind that such things are the teaching, the training, and the Teacher’s instructions.”
https://suttacentral.net/an7.83/en/sujato

If you find that your practice of prayer is helping, then there is no reason not to continue with it. If it causes problems, then you might want to review it.

I know, and have known, several practitioners who were interested in the relationship between Buddhism and Christianity, and who adopted aspects of practice from both traditions. None of them seemed to be doing the wrong thing, all were generally happy with their practice, and they were often more congenial than the fundamentalists from either side of the divide.

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Pseudobabble
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Re: Christian prayer as skillful means

Post by Pseudobabble » Sat Oct 27, 2018 10:13 am

Christian practices are similar in many ways to Vajrayana practices, and there are also many similarities to Theravada practices. For example, devotional prayer to Christ is very similar to Guru Yoga, which is in turn very similar to the Recollection of the Buddha. There are of course differences in emphasis, but since we are all human beings, it would be surprising to find absolute contradictions between traditions. I'd the standard is whether it works - if it works, do it.
"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'" - Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta


'Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.' - Genesis 3:19

'Some fart freely, some try to hide and silence it. Which one is correct?' - Saegnapha

befriend
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Re: Christian prayer as skillful means

Post by befriend » Sat Oct 27, 2018 1:42 pm

I think praying to someone solidifies the sense of self. I had a good mindfulness meditation this morning I guess I just had doubt about the practice as it pertains to myself. Thanks for the feedback. I will study mindfulness more as I seem to practice more than I read which is imbalanced.
Take care of mindfulness and mindfulness will take care of you.

SarathW
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Re: Christian prayer as skillful means

Post by SarathW » Sat Oct 27, 2018 9:59 pm

I think praying to someone solidifies the sense of self.
Agree.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

Terrence
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Re: Christian prayer as skillful means

Post by Terrence » Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:26 pm

befriend wrote:
Sat Oct 27, 2018 1:42 pm
I think praying to someone solidifies the sense of self. I had a good mindfulness meditation this morning I guess I just had doubt about the practice as it pertains to myself. Thanks for the feedback. I will study mindfulness more as I seem to practice more than I read which is imbalanced.
In the advanced stages of Christian prayer, the prayer tends to become more and more quiet (wordless) anyway. There are some sections in the Catechism of the Catholic Church on contemplative prayer. For a much fuller introduction, see The Ways of Mental Prayer with Introductory Letter by Pope Pius X by Vital Lehodey.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Christian prayer as skillful means

Post by Sam Vara » Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:46 pm

Terrence wrote:
Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:26 pm
befriend wrote:
Sat Oct 27, 2018 1:42 pm
I think praying to someone solidifies the sense of self. I had a good mindfulness meditation this morning I guess I just had doubt about the practice as it pertains to myself. Thanks for the feedback. I will study mindfulness more as I seem to practice more than I read which is imbalanced.
In the advanced stages of Christian prayer, the prayer tends to become more and more quiet (wordless) anyway. There are some sections in the Catechism of the Catholic Church on contemplative prayer. For a much fuller introduction, see The Ways of Mental Prayer with Introductory Letter by Pope Pius X by Vital Lehodey.
Agreed. The idea that Christian prayer is exclusively verbal and petitionary is as ill-informed as the view that "Buddhists just try to get their minds to go blank". There is a very old and lively tradition of silent, contemplative and non-directive prayer in both Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism. I'm often struck by how similar its habitual practitioners are to advanced Buddhist monastics.

chownah
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Re: Christian prayer as skillful means

Post by chownah » Sun Nov 25, 2018 1:46 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:46 pm
Terrence wrote:
Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:26 pm
befriend wrote:
Sat Oct 27, 2018 1:42 pm
I think praying to someone solidifies the sense of self. I had a good mindfulness meditation this morning I guess I just had doubt about the practice as it pertains to myself. Thanks for the feedback. I will study mindfulness more as I seem to practice more than I read which is imbalanced.
In the advanced stages of Christian prayer, the prayer tends to become more and more quiet (wordless) anyway. There are some sections in the Catechism of the Catholic Church on contemplative prayer. For a much fuller introduction, see The Ways of Mental Prayer with Introductory Letter by Pope Pius X by Vital Lehodey.
Agreed. The idea that Christian prayer is exclusively verbal and petitionary is as ill-informed as the view that "Buddhists just try to get their minds to go blank". There is a very old and lively tradition of silent, contemplative and non-directive prayer in both Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism. I'm often struck by how similar its habitual practitioners are to advanced Buddhist monastics.
It doesn't seem to me that this is what befriend's posting is about.....especially when he mentions "praying to someone solidifies the sense of self" and dropping god but continuing with mary and jesus.

Also, the "prayer" which is contemplative might just as well be called "meditation".......I think that the commonly held idea about prayer is that is is wordy.....I've got no problem with anyone saying that christian meditation is "prayer"......I'm just point out something....
chownah

Sweeney
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Re: Christian prayer as skillful means

Post by Sweeney » Sun Nov 25, 2018 5:48 am

I can see how Christian prayer might conflict with Buddhist meditation, but I would think that saying "Hail Mary's" would be somewhat equivalent to taking refuge in the "Triple Gem". I have never been a Catholic so I can't really say this from experience, but from my "limited" understanding of catholic prayer, saying "Hail Mary's" is more about taking refuge is it not? It's more about solidifying oneself in one's faith and practice rather than just asking for things... Just a thought.
Sabbapāpassa akaraṇaṃ
Kusalassa upasampadā
Sacittapariyodapanaṃ
Etaṃ buddhāna sāsanaṃ
~ Dhp 183 ~

SarathW
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Re: Christian prayer as skillful means

Post by SarathW » Sun Nov 25, 2018 5:57 am

"Hail Mary's" would be somewhat equivalent to taking refuge in the "Triple Gem" would they not?
I would say no.
Who is the Buddha in Three refuges?

viewtopic.php?f=16&t=21220&p=300007&hilit=
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

Sweeney
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Re: Christian prayer as skillful means

Post by Sweeney » Sun Nov 25, 2018 6:13 am

SarathW wrote:
Sun Nov 25, 2018 5:57 am
"Hail Mary's" would be somewhat equivalent to taking refuge in the "Triple Gem" would they not?
I would say no.
Who is the Buddha in Three refuges?

viewtopic.php?f=16&t=21220&p=300007&hilit=
somewhat equivalent... It's more about solidifying oneself in one's faith and practice...
I'm not trying to dispute the meaning of taking refuge in the Triple Gem, merely putting forward ideas about the parallels between the two...
Sabbapāpassa akaraṇaṃ
Kusalassa upasampadā
Sacittapariyodapanaṃ
Etaṃ buddhāna sāsanaṃ
~ Dhp 183 ~

SarathW
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Re: Christian prayer as skillful means

Post by SarathW » Sun Nov 25, 2018 6:47 am

Agree.
It is a form of a refuge.
We take refuge of our parents and friends etc.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Sam Vara
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Re: Christian prayer as skillful means

Post by Sam Vara » Sun Nov 25, 2018 8:01 am

chownah wrote:
Sun Nov 25, 2018 1:46 am

It doesn't seem to me that this is what befriend's posting is about.....especially when he mentions "praying to someone solidifies the sense of self" and dropping god but continuing with mary and jesus.
Yes, that's why I was commenting on Terrence's post, and not befriend's. It might be the case that praying to someone solidifies the sense of self; I don't know. I was agreeing with Terrence's point that prayer can be contemplative and wordless.
Also, the "prayer" which is contemplative might just as well be called "meditation".......I think that the commonly held idea about prayer is that is is wordy
Likewise, some people might want to say that "meditation" could just as easily be called a form of contemplative prayer; its merely a matter of semantics and designated usage of a term, dependent upon a particular tradition. The commonly held idea of prayer is precisely what I was addressing, by pointing out that it is not universally true. With any luck, there will be Christians on a forum somewhere pointing out that the commonly-held ideas about Buddhism are not universally true either.

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