Pali term or concept related to Grace?

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Vipassana1501
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Re: Pali term or concept related to Grace?

Post by Vipassana1501 » Sun Sep 05, 2010 12:38 am

My apologies, I have not been at the computer and thus unable to respond to the posts that have come up regarding my question about "Grace".

First let me say that If it seemed as if my initial question left a great deal of room for interpretation, that would be because that was the way I received the question myself. My intuition is that the best point of comparison would be the Christian idea of "Gods Grace". Beings as how I'm a life-long Buddhist, I'm not overly familiar with Christian Theology- In many ways as I study interdenominational spiritual counseling I'm being exposed to some of the basic concepts the Abrhamic faiths for the first time. If we take Grace in the literal Christian sense we might say it is "Gods unmerited favor" or gods ability to do for us what we are unable to do for ourselves. I really cannot imagine a concept more antithetical to my beliefs as a Buddhist- However, as I'm studying at a Buddhist College in the West, I'm quite sure that what was being asked was not just that I explore the obvious differences between these two belief systems but rather to investigate the "possibility" of an intersection of ideologies. I brought this question to this board thinking that perhaps there was a particular word from the Pali Canon such as "anubhava" that might shed more light on the topic. It may be that such a word does not exist and since this seems to be the general consensus here in regards to linguistic interpretation, I refined my question and found some interesting responses from other sources. The refined question read as follows: "In the Theravada tradition can one find a concept corresponding to the idea of something outside of the self, which in contact with the self creates significant positive transformation the self?" (This is of course just one, VERY BROAD, interpretation of Grace). I realize that this moves the question outside of the realm of Pali vocabulary and into that of hermeneutics, so I'm not seeking a response on this board. But if you must... And thanks for everyone's input!

PS: Buddhist Chaplaincy is the practice of institutionally based spiritual counseling offered from a Buddhist perspective to people of all faiths. It is a recent development in Western Buddhism that allows Buddhists to interact with large public institution in an official capacity, this does not require one be a monk or priest as such. The School is The University of the West in Rosemead, Ca.

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Ben
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Re: Pali term or concept related to Grace?

Post by Ben » Sun Sep 05, 2010 1:05 am

Hi Vipassana1501,
I tried responding yesterday but my dinky internet connection dropped out as I hit the submit button and I lost the post.
What comes to mind is a post Ed (Zavk) wrote in a thread I started on 'Gratitude' in the personal experience sub-forum, where he mentioned that the contemplation or spontaneous arising of gratitude led him to an experience of something that he described as 'grace'-like. Its tangential because its not going to be an answer rooted in textual evidence but the result of personal practice of a contemporary practitioner.
Its a shame Ajahn Dhammanando rarely posts on Dhamma Wheel as he is an expert in Pali and I am sure he would be able to introduce some interesting insights into your line of enquiry.
I am also beginning to wonder whether what you are looking for, in grace, are the ten paramitas (perfections), which when practiced, supports one in their aspirations. Just an idea!
all the very best with your studies!
metta

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

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Paññāsikhara
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Re: Pali term or concept related to Grace?

Post by Paññāsikhara » Sun Sep 05, 2010 2:10 am

Vipassana1501 wrote:My apologies, I have not been at the computer and thus unable to respond to the posts that have come up regarding my question about "Grace".

...

PS: Buddhist Chaplaincy is the practice of institutionally based spiritual counseling offered from a Buddhist perspective to people of all faiths. It is a recent development in Western Buddhism that allows Buddhists to interact with large public institution in an official capacity, this does not require one be a monk or priest as such. The School is The University of the West in Rosemead, Ca.
Hi Vipassana1501,

Thanks for answering the question on where you are studying. I thought that it might be at UWest. If you know any of the Foguang Shan monastics studying or working there, like Ven Huizai or Ven Jueqian, please say hi to them from me (Huifeng).
My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: Huifeng's Prajnacara Blog.

Paññāsikhara
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Re: Pali term or concept related to Grace?

Post by Paññāsikhara » Sun Sep 05, 2010 2:13 am

Ideas like the anubhava or adhisthana of the Buddha (or bodhisattvas) "empowering" other living beings is something that is associated with the later stages of the Mahayana. In particular, some (but not all) far eastern Buddhist forms of "Pureland" buddhism, involving the "other power" of Amitabha, may have something very close to this. Or, the power of the guru in awakening the student in tantra. This really isn't Theravada territory.
My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: Huifeng's Prajnacara Blog.

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Goofaholix
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Re: Pali term or concept related to Grace?

Post by Goofaholix » Sun Sep 05, 2010 3:31 am

Vipassana1501 wrote:The refined question read as follows: "In the Theravada tradition can one find a concept corresponding to the idea of something outside of the self, which in contact with the self creates significant positive transformation the self?" (This is of course just one, VERY BROAD, interpretation of Grace).
No not really. Maybe there is the possibility of a teacher transmitting some level of awakening to a student but this idea doesn't really exist much in Theravada I think other than in the minds of idealistic students I suppose, it's more of a Mahayana concept.

I think maybe several Mahayana concepts are closer to the concept of "Grace" than anything you'll find i n Theravada.

For example the idea that we are all fully enlightened but don't realise it, or the idea of instant enlightenment, both are about receiving or having something you haven't necessarily earned. Also as mentioned before the idea of receiving transmission from a teacher or guru.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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yuttadhammo
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Re: Pali term or concept related to Grace?

Post by yuttadhammo » Mon Sep 06, 2010 5:14 pm

Vipassana1501 wrote:I'm a Buddhist Chaplaincy student at the who's been asked to do some research on comparing/translating the Christian concept of Grace in regards to Theravada practices. I feel like I may be missing something obvious but I keep finding myself going down dead ends. Does anyone have any thoughts or suggestions? Thanks!
I imagine "grace" in a Christian sense has something to do with the view of divine causality:
"tamañño evamāha `na kho pana metaṃ, bho, evaṃ bhavissati. santi hi, bho, devatā mahiddhikā mahānubhāvā. tā imassa purisassa saññaṃ upakaḍḍhantipi apakaḍḍhantipi. yasmiṃ samaye upakaḍḍhanti, saññī tasmiṃ samaye hoti. yasmiṃ samaye apakaḍḍhanti, asaññī tasmiṃ samaye hotī'ti. ittheke abhisaññānirodhaṃ paññapenti.

'On that another said: "That, Sirs, will never be as you say. But there are certain devas of great power and influence. It is they who infuse consciousness into a man, and draw it away out of him. When they infuse it into him he becomes conscious, when they draw it away he becomes unconscious." Thus do others explain the cessation of consciousness.

D. 9
It probably also has to do with the view that brahma is "sañjita" - one who assigns beings to their station in life:
yepi te sattā pacchā upapannā, tesampi evaṃ hoti `ayaṃ kho bhavaṃ brahmā mahābrahmā abhibhū anabhibhūto aññadatthudaso vasavattī issaro kattā nimmātā seṭṭho sajitā vasī pitā bhūtabhabyānaṃ. iminā mayaṃ bhotā brahmunā nimmitā. taṃ kissa hetu? imañhi mayaṃ addasāma idha paṭhamaṃ upapannaṃ, mayaṃ panamha pacchā upapannā'ti..

And those beings themselves, too, think thus: "This must be Brahmâ, the Great Brahmâ, the Supreme, the Mighty, the All-seeing, the Ruler, the Lord of all, the Maker, the Creator, the Chief of all, appointing to each his place, the Ancient of days, the Father of all that are and are to be, And we must have been created by him. And why? Because, as we see, it was he who was here first, and we came after that.

D. 1
I think it is unreasonable to insist that grace has any place in the Buddha's teaching; even the Buddha himself was merely "akkhātu", one who shows the way:
tumhehi kiccamātappaṃ, akkhātāro tathāgatā.
paṭipannā pamokkhanti, jhāyino mārabandhanā.


You yourselves must strive; the Buddhas only point the way.
Those meditative ones who tread the path are released from the bonds of Mara.

Dhp 276

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