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What is Sacred?

I frequently come across the term 'sacred', and I have suddenly realised that beyond dictionary definitions, I do not really understand the term.

I have been powerfully moved by art and nature for example but is that sacred? Does sacred have any meaning in Buddhism?

Comments

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Putting Zen and advanced unholiness aside ...
    http://poetrychina.net/Story_of_Zen/zenstory3a.htm

    ... we have the ascribed or projected sacred of Tantra, Holy Sangha, Magick Buddha and pure worded Shingon. This is the skilful use of the generated sacred to inspire and direct. The great intensity, emotional fervour, repetition, generation of reverence, humility, metta towards objects and people, temples and mandalas, mantras and Purelands etc. ... makes them sacred.

    Do not be scared or scarred by the sacred. Use it. o:)

    rocalaperson
  • kandokando northern Ireland Veteran

    Although I adhere to Zen like a limpet to a very slippery rock, I also consider the natural world, art and imagination sacred @rocala. For myself it means anything that produces a feeling of wonder 🙂

    rocalalobster
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    Does sacred have any meaning in Buddhism?

    It's meaning usually means something that is worthy of veneration, reverence or respect. It is not a clearly defined concept in traditional Buddhism because there isn't even a word for it in the old languages.

    lobsterrocala
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran
    edited July 20

    I like to understand this through the lens of moral foundations theory, sanctity is one of them. I've tested myself and sanctity is my lowest score.

    In the US something a conservative would see as sacred is the flag. I had a flag on my wall as a kid and have an American flag t shirt, but to me it the value isn't in the flag. It only has value in that it represents values I care about such as liberty, equality, opportunity. Progressives tend to hold nature as sacred, I like nature and spend time in it, but unlike some further to the left than me, nature to me doesn't have inherent value in itself, I care about the environment to the extent that it is the home for humans and animals and the fact that we need it to survive and prosper.

    I see the opposite of most of the categories as having a positive aspect rather than only negative as they seem to. For example the opposite of care isn't necessarily harm but can rather be seen as effectiveness or in the case of sanctity the opposite isn't just degradation but complexity or relativity.

    So do I hold anything as sacred? I value the Buddhadharma but only to the extent that it helps conscious beings reduce their suffering. Maybe then I hold consciousness as sacred? Could be, I think the base level of moral concern is a being that can experience pain and pleasure. So animals and humans but not plants or robots (at least not yet).

    I guess having said all that sacred means something has moral value in promoting well being?

    rocalalobster
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited July 20

    The sacred is meaning imputed into the mundane.

    Your trash may be my treasure or no mud, no lotus?

    Sacred is as sacred does?

    Guess I don't know either.

    rocala
  • paulysopaulyso usa Veteran

    hmm...a shared moment like that avaatar movie phraise i see you with the extra touch with a sincere smile with the element of ease.is that describe budd-ha-ism? i don't know?

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @kando said:
    ... For myself it means anything that produces a feeling of wonder 🙂

    That for me, awe and wonder, in particular nature, is sacred. My feeling is that a Buddhist can have a sense of gratitude, harmony, connection and so on and require no recourse to Gawd or Gawdliness aka deity. In other words our experience becomes a revelation, a sacred relationship ...

    personkandorocala
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    What is Sacred?

    Something that one or many hold dear/special :)

    personlobsterkando
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    I feel that is very simple and effective @Shoshin

    The dervish Bodhi say, 'Increase in Love' and mean it. The widening acceptance of experience as special ('nothing special' is not Zen or secular nihilism, it is profound) ...

    It is a bit like having a sacred object in ones hand. Grasp it and the object becomes tight, open the hand ... and ...
    ... the objects presence or absence is equally sacred ...

    Emptiness is Form and Form is Emptiness as the Sacred said to a Void ...

    personkando
  • rocalarocala Explorer

    Thanks everyone for your input. I am glad to see that 'nature' was mentioned by others. I guess I am not so far off the track as I thought.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Something sacred to me is something that nourishes the Mind, Body and existence; there is no distinguishing what it is, whether it is a place, a book or an animal.... something that makes you feel completely at peace, in 'the Zone' and complete.

    And that if anyone else despoils or disrespects, in whichever way they choose, will make you want to stab them with a blunt knife.

    With Love, of course....

    personrocalaKundokando
  • rocalarocala Explorer

    A very nice definition @federica, thank you. Definately copy and paste material.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    I think ideas could fall into the sacred category as well. Certain things just can't be questioned among some groups.

    kando
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @rocala said:
    I have been powerfully moved by art and nature for example but is that sacred? Does sacred have any meaning in Buddhism?

    Art can and was and is sacred in many cultures. In a secular society art ideally, offers differing potentials for trancendence. Allowing us to think beyond the box, being stimulated beyond our comfort zone, finding beauty, ideas and emotions we are uncertain about. Being powerfully moved can be skilfull in Buddhism but is often described as an impediment, clouding clear insight ...

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_poetry

  • kandokando northern Ireland Veteran

    Prime candidates for the blunt knife kindly treatment are people who litter! Especially in peaceful, beautiful places or anywhere I like to walk. Can one have a compassionate Grrrr? 🐯

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    (....and people who spit. Ugh. I'd love them with a baseball bat. <3 :D )

    kando
  • VimalajātiVimalajāti Whitby, Ontario Veteran

    What is sacred? What is holy?

    Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy!
    The world is holy! The soul is holy! The skin is holy! The nose is holy! The tongue and cock and hand and asshole holy!
    Everything is holy! everybody’s holy! everywhere is holy! everyday is in eternity! Everyman’s an angel!
    The bum’s as holy as the seraphim! the madman is holy as you my soul are holy!
    The typewriter is holy the poem is holy the voice is holy the hearers are holy the ecstasy is holy!
    Holy Peter holy Allen holy Solomon holy Lucien holy Kerouac holy Huncke holy Burroughs holy Cassady holy the unknown buggered and suffering beggars holy the hideous human angels!
    Holy my mother in the insane asylum! Holy the cocks of the grandfathers of Kansas!
    Holy the groaning saxophone! Holy the bop apocalypse! Holy the jazzbands marijuana hipsters peace peyote pipes & drums!
    Holy the solitudes of skyscrapers and pavements! Holy the cafeterias filled with the millions! Holy the mysterious rivers of tears under the streets!
    Holy the lone juggernaut! Holy the vast lamb of the middleclass! Holy the crazy shepherds of rebellion! Who digs Los Angeles IS Los Angeles!
    Holy New York Holy San Francisco Holy Peoria & Seattle Holy Paris Holy Tangiers Holy Moscow Holy Istanbul!
    Holy time in eternity holy eternity in time holy the clocks in space holy the fourth dimension holy the fifth International holy the Angel in Moloch!
    Holy the sea holy the desert holy the railroad holy the locomotive holy the visions holy the hallucinations holy the miracles holy the eyeball holy the abyss!
    Holy forgiveness! mercy! charity! faith! Holy! Ours! bodies! suffering! magnanimity!
    Holy the supernatural extra brilliant intelligent kindness of the soul!

    (Allen Ginsberg, Howl for Carl Solomon, footnote Berkley 1955)

    personlobsterkando
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    I think I may not be just low on sanctity, I think I take some relish in deconstructing sacred cows. Seeing something being held as sacred triggers some impulse in me.

    lobsterKerome
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited July 24

    @seeker242 said:

    Does sacred have any meaning in Buddhism?

    It's meaning usually means something that is worthy of veneration, reverence or respect.

    I enjoyed the Ginsberg poem. I have respect for the poem and Ginsberg. Veneration and reverence not required.

    What then deserves veneration, reverence and a sacred designation? For me, even though a formal, ritualistic training mode: The Triple Gem. Also the paramita

    Some of us have Buddhist hamburger brain, we worship our Sacred Mooing and offer no refuge for others sanctity. O.o

    I have a soft spot for Ganesha, who tolerates and enjoys jokes about his humongous belly of truly cosmic dimensions ... In the some Buddhist versions, Lord Ganesha is the husband of Avalokitesvara.

    person
  • kandokando northern Ireland Veteran

    The dancing god! Wow. I love the way the Hindu gods can crash any party with such ease and grace. The chaotic ambiguity of it all speaks dirrectly to my howlin' heart B)

    lobster
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    What is Sacred?

    That which one makes "holy"

    lobsterKerome
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    @lobster said:
    I enjoyed the Ginsberg poem. I have respect for the poem and Ginsberg. Veneration and reverence not required.

    What then deserves veneration, reverence and a sacred designation? For me, even though a formal, ritualistic training mode: The Triple Gem. Also the paramita

    Some of us have Buddhist hamburger brain, we worship our Sacred Mooing and offer no refuge for others sanctity. O.o

    I have a soft spot for Ganesha, who tolerates and enjoys jokes about his humongous belly of truly cosmic dimensions ... In the some Buddhist versions, Lord Ganesha is the husband of Avalokitesvara.

    I like the distinction between respect and reverence, you can have one without the other.

    kando
  • VimalajātiVimalajāti Whitby, Ontario Veteran

    @person said:

    @lobster said:
    I enjoyed the Ginsberg poem. I have respect for the poem and Ginsberg. Veneration and reverence not required.
    [...]

    I like the distinction between respect and reverence, you can have one without the other.

    Is that distinction one of nature, respect and reverence are "different", or one of degree?

    person
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    @Vimalajāti said:

    @person said:

    @lobster said:
    I enjoyed the Ginsberg poem. I have respect for the poem and Ginsberg. Veneration and reverence not required.
    [...]

    I like the distinction between respect and reverence, you can have one without the other.

    Is that distinction one of nature, respect and reverence are "different", or one of degree?

    That's a good question, I hadn't really thought it out. It deserves some reflection I think, watch this space.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    One Bird One Stone: 108 American Zen Stories by Sean Murphy
    ... may be relevant to our discussions ...

    The morning after Philip Kapleau and Professor Phillips arrived at Ryutakuji Monastery they were given a tour of the place by Abbot Soen Nakagawa. Both Americans had been heavily influenced by tales of ancient Chinese masters who'd destroyed sacred texts, and even images of the Buddha, in order to free themselves from attachment to anything. They were thus surprised and disturbed to find themselves being led into a ceremonial hall, where the Roshi invited them to pay respects to a statue of the temple's founder, Hakuin Zenji, by bowing and offering incense.

    On seeing Nakagawa bow before the image, Phillips couldn't contain himself, and burst out: "The old Chinese masters burned or spit on Buddha statues! Why do you bow down before them?"

    "If you want to spit, you spit," replied the Roshi. "I prefer to bow."

    Shoshinperson
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    @Vimalajāti said:

    @person said:

    @lobster said:
    I enjoyed the Ginsberg poem. I have respect for the poem and Ginsberg. Veneration and reverence not required.
    [...]

    I like the distinction between respect and reverence, you can have one without the other.

    Is that distinction one of nature, respect and reverence are "different", or one of degree?

    I think I'd say that the difference is mostly one of degree, where reverence is a stronger form of respect. But I also think there is a subtle difference in nature too.

    When you get into reverence I think there is a need to put the qualities that engender that feeling wholly into that object. So as in @federica's definition a slight or offense against the object of reverence engenders offense as if attacking the object is an attack on the principles. Where as in @lobster's story the roshi had respect for the Buddha but if someone else spit on the Buddha he wouldn't be offended because the Buddha is only a stand in.

    I was just reminded of a story Ajahn Brahm tells. Post 9/11 there was some story about someone or other flushing a Koran down the toilet and the outrage that followed from many Muslims. Some reporter contacted Ajahn Brahm to ask how we would react if someone flushed a Buddhist holy book down the toilet. His response, "I would call a plumber." He explains that a book is just a book, the important things are the qualities they promote, no one is flushing compassion or wisdom down the toilet.

    lobster
  • paulysopaulyso usa Veteran

    hmm...the buddhist vibe is to respect life,and shareing time with nature is an avenue. and respect the bye product of life through human hands such as religios/secular icon that inspire us. i enjoy my bob marley poster. and i choose to bow at buddha.

    personkando
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Does sacred have any meaning in Buddhism?

    I too, like @paulyso, revere the Buddha, his teaching, his uniformed branch (sangha) and recognise the value in initially placing a few charms in our sacred or revered space.

    We also [ Warning may contain spoilers ] start to recognise the unskilfull things we revere:

    For example

    • beauty
    • strong attachments
    • music
    • silence
    • meditation cushions and antique sardine tins :3
    • sex, drugs and rock and roll
    • our mind
    • our mindlessness

    How many things do we revere that are impediments? Is a lack of impediments no refuge ...
    https://www.buddhistdoor.net/features/why-haiku-holds-the-flavor-of-zen

  • kandokando northern Ireland Veteran

    'zen lunatics who go about writing poetry' - yep that's right on, man! B)

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    He explains that a book is just a book, the important things are the qualities they promote, no one is flushing compassion or wisdom down the toilet.

    Tee hee. Indeed. <3

    Toilet and rubbish path walkers, mistake the symbol or personification for the thing itself. So for example the emptying experienced in meditation is confused with the space it sits in ... To put it another way, investing a mantra with powers to contact sacred Buddha realms is ultimately empty BUT personally manifest.

    The sacred is a relationship with ideals and expansive qualities that we aspire to and inspire from.

    person
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    What is Sacred?

    Anything, everything, something & nothing...It's all fair game ...in the scheme of things :)

    kando
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    What is Sacred?

    When I was a dervish (everybody should have a hobby), words were extremely important and had multiple meanings and possibilities. @Shoshin describes some of the potential meanings ...

    Subjectively our experience/interpretation of meanings may change/deepen. We may for purposes of denial/ignorance feel words are meaningless ...

    Not so. They are sacred. If heresy was still a crime, Allah's Witnesses would be around with the Inquisition in no time ... foaming at the mouth:

    In the Beginning was The Word and The Word was COD. (Sutra John 1.1)

    ... and now back to the sacred (allegedly) Dharma and plumbing tips ...

  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited July 29

    @lobster said:

    What is Sacred?

    When I was a dervish (everybody should have a hobby), words were extremely important and had multiple meanings and possibilities. @Shoshin describes some of the potential meanings ...

    Just wondering--aren't the dervishes a Sufi tradition? That type of "twilight language" you describe is used in Vajrayana, as well. Were you a Sufi, at one time?

    What is "Sacred"? It's the opposite of "profane". And it's in the eye of the beholder. To some, the eagle is sacred, and its feathers (as ceremonial objects) should never touch the ground. To others, it's a predator, a pest, who can steal newborn farm animals.

    Different strokes for different folks. To Central Asian societies, the horse is a sacred animal. To VP Al Gore, whose hosts in Central Asia chose to honor him with meat of their sacred animal, in the same was that Pacific NW tribes honor guests with salmon, horsemeat was a foul substance, an insult to a very distinguished guest. He caused an international incident, protesting the honor bestowed on him, that he was blind to.

    "Sacred" is a cultural construct.

    personlobsterShoshin
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Yes a dervish is an Islamic Sufi term. Just as an alchemist, which I also practice, is known as rasayana in Buddhist circles.

    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/oct/23/sufism-natural-antidote-fanaticism-the-sufis-idries-shah
    http://www.gurdjiefflegacy.org/40articles/neosufism.htm

    ... meanwhile some even feel Sufism is a form of Buddhist teaching ...
    https://wisdomquarterly.blogspot.com/2014/06/sufism-is-buddhism-with-islam.html

    Is Nothing sacred?
    https://www.samurai-archives.com/ikk.html

    So any inner rather than outer understandings of sacred?

  • kandokando northern Ireland Veteran

    I never trust anyone who claims to be single minded, that's just revealing a lack of insight and imagination o:)

    person
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @kando said:
    I never trust anyone who claims to be single minded, that's just revealing a lack of insight and imagination o:)

    I only trust the single minded. Imagination and insight are part of the impediments. Too direct?

    meanwhile ...

    I have been powerfully moved by art and nature for example but is that sacred? Does sacred have any meaning in Buddhism?

    Let us imagine that we are unfocussed on liberation and caught in samsara (also the realm of Nirvana). What moves us powerfully in the direction beyond our prancing mind? Can we find forms of sacred art to inspire our awakening. Can we find peace and a stilling in a sacred nature we can nurture? Can we become single minded?
    https://www.existentialbuddhist.com/tag/nonduality/

  • kandokando northern Ireland Veteran

    @lobster said:

    I only trust the single minded. Imagination and insight are part of the impediments. Too direct?

    meanwhile ...

    Direct is good :) zen texts often make this point, which is of course why some of the best poetry ever written is Chan and Zen....... And Sufi, of course. I stand no chance of ever being single minded, there are too many of me in here!

    lobster
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    @lobster said:

    So any inner rather than outer understandings of sacred?

    It could probably be argued that everything sacred is ultimately inner rather than outer. More to the point though ideas and beliefs are inner things that people hold to be very sacred.

    Looking for something inner that may qualify as being truly sacred, maybe wisdom? The four immeasurables?

    lobsterkando
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited July 31

    Wisdom, Loving-kindness, Compassion, Empathetic joy, Equanimity are states or qualities of mind. Sacred? Not really.

    Perhaps if Wisdom surpasses our normal human capacity? The same with the other qualities if they transcend or are outside of our limited capacity of being ...

    Is sacred then a sense or experience of sanctity? Redundant or not required in Buddhism?
    Maybe the three jewels are our sacred construct?

    I feel @Vimalajāti has provided our closest sacred wording ...

    kando
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    No 'maybe' about it......

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Maybe Nothing

    sitting a Way
    a spirit still
    beginning without start
    Still movement
    a word without an end choice
    No movie, no watcher, no screen

    kando
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @rocala said:
    I frequently come across the term 'sacred', and I have suddenly realised that beyond dictionary definitions, I do not really understand the term.

    I have been powerfully moved by art and nature for example but is that sacred? Does sacred have any meaning in Buddhism?

    The sacred can also mean “that which you would not like to see destroyed”, which I feel is as good a test as any. Although perhaps it is too mild, given the kind of visceral reactions people have to their sacred things being treated with mere irreverence.

    I think the kind of sacredness that Muslims attach to the prophet Muhammad is hard to find in Buddhism or Christianity, where people have long gotten used to the treatment by the likes of Charlie Hebdo.

    person
  • kandokando northern Ireland Veteran

    @lobster said:
    Maybe Nothing

    sitting a Way
    a spirit still
    beginning without start
    Still movement
    a word without an end choice
    No movie, no watcher, no screen

    OK, I know you don't like praise @lobster but this is truly awesome.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Tee Hee @kando
    Unfortunately I do like praise :3
    However the road crossing is more important than the chicken.

    In other words the tendencies of the ego are knot sacred. They are a constriction. ;)

    kando
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