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do people pray to buddha?

hey guys. i hope everyone is doing well. recently I have been more open about my buddhism. practising the eight fold path, meditation, awareness of my own mortality ect...
recently i was told that buddhism is somewhat a pagan religion due to the fact that people pray to statues of buddha. i have never come across this ritual. please help me. i do not want to seem ignorant. does any sect of buddhism actually pray to statues? or directly pray to buddha?

Comments

  • edited December 2005
    i've never heard of anyone praying to buddha in that sense, but i have heard people say that when you stand in front of buddha and pray or recite mantra, youre not doing it to the external buddha, but the buddha nature within yourself.
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Somewhere in the UK, Central-Southern.... Moderator
    edited December 2005
    Precisely so.....
  • edited December 2005
    In the tradition of Buddhism that I follow (Theravada), the historical Buddha is beyond contact (which is to say, dead.) When we bow before a Buddha image, it is to show respect, in the same way that you might show respect to your parents, teachers, or elders. On the other hand, it is a good deed to respect any of those people, so it does make Punya (merit for lack of a better term). Of course, the Mahayana and Tibetan schools probably have a different take on it, but you would have to ask them about that.
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited December 2005
    By me, the view of "paganism" that imagines that people worship images buys directly into monotheistic spin. Certain artefacts do get meaning attributed to them, of course. In the US, the holograph copies of the Declaration of Indepndence or the flag that flew over Fort Sumpter are important cultural icons: thy are kept with reverence and care. Similarly, the statue of Avalokiteshvara in the Dalai Lama's temple of Tsuglag Khang in Dharamahala is venerated for many reasons, not least of which is the story of its pieces being saved from the destruction of the Jokhang Temple during the Cultural Revolution.

    Those practices which are denigrated as "idolatrous" are still to be found within monotheistic (and secular humanist) ritual but, like angry adolescents, the monotheists like to pretend that they owe nothing to their 'pagan' parentage.
  • edited December 2005
    I suppose you could say you pray to him...

    It depends on your definition of the word "pray"
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited December 2005
    Sangha said:
    I suppose you could say you pray to him...

    It depends on your definition of the word "pray"


    It does indeed! And such a British response: this is what made us both great and fragile. Scripture may tell us to spread the Word and slay the idolaters, but it all depends what you mean by idolater! And it's not polite to make a fuss, is it!
  • edited December 2005
    Heavens no! Ah, the humanity...
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited December 2005
    abaruby,

    The answer is indeed--no.

    People who say that obviously know very little about Buddhism.

    Simply pay them no heed.

    :)

    Jason
  • edited December 2006
    abaruby said:
    hey guys. i hope everyone is doing well. recently I have been more open about my buddhism. practising the eight fold path, meditation, awareness of my own mortality ect...
    recently i was told that buddhism is somewhat a pagan religion due to the fact that people pray to statues of buddha. i have never come across this ritual. please help me. i do not want to seem ignorant. does any sect of buddhism actually pray to statues? or directly pray to buddha?
    Really, whether or not you "pray" to a buddha or a statue of the buddha does'nt quite matter in the long run. I do my chanting in front of a "hotei" (fat, happy buddha representing the buddha -yet -to -come,"Matreiya") statue and a painting (print)of "shakyamuni"(Siddhartha Gautama -the "founder" of Buddhism).Because Buddhism transcends the concept of a personal god, when I "pray" or chant - I'm really speaking to my own "buddha nature" which we as buddhists believe is inherent to everyone and everything. This is'nt trully "paganism" because there's ultimately nothing to worship-because all is EMPTINESS. The picture and statue are merely ritualized "focal points" or reminders of my own buddha nature. Hope this offers some insight to your question :bigclap:
  • edited January 2007
    My not-so-advanced understanding of this matter is that Buddha was not, never claimed to be and did not wish to be remembered as a god, deity or anything else that was more than a mortal human-being who. He, like any of us also potentially can, found the path to enlightenment and wished to share it with the world.
    Once again my understanding of the use of Buddha Images is that we show "honor" and pay "respect" to The Buddha "image" for showing us the path but we do NOT pray to him or deify him. I think it is easier for most humans to relate to images be they tombstones, photos, statues, paintings, etc and as such many of us "as mere humans" find more ease in offering respects to/before an image that represents an idea, as opposed to simply the idea itself. Then there are those who require no altar, statues or images to honor the Buddha.....I think it's all related to culture and ones personal spiritual preferences.
    If I a, wrong, please make sure the slap I receive does not leave a bruise.:thumbsup:
  • edited January 2007
    Makarov said:
    My not-so-advanced understanding of this matter is that Buddha was not, never claimed to be and did not wish to be remembered as a god, deity or anything else that was more than a mortal human-being who. He, like any of us also potentially can, found the path to enlightenment and wished to share it with the world.
    Once again my understanding of the use of Buddha Images is that we show "honor" and pay "respect" to The Buddha "image" for showing us the path but we do NOT pray to him or deify him. I think it is easier for most humans to relate to images be they tombstones, photos, statues, paintings, etc and as such many of us "as mere humans" find more ease in offering respects to/before an image that represents an idea, as opposed to simply the idea itself. Then there are those who require no altar, statues or images to honor the Buddha.....I think it's all related to culture and ones personal spiritual preferences.
    If I a, wrong, please make sure the slap I receive does not leave a bruise.:thumbsup:
    NO SLAP FORTHCOMING MAKAROV---SOUNDS LIKE YOU HAVE A GOOD GRASP OF THE CONCEPTS.
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 2007
    Everyone,

    In AN 4.36, the Buddha's answers a curious passerby's questions such as, "What are you? Are you a deva? A spirit? A human being?"
    On one occasion the Blessed One was traveling along the road between Ukkattha and Setabya, and Dona the brahman was also traveling along the road between Ukkattha and Setabya. Dona the brahman saw, in the Blessed One's footprints, wheels with 1,000 spokes, together with rims and hubs, complete in all their features. On seeing them, the thought occurred to him, "How amazing! How astounding! These are not the footprints of a human being!"

    Then the Blessed One, leaving the road, went to sit at the root of a certain tree — his legs crossed, his body erect, with mindfulness established to the fore. Then Dona, following the Blessed One's footprints, saw him sitting at the root of the tree: confident, inspiring confidence, his senses calmed, his mind calmed, having attained the utmost control & tranquility, tamed, guarded, his senses restrained, a naga. On seeing him, he went to him and said, "Master, are you a deva?"

    "No, brahman, I am not a deva."

    "Are you a gandhabba?"

    "No..."

    "... a yakkha?"

    "No..."

    "... a human being?"

    "No, brahman, I am not a human being."

    "When asked, 'Are you a deva?' you answer, 'No, brahman, I am not a deva.' When asked, 'Are you a gandhabba?' you answer, 'No, brahman, I am not a gandhabba.' When asked, 'Are you a yakkha?' you answer, 'No, brahman, I am not a yakkha.' When asked, 'Are you a human being?' you answer, 'No, brahman, I am not a human being.' Then what sort of being are you?"

    "Brahman, the fermentations by which — if they were not abandoned — I would be a deva: Those are abandoned by me, their root destroyed, like an uprooted palm tree, deprived of the conditions of existence, not destined for future arising. The fermentations by which — if they were not abandoned — I would be a gandhabba... a yakkha... a human being: Those are abandoned by me, their root destroyed, like an uprooted palm tree, deprived of the conditions of existence, not destined for future arising.

    "Just like a red, blue, or white lotus — born in the water, grown in the water, rising up above the water — stands unsmeared by the water, in the same way I — born in the world, grown in the world, having overcome the world — live unsmeared by the world. Remember me, brahman, as 'awakened.'

    "The fermentations by which I would go
    to a deva-state,
    or become a gandhabba in the sky,
    or go to a yakkha-state & human-state:
    Those have been destroyed by me,
    ruined, their stems removed.
    Like a blue lotus, rising up,
    unsmeared by water,
    unsmeared am I by the world,
    and so, brahman,
    I'm awake."
    In DN 16, the Tathagata addresses how he can be respected, venerated, esteemed, worshipped, and honored in the highest degree.
    Then the Blessed One addressed the Venerable Ananda, saying: "Come, Ananda, let us cross to the farther bank of the Hiraññavati, and go to the Mallas' Sala Grove, in the vicinity of Kusinara."

    "So be it, Lord."

    And the Blessed One, together with a large company of bhikkhus, went to the further bank of the river Hiraññavati, to the Sala Grove of the Mallas, in the vicinity of Kusinara. And there he spoke to the Venerable Ananda, saying:

    "Please, Ananda, prepare for me a couch between the twin sala trees, with the head to the north. I am weary, Ananda, and want to lie down."

    "So be it, Lord." And the Venerable Ananda did as the Blessed One asked him to do.

    Then the Blessed One lay down on his right side, in the lion's posture, resting one foot upon the other, and so disposed himself, mindfully and clearly comprehending.

    At that time the twin sala trees broke out in full bloom, though it was not the season of flowering. And the blossoms rained upon the body of the Tathagata and dropped and scattered and were strewn upon it in worship of the Tathagata. And celestial mandarava flowers and heavenly sandalwood powder from the sky rained down upon the body of the Tathagata, and dropped and scattered and were strewn upon it in worship of the Tathagata. And the sound of heavenly voices and heavenly instruments made music in the air out of reverence for the Tathagata.

    And the Blessed One spoke to the Venerable Ananda, saying: "Ananda, the twin sala trees are in full bloom, though it is not the season of flowering. And the blossoms rain upon the body of the Tathagata and drop and scatter and are strewn upon it in worship of the Tathagata. And celestial coral flowers and heavenly sandalwood powder from the sky rain down upon the body of the Tathagata, and drop and scatter and are strewn upon it in worship of the Tathagata. And the sound of heavenly voices and heavenly instruments makes music in the air out of reverence for the Tathagata.

    "Yet it is not thus, Ananda, that the Tathagata is respected, venerated, esteemed, worshipped, and honored in the highest degree. But, Ananda, whatever bhikkhu or bhikkhuni, layman or laywoman, abides by the Dhamma, lives uprightly in the Dhamma, walks in the way of the Dhamma, it is by such a one that the Tathagata is respected, venerated, esteemed, worshipped, and honored in the highest degree. Therefore, Ananda, thus should you train yourselves: 'We shall abide by the Dhamma, live uprightly in the Dhamma, walk in the way of the Dhamma.'"
    Sincerely,

    Jason
  • edited January 2007
    i heard ppl misconcepting buddhists as worshipping buddha.. as worshipping statues, usually 'self-dubbed christians' who tell me that

    However i believe these statues are infact the buddha nature, our buddha side. I don't think this is something to worship but can keep ourselves focused.

    For example, i remember reading.. someone describing their meditation, they would sit cross legged, back straight looking forward and just flow into the now. Every time they lost concentration or their mind wandered they looked at the statue.

    Ain't saying its the best use, or that this person is right or anything, but this person was a 'buddhist'.
  • edited January 2007
    rupas (statues) are very good for focus. Having buddha images around are reminders of the commitment we have personally made to practice to obtain buddhahood. They help us reflect on the qualities of a buddha. But if you worship them as gods or expect them to do something for you, then I'm not so sure your practicing Buddhism anymore.

    metta
    _/\_
  • edited January 2007
    I agree with the last 2 posts. For at any rate the "image" of the Buddha and smaller Quan Yin on my home altar are not images to which I pray but rather images that remind me more vivdly of the qualities I seek to obtain by following the examples they set OR represent. As a side note on Buddh statues, I have a rather unconventional aspect to my home altar as well. I have a large Statue of Gotama in a raised position at the center and smaller bronze images of not only Kwan Yin but also of the "ascetic Buddha" , that is to say...Buddha before enlightenment. I have this second "un-enlightened" Buddha image as a reminder to keep the middle path and not wnader off the path into extremes....as he initially did in error. Unconventional but for me it is a helpful reminder.
  • edited January 2007
    I think you've hit the nail on the head, Makarov. Images of the Buddha, whether statues or paintings or whatever, serve as supports for one's practice, not as objects of "worship". They should be meaningful to you, so I think your idea of putting the statue of the ascetic Buddha (which has always been one of my favorites) on your altar is great, particularly because of the meaning it has for you.

    Palzang
  • edited January 2007
    I think it can help if you have something to act as a focus for meditation, to empty the mind of external distractions. It can be a buddha statue or, as Makarov says, some other object that has meaning to you. If you want you could even go out into nature and use the trees and lakes. That's just my two cents anyway.

    Good to see Federica using the swastika :bigclap: I've always hoped it can be reclaimed from its previous unfortunate associations. :thumbsup:
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Somewhere in the UK, Central-Southern.... Moderator
    edited January 2007
    Thank you Windwalker....In actual fact, my Avatar was the basis of a discussion in this thread....
    Hope you find it interesting....
  • edited February 2007
    Craig said:
    i've never heard of anyone praying to buddha in that sense, but i have heard people say that when you stand in front of buddha and pray or recite mantra, youre not doing it to the external buddha, but the buddha nature within yourself.
    Quite true, based on my limited, limited experience with esoteric Shingon Buddhism. One of their most famous mantras is the Mantra of Light, which in English reads:

    "Praise be to the flawless, all-pervasive illumination of the great mudra (or seal of the Buddha). Turn over to me the jewel, lotus and the radiant light"

    Here a Shingon Buddhist is asking Mahavairocana Buddha (the main Buddha of Shingon) to turn over the symbols of wisdom, but really the deep meaning I think is that they become Mahavairocana Buddha in a sense. This is all part of the awakening. You are not actually "gaining" anything material, but you are awakening through such recitation.

    Or so I have come to understand. ;)
  • edited February 2007
    Elohim said:
    abaruby,

    The answer is indeed--no.

    People who say that obviously know very little about Buddhism.

    Simply pay them no heed.

    :)

    Jason
    Time and time again I'm amazed at the amount of ego on this "Buddhist" web site! It seems perfectly appropriate to judge, be curt and sarcastic or to drop labels on people like carpet bombs. I guess I've had it wrong all along. It's not important to be sensitive towards other sentient beings. The important thing is BEING RIGHT AND STATING YOUR OPINIONS AT ALL COSTS. Thanks for setting me straight guys. Just run over other human beings like a steamroller. AFTER ALL - IS'NT THAT JUST WHAT THE BUDDHA WOULD DO ? ---Oh I'm sorry ---Forgive me--Would'nt want to "....bump this thread"...... How ignorant of me!...AS YOU WERE..CARRY ON!
  • edited February 2007
    masteravatardavidstart...

    do you even know what is being discussed here before you start with all of your passive-aggressive responses?

    Someone asked if, basically, Buddhism is a pagan belief because people pray to statues of Buddha.

    Someone stated that indeed, that is not the case. They also stated that if people believe Buddhist pray to statues - they don't know much about Buddhism.

    I think that is very much the case. It has nothing to do with "stating opinions at all costs" or "being right" - I think that's how many Buddhists feel. I don't pray to or worship the image of Buddha. I'm thankful for his teachings and am grateful for those teachings and the sharing of his enlightenment with us - but I don't worship him.

    So - I could do without the passive-aggressive behavior towards members because you've had a bad day or something. Does that make sense to you?

    I think it's very disrespectful to people who are only stating what they believe. They are not requiring anyone to take their statement as fact - after all, we're ALL just sharing our opinion.

    -bf
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited February 2007
    He sounds so angry and so hurt. And we have sent him away with those feelings. A pity, I think.
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited February 2007
    Simon,

    We haven't sent him anywhere. He sent himself.

    Jason
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited February 2007
    So it would seem, Jason, although he has also been officially banned, thus refusing him return when he has recovered equanimity. I agree with Brother Palzang that he may need support and help.

    Aside from that, my question stands.
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited February 2007
    Simon,
    Simonthepilgrim said:
    Aside from that, my question stands.
    And what question would that be?

    Jason
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited February 2007
    Everyone,

    Perhaps I should state my opinion in a way which is less offensive to others. As far as I am aware, although people might pray to statues of the Buddha for their own reasons, Buddhism itself is not a pagan religion in which people are told to pray to statues such as in idolatry. I am not aware of the Buddha ever suggesting that his followers pray to him or to statues of him, or that their prayers would be answered if they made such supplications.

    In fact, I have seen it mentioned somewhere that the Buddha originally did not want images of him made, and the earliest symbols used to represent Buddhism were a wheel or a foot. We venerate the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha by bowing or chanting in front of the Buddha's image, but we are not worshipping an idol in any way, shape, or form. Therefore, my answer to the original question would have to be no, and that is why I believe so.

    Sincerely,

    Jason
  • edited February 2007
  • edited February 2007
    Thus I have heard, Elohim...

    -bf
  • edited March 2007
    Prayer in Buddhism : -

    "Prayers are ways of guiding our thoughts and energy in a certain direction; they are a technique in helping us transform our mind. By repeatedly thinking of the meaning of what we are saying or reading, we train and familiarize ourselves in a way of regarding and relating to ourselves and others. The testing ground that shows us which qualities are firm within us and which ones still need to be developed is our daily life with all its various activities. Thus for a person dedicated to developing his or her Buddha potential, prayers and the activities of daily life complement each other."
    by Venerable Thubten Chodron

    http://www.thubtenchodron.org/PrayersAndPractices/index.html
  • edited May 2007
    Seem that a lot of Buddhist people here who tend to espouse the belief in the no-self, but it also seems that on the same token, the same people show a lot of egoism here. Just my observation, don't jump my bone and hold your horse, :hrm:



    SA
  • edited May 2007
    Dear SalmonGirl,

    Gaining genuine insight into anatta (the selflessness of dhammas) or sunnatta (emptiness) generally does not happen until further down the path. Studying and discussing what the suttas/sutras do or do not teach does not necessarily require such insight. So, certainly the individuals on this board are going to be guilty of ego-clinging and holding to all sorts of wrong views in regard to the self, regardless of the philosophical or intellectual positions they take in discussions.

    Aside from that, would you care to further eloborate the ways in which this thread demonstrates the blatant egoism you are decrying? From my view, you are either projecting or overstating (or some combination of the two). That's just the way I see it though & I might be wrong, which is why I am asking for you to elaborate.

    with metta
    _/\_
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited May 2007
    Salmon Girl,

    I do not understand why, especially in the context of this thread, answering the intial question is considered to be egotistical. The fact is, whether or not people choose to accept it, idolatry is not a characteristic of Buddhism. If people mistake certain cultural or devotional practices of various Buddhist traditions as idol worship, then that is a wrong view which needs to be corrected.

    Personal attacks on certain members of the forum aside, all beings (satta), until the attainment of stream-entry (sotapanna), are bound by the fetter (samyojana) of identity-view (sakkaya-ditthi). Moreover, all beings, until the attainment of arahantship, are bound by the fetter of conceit (mana). I hope that you can forgive us for not all being noble persons (ariya-puggala).

    Best wishes,

    Jason
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