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Is faith important? Are deities real?

KeromeKerome Certainty is the enemy of wonderThe Continent Veteran

An interesting piece in Buddha Weekly:

https://buddhaweekly.com/buddhas-tooth-dogs-tooth-buddhist-deities-real-deities-actually-exist-buddhist-faith-still-important/

“There is a story in the Lamrim, the Graduated Path to Enlightenment, about the power of faith. It was a time of famine in India, and many people were dying. An old woman went to her Guru and asked how she could stay alive. He told her to eat stones, and gave her a mantra to make the stones edible. The woman recited the mantra with great faith, and ate the stones. Her son, who was a monk, began to worry about his mother, and went home from his monastery to see her. He was amazed to find her well. When he asked her the secret, she told him the mantra she had been reciting. The son realized that his mother had not been reciting the mantra accurately, and gave her the correct mantra. However, the old woman lost faith in the power of her mantra, and neither it nor the correct mantra would work anymore. It is not the words themselves that give mantras their power; it is the faith with which the words are recited.”

lobster

Comments

  • In some branches of Buddhism there is a belief that there are interpenetrating worlds. So there is a realm of the Boddhisattva of compassion but that realm interpenetrates with ours right here. And so you can call on the Boddhisattva of compassion by whatever name you are taught.

    The last part of the Avatamsaka sutra* talks about hidden beings we are connected to and how to have faith that wherever you go after death or in this life there is a way to connect with the dharma anywhere and you can make aspirations to practice and connect with enlightened beings.

    • a side note not to derail I recently read "sutra" means that it's believed to come from Buddha whereas "sastra" means a teaching with origin in a later person. So I guess it's believed Avatamsaka, Heart, and many other Mahayana sutras come from Buddha.
    lobsterShoshin1
  • ChoephalChoephal UK Veteran

    There is the reply given by Kalu Rinpoche when asked if the deities are real.
    He replied “they are as real as you are”.
    Which is far more ambivalent than it at first sounds...given the fact that it is a basic axiom of the Vajrayana that there is no unchanging permanent self.
    Perhaps it could be paraphrased as ”They are no less real than you. But you are no more real than they are”.

    BunkslobsterShoshin1
  • Shoshin1Shoshin1 Veteran
    edited February 9

    Is faith important?

    It's a case of Mind over Matter

    Are deities real?

    I just see deities as tools which help some practitioners along the path...Others may find them of no use whatsoever...it's a case of each to their own...whatever floats one's raft

    Different strokes for different folks

    They are as real as one's mind cares to manifest them...

    lobsterChoephalコチシカ
  • Our Beloved Brain/Jesus (son of Santa God) ... eh ... Think I may be confused by Monty Pythons 'The Life of Brain' can be called on to believe in anything ...

    That is useful as @Shoshin1 mentions ...

    and now back to the faithful stoning ...

    JeffreyKerome
  • DavidDavid Just another unique aspect of the same old thang The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran
    edited February 17

    @Kerome said:
    An interesting piece in Buddha Weekly:

    https://buddhaweekly.com/buddhas-tooth-dogs-tooth-buddhist-deities-real-deities-actually-exist-buddhist-faith-still-important/

    “There is a story in the Lamrim, the Graduated Path to Enlightenment, about the power of faith. It was a time of famine in India, and many people were dying. An old woman went to her Guru and asked how she could stay alive. He told her to eat stones, and gave her a mantra to make the stones edible. The woman recited the mantra with great faith, and ate the stones. Her son, who was a monk, began to worry about his mother, and went home from his monastery to see her. He was amazed to find her well. When he asked her the secret, she told him the mantra she had been reciting. The son realized that his mother had not been reciting the mantra accurately, and gave her the correct mantra. However, the old woman lost faith in the power of her mantra, and neither it nor the correct mantra would work anymore. It is not the words themselves that give mantras their power; it is the faith with which the words are recited.”

    I personally would have to take that story with an unnaturally large grain of salt just for the length of time implied between starting the diet and the son getting there. There seems to me to be a fine line between faith and magic thinking.

    It brings to mind the story of Kisa Gotami and the Buddha's miraculous mustard seeds. Kisa lost her only child and was going crazy with grief, carrying her sons corpse wherever she went. She was told to go see the Buddha who was teaching near by so he could perform a miracle. When she found him she begged him to bring her son back to life. The Buddha looked on her with the eyes of compassion and told her to leave the body and go house to house and find a few mustard seeds from a household that has not lost loved ones to death. She did so and at each house, she told her story and instead of finding the seeds, she found more stories like hers. As she began feeling comforted by sharing and like-heartedness, she saw what the Buddha had done for her and decided to join the Sangha and have a proper sendoff for her son. Kisa had faith in miracles and that the Buddha could perform them and the Buddha had faith in Kisa and her ability to see given enough light. Once Kisa had enough light to see by, her faith in the Buddha was able to mature and legend has it that she eventually awakened (I like to avoid speculation on enlightenment) to a high degree.

    The gods are an interesting bunch and because of the mix of respect and compassion I have for them, I can't bring myself to believe in them even as they are always welcome in my shrine to give me insight or to just hang out.

    Keromelobsterコチシカ
  • KeromeKerome Certainty is the enemy of wonder The Continent Veteran

    @David said:
    The gods are an interesting bunch and because of the mix of respect and compassion I have for them, I can't bring myself to believe in them even as they are always welcome in my shrine to give me insight or to just hang out.

    That’s a nice way to approach the gods. I once had an experience while meditating, I saw what seemed to be an Inca priest wearing a mask of gold surrounded by feathers and a bead-studded outfit of soft leathers. The image was incredibly sharp and clear, the backdrop seemed to be clouds or smoke. He was moving towards me and seemed to be able to see me... after a short while this faded, and I heard a voice say “so you met the king eh?”

    I think the spaces out beyond the bounds of our mind are home to many things, and it wouldn’t surprise me if there were a few deities.

  • The gods are an interesting bunch and because of the mix of respect and compassion I have for them, I can't bring myself to believe in them even as they are always welcome in my shrine to give me insight or to just hang out.

    Tee Hee! <3
    Exactly so. In the area between belief and unbelief is a pragmatic region we bow to. Our inner gods formed out of nothing to bless us. They are in Dharma, strong enough to pray to and call on their virtues. Magickal enough to dismiss back into the mind Still of Nowhere ...

    OM MANI PEME HUM
    as the Compassionate Embodiment likes to say ...

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