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Advice on adding ritual to practice

johnathanjohnathan ICBICanada Veteran

So for 20 years I have been mostly a philosophical Buddhist, not having a school to focus my practice I relegated myself to study. Drifting in and out of even that. I practiced sitting meditation on and off but again was never really focused. I have recently found and settled on the Ch'an influenced school Huayan.

Huayan has a level of "Faith" that for my earlier years I was totally in opposition to, being an atheist, and drawn to buddhism in part for it's not "needing" me to have "faith" to follow it. I am at a point where I feel I want to add a level of faith and reverence into my practice and actually practice, more than just the daily mindfullness espoused by Thich Naht Hanh.

The first ritual I plan to incorporate into my practice is Nembutsu; reciting Amitabha Buddha. Advice on properly performing Nembutsu would be appreciated. What should the meter/cant be? Amitabha on the in breath... Buddha on the out breath... ? What do you focus on while practicing? The words? The Buddha's qualities? I could look for youtube clips or online articles for answers and later I probably will but I take refuge in the Sangha and those who post here are my Sangha, so I will ask you first.

Is it best for me to practice Anapanasati first for a while to gain the right focus?

At some point after practicing Nembutsu I plan to add the Hua tou "Who is repeating the Buddha's name?".

I also plan to add daily prostrations to the triple gem before and after meditation.

Ultimately I will also be incorporating Mozhao (Silent Illumination Meditation) as well but I have much work to gain the right concentration for that.

Any advice for adding ritual, how its aided your own practice, methods to consider, I am open to all at this point.

adamcrossleylobster

Comments

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    Well even Thich Nhat Hanh has a certain amount of ritual to his gatherings, such as the communal singing and the ringing of the mindfulness bell in his videos. But my personal feeling about ritual is that a little goes a long way. I have been known to light some incense before my Buddha statue and bow before it, before sitting down on my meditation cushion.

    But I’m probably not the right person to ask, i am not really deeply enough embedded within the Buddhist tradition. I think with ritual it’s important that you are comfortable with it.

    Alexadamcrossley
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran

    I was kind of iffy on prostrations... but surprisingly enough it felt pretty natural and brought more importance/reverence to the triple gem than I have given it just reciting it daily in my head without any real ritual. I Just started today. Will see how well I can stick to it.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    There are as you say different approaches
    https://thubtenchodron.org/series/practicing-the-amitabha-sadhana/

    Personally I prefer the word 'confidence' to 'faith'. In Buddhism the term is 'refuge'. Amitabha has generated a bubble/resonance/Pureland for practitioners who call the name.

    How it works and why is something that can be explored but more important is the alignment/resonance. For me this involved:

    • Just repeating the name/praise Namo AmiTaBha, deceptively simple sound. I found a free Apple ipod app that played the mantra. Similar sound loops may be available. At the time I wanted a 'Buddha box' for a shrine.
    • I focussed/suffused myself with the name, usually on journeys with headphones. More formally with vocal chanting to a shrine image of Amitabha
    • Keep it simple. Just do it. Purify the Mind.

    💗🌈🙏🏽

  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    edited March 11

    This is where I got the term faith from:

    https://chancenter.org/download/free-books/ChanPracticeandFaith.pdf

    One of a few free books offered by Dharma Drum Mountain

    lobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited March 11

    https://newbuddhist.com/discussion/comment/437300#Comment_437300
    Emotional immersion, consumption into the Buddha stream.

    Swim 👍🏼🌈🙏🏽

  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    edited March 11

    Can anyone provide information on how one would add dharmapala veneration to my practice (ie. making requests to the Dharmapala to guard and nurture my inner Dharma experiences.)

    Is it best to deal with 1 Dharmapala or multiple ones?

    @caz ? I read a post of yours from a few years ago that leads me to believe you are knowledgeable in this area.

    I am looking from a Ch'an/Huayan perspective but if any Tibetan practices are presented I am open to all assistance.

    Same questions about Bodhisattva veneration to practice.

  • VimalajātiVimalajāti Whitby, Ontario Veteran
    edited March 11

    @johnathan said:
    Can anyone provide information on how one would add dharmapala veneration to my practice (ie. making requests to the Dharmapala to guard and nurture my inner Dharma experiences.)

    [...]

    I am looking from a Ch'an/Huayan perspective but if any Tibetan practices are presented I am open to all assistance.

    Same questions about Bodhisattva veneration to practice.

    AFAIK, Huáyán is not a Vajrayāna school, so it doesn't have Dharma Protectors. That is as far as I know, at least. I could be quite wrong about this.

    Kegon is Japanese Huáyán in much the same way that Tendai is Japanese Tiāntāi. In the fourteenth century, two Kegon venerables travelled to China to receive esoteric ordinations. This transformed the Kegon from an exclusive Sūtra School to a school that practices both Sūtra and Tantra, much like Tendai. In addition to this, the wikipedia article says that at least some Kegon monks were admitted into the lineages preserved by Shingon and Tendai. It's possible that Kegon could have the same two Tantras that run through Shingon incorporated into them.

    This will be a very hard ordination to receive. You might have to move to Japan and learn Japanese and live there for quite some time as a foreign resident. If you are over the age of 50, it will be very difficult to receive ordination at Tōdai-ji, which is the only place in Japan where Kegon Buddhism is practiced (once again, AFAIK).

    I've also never encountered Kegon Buddhist materials translated into English ever, to be (distressingly!) frank.

  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    edited March 11

    @Vimalajāti

    My Interest in Dharmapala is due in part to the Ch'an part of
    my practice which is of the Dharma Drum Mountain tradition...
    I am drawn to the teachings of Sheng yen.

    In a book on ch'an he wrote:

    Chan practice is not just sitting meditation. Chan
    practice is not about just talking big, or solely seeking
    enlightenment and wanting to be equal to all past,
    present and future Buddhas. While promoting Chan
    teachings, we should also emphasize the importance of
    faith. By so doing, we can make it easier for people to
    practice successfully and help uplift their character.
    Chan methods also require that we let go of our
    attachment to the self. This must start with having
    faith, practicing giving, and keeping the precepts.
    Eliminating this attachment requires a sense of
    shame, humility, gratitude, and repentance. We should
    also have faith in the Three Jewels, Buddhas and
    bodhisattvas, the various Dharma-protecting deities,
    and Chan patriarchs, as well as the teachers who guide
    us in our practice.
    Contrarily, if you are so arrogant that, having barely
    embarked on the Chan path, you refuse to prostrate
    to the Buddha, respect the Dharma and Sangha, or
    believe in the various Dharma-protecting deities,
    then don't even think about the possibility of attaining
    enlightenment or seeing your true nature.

    So from this I am gathering that Sheng yen's Chan (a mix
    of both Caodong and Linji - both Mahayana schools) in some way venerated Dharma-
    Protectors and Bodhisattvas alike.

    BunksVimalajāti
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran

    @Vimalajāti
    Are you saying one needs to be ordained to add Dharmapala veneration/worship to their practice?

  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran

    Dharma Drum Mountain tradition also believes in Pureland so has Vajrayana mixed in as well.

  • VimalajātiVimalajāti Whitby, Ontario Veteran
    edited March 11

    @johnathan said:
    @Vimalajāti
    Are you saying one needs to be ordained to add Dharmapala veneration/worship to their practice?

    Yes, but this is not an ordination as a monk, this is an ordination as a priest. In Tibetan Buddhism, the term is usually translated as "empowerment."

    You wouldn't be observing Dharmaguptaka Vinaya, for instance. Instead, you would have tantric obligations and bodhisatva vows.

    This is assuming you want to perform rites with the dharmapalas. No one is stopping you from praying on your own or developing a personal devotion.

  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran

    So, does that mean a Lay-Buddhist shouldn't worry about Dharmapala's or showing honor to them?

  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran

    @Vimalajāti

    No one is stopping you from praying on your own or developing a personal devotion.

    Actually this is what I was asking about and looking for what others do for a prayer or personal devotion, at a Lay-Buddhist level.

  • VimalajātiVimalajāti Whitby, Ontario Veteran
    edited March 12

    You can and should respect and honour whatever you are drawn to respect and honour. Veneration is one of the luminous cittas.

    I was just assuming that when you talked about wanting to incorporate rituals and dharmapala practice, you meant something else entirely. Looking back, you just said dharmapala veneration. No one is stopping you from freely offering homage to the Buddhas, the bodhisatvas, the dharmapalas, the dakinis, what have you.

    His Holiness the Dalai Lama believes there is one particular deity of this class who is, in fact, a demon, on account of the hatred and bigotry he stirs in the hearts of men who believe in him, which is traceable back to the apocryphal literature that surrounds him. HHDL is not alone in this condemnation. The only advice I can give is to avoid Dorje Shugden.

  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    edited March 12

    I am currently only aware of the 8 Dharmapalas; Beg-tse, Tsangs-pa, Kuvera, Lhamo, Yama, Yamantaka, Hayagriva, and Mahakala.

    I planned to incorporate veneration to those 8 Dharmapalas and the 8 Great Bodhisattvas; Mañjushri
    Avalokiteshvara, Vajrapani, Maitreya, Kshitigarbha, Akashagarbha, Sarvanivaranavishkambhin and Samantabhadra

    I am still asking for ideas for what methods, mantras, prayers, etc. People use in their practices to venerate boddhisattvas and/or Dharmapalas.

  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran

    I think I will start out with the Bodhisattva Kuan Yin and the Dharmapala Mahakala. Then add others when it feels right to do so.

    When I do prostrations to the triple gem I can do one or more for Kwan Yin and Mahakala, reciting their Mantra's; OM MANI PADME HUM and OM SHRI MAHAKALA HUNG PHET.

    Shri means Venerate I believe... does any one know what Hung and Phet mean?

  • FoibleFullFoibleFull Canada Veteran

    Ritual is useful, but you need to learn how to do it properly from a teacher.
    Its impact is not magic .. it is just you "rehearsing" to become a Buddhist.
    You know how athletes will visualize performing on the field before they go on and play .. and they play better for that visualization?
    That is the role that ritual plays .. it is rehearsing .. to be more dedicated to the practice, to be more compassionate, etc .. depending on the focus of the particular indivdual. Properly done, you change more quickly although the word "quickly" in Buddhism is counted in years, decades and lifetimes.

    AlexBunks
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran

    @FoibleFull

    I am fully aware that they are representations of my mind and are simply focal points to the ideals I wish my mind to develop and cultivate. I do not believe in magic. I have no teacher but still see the potential for growth in adding such to my practice.

    AlexBunks
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    edited March 12

    We are all one, all are nothing... I am Aveloketsvara, Aveloketsvara is me... there is no me, there is no Aveloketsvara...

    Bunks
  • VimalajātiVimalajāti Whitby, Ontario Veteran
    edited March 12

    @johnathan said:
    Shri means Venerate I believe... does any one know what Hung and Phet mean?

    Absolutely nothing!

    I only half-joke. These are not semantic units with meanings like the words "cat," "chair," and "table."

    "Hung" is how Tibetans pronounce "hūṁ," which is further pronounced "un" in Japanese. "Phet," I believe, is a Tibetan-accented "phaṭ."

    Oṁ māṇipadme hūṁ / Oṁ jewel-lotus hūṁ

    The words "oṁ" and "hūṁ" mean whatever the custodian of the mantra say they mean when you receive it, because presumably these custodians are interested in preserving their lineages and not just making things up. Buyer beware.

    There is a Vairocana Mantra that is chanted in Tendai-shū that I've mentioned a few times before:

    oṁ a vi ra hūṁ khaṁ vajradhātu vaṁ

    There is only one syllable in this mantra that is semantic, strictly speaking, the word "vajradhātu," or "Diamond Realm," but this mantra has a "meaning."

    It is a contemplation of the six elements and the Buddha:

    a / earth
    vi / water
    ra / fire
    hūṁ / wind
    khaṁ / space
    vajradhātu / mind
    vaṁ / Buddha

    The "vaṁ" refers to Vairocana by way of spooky sacred alphabetics. All consonants in Sanskrit have implied vowels. There is no letter "V" on its own. "Va" is the letter "V," which is the first letter in Vairocana's name.

    "ṁ," nasalization, and "ḥ," aspiration, in addition to vowel-lengthening, can be used to "decorate" letters, adding diacritics to the letter in question without adding another letter to it to form a ligature, so we can have four progressing elaborations of any letter. We'll use N here for an example:

    (neutral)
    nāḥ (with aspiration)
    nāṁ (nasalized)
    nāṁḥ (with aspiration and nasalized)

    That is why Vairocana's syllable appears as "vaṁ" rather than "va" -- it is decorated.

    Buddhist Sanskrit was taken to China and Japan in a script called "Siddhaṁ," but Devanāgarī works similarly in transcribing the above:

    ना
    नाः
    नां
    नांः

    The romanization has multiple letters, but in Indic script these are all "one letter."

    In short, these little collections of syllables are mnemonic devices for contemplations, and they are not always discrete sentences with meanings like, for example, something like "The Buddha was awakened at Bodhagayā."

    There is also something of a tradition to mantras themselves. Oṁ often starts them. Svāhā often ends them. "Svāhā" is a call that is made during the Agniyajña of the Hindu Brahmins, when sacrifices are cast into the flame. Some of these things have meanings like that, but teasing out their histories is a hard and ambiguous task. Śrī is another of these syllables with a meaning, this one being "glory," which can be stretched a bit to mean "venerate," I suppose. After all, if you're calling something glorious, you're likely venerating it. I'm not going to sit here at a computer and tell you it doesn't mean that.

    Mañjuśrī = Gentle Glory
    Śrī Laṁkā = Glorious Island

    johnathanlobster
  • 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

    A friend, many years ago when we were discussing a Mantra that contained the word 'Svāhā', concluded that, in her opinion, it was something akin to 'Amen' or 'so be it'... I'm not sure it's correct, accurate or even feasible, but it didn't sound wrong to the Tutor we discussed it with... He in turn had studied under a Tibetan Lama (to my shame I forget whom) and our Tutor didn't think it an unreasonable premise...

    johnathan
  • paulysopaulyso usa Veteran

    @johnathan said:
    I think I will start out with the Bodhisattva Kuan Yin...

    i have an icon of kuan yin sitting on a lotus holding a vase, flower reed.it has helped me to reconect the essence or spirit of dao zen if i forget.so i look and interpret the meaning.for example,sitting on the lotus flower could mean,worthy to reflect on beautiful,what makes a beautiful person? dharma can make us beautiful!

    johnathanBunksadamcrossley
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Absolutely nothing!

    Holy Smoke! ... and mirrors come to that ...

    This idea is interesting. Mantra, indeed any practice is just going through the motions, polishing a slate to make a mirror or spiritual capitalism. It is intent that activates change. So for example each deity is every other, they are all us. Hooray!

    The pre-Buddhist Shiva (meditation man) eventually becomes female in China. Along the way, manifesting compassion masked in the protectors. The zen practices are found in dzogchen and mahamudra ...

    "Mahāmudrā, that which is unified and beyond the mind, is clear yet thoughtless, pervasive, and vast like space. Its aspect of great compassion is apparent yet devoid of any nature. Manifesting clearly like the moon in water; It is beyond all terms, boundaries or center. Polluted by nothing, it is stainless and beyond hope and fear. It cannot be described, like the dream of a mute."
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahamudra

    So ... mantra is empty until devoted to changing our world, the world around us and rippling into universes of sentients ...
    OM MANI PEME HUNG HRIH (Have a nice day)

    adamcrossley
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    edited March 14

    So the following is a daily ritual that I have started. Outside of this I also practice Satipatthana (Mindfulness) throughout the day. Also, recitation of Amitabha Buddha randomly throughout the day. I am starting with 5 minute meditations for the first month and adding 5 min a month for 12 months to get me to an hour a day. I find sitting silently very difficult due to ADHD-PI (Primarily Inattentive) and probably just an habitual presence of noise that needs to be broken over time. I have started at 20 minutes in the past and never stayed with it for long... baby steps.

    I plan to add the following Taoist aspects into my practice over the next 12 months.

    • Zhan Zhuang
      Standing Meditation

    • Baduanjin Qigong
      Life Energy Cultivation

    • Tai Chi Chuan     
      Moving Meditation

    All three of them can be combined with:
    - Satipatthana
    - Mozhao
    - Anapanasati
    - Hua Tou

    The four Buddhist meditations I will incorporate into my practice.

    Here is the ritual:

    HOMAGE TO MAHAKALA
         A prayer of homage and praise to Mahakala     
         to invoke his wisdom and blessings and to
         request his protection from delusion, 
         confusion and ignorance.
     
    Prostrate 5 times (5 limbed prostrations).
      - When prostrated say Mahakala Mantra: 
         "Om Mahakala hum Phat Svaha"
      - after each prostration and recitation rise
         - Right Hand: Abhay Mudra
    - Left Hand: Bhumisparsha Mudra
    and say:
            "Eliminate obstacles in my dharma
             practice; keeping away deception and
            delusion."

    TAKING REFUGE

    IN MYSELF

    Prostrate 3 times.
     - when prostrated say refuge.
     - after prostrations and refuge rise
       and form Vajrapradama  Mudra and say:
       "may I attain enlightenment for the benefit of
        all beings"

    To myself for refuge I go.
    Svayam saranam gacchami

    For a second time, to myself for refuge I go.
    Dutiyampi svayam saranam gacchami

    For a third time, to myself for refuge I go.
    Tatiyampi svayam saranam gacchami

    REFUGE IN TRIPLE GEM

    Prostrate 10 times.
     - when prostrated say a refuge.
     - after each prostration and refuge rise
       and form Manidhara Mudra and say:
       "may we attain enlightenment for the  
        benefit of all beings"

    To the triple gem for refuge I go.
    Tiratanam saranam gacchami

    To the Buddha for refuge I go.
    Buddham saranam gacchami

    To the Dhamma for refuge I go.
    Dhammam saranam gacchami

    To the Sangha for refuge I go.
    Sangham saranam gacchami

    For a second time,
    To the Buddha for refuge I go.
    Dutiyampi Buddham saranam gacchami

    For a second time,
    To the Dhamma for refuge I go.
    Dutiyampi Dhammam saranam gacchami

    For a second time,
    To the Sangha for refuge I go.
    Dutiyampi Sangham saranam gacchami 

    For a third time,
    To the Buddha for refuge I go.
    Tatiyampi Buddham saranam gacchami
     
    For a third time,
    To the Dhamma for refuge I go.
    Tatiyampi Dhammam saranam gacchami

    For a third time,
    To the Sangha for refuge I go.
    Tatiyampi Sangham saranam gacchami

    AFFIRMATION OF THE 5 PRECEPTS

    Prostrate 5 times.
     - when prostrated say a precept.
     - after each prostration and precept rise
       and form Uttarabodhi Mudra and say:
       "By adhering to the precepts I practice 
        compassion and understanding for the  
        benefit of all beings'

    I undertake to:

    1. Abstain from killing living beings and act       
          with Loving-kindness;

    2. Abstain from taking that which not given
          and be open hearted and generous;

    3. Abstain from sexual misconduct and 
          practice stillness, simplicity and
          contentment;

    4. Abstain from false speech and speak with
           truth, clarity and peace;

    5. Abstain from distilled substances that
          confuse the mind and Live with mindfulness.

    HOMAGE TO KUAN YIN
         A prayer of homage and praise to Kuan Yin  
         and to request she wipe away my anguish,
         my sorrow, and all my uncertainties and
         restore me with her tenderness and
         compassion.

    Kneel with Right hand: Varada Mudra
                          Left hand: Bhumisparsa Mudra
     
    Prostrate 5 times.
      - When prostrated say Kwan Yin Mantra: 
         "Om Mani Padme hum hsri"
      - after each prostration and recitation rise
         - Both Mudras and say:
          "May I follow your footsteps and be
           compassionate to all beings.

    BEGIN MEDITATION:

    • Move from kneeling position to sitting
        position. 

    • Dhyani Mudra

    • Anapanasati for 5 min.
    lobsterKerome
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran

    I am going to add 2 recitations of a prayer for rebirth in Sukhavati (Amitabha Buddha’s Pureland)

    Prostrate 2 times
    And say:

     Lord Deity of Great Compassion
     Please lead my father and my mother,
     My relatives, friends, enemies, and all sentient beings
     To the western paradise of Sukhavati.
    

    Then rise with Anjali Mudra
    and say: Amitabha Buddha, Amitabha Buddha, Amitabha Buddha Svaha

  • 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

    1 question. Why? (And it's not confrontational, it's curiosity.)

    Alex
  • AlexAlex UK Veteran

    I must admit, I’m one for simplicity. Four noble truths and eightfold path. Periodic refuge in Bhudda/Dharma/Sangha.

    That’s all folks.

    Simples.

    federicaShoshin
  • 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

    @Alex said:
    I must admit, I’m one for simplicity. Four noble truths and eightfold path. Periodic refuge in Bhudda/Dharma/Sangha.

    That’s all folks.

    Simples.

    I am actually of the same mind, but it's always interesting to learn about the motivation and rationale of a 'fellow traveller'...

    johnathanAlex
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    I think you are right @johnathan, these kind of rituals can help to break down stubbornness and judgmental attitudes. It reminds me of a story I heard, about a westerner who asked a Tibetan Lama to be his spiritual teacher. The lama told him to first complete one of the Vajrayāna preliminaries, which involved doing 100,000 prostrations... the westerner swallowed, but set out and did them over three years. After that he asked his now-teacher about his questions, and he found out that in order to do a specific meditation he needed to do another preliminary... involving another 100,000 prostrations. Luckily his lama said the two preliminaries were so similar he could skip the second one, haha.

    johnathan
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    I think you are right @johnathan, these kind of rituals can help to break down stubbornness and judgmental attitudes.

    Not having a teacher I often have to look at myself and the things that need to be corrected to move closer to the 8 fold path and think, if I had a teacher what might he/she instruct me to do to overcome this obstacle in my path.

    In this instance I thought a teacher might have me perform rituals as a means of learning about faith and the holiness of ones practice so that one might be able to relate that experience to the experience of others.

    Sounds like it should be beneficial, only time will tell.

  • VimalajātiVimalajāti Whitby, Ontario Veteran
    edited March 19

    If it keeps you practicing, go for it.

    One observation: that's a lot of activity for 5 minutes of meditation. IMO I would use the time spent getting up to activities as a challenge to see how much time could be spent meditating, not getting up to activities, afterwards.

    After all, ultimately, these rituals are bodily mnemonics for ethics and ethical practice. You mentioned so yourself. You are trying to break out of aversion to theism. I get this, because I have dealt with, and presently deal with, a lot of the same. I come from a Dawkins-Hitchens atheist background.

    If this is what you need to get you optimally set up for concentration (I also have ADHD), then more power to you, but on terms of time spent meditating afterwards, the sky is not the limit (because there are many dhyāna heavens above the sky >:)o:) !).

    Bunks
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    edited March 19

    @Vimalajāti

    I am also a Dawkins-Hitchens Atheist, and a Maher-Harris Atheist as well... much clinging to let go of... I think it will be easier if done through practice (ritual) than just trying to will it away.

    I changed my mode of meditation from Anapanasati to Mozhao and am at 10 minutes at a time and am finding it easier to sit longer. I think I will add 10 minutes each month until I can sit for 2 hours (in 12 months)

    As for meditation, it is not the end all and be all, it is just another form of grasping, skillful means or not... I am finding a gravitation to the Patriarchal Ch'an of Huineng the 6th Patriarch and although highly focused on practice, not so much on sitting as ones practice is also standing, walking, urinating, etc... sitting is just one mode of practice. I currently choose to sit but once I can sit for 2 hours I will also practice Mozhao while in Zhan Zhuang (standing meditation) and while doing Tai Chi.

    I will continue with the rituals, perhaps stick with one Mudra, probably Anjalhi, but the refuges and precepts are important to me and adding prayers to Mahakala and Kuan Yin are adding the faith portion I am using to counter my Atheist attachments. I also find the prostrations and chanting quite calming in preparation for Mozhao.

    (Auto-correct auto-corrected by Moderator. :D )

    BunksKerome
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran

    Changing should read chanting... damn autocorrect

    federica
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    edited March 19

    I just read this paper on Academia by Michael Tchudi titled "Meditations on Guanyin Bodhisattva". It explains the purpose and importance of ritual in ones practice.

    The core of the buddhist disciplines is putting it into practice. There are many approaches to buddhist philosophy and science: the eightfold path, the seven-step method for developing radical compassion, the six perfectionizers, the five yogic stages, the four noble truths, the three principal paths, the two collections, and developing single-pointed concentration, to name but a few. As many as there are approaches to practice, there are presented even more ways of discussing them: teaching, admonishing, and encouraging alike.

    I’ve spent weeks parsing through the Platform Sutra , a text which cannot be apprehended with the intellect alone. Master Huineng has an unconventional approach of inventing creative new definitions for established buddhist terminology, and providing wildly heterodox explanations for his unique interpretations of classical buddhist teachings. He leaves his students in a state of shock and instability. Dumbfounded, the disciples are susceptible to the “direct teaching”: a method which overwhelms the intellect altogether and puts one in a state of nonconceptual awareness, thus experiencing a nondual state of consciousness.

    Buddhist practices, whether they be gradual or direct (or neither), are intended to trigger this awestruck state of nondual, nonconceptual awareness. Major realizations however are not caused, rather they are cessations; not an acquisition of something, but a stopping of mistaken perspectives. With the Guanyin session, we’ve started to sample this process, and get a taste for subsuming the intellect in practice to realize a deeper fundamental state of mind.

    One purpose of ritual is to overwhelm the senses and wear down the conceptual mind’s need to grasp and order the outside world. In the Buddha Hall, we are overwhelmed with bright lights and thousands of golden Buddha images. In the ceremony, repeated twice each day, we rhythmically chant fantastical stories of the enlightened beings’ capacity to save suffering creatures from torment. We beg them to rescue us, and chant their powerful names until we lose track of ordinary time and space.

    Of course, the Buddhas cannot really save us; they can only teach us how to save ourselves. Thus we practice the techniques taught to us: keeping a commitment to morality, a willingness to help others, an urgency to drop confusion and affliction, the desire for higher knowledge and wisdom, and--crucially--to trigger nonconceptual, nondual awareness. This final step is the main event, for which all the other practices and teachings can merely provide support. The ceremonies and meditations only function when the heart is consumed with love and compassion for others, and the mind is open to extraordinary possibilities for consciousness.

    This is why we enter the Buddha Hall each day and chant the sadhanas and mantras. We deepen our resolve, demonstrate our commitment (primarily to our own selves), strengthen our capacity for altruism, and release our attachment to our personal comfort and self-importance. It is only under these conditions, in this crucible, that we can be open to powerful states of personal growth and transformation along the path of the Bodhisattva Buddhas’ ideal.

    Kerome
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    A nice piece, @johnathan, showing at once the contradiction inherent in ritual worship and also why it is still done.

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