Buddhist prayer...

Requesting and offering prayers and aspirations for those in need.
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Re: Buddhist prayer...

Postby ClearblueSky » Wed Oct 16, 2013 6:10 pm

smcj wrote:
If there is no "God" in Buddhism, then who do we pray to?

"Some people are worried that in Buddhism there is no God.
In fact, in Buddhism there are many gods, but none of them is considered to be one and only God."-ChNN

a.k.a. Polytheism.

I think the main thing that separates it from most polytheistic religions is that for the worldly gods, such as the hindu gods, they are supposed to be in samsara and no more special than we are. And then the Buddhas are supposed to be no different in nature than ourselves.
So it's a little different than polytheism typically. And I hate to admit it, and many might disagree, but Buddhism (especially Mahayana/Vajrayana) is not that different from polytheism but with additional things as well, especially to an outside perspective. I understand the difference, but bottom line, there are multiple represented entities who are considered "special" (again, yes I'm aware their nature is no different) whom we give offerings before and pray to. We speak specifically how they have power and ask for their help, it's right in the sadhanas. We even consider it negative to treat their images poorly. So like it or not, on a basic level it's at least got similarities, and whether ChNN intended it or not, that quote is literally the definition of polytheism.

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Re: Buddhist prayer...

Postby Aemilius » Fri Oct 18, 2013 1:28 pm

If You read the Larger Sukhavati Vyuha sutra, and the other pureland sutras, where Amitabha is a Buddha of cosmic dimensions, and yet he started his career as a bhikshu, Dharmakara by name, many kalpas ago.
In the Sravakayana teachings Shakyamuni says that the vedic God Indra became Indra as result of his practice of mindfulness, and similarly with Brahma and other deities.

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Re: Buddhist prayer...

Postby RisingSun » Wed Jan 29, 2014 12:20 am

:focus: I decided to resurrect this thread because I'm still not clear on what exactly the Buddhist view of prayer is. It's my understanding that within Buddhism it's generally accepted that prayer "stills the mind", but prayer requests are not answered by any spiritual beings. Is this interpretation only accepted within certain sects, or is this an unresolved issue? The posts in this thread don't seem to be overly consistent.

I notice a lot of prayer requests in the prayer forum asking for all sorts of things: "pray for my dad with cancer"; "pray for suicide victim"; "pray for dead mice". It makes me wonder what the point of all this is. If the events in an animal's life are a product of its past karma, will praying for them help them any? For example, if I am injured in a car wreck because of my past actions, will prayers for me help my condition or future any? If the karma of a mouse dictates that it will be reborn as some other animal, will prayers change its future?

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Re: Buddhist prayer...

Postby Aemilius » Wed Jan 29, 2014 9:39 am

Buddhism thinks that there is an accumulated force of positive karma that is called "merit" (sanskr. punya, pali puñña). And this merit can, to some extent, be directed elsewhere, for example for the benefit of a deceased mouse. This dedicated merit will have an effect on the karma balance of that particular mouse. It can thus alter the fate of that mouse.
This system of merit, acquiring merit and dedicating merit, exists in many different ways and practices in the Sravakayana as well as in the Mahayana. Some form of dedication of merit has been included and explained in the Abhidharma. There is some controversy about it in different schools of buddhist thought.
The basic Sutras and their commentaries, that deal with merit and its dedication, point to different directions, to different schools of thought.
"Prayer" in Buddhism should be understood as implying the positive force of merit and its dedication for the benefit of a particular being.
You can search Dhammapada with the word "merit", to see how it appears there, what kind of thinking is implied by it.

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