How are offerings accepted?

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Sherlock
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How are offerings accepted?

Postby Sherlock » Wed Jul 04, 2012 12:30 pm

From an old post
Sigaloavada Sutta has alms offerred on behalf of the dead -- which is clearly a pre-Buddhist custom such as that mentioned in the first part of the Mahāparinibbana.

Tirokudda Kanda Sutta: has clean good and drink offereed to pretas, but the merit accrued is one's own.

Janussonin Sutta: http://online-dhamma.net/nanda/AccessTo ... .than.html

This sutras says that gifts made to one's ancestors who have been reborn as hell beings, animals, gods or human cannot be enjoyed by them. However, gifts made to hungary ghosts can be enjoyed by them. In all cases the donor enjoys the merit of the gift.

N


How does that apply to ganapujas and general offerings to various beings from the six lokas then? Enlightened beings don't even need our little offerings of course but Nagas, genii loci, gods etc. Does the "outer" offering then have any value at all?

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Nemo
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Re: How are offerings accepted?

Postby Nemo » Wed Jul 04, 2012 4:41 pm

That is a great question.

Traditionally Lamas would see a small tube of white light go to the offerings and drink their essence. The tube would be from the Vajra tongue of the deity. Afterwards they are considered proper food only for wild animals. Though in a Ganachakra they are considered the actual body of the deity. Many would stress that only with Vajra pride as the deity would they be invoked to come.

Occasionally when one makes smoke offerings karmic creditors that come take shape in it. When they remain there it can be rather disconcerting for staunchly materialist devotees. Some beings would be seen as having greed or attachment for physical objects. Burying what they like in the ground or in a pile of stones is one of the few universal beliefs among all ancient religions across the world.

Gandharvas are called "smell eaters". That is how they take their offerings. Other classes of beings supposedly do the same.

Arnoud
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Re: How are offerings accepted?

Postby Arnoud » Wed Jul 04, 2012 5:18 pm

Nemo wrote:That is a great question.

Traditionally Lamas would see a small tube of white light go to the offerings and drink their essence. The tube would be from the Vajra tongue of the deity. Afterwards they are considered proper food only for wild animals. Though in a Ganachakra they are considered the actual body of the deity. Many would stress that only with Vajra pride as the deity would they be invoked to come.

Occasionally when one makes smoke offerings karmic creditors that come take shape in it. When they remain there it can be rather disconcerting for staunchly materialist devotees. Some beings would be seen as having greed or attachment for physical objects. Burying what they like in the ground or in a pile of stones is one of the few universal beliefs among all ancient religions across the world.

Gandharvas are called "smell eaters". That is how they take their offerings. Other classes of beings supposedly do the same.


That's interesting. Where did you hear/read the white light tube story?

ngodrup
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Re: How are offerings accepted?

Postby ngodrup » Wed Jul 04, 2012 5:54 pm

Who needs the offerings? Who benefits?

We do. Quite apart from any benefit to beings of the six realms-- we ourselves
benefit from our practice of generosity. If we happen to be on the first Bhumi,
then our practices will definitely benefit others, before that not so much. But
our practice ALWAYS benefits us.

dharmagoat
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Re: How are offerings accepted?

Postby dharmagoat » Wed Jul 04, 2012 7:50 pm

ngodrup wrote:Who needs the offerings? Who benefits?

We do. Quite apart from any benefit to beings of the six realms-- we ourselves
benefit from our practice of generosity. If we happen to be on the first Bhumi,
then our practices will definitely benefit others, before that not so much. But
our practice ALWAYS benefits us.

But we don't make offerings with the intention of benefitting ourselves. That is why we need imaginary beings to make offerings to.

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heart
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Re: How are offerings accepted?

Postby heart » Wed Jul 04, 2012 9:49 pm

Clarence wrote:
Nemo wrote:That is a great question.

Traditionally Lamas would see a small tube of white light go to the offerings and drink their essence. The tube would be from the Vajra tongue of the deity. Afterwards they are considered proper food only for wild animals. Though in a Ganachakra they are considered the actual body of the deity. Many would stress that only with Vajra pride as the deity would they be invoked to come.

Occasionally when one makes smoke offerings karmic creditors that come take shape in it. When they remain there it can be rather disconcerting for staunchly materialist devotees. Some beings would be seen as having greed or attachment for physical objects. Burying what they like in the ground or in a pile of stones is one of the few universal beliefs among all ancient religions across the world.

Gandharvas are called "smell eaters". That is how they take their offerings. Other classes of beings supposedly do the same.


That's interesting. Where did you hear/read the white light tube story?


In my Tseringma torma offering it is actually written in the text, the vajra tongue and the white light tube thing.


/magnus
We are all here to help each other go through this, whatever it is.
~Kurt Vonnegut

"To reject practice by saying, 'it is conceptual!' is the path of fools. A tendency of the inexperienced and something to be avoided."
- Longchenpa

"Even though you have recognized your essence, if you do not get accustomed to it,
You will be carried away by the enemy of thoughts, like a small child in a battle field.
So long as you are not free from the limitations of accepting and rejecting,
That long will you not recognize the view of the innermost secret heart-essence."

-Longchenpa

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Nemo
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Re: How are offerings accepted?

Postby Nemo » Thu Jul 05, 2012 2:09 am

dharmagoat wrote:But we don't make offerings with the intention of benefitting ourselves. That is why we need imaginary beings to make offerings to.


How could there be any merit making offerings to imaginary beings? You'd be better off working in a soup kitchen.

dharmagoat
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Re: How are offerings accepted?

Postby dharmagoat » Thu Jul 05, 2012 2:36 am

Nemo wrote:How could there be any merit making offerings to imaginary beings? You'd be better off working in a soup kitchen.

The trick is to imagine that they are real. It saves soup.

Sherlock
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Re: How are offerings accepted?

Postby Sherlock » Thu Jul 05, 2012 4:06 am

Well, for naga offerings or other offerings to unenlightened beings there must be some way they accept the offerings otherwise why would they come and help you/stop harming you?

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Virgo
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Re: How are offerings accepted?

Postby Virgo » Thu Jul 05, 2012 6:20 am

Sherlock wrote:Well, for naga offerings or other offerings to unenlightened beings there must be some way they accept the offerings otherwise why would they come and help you/stop harming you?

They are like anybody-- they like it when you give them stuff.

Kevin

Arnoud
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Re: How are offerings accepted?

Postby Arnoud » Thu Jul 05, 2012 9:26 am

Thanks Heart for your answer!

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Malcolm
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Re: How are offerings accepted?

Postby Malcolm » Thu Jul 05, 2012 12:22 pm

Sherlock wrote:Does the "outer" offering then have any value at all?


It strengthens your intention.
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catmoon
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Re: How are offerings accepted?

Postby catmoon » Thu Jul 05, 2012 12:49 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Sherlock wrote:Does the "outer" offering then have any value at all?


It strengthens your intention.


Just so, well said.
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Blue Garuda
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Re: How are offerings accepted?

Postby Blue Garuda » Thu Jul 05, 2012 2:03 pm

I have also seen sadhanas in the Gelugpa where deities, field of merit etc. draw up an offering as if through a golden straw.

I don't ascribe to the 'pretend' approach.

Deities are real, spirits are real, the realms are real.

If you 'pretend' they are real instead of having a firm belief, then your offering is also a pretence and will neither benefit them nor yourself.

They are as real as 'you' or 'I'. They are as unreal as 'you' or 'I'.

I don't know about ancestor offerings, but if you have no idea which realm they ended up in, or have moved on to several rebirths later, then I can't see much going on other than a change to the mind of the person making the offering. If an offering was made to a deity in order to help those ancestors, then I can see a connection. Ancestor and ghost festivals may be effective, for all I know, as I know nothing about them, so can only comment from an outsider's perspective.

If you want to make offerings to beings in other realms it is best to seek advice from a Guru as to the appropriateness of mandalas, water bowls, fire, sang or serkyem and whether these are best made in your mundane everyday form or after self-generation as a deity. Offerings to a Buddha with good intention are always welcome as they are omniscient and can see your motivation. ;)
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pemachophel
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Re: How are offerings accepted?

Postby pemachophel » Thu Jul 05, 2012 3:28 pm

IMHO, the Deities are just as real as we are. If you are "pretending," there won't be much of an effect. :namaste:
Pema Chophel པདྨ་ཆོས་འཕེལ

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Dechen Norbu
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Re: How are offerings accepted?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Thu Jul 05, 2012 6:44 pm

But that kind of confidence is hard to arise in some people, especially when they are used to reify this human experience as real.
I mean, they can see themselves, but can't see the deities prior, during or after the practice. So I understand why they find hard to believe them. It's against their experience. They know they are just imagining the deities they visualize. If they open their eyes, they are not there. One can't force it either, so it is not by wanting to believe in these deities that one will actually be able to do it. Understanding why one can't access the Sambhogakaya level, thus not being able to perceive such manifestations helps. Understanding why our experience is deluded and what means having impure vision seems very important. My suggestion is building at least a half decent theoretical preparation and then practice, practice, practice. These requisites being met, faith - or informed confidence - arises naturally.

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underthetree
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Re: How are offerings accepted?

Postby underthetree » Thu Jul 05, 2012 6:56 pm

I think there's also an issue of what exactly it is that's 'real.' The deities are real, but my sense is that the details are cultural trappings. I don't think it makes sense to imagine that Indo-Tibetan beings can be universal experiences for people who come from vastly different cultures, over vast geographical distances. I have a Vajrayogini practice and I allow my understanding of 'Vajrayogini' to assume the iconographical trappings of the sadhana. Meanwhile, though I have utter faith in the yidam I understand that the assumption of the deity of these particular iconographies are historical and also utilitarian. They work. They connect. It's about connection. If you need to visualize glowing proboscises or vajra tongues in order to connect to the actuality of the practice, then do that. The outer appearances are imaginary: imaginary clothing on actualities.

Does that make any kind of sense? I'm trying to differentiate between archetypes, icons and universalities, the point being that it isn't just a thought experiment, but it is somethng real which also contains, very literally, an experiment in the manipulation of thought...

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Re: How are offerings accepted?

Postby pemachophel » Thu Jul 05, 2012 7:48 pm

Each of the pieces of jewelry and clothing, the lotus, sun, and moon seat, the number of faces, hands, feet, etc. all have meaning and those meanings are part of the "purity" of the visualization. Therefore, I wouldn't change any of these visualizations to suit our own cultural norms. Rather, I would suggest that you learn the meaning of all the costumes, jewelry, and "anatomy" of any Deity you are practicing. This is normally described in the thrid (ti), commentary on the practice. Just my two cents. :namaste:
Pema Chophel པདྨ་ཆོས་འཕེལ

dharmagoat
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Re: How are offerings accepted?

Postby dharmagoat » Thu Jul 05, 2012 8:02 pm

Blue Garuda wrote:I don't ascribe to the 'pretend' approach.

There is a big difference between imagining something to exist, and pretending something exists. Imagination is a creative act. It can be claimed that by imagining something you bring it into existence.

It really doesn't matter how deities exist, the fact that they occupy our thoughts means that they do. The stronger the belief, the better the practice.

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underthetree
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Re: How are offerings accepted?

Postby underthetree » Thu Jul 05, 2012 8:15 pm

pemachophel wrote:Each of the pieces of jewelry and clothing, the lotus, sun, and moon seat, the number of faces, hands, feet, etc. all have meaning and those meanings are part of the "purity" of the visualization. Therefore, I wouldn't change any of these visualizations to suit our own cultural norms. Rather, I would suggest that you learn the meaning of all the costumes, jewelry, and "anatomy" of any Deity you are practicing. This is normally described in the thrid (ti), commentary on the practice. Just my two cents. :namaste:


Absolutely. They are vital for the functioning of the sadhana. I don't believe they are 'actual' in any way. Just as I don't believe they are not 'actual.' But I visualize them because they represent the existing means to access the deity. They are conceptualizations of something beyond concept. And for historical reasons they are the only extant way to do that. I'm an Englishman doing a Tibetan sadhana, just as, once upon a time, a Tibetan sat down and did an Indian sadhana. One day, perhaps, an Icelander will sit down and do a British sadhana of 'Vajrayogini.' Will she still be 'Vajrayogini?' No, probably. And definitely, yes.


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