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Teep
18 Apr 12, 04:38
I'm new to Buddhism and just poking around at it before labeling myself a 'buddhist', as I don't want to contradict the beliefs and I'd like to understand more. From what I read, some schools of thought use deities as symbolism? Came across the 'Five Great Buddhas' and 'Five Wisdom Kings'. This seems to be a more Japanese tradition but I could be wrong.

Anyways, are these deities used commonly as representations of certain values and whatnot? Or are they just used in one specific school of thought? Any further info with this would be greatly appreciated. I find this topic pretty interesting.

Aloka
18 Apr 12, 04:48
From what I read, some schools of thought use deities as symbolism

Hi Teep,

This is a question for the Mahayana/Vajrayana forum so I have moved the topic for you.

kind regards

Aloka

Teep
18 Apr 12, 05:02
Thank you, Aloka. Wasn't quite sure where it went. ;D

Element
18 Apr 12, 11:22
Anyways, are these deities used commonly as representations of certain values and whatnot?
hi Teep

deities exist in all buddhist traditions but, in most, they are representations, as you suggested, rather than something supernatural

for example, in the original teachings there were many kinds of deities, such as:

1. brahma gods; which represent the embodiment of love & compassion

2. deva; which represent worldly power & delights, such as kings, queens, rich & powerful, etc, with political power & luxury

3. asura; those who wish to exert power using fear & punishment

4. radiant gods; which represent the various levels of meditative bliss

in short, the deities are merely human beings with extraordinary or uncommon qualities

kind regards

element ;D




He directly knows... gods as gods... Pajapati as Pajapati... Brahma as Brahma... the luminous gods as luminous gods... the gods of refulgent glory as gods of refulgent glory... the gods of abundant fruit as the gods of abundant fruit... the Great Being as the Great Being....

MN 1 (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.001.than.html)

gods = sensual luxury
Pajapati = exerting contril & power over others
Brahma = love & compassion
luminous gods = 1st jhana meditation of bliss
gods of refulgent glory = 2nd jhana meditation of bliss
gods of abundant fruit = 3rd jhana meditation of bliss
Great Being = 4th jhana meditation of mental purity



The Blessed One said, "Once in the past the devas & asuras were arrayed for battle. Then Vepacitti the asura-king said to Sakka the deva-king: 'Let there be victory through what is well spoken.'

'Yes, Vepacitti, let there be victory through what is well spoken.'

When this was said, Vepacitti recited this verse:

'Fools would flare up even more
if there were no constraints.
Thus an enlightened one
should restrain the fool
with a heavy stick.'

When this was said, Sakka recited this verse:

'One's own true good
is the foremost good.
Nothing better
than patience
is found.

You make things worse
when you flare up
at someone who's angry.
Whoever doesn't flare up
at someone who's angry
wins a battle
hard to win.'

When Sakka had said this verse, the devas applauded but the asuras were silent. Then the deva & asura panel of judges said, 'The verses said by Vepacitti the asura-king lie in the sphere of swords & weapons — thence arguments, quarrels & strife. Whereas the verses said by Sakka the deva-king lies outside the sphere of swords & weapons — thence no arguments, no quarrels, no strife. The victory through what is well spoken goes to Sakka the deva-king.'

And that, monks, is how the victory through what was well spoken went to Sakka the deva-king.

Debate about how to govern people by the gods (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn11/sn11.005.than.html)

Murchovski
22 Apr 12, 00:25
The 'god' Krishna urged Arjuna to involve himself in bloody battle against another family.

How would Buddha have labelled Krishna; standing aside in the nebulous spiritual realm does not really equate well with the material world in which we exist and yet it is claimed to be illusionary.

Rhysman
29 Apr 12, 22:27
I'm a little reluctant to add this to the post, but... I think it is important (it was for me) to understand the cosmology of a belief system. By understanding how Buddhism defines the universe (cosmos) the parts of the universe tend to fall into place. This includes "God(s)".

Here is an excellent, and somewhat difficult, article about Buddhist cosmology.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_cosmology

Aloka
29 Apr 12, 22:38
Here is an excellent, and somewhat difficult, article about Buddhist cosmology.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_cosmology

The different 'realms' can also be interpreted as different mental states we experience.


This is an interactive tour of the Tibetan Wheel of Life (which has 6 main realms)


http://www.buddhanet.net/wheel1.htm

Rhysman
29 Apr 12, 22:52
Just to add something personal, I have an affinity to Avalokiteshvara (Guan Shi Yin) the Bodhisattva of compassion. When I am in a difficult situation I will repeat either the mantra from the Heart Sutra, Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasangate, Bodhi Svaha or just Namo Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva. I don't think it really matters if I/you believe that Avalokiteshvara is really there to help as the Bodhisattva of compassion. I have seen amazing changes in situations through this practice. Is it the Bodhisattva of Compassion helping me or am I making a change in the situation? I leave that up to you.

Aloka
29 Apr 12, 23:03
Hi Teep,

There's some info about deities in Tibetan Buddhism here:

http://www.khandro.net/deities.htm


Deity practice should ideally be done under the guidance of an offline teacher.

with kind wishes


Aloka

Rhysman
30 Apr 12, 13:19
There's some info about deities in Tibetan Buddhism here:

http://www.khandro.net/deities.htm


Deity practice should ideally be done under the guidance of an offline teacher.

with kind wishes


Aloka

I agree as far as my experience goes. Some of us do not have the option of that though. I still practice using the books that I read as a guide to practice. These forums really help also.

Do you think there is some kind of danger in this type of practice? I have never had any issue with it. I could be doing it wrong but my intention is good.

I have read ways to practice with Deities in several books by what I believe to be trusted teachers.

In Reeves translation of the Lotus Sutra it says:
If there were countless hundreds of thousands of billions of living beings experiencing suffering and agony who heard of this Regarder of the Cries of the World Bodhisattva, and wholeheartedly called his name, Regarder of the Cries of the World Bodhisattva would immediately hear their cries, and all of them would be freed.

I know a lot of what is written in the Lotus Sutra should not be taken literally, but even figuratively this seems like a clear statement that we will have some benefit from calling on Avalokiteshvara. Would that be correct?

Hands Palm to Palm,
Darrin

Aloka
30 Apr 12, 13:31
Hi Rhysman,

Personally I don't regard the Lotus Sutra as authentic text from the historical Buddha. The Buddha of the Pali Canon also didn't teach 'deity' practices, they're later add-ons.

I was involved with Tibetan Buddhism offline for about 20 years and did a number of deity practices, amongst other things. I definately consider it important to have one-to-one teacher input at an offline centre, whatever it says in best selling books - because if something goes wrong with a persons practice, or if they have a too active imagination about these things, who will they ask for guidance about it ? I really don't think getting instruction about deity practices from internet forums or texts from websites is a good idea either.

I'm sure there will be people who might say otherwise, however.

kind regards

Aloka ;D

Rhysman
30 Apr 12, 13:46
Thank you for your response. I agree that the Lotus Sutra is most likely not from the historical Buddha. But, I would say that most Sutras fall into that category. I'll stop with that, I know this is not the thread to get into a discussion on the merits of Sutras.

Hands Palm to Palm

Victorious
01 May 12, 12:15
Howdy on the thread.

If anybody in interested there is a practise intended to see gods. I am not sure if it is Buddhist by origin. I have not tried it myself but there are people that have and claim to have seen gods.

/Victor

Aloka
01 May 12, 12:38
Howdy on the thread.

If anybody in interested there is a practise intended to see gods. I am not sure if it is Buddhist by origin. I have not tried it myself but there are people that have and claim to have seen gods.

/Victor

Hi Victor,

Can you explain how this would this help one to be free from dukkha in day to day life ?

If it is not connected to specific Buddhist practice in any way then it is not relevant to this thread.

kind regards,

Aloka ;D

Victorious
01 May 12, 15:27
I'm new to Buddhism and just poking around at it before labeling myself a 'buddhist', as I don't want to contradict the beliefs and I'd like to understand more. From what I read, some schools of thought use deities as symbolism? Came across the 'Five Great Buddhas' and 'Five Wisdom Kings'. This seems to be a more Japanese tradition but I could be wrong.

Anyways, are these deities used commonly as representations of certain values and whatnot? Or are they just used in one specific school of thought? Any further info with this would be greatly appreciated. I find this topic pretty interesting.

The tought of specific Deities representing states of mind is pretty straigtforward. Seems this question was moved to Mahayana Buddhism but this relation is there in Theravada tradition too. In sutta ni pata for an example the texts declare a metta mind as being a heavenly state of mind already in this world. (If I remember correctly).

BUT there are also those following a practise widely known in Buddhist circles that aim at seeing gods that claim that they have. The origin of this practise I do not know but it is used by Buddhists. So by those practitioners the heavenly worlds are not only seen as states of mind but also as real worlds of beings.

This is interesting to point out because you say you do not want to contradict beliefs but for these individuals as you may understand gods are not a belief but a direct firsthand knowleadge/experience.

Br
/Victor

EDIT: The practise I am referring to is used by Theravadians (that I know of).

Victorious
01 May 12, 15:28
Hi Victor,

Can you explain how this would this help one to be free from dukkha in day to day life ?

If it is not connected to specific Buddhist practice in any way then it is not relevant to this thread.

kind regards,

Aloka ;D

I am sorry I do not think that was the question asked? The one writing the question is asking for information. No? But maybe I was a little bit unspecific.

/Victor

Aloka
01 May 12, 15:59
I am sorry I do not think that was the question asked? The one writing the question is asking for information. No? But maybe I was a little bit unspecific.

/Victor

Yes I agree, apologies, I was asking you a personal question about dukkha, wasn't I.

However a non -specific practice of 'seeing gods' seems very vague. As I mentioned before, I have practised offline with Vajrayana and now with Forest tradition Theravada and I've never heard of a practice "widely known in Buddhist circles that aims at seeing gods''. I think therefore that you need to be more specific and provide some evidence and links because we are a Buddhist learning community here at BWB.



In sutta ni pata for an example the texts declare a metta mind as being a heavenly state of mind already in this world.

The various realms being interpreted as mental states isn't the same as doing individual deity prayers/practices in Vajrayana though, and the OP was asking about deities.

Anyway, moving on now......:hands:

Victorious
01 May 12, 19:57
No need to apologies at all!

It might just be I do not understand the question properly. I see the OP is asking about what value deities have in buddhist practise generally?

My understanding is that Deities are the beings inhabiting the different heavenly realms. They are the beings embodying the state of minds that the specific realm stands for.

Like the realm of Brahma. The Brahma would then be a Deity. But I think normally you use the word Deity for gods from the lower realms and not the Brahma even if it is applicable.

I am not familiar with the deity prayers in Vajrayana. But I was under the presumption that the OP did not really know where this question belonged?

And the practise I am speaking of I have heard from different people both in sweden and in sri lanka. But I have never read about it in any place. And I have also come across several people saying they have tried it and succeeded one of which in sweden.

It is a simple enough practise. You just need to stay in perfect mindfullness for approximately 3 months every waking hour in an isolated location and the gods will 'descend' to see who this peculiar person is.

As I said from the beginning I am not sure of its origin but buddhists use it. And I can not vouche for it since I have not tried it because I can not really see what use seeing gods have for my cultivation.

But nevertheless it is pretty interesting.

/Victor

Rhysman
01 May 12, 22:15
It is a simple enough practise. You just need to stay in perfect mindfullness for approximately 3 months every waking hour in an isolated location and the gods will 'descend' to see who this peculiar person is.

/Victor

I'm sorry but... LOLOLOLOLOL I actually did laugh out loud. Not making fun of anything I just couldn't help it.

Maybe a Buddha can stay in perfect mindfullness for 3 months every waking hour, humm I think that might be the definition of Buddha. If you can do that for 3 months straight I think you just might be an enlightened being.

Thanks for the laugh. :lol:

Victorious
02 May 12, 21:15
I'm sorry but... LOLOLOLOLOL I actually did laugh out loud. Not making fun of anything I just couldn't help it.

Maybe a Buddha can stay in perfect mindfullness for 3 months every waking hour, humm I think that might be the definition of Buddha. If you can do that for 3 months straight I think you just might be an enlightened being.

Thanks for the laugh. :lol:

You chicken? Not up to the challenge eh?

:cool:

Well yaa. I said the practise was simple. I did not say it was easy did I? lol.


Victor
:hands:

Murchovski
03 May 12, 02:48
No need to apologies at all!

It might just be I do not understand the question properly. I see the OP is asking about what value deities have in buddhist practise generally?

My understanding is that Deities are the beings inhabiting the different heavenly realms. They are the beings embodying the state of minds that the specific realm stands for.

Like the realm of Brahma. The Brahma would then be a Deity. But I think normally you use the word Deity for gods from the lower realms and not the Brahma even if it is applicable.

I am not familiar with the deity prayers in Vajrayana. But I was under the presumption that the OP did not really know where this question belonged?

And the practise I am speaking of I have heard from different people both in sweden and in sri lanka. But I have never read about it in any place. And I have also come across several people saying they have tried it and succeeded one of which in sweden.

It is a simple enough practise. You just need to stay in perfect mindfullness for approximately 3 months every waking hour in an isolated location and the gods will 'descend' to see who this peculiar person is.

As I said from the beginning I am not sure of its origin but buddhists use it. And I can not vouche for it since I have not tried it because I can not really see what use seeing gods have for my cultivation.

But nevertheless it is pretty interesting.

/Victor

Victor.
As one who has been looking at this forum philosophically for approaching a year, and who is used to being ignored, criticized, and feel hesitant to write anything too controversial, I must say your remarks relating to gods have confused my dubious status considerably.

I also see that reincarnation is now "acceptable"; when I joined Annata was the preferred option.

You people are all far too flexible and clever for me; I really don't know what to do........its all very depressing.




.

Aloka
03 May 12, 04:46
There's some information about gods in Tibetan Buddhism at Rigpa Wiki :


http://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=Gods






Gods (Skt. deva; Tib. lha)

— one of the six classes of beings. These divine samsaric states are the fruit of positive karma generally related to acts of generosity, meditative concentration or practices of asceticism, but which are still tainted by worldly goals. Because the life of the gods is free from suffering, the idea of practising Dharma never occurs to them, and when the effect of the actions which sent them there is exhausted, these gods inevitably fall back into the lower realms of samsara.

Sogyal Rinpoche writes:

The main feature of the realm of the gods, is that it is devoid of suffering, a realm of changeless beauty and sensual ecstasy. Imagine the gods: tall, blond surfers, lounging on beaches and in gardens flooded by brilliant sunshine, listening to any kind of music they choose, intoxicated by every kind of stimulant, high on meditation, yoga, bodywork, and ways of improving themselves, but never taxing their brains, never confronting any complex or painful situation, never conscious of their true nature, and so anesthetized that they are never aware of what their condition really is.

Victorious
03 May 12, 22:43
Victor.
As one who has been looking at this forum philosophically for approaching a year, and who is used to being ignored, criticized, and feel hesitant to write anything too controversial, I must say your remarks relating to gods have confused my dubious status considerably.

I also see that reincarnation is now "acceptable"; when I joined Annata was the preferred option.

You people are all far too flexible and clever for me; I really don't know what to do........its all very depressing.

.

Hm Dude or Dudette take it easy.

Anatta is still the preferred way of understanding the world and has nothing to do with reincarnation.

But I do agree Buddhists are genarally pretty clever and flexible. I mean being Buddhist is probably the most clever thing anyone could be.

I know what you could do. You could become a Buddhist and join the good looking successful crowd.
Then you wouldn't have to be depressed any more.

:up2:

Cheers!

/Victor

Abhaya
03 May 12, 22:56
Opinions on this subject will inevitably vary, as there are many Buddhists around the world who regard deities as real beings while others view them in light of their symbolic value.

Devas (gods, deities) are beings suffering from delusions of grandeur, as in the case of Baka Brahma from the Brahma-Nimantanika Sutta (MN 49). Generally, devas are seen as desirous, thus unworthy of worship. Furthermore, contact with deva-lokas, the realm of gods/world of deities, may be a metaphor for arupa jhana (formless meditative states), skillfully disguised by means of upaya in order to appeal to brahmanic thinkers, who constituted a significant portion of the Buddha's audience. This type of upaya (skilful means, a type of pedagogy) is used widely in Mahayana to help householders along the path.

Yet ultimately, gods and deities are of no help to humanity. Nagarjuna, a Mahayana scholar considered by some to be a bodhisattva, is reported to have wrote:



The gods are all eternal scoundrels
Incapable of dissolving the suffering of impermanence.
Those who serve them and venerate them
May even in this world sink into a sea of sorrow.
We know the gods are false and have no concrete being;
Therefore the wise man believes them not
The fate of the world depends on causes and conditions
Therefore the wise man many not rely on gods.

http://www.buddhivihara.org/article18.htm


Unlike these devas, the "deities" most popular in Mahayana are bodhisattvas, who are often portrayed as having divine qualities and are in fact relied upon by many. For example, Avalokiteśvara is the bodhisattva of compassion, MaƱjuśrī is a bodhisattva embodying wisdom, and Samantabhadra is a bodhisattva representing meditative practice. All are spoken of as the embodiment of such-and-such a quality. This is the proper way to "rely" on the bodhisattvas, as helpful examples and reminders. Personification and anthropomorphism make abstract concepts and intangible ideals easier to relate to and put into practice. This does not mean that deities such as these bodhisattvas exist as actual entities whose purpose is to "save" sentient beings from samsara. However, it is helpful to many people, especially laypeople, to believe they are real.