PDA

View Full Version : Prayer and affirmation



Aloka
30 Apr 11, 05:24
I was wondering, do you pray regularly as part of your Buddhist practice? If so, who are the prayers to?

Do you think there's a difference between chanting prayers and chanting affirmations in Buddhism?




:hands:

Esho
30 Apr 11, 13:30
In my personal life I have never prayed because I have never had a religion or the need of such. Also I neither chant nor I do any sort affirmation about Buddhism with chanting. I think it is neither important nor necessary; but when I go to seshins we all chant; I have to do that in order to practice Zazen with the Roshi so respectfully I do that at the dojo. There is no problem for me... in some way chants are a way we all start to settle the mind; when there is group meditation this is very important but they have no other meaning than just that. As we learn to settle the mind, because of the practice of meditation, in daily life, chanting becomes unnecessary and useless at all.

;D

fojiao2
30 Apr 11, 13:31
I don't 'pray' to any exterior source. I verbally express wishes for beings to be happy, and my intentions, that all the actions of my body, speech and mind, whether (seemingly) positive, negative or otherwise, (to somehow) be a cause for people to turn to the dhamma.

There is a Buddhist sangha I am familiar with, and they have an e-group, and people are always posting things like "pray for so and so who is going into surgery". They say that every good wish helps and makes those who do it a little bit more caring and aware of others suffering, but personally -and this is my own attachment- It reminds me of faith-healers and really puts me off.

I have always thought of affirmations as being self-affirming ideas. So, they might be good for somebody who needs a little boost in the area of self-esteem, but just as with any part of dhamma practice, you even have to not be attached to the rewards you get from it.

This brings to mind another post in which 'faith' was mentioned.

David843
17 May 11, 22:49
For purposes of communicating with non Buddhist, I refer to practices such as Medicine Buddha, Chenrezig and other sadhanas, as well as aspirations and dedications of merit as prayers. Whether or not the Buddha's/bodhisattvas involved exist on a mundane level or not is immaterial. The practices are still beneficial. I view more traditional forms of prayer the same way.

BuckyG
19 May 11, 13:04
I was wondering, do you pray regularly as part of your Buddhist practice? If so, who are the prayers to? I used to not consider the deities I "pray" to part of my Buddhist practice, but I'm not so sure anymore. No, I will not tell what deities.;)


Do you think there's a difference between chanting prayers and chanting affirmations in Buddhism? I didn't know Buddhists chant prayers or affirmations. The chants I do are for homage and I guess they're partly affirmative. Good post A-D.
Cheerily,
bucky




:hands:

JadeRabbit
19 May 11, 14:19
I suppose I call it 'prayer', but really it's just a wish for others to be happy, very simple with no religious connotations ;D

I do morning / evening chanting in the Thai Forest tradition, just to remind myself to be thankful and grateful for the triple gem and also to ready the mind and body for meditation.

I don't know about affirmations? Aren't they traditionally meant to boost ones sense of self?...'I am a strong, confident person', etc. Or have I got the wrong end of the stick?

Keith A
19 May 11, 17:16
I guess the closest I come to "prayer" is Kwan Se Um Bosal chanting. We have a side altar, on which we place cards for people in need of help. The altar also has a Ji Jang Bosal on it , for people who have passed away. Kwan Se Um Bosal is the embodiment of compassion and Ji Jang Bosal is embodiment for helping children and people moving from one realm to the next. The whole thing is about intention. The particular tradition I practice in stresses "understanding ourselves and helping others". This practice gives some comfort to those who can use some. :)

stuka
19 May 11, 17:25
No one to pray to, nothing to pray for.

David843
19 May 11, 17:59
No one to pray to, nothing to pray for.

I don't believe it is necessary for there to be some one to pray to in order for prayer to be useful or beneficial. Prayer can just as easily be seen as guided meditation or contemplation.

Aloka
19 May 11, 18:06
Occasionally I select chants (I'd describe them as affirmations rather than prayers) from here:

http://www.amaravati.org/abmnew/documents/ABM_Chanting_Book_2006.pdf

I often briefly repeat the Refuge before meditation and a wish for peace and happiness for all beings.

I used to do pujas and prayers a lot when I was a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner, but not since I changed tradition. I just meditate instead.

Keith A
19 May 11, 18:51
I have found that doing Metta practice and Kwan Se Um Bosal chanting to be very similar. Different clothes, that all. :)

fojiao2
19 May 11, 19:58
No one to pray to, nothing to pray for.

Well said.

stuka
19 May 11, 20:02
I don't believe it is necessary for there to be some one to pray to in order for prayer to be useful or beneficial. Prayer can just as easily be seen as guided meditation or contemplation.

But then it becomes an equivocation of the meaning of the word "prayer".

Guided meditation is guided meditation. Contemplation is contemplation. Prayer is a petition to a supposed outside entity to perform some action, for example, for the Cubs to win a game this year.

David843
19 May 11, 20:14
But then it becomes an equivocation of the meaning of the word "prayer".

Guided meditation is guided meditation. Contemplation is contemplation. Prayer is a petition to a supposed outside entity to perform some action, for example, for the Cubs to win a game this year.

Pardon me, but I'm not interested in quibbling over the meaning of words. A great many Buddhist teachers choose to pray. I don't presume to know better than they, nor do I presume to know whether the practice is effective for a particular individual.

Aloka
19 May 11, 20:21
Pardon me, but I'm not interested in quibbling over the meaning of words. .



Just a suggestion, David, but If you haven't done so already, it might be an idea to look at the guidelines for this debating forum at the beginning of the topic list for Beyond Belief.

quote from the guidelines:

"If you disapprove of any of the lively discussions taking place in this forum, or prefer to take a more orthodox position, or get easily offended, then you can simply avoid it ! There are plenty of other forums on the website in which one can interact or post new topics"

(Politeness still applies of course)

with kind wishes,

Aloka-D

:hands:

David843
19 May 11, 20:48
Just a suggestion, David, but If you haven't done so already, it might be an idea to look at the guidelines for this debating forum at the beginning of the topic list for Beyond Belief.

quote from the guidelines:

"If you disapprove of any of the lively discussions taking place in this forum, or prefer to take a more orthodox position, or get easily offended, then you can simply avoid it ! There are plenty of other forums on the website in which one can interact or post new topics"

(Politeness still applies of course)

with kind wishes,

Aloka-D

:hands:

I don't disapprove. I answered the original post which asks if individuals engage in prayer or if they see other practices as equivalent. It did not ask about the effectiveness or appropriateness of the practice. I'm not offended. I simply fail to see the value in word games. If that is what this forum is for, then I will indeed avoid it.

Aloka
19 May 11, 20:55
If that is what this forum is for, then I will indeed avoid it.

Dear David, the BB forum is for relaxed debating which relates to the topic in some way. Defining terminology is ok, I can't see why that would be a problem.

:hands:

fojiao2
19 May 11, 22:13
I was wondering, do you pray regularly as part of your Buddhist practice? If so, who are the prayers to?

Do you think there's a difference between chanting prayers and chanting affirmations in Buddhism?


I think asking a buddhist if he or she prays is sort of like asking a fish if he pees in his drinking water.
I mean that in a nice way.

Aloka
19 May 11, 22:16
I think asking a buddhist if he or she prays is sort of like asking a fish if he pees in his drinking water.
I mean that in a nice way.

Lol, not clear about your meaning there, a fish does indeed pee in his drinking water - but some Buddhists pray and some don't ! I was curious because as a Tibetan Buddhist I used to pray myself - there were prayers to gurus of the lineage, to the 35 Buddhas, to all the Buddha's and Bodhisattva's of the 10 directions and so on.

These days apart from meditation I do a little chanting occasionally, which is what I'd call affirmations or recollections, such as the Metta Sutta for example.

I was just interested in what others members did or didn't do !

fojiao2
19 May 11, 22:45
Because a fish pees in his own drinking water, there is no difference between him and his entire universe.
If a buddhist starts from the view of non-duality (no self / no other) then the question of (there being any difference between) an external deity and one's own mind becomes moot. I think.

Praying to anything that one believes to exist outside the mind seems contrary to Buddhist teachings. On the other hand, if one is engaged the the parctice of mindful awareness when doing other activities such as chopping vegetables or sweeping the floor or whatever, then why should it matter whether the activity is an aspiration ("prayer") or cleaning a toilet? In other words, there is meditation (sammat. & vipp..) which, strictly speaking, is essentally what the Buddha taught, and then there is the question of where one's practice is when one is "off the cushion" as they say. So, can one "pray" and do so "mindfully"?

It's all so terribly subjective. If you tell me that as part of your practice you pray for hungry ghosts or for people who suffer from illness or disaster, maybe that doesn't sound so bad. If I then tell you that every I day rub the tummy of a plaster buddha statue and make a wish, it sounds like a promotional scheme for a new Chinese restaurant. Speaking of restaurants, I have some friends who are Thai monks (living in the United States). Every once in a while they accept the request to conduct a blessings ceremony for the opening of a new Thai restaurant. So, now there is this idea of 'prayers' and 'aspirations' and 'affirmations' and 'blessings' and then simply motivation and intention and how they manifest as the actions of one's speech, conduct and thought.

What differentiates a Buddha from someone who has (merely) ceased being attached to the temporary phenomena of our world? Does a Buddha break through all of our notions of conceptual time and space? Does anyone who becomes enlightened do this? If not, then what is enlightenement, and if so, can someone who "existed" in a body centuries ago still be generating something today that benefits people?

Not arguing one way or the other---just throwing some marshmallows into the fire.

David843
19 May 11, 23:05
Dear David, the BB forum is for relaxed debating which relates to the topic in some way. Defining terminology is ok, I can't see why that would be a problem.

:hands:

My experience has been that when I'm engaged in nit picking terminology, I tend to miss the very message the words are trying to impart. :hands:

fojiao2
19 May 11, 23:20
Defining what we are all talking about is also important, especially since the internet is global. "Prayer" is a very loaded term. If you pray for someone to get well, are you praying for the mass slaughter of tiny little microbes? Is affirmation the opposite of flaccidity?

Aloka
19 May 11, 23:25
My experience has been that when I'm engaged in nit picking terminology, I tend to miss the very message the words are trying to impart. :hands:

Personally my experience has been that its good not to take these discussions too seriously and to keep checking my own reactions .;D

Aloka
19 May 11, 23:40
Is affirmation the opposite of flaccidity?

Huh?

affirmation = making a declaration about something.

flaccidity = limpness, floppyness, drooping. ;D

stuka
19 May 11, 23:56
My experience has been that when I'm engaged in nit picking terminology, I tend to miss the very message the words are trying to impart. :hands:

My experience has been that when folks are not clear on the terms they are using, they tend to talk past each other and no communication happens. It is quite possible to be using the same terms and be talking about completely different concepts. And neither party know it at all. One example would be the idea of "emptiness", which for some is a metaphysical foo-foo term, and for the Buddha simply was an indictment of illusions of status and ownership..

fojiao2
20 May 11, 01:49
Huh?

affirmation = making a declaration about something.

flaccidity = limpness, floppyness, drooping. ;D

affirmation: to make firm

Esho
20 May 11, 02:05
My experience has been that when folks are not clear on the terms they are using, they tend to talk past each other and no communication happens.

This is correct. It is quite common within religious believes [or believers] to read that words are meaningless... but, as an example, I have seen here some members with knowledge in Pali terms to hold a precise understanding of what the teaching is about guiding its practice to Noble results and clearly verifiable. If the concept is clear, sharp, direct and simple, then, the understanding will be; as the understanding is clear, sharp, direct and simple, then, practice will and results will lead directly to liberation.

;)

BuckyG
20 May 11, 04:44
"The meaning of a word is its use in language." Wittgenstein, Investigations

Aloka
20 May 11, 05:39
"The meaning of a word is its use in language." Wittgenstein, Investigations

He also stated: "The meaning of a word is what is explained by the explanation of the meaning." -- i.e. if you want to understand the use of the word 'meaning', look for what are called 'explanations of meaning'

(A Synopsis of Wittgenstein's Logic of Language)

Anyway, anyone want to add anything more about prayers and /or what I call affirmations/recollections ?

plwk
20 May 11, 06:21
“When the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers.” Oscar Wilde
and...on non-prayer...

An expert is a man who tells you a simple thing in a confused way in such a fashion as to make you think the confusion is your own fault. ~William Castle

andyrobyn
20 May 11, 08:58
Because a fish pees in his own drinking water, there is no difference between him and his entire universe.
If a buddhist starts from the view of non-duality (no self / no other) then the question of (there being any difference between) an external deity and one's own mind becomes moot. I think.

Praying to anything that one believes to exist outside the mind seems contrary to Buddhist teachings. On the other hand, if one is engaged the the parctice of mindful awareness when doing other activities such as chopping vegetables or sweeping the floor or whatever, then why should it matter whether the activity is an aspiration ("prayer") or cleaning a toilet? In other words, there is meditation (sammat. & vipp..) which, strictly speaking, is essentally what the Buddha taught, and then there is the question of where one's practice is when one is "off the cushion" as they say. So, can one "pray" and do so "mindfully"?

It's all so terribly subjective. If you tell me that as part of your practice you pray for hungry ghosts or for people who suffer from illness or disaster, maybe that doesn't sound so bad. If I then tell you that every I day rub the tummy of a plaster buddha statue and make a wish, it sounds like a promotional scheme for a new Chinese restaurant. Speaking of restaurants, I have some friends who are Thai monks (living in the United States). Every once in a while they accept the request to conduct a blessings ceremony for the opening of a new Thai restaurant. So, now there is this idea of 'prayers' and 'aspirations' and 'affirmations' and 'blessings' and then simply motivation and intention and how they manifest as the actions of one's speech, conduct and thought.

What differentiates a Buddha from someone who has (merely) ceased being attached to the temporary phenomena of our world? Does a Buddha break through all of our notions of conceptual time and space? Does anyone who becomes enlightened do this? If not, then what is enlightenement, and if so, can someone who "existed" in a body centuries ago still be generating something today that benefits people?

Not arguing one way or the other---just throwing some marshmallows into the fire.

Interesting thoughts - thanks for sharing with us the workings of your mind .... this is the stuff I love about online forums.
I agree it is about intention and how the actions benefit the actioner - discussing pray, praying and prayer directly refers to the offer of devout petition, praise, thanks, etc., to God or an object of worship but has been said here it is the intention of the action and it's benefit to the individual which is important .

BuckyG
20 May 11, 09:03
I was wondering, do you pray regularly as part of your Buddhist practice? If so, who are the prayers to?

Do you think there's a difference between chanting prayers and chanting affirmations in Buddhism?

Occasionally I select chants (I'd describe them as affirmations rather than prayers) from here:

http://www.amaravati.org/abmnew/documents/ABM_Chanting_Book_2006.pdf

I often briefly repeat the Refuge before meditation and a wish for peace and happiness for all beings.

I used to do pujas and prayers a lot when I was a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner, but not since I changed tradition. I just meditate instead.
I've used affirmations in one form or another for fifteen or so years. I started using a gatha by Thich Nhat Hanh before I'd drive about ten years ago. "When I drive, I know where I'm going. If the car goes fast, I go fast." He'd originally used it for when he rode his bike. Then I started using another gathha by him before I get out of bed, "Waking up this morning, I smile. I vow to live each moment fully & look at all being with eyes of compassion." To me this is an affirmation. Sometimes I'll add another of his gathas on self refuge where he corresponds "mindfulness" to the Buddha, anapanasati ("mindfulness" of breathing) to the Dhamma, and the five aggregates (khandas) to the Sangha (from Breathe! You Are Alive & Transformation & Healing). When I first started learning the chants in dharma circles it was more about getting the cadences right. Now they're feeling more affirmative. And phrases like, "Association with the disliked is dukkha, (stress/suffering); separation from the loved is dukkha" are not only affirmative to me but also valuable recollection. Sometimes at home I like to do a chant or two in Pali before I meditate, sometimes with an incense offering, which usually helps me with preliminary concentration establishment through "affirmative" intent and recollection. Sometimes, if I'm really restless, mentally repeat "buddho" with my breathing as I learned if from Ajaan Lee Dhammadaro's Keeping the Breathe In Mind.

andyrobyn
20 May 11, 09:09
Buddho is my mantra of choice also ( in many situations ), and simple chants, such as breath, release .... in english or tibetan I find useful. ( as an aside, Bucky G your new avatar has significance due to the bands links to Henry Rollins and his music - quite a pleasant surprise tonight - thanks ).

BuckyG
20 May 11, 09:15
(as an aside, Bucky G your new avatar has significance due to the bands links to Henry Rollins and his music - quite a pleasant surprise tonight - thanks ).You're welcome! His lyrics (& Tool's) and poems have served me as affirmations before (He's a big actor now! I liked his show on IFC.).

BuckyG
20 May 11, 23:09
Friends: these are my favorite Pali chants.
"Then, showing respect with your thoughts, words, and deeds, pay homage to the Buddha:

Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma-sambuddhasa. (x3)"

("translation": Homage to the Blessed One, The Worthy One, the Rightly
Self-Awakened One.)

"And take refuge in the Triple Gem:

Buddham saranam gacchami.
Dhammam saranam gacchami.
Sangham saranam gacchami.

Dutiyampi buddham saranam gacchami.
Dutiyampi dhammam saranam gacchami.
Dutiyampi sangham saranam gacchami.

Tatiyampi buddham saranam gacchami.
Tatiyampi dhammam saranam gacchami.
Tatiyampi sangham saranam gacchami"

(My "translation": I go to the Buddha for refuge..., to the dhamma..., to the sangha....
A second time.... A third time....)

Sources:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai/lee/inmind.html#prelim
buddhanet.net
forestmeditation.com

:hands: