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Thread: What did the Buddha say about prayer?

  1. #1

    What did the Buddha say about prayer?

    A video from Secular Buddhist Doug Smith (just over 8 minutes).




    Any thoughts about what was said ?

  2. #2
    Some comments about the video from Justin Whitaker:


    I rarely follow podcasts, series, or youtube channels, but I have become fairly hooked on my friend Doug Smith’s YouTube channel called Doug’s Secular Dharma. Doug and I have co-written an article and a book chapter and I look forward to working more with him and possibly joining him on some of his future videos. Until then, I thought I’d share some of the more recent ones that I’ve especially enjoyed:

    What did the Buddha say about prayer?

    This is an excellent video. Doug goes beyond the tried-and-true Kalama Sutta and finds two suttas that deal specifically with the idea of wishing for things (in a supplicatory prayer manner). The first is the Ittha Sutta (AN 5.43), wherein the Buddha lists 5 things people commonly pray for: long life, beauty, happiness, status, and rebirth in heaven.

    And the Buddha says, “none of these these five things are obtained by prayers or wishes.”

    Instead the Buddha says one should practice heedfulness (a word that might be fading from the English lexicon, to be replaced by attentiveness or just “good attention” or awareness, non-distractedness, etc) and making merit. [Concept(s) of heedfulness and merit might be a good upcoming video – nudge, nudge.]

    Next, Doug presents the Asibhandhakaputta sutta (SN 42.6), wherein the Buddha might even be said to be mocking the notion of “prayers, praise, & circumambulation,” as a way of affecting things in the world around us, beit the destination of another person’s rebirth or making a great boulder float in the middle of a lake. As before, the Buddha suggests the uselessness of these activities and replaces them with a basic list of the 5 precepts.


    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/america...ist-talks.html


    .

  3. #3
    Forums Member srivijaya's Avatar
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    In Tibetan Buddhism, yidams are considered skillful means. I use mantras from time to time and they can be effective, as can sadhana. Obviously there's none of this in the Pali but horses for courses. If it works, use it, if not move on to something else.

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    Forums Member Olderon's Avatar
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    Any thoughts about what was said ?

    From my experience there seems to be little point in prayer from a Buddhist perspective. My thought is: "To whom would we pray?" ...since the only being, who has any power over the direction of our lives is "us" as individuals. Buddha made this clear when he spoke to his son, Rahula in The Ambalatthika-rahulovada Sutta, when Buddha instructed Rahula, his son, as to the purpose of the process of personal reflection regarding our intentional actions (kamma) .

    Source: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipi....061.than.html

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Olderon View Post
    Any thoughts about what was said ?
    My thought is: "To whom would we pray?" ...since the only being, who has any power over the direction of our lives is "us" as individuals.
    Yes, I think that we human beings tend to pray to an exterior entity or entities because it makes us feel better about something that we don't feel we have any personal control over otherwise.

    It could be about worldly or spiritual accomplishments of one kind or another, or illnesses, deaths, the state of the world, spreading love & compassion, or even for fine weather for the cup final!

    Here's another sutta with the Buddha's words about prayer .... AN 5.43 Five Desirable Things:

    https://www.urbandharma.org/pdf1/wh2...araNikaya2.pdf


  6. #6
    Technical Administrator woodscooter's Avatar
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    For some centuries, another world religion (not Buddhism) has been praying for "Peace and goodwill to all", about this time of year.

    Personally, I haven't seen the slightest evidence of the effectiveness of prayer.

  7. #7
    Forums Member Olderon's Avatar
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    Thanks for the reference Aloka:


    9. Five Desirable Things

    Once the Blessed One addressed the householder Anāthapiṇḍika thus:

    “There are, O householder, five things that are wished for, loved and agreeable yet rarely
    gained in the world. What five? Long life, beauty, happiness, fame, and rebirth in heaven. But of
    those five things, householder, I do not teach that they are to be obtained by prayer or by vows.
    If one could obtain them by prayer or vows, who would not obtain them?

    “For a noble disciple, householder, who wishes to have long life, it is not befitting that he
    should pray for long life or take delight in so doing. He should rather follow a path of life that is
    conducive to longevity. By following such a path he will obtain long life, be it divine or human.

    “For a noble disciple, householder, who wishes to have beauty, happiness, fame, and rebirth
    in heaven, it is not befitting that he should pray for them or take delight in so doing. He should
    rather follow a path of life that is conducive to beauty, happiness, fame, and rebirth in heaven.
    By following such a path he will obtain beauty, happiness, fame, and rebirth in heaven.”

    (5:43)

  8. #8
    Forums Member ancientbuddhism's Avatar
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    Suttanipāta 5. Pārāyanavaggo 4. Puṇṇakamāṇavapucchā

    Questions of the Youth Puṇṇaka:

    1049. “Anejaṃ mūladassāviṃ, (iccāyasmā puṇṇako)
    Atthi [atthī (syā.)] pañhena āgamaṃ;
    Kiṃ nissitā isayo manujā, khattiyā brāhmaṇā devatānaṃ;
    Yaññamakappayiṃsu puthūdha loke, pucchāmi taṃ bhagavā brūhi me taṃ”.

    “One without distraction, who sees the root – said venerable Puṇṇaka – I have come seeking with a question. Dependent on what did many sages, men, khattiyas and brāhamaṇa make sacrifices to the gods in this world? I ask you this, Sublime One tell me this.”

    1050. “Ye kecime isayo manujā, (puṇṇakāti bhagavā)
    Khattiyā brāhmaṇā devatānaṃ;
    Yaññamakappayiṃsu puthūdha loke, āsīsamānā puṇṇaka itthattaṃ [itthabhāvaṃ (sī. syā.)]; Jaraṃ sitā yaññamakappayiṃsu”.

    “Whoever of these many sages, men, khattiyas and brāhamaṇa that make sacrifices to the gods in this world – said the Sublime One – make sacrifices out of hope for existence, here and now, with attachment to aging.”

    1051. “Ye kecime isayo manujā, (iccāyasmā puṇṇako) Khattiyā brāhmaṇā
    devatānaṃ;Yaññamakappayiṃsu puthūdha loke, kaccissu te bhagavā yaññapathe appamattā; Atāruṃ jātiñca jarañca mārisa, pucchāmi taṃ bhagavā brūhi me taṃ”.

    “Whoever of these many sages, men, khattiyas and brāhamaṇa that make sacrifices to the gods in this world – said venerable Puṇṇaka – are they, Sublime One, careful in the way of sacrifice, unimpeded by birth, aging and death? I ask you this, Sublime One tell me this.”

    1052. “Āsīsanti thomayanti, abhijappanti juhanti; (Puṇṇakāti bhagavā)
    Kāmābhijappanti paṭicca lābhaṃ, te yājayogā bhavarāgarattā;
    Nātariṃsu jātijaranti brūmi”.

    “With hope, praise and yearning they sacrificed – said the Sublime One – by their connivance for sense-gratification founded upon gain. I say because this has bound them to sacrifices; infatuated with pleasurable existence, they are impeded with birth and aging. ”

    1053. “Te ce nātariṃsu yājayogā, (iccāyasmā puṇṇako)
    Yaññehi jātiñca jarañca mārisa;
    Atha ko carahi devamanussaloke, atāri jātiñca jarañca mārisa;
    Pucchāmi taṃ bhagavā brūhi me taṃ”.

    “If they are bound by sacrifice – said venerable Puṇṇaka – and are impeded with birth, aging and death through sacrifice, sir, who then, in this world of gods and men, are unimpeded by birth, aging and death? I ask you this, Sublime One tell me this.”

    1054. “Saṅkhāya lokasmi paroparāni [parovarāni (sī. syā.)], (puṇṇakāti bhagavā)
    Yassiñjitaṃ natthi kuhiñci loke;
    Santo vidhūmo anīgho nirāso, atāri so jātijaranti brūmī”ti.

    “Having considered what is crossed to the other side in this world – said the Sublime One – there is no more agitation whatsoever anywhere in this world. That one is unclouded, without confusion and without passion. He, I say, is unimpeded by birth and aging.”

    Puṇṇakamāṇavapucchā tatiyā niṭṭhitā.

    This Concludes Questions of the Youth Puṇṇaka (third)

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