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Thread: Buddha blessing?

  1. #1
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Buddha blessing?

    Did the Buddha do blessings? (or is that more of a god-based activity?) Do Buddhists now do blessings? In all those weddings and funerals that Buddhist priests do these days in Japan, is a Buddhist blessing part of that process? And if so, is that based on historical actions from the Buddha? Also, if so, what form does a Buddhist blessing take? (i.e., what is said?).

    I think blessings are something lots of people (us) are attached to yet never think about. Just think about when someone sneezes, where I live it's a strongly conditioned reaction (beyond thought) to say "bless you" when that happens. Nothing wrong with this, or blessings in general, I suppose, but it makes me wonder, and thus the questions.

    Bless you for reading :roll:

  2. #2

    Re: Buddha blessing?

    Blessings are big in the Tibetan community. So much so that cars, pets, land, houses, babies, etc... are blessed. I'm aware that Soto-shu is involved in ritual (funerals, weddings, etc...) but the degree to which one "receives" a blessing in the Zen tradition I am unsure. The stories of the Buddha "blessing" others have come from Tibetan teachers in my experience. I feel that hearing the teaching of the Buddha is blessing enough. The rest? Probably formalities or cultural things added on since

    Gassho
    Taylor

  3. #3

    Re: Buddha blessing?

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    Did the Buddha do blessings?
    Hey Alan,

    I don't know if Buddha did blessings, but there is a sutta about the subject. In this, someone asks Buddha for blessings to bring safety. Buddha answers that blessings are found in practise in one's ordinary life: not doing evil, taking care of relatives, having patience, etc. These are the highest blessings, nothing more is needed (nothing "extra" that is).

    Don't know which sutta this is, but I will check it out.


    Edit: It is (Maha-)Mangala sutta (Khp 5, Snp 2.4)

  4. #4
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Buddha blessing?

    Thumbing through my Jesus & Buddha quotes book tonight I stumbled across this:
    Walk, monks, throughout the land for the blessing of the people, for the happiness of the people and out of compassion for the world.
    Vinaya, Mahavagga 1.11.1
    I am no Buddhist scholar at all, so maybe someone else has some more context for this.

  5. #5

    Re: Buddha blessing?

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    Thumbing through my Jesus & Buddha quotes book tonight I stumbled across this:
    Walk, monks, throughout the land for the blessing of the people, for the happiness of the people and out of compassion for the world.
    Vinaya, Mahavagga 1.11.1
    I am no Buddhist scholar at all, so maybe someone else has some more context for this.
    It's from Mah?vagga, as stated. Mah?vagga is part of the Vinaya Pitaka, the rules and conducts for the monastic community and their interaction with laypeople, so that's the context here.

    Without the P?li original, it's difficult to say. It could be a translation error; I've seen "for the gain of the many" instead of "for the blessing of the people".

    Anyway, this text is about Buddha telling his disciples to go out into the world, and spread compassion to the people. This is shortly after his awakening, and he speaks of him and his disciples being free from all fetters. M?ra decides to test him, and (making a rather weak case) says to Buddha: "Yes, you are indeed fettered!" To which Buddha replies: "No, I'm not". M?ra acknowledges his own defeat by Buddha's killer come-back, and walks away.

  6. #6

    Re: Buddha blessing?

    Hello Folks,

    surely one could view all the merit decidation rituals as blessings? Soto-liturgy is full of those, it'sjust that they don't get emphasized in the west a lot.
    In the countries where Theravada is practised, there are all kinds of blessing ceremonies as well, in addition to monastics selling talismans,charms etc. It's definitely part of Buddhism, the question is however,is it necessarily part of Dharma practice?

    Gassho,

    Hans

  7. #7

    Re: Buddha blessing?

    Whether Buddhism originally included "blessings" or not ... a quick trip to Thailand, China, Japan and other Asian countries would show lay people regularly going to temples in order to receive blessings or protective magic of one type or another. Here is a fine example from Japan ... This priest is not a Soto Priest, but it is just as likely at a Soto temple ...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cbc57gh8dMo&feature=related[/video]] ... re=related

    As to Hans' comment ...

    Philip may have some more insight on this, but I would half agree with Hans, that traditional ideas of "transferring merit" are a form of blessing ... though not really a blessing ....

    It is an aspect of Mahayana Buddhism, and some Theravadan traditions, that developed very early (and which some other Buddhist sometimes find hard to grasp). Here is a simple and clear explanation from the Tricycle blog ...

    what you are referring to here is called ‘merit transfer’. The idea is that through your skilful conduct you build up a stock of merit - a kind of spiritual capital that is earning interest in your karmic bank account. According to many Buddhist traditions, this merit may be transferred to others, especially the dead, sick, or spiritually destitute.

    There are specific ceremonies and rituals by means of which merit is transferred. For instance, in Theravada Buddhism, a donor may give food or clothing to the monastic community and then ‘donate’ the merit gained to a departed relative (to help them in the ‘after-life’). As far as I know, there is no need for the other person to agree to receive merit.

    Some Mahayana traditions emphasise merit transfer as a means of overcoming spiritual acquisitiveness and expressing compassionate concern for others. The Bodhisattva, or ideal Buddhist, gives all his or her merit away because they want as many beings as possible to benefit from their spiritual virtue. A form of words that one might use to dedicate merit in this way is: ‘May the merit gained in my acting thus, go to the alleviation of the suffering of all beings.’
    A more scholarly treatment of the subject is here:

    http://74.125.153.132/search?q=cache:Ba ... en&ct=clnk

    Personally, I do not have much opinion on the cosmic and Karmic effects of transferring merit, except that I do believe it in keeping with the Bodhisattva vows, and that it is a wonderful attitude, to work for the benefit of others. Generally, I have avoided straight "dedication of merit" language in the "Eko" after our chants ... preferring wording such as "we dedicate or sincere efforts to" or "we dedicate our hopes and aspirations" or "our thoughts and caring". I simply am not much one for the belief that we are setting up a bank account of merit that we can transfer to others to help them in various ways, including a better rebirth.

    Of course, doing something for the benefit of others is a "cosmic effect", even if most ordinary.

    One of the little aspects about practice around Treeleaf.

    Gassho, J

  8. #8

    Re: Buddha blessing?

    I have found two "Purification Ceremonies" used in Zen temples in North America. They are certainly following a Japanese model. It seems to me that some of this language can clearly be called a "blessing" [my boldface]

    PURIFICATION CEREMONY

    ...

    "The body of the Buddha fills the dharma world;
    Far and Wide, it appears before the entirely of creation;
    All pervasive and omnipresent, it always dwells in the seat of enlightenment;
    As we celebrate this occasion, the _______________ (whatever it is)
    We have chanted the Sho Sai Myo Kichijo Dharani and have respectfully offered incense, flowers, and candlelight;
    May Avalokiteshvara bodhisattva watch over the world, illuminate it constantly, fully manifest compassion, and keep us eternally joyful, peaceful, and harmonious with all beings;
    May the sangha inside and outside be appeased;
    May our aspiration for the way further increase;
    And may Buddha's wisdom be embodied by all beings."


    All Buddhas throughout space and time . . .
    The following even surprised me a little at first ... but remember that, in Asia (from where this is derived) local "spirits" are all mixed up into Buddhism. Even Dogen had ceremonies regularly conducted at Eiheiji to appease the god of the mountain where Eiheiji temple was located ... Even Buddha stories, in the earliest Suttas, invited every local Indian religious spirit and god to a place at the Buddhist table ...

    May the spirits of water, earth, trees and grasses
    As well as the deities of fire and wind
    Protect this home.
    May peace and safety prevail. May no disasters occur. Let us offer our intense prayer for the serenity of mind, both internal and external, of those who will be living here. May we ask all deities to protect this family and allow them to flourish. May their faith increase and deepen.
    My attitude (and I think Taigu joins me in this) is rather different in this Sangha. I have called it "winking at the gods" .... last called upon when our son Leon was in the hospital last year (at such time, ya take whatever help one can get!) ...

    It's traditional in Japan to have a Shinto Priest come out and 'appease the spirits (Kami)' when starting big construction like we are at Treeleaf. My wife insisted.
    .
    I don't know so much about appeasing the spirits, but I do know about appeasing my wife. So, we had it done. You can see a few minutes of the ceremony here (those Shinto priests sure have cool Heian Age clothes, and, like Japanese Buddhist priests, some smooth dance moves). Unfortunately, it all made Leon start crying (especially when the Kami-nushi, or 'Spirit Master', let out a couple of cries to wake the dead ... listen in the middle for that. Hope it made the spirits smile).
    .
    Watch O-Harai Ceremony
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid ... 4948317634
    .
    My attitude toward such things is, well, 'Don't know if it will help, but it sure can't hurt'. Some of the rocks, trees, grounds and such around the building ... even the building itself ... sure feel sometimes that they might have a little spirit to them.?Who knows??
    .
    I don't think I believe in such spirits, or any god, but I could be wrong. So, I call it "winking at the gods ... asking for the benefit of the doubt too" ...

  9. #9

    Re: Buddha blessing?

    I also looked a bit to see if there are any examples of "blessings" in Theravadan practices and in Sutta. You can find many examples. Here is an explanation by a modern teacher from Burma regarding Sutta selection ... Still, the subject is a little ambiguous ...

    The Questions of Sakka
    A Discourse on
    Sakkapańha Sutta

    by

    The Venerable Mahâsî Sayâdaw


    ...

    When the deva (Sakka) paid respect to the Buddha on behalf of his master, the Lord wished Sakka happiness in both body and mind. The Buddha expressed this wish because all living beings want happiness and that is the way that he blessed those who worshipped him. When Sakka expressed his adoration of the Buddha through the deva he was not uttering a prayer, but, by the Pâli words "abhivadeti abhivandati vandati" we are to understand that he expected to be assured of happiness. In other words, he hoped that the Buddha would say, "May you be happy!"

    The Buddha blessed other devotees in the same way. This makes us question the modern practice of giving profuse blessings as a reward for mere devotion. The devotee prays for many things but his prayer is often at odds with the effusive blessing of the officiating monk. In fact, it is not necessary for the devotee to say anything further after expressing his reverence for the three gems (tiratana). Not that there are some things for which you should not pray, but there should be no incongruity between the prayer and the blessing. Since the monk usually mentions all the benefits accruing to one who does a good deed, all that he or she has to do is to express the desire to have them. In paying respect to the Buddha, Sakka did not pray for anything, but he was assured of the due benefits as mentioned in the words, "Abhivâdanasîlissa, niccam vuddhâpacâyino, cattâro dhammâ vaddhanti, âyu vanno sukham balam." ("For one who always respects and honours those who are older and more virtuous, four benefits: longevity, beauty, happiness and strength, will increase.") So it is well for devotees to pray for longevity, health and security, and the monk should bless them accordingly. He should not act as if he were decreeing the fulfilment of their wishes but only as someone contributing to it.

    http://www.thisismyanmar.com/nibbana/sakka1.htm
    Obviously, a complicated, and rather ambiguous topic ...

  10. #10
    Treeleaf Unsui Kyrillos's Avatar
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    Re: Buddha blessing?

    Of course Blessings are a big part of what I do; in fact we have small books that priests can carry with all sorts of blessings from annual Blessing of Homes, to the Sick, to meetings, to Pilgrims, to factories, to barns, to cattle, tools, seeds, crops, cemetaries and "Various Circumstances" that haven't been covered. We (or I should say "I") like to spread the Holy Water around in great profusion. For me if several folks did not get a goodly slosh of Holy Water so that their hair or shirts are really wet, then I have not given a "good" blessing.

    A Blessing can really be joyful occasion and it can also be one of great empathy with those who are receiving it. Persoanlly I really believe in Blessings from wherever they come. All the collected good will that goes with them certainly couldn't hurt. So bring on the mitzvot, brokhes, benedictions or shukufukus!!!

    Gassho,

    Seishin Kyrill

  11. #11
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Buddha blessing?

    Very interesting, thanks to all.

    I do like the idea of how blessings can come from anywhere or anything, but I don't buy this idea of transferring merit. It makes it sound like there is a great accountant (God?) in the sky keeping our books, as if a life could be boiled down to such economics. It also reminds me of the old christian church practice of buying indulgences, if I have my history right, where people could buy their way out of sin and into heaven.

  12. #12

    Re: Buddha blessing?

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    Very interesting, thanks to all.

    I do like the idea of how blessings can come from anywhere or anything, but I don't buy this idea of transferring merit. It makes it sound like there is a great accountant (God?) in the sky keeping our books, as if a life could be boiled down to such economics. It also reminds me of the old christian church practice of buying indulgences, if I have my history right, where people could buy their way out of sin and into heaven.
    Sometimes I have heard the explanation that merit transfer is more for the transferer than the transferee. Merit transfer does seem to contradict the law of karma at first, since then you are not solely responsible for your own karma (someone else may be favouring you instead, making the odds better, "blessing" you to a better rebirth). However, the act of transferring merits is a truly selfless act, especially if you really believe that the other person is benefitting from it. In this case, faith in the cosmic effects, and the storing up on merits, is necessary.

    There is a reference to be made here to the pureland tradition. There are several layers to it, and faith is expected in order for the practise to be "genuine" or "real". But that may be OT.

    Just thought I'd mentioned it.

    Gassh?

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