Revering The Buddha

Buddha (PJL 2013)
A traditional way of training oneself is to treat the Buddha-image as one would treat the Buddha himself.  Although modern western sceptics in particular may view this form of preparatory training with suspicion, maintaining a negative attitude is neither an advantage for one’s own meditation nor in agreement with the traditions of early Buddhism…

 

 


Introduction: Revering The Buddha

Namo tassa bhagavato
arahato
samma-sambuddhassa
I (we) wish to revere with body, speech and mind that Lord apportioning Dhamma
that One far from defilements
that One Perfectly Enlightened by himself.
(to be chanted three times)

 

The Buddha image is symbolic of all the good qualities he is alleged to have manifested during his lifetime. The scriptures say it thus –

BUDDHĀNUSSATI
Recollection of the Buddha
Iti pi so bhagava araham samma-sambuddho vijja-carana-sampanno sugato lokavidu anuttaro purisa-dhamma-sarathi sattha-deva-manussanam buddho bhagava’ti.
Indeed the Exalted One is thus: The accomplished destroyer of defilements, a Buddha perfected by himself, complete in clear knowledge and compassionate conduct, supremely good in presence and in destiny, the Knower of the worlds, incomparable Master of men to be tamed, the Teacher of celestials and men, the Awakened and Awakener, and the Lord by skill-in-means apportioning Dhamma.

 

Buddha (PJL 2013)

Buddha Shrine

 

A traditional way of training oneself is to treat the Buddha-image as one would treat the Buddha himself.  Reverence (apacayana) is a part of the Dhamma and helps to overcome conceit. Practices based on reverence help foster humility in oneself and harmonious relationships with others.

The Buddha specified three forms of reverence for bhikkhus; wearing the robe with the right shoulder bared, kneeling down, and holding the palms of the hands together in the gesture of reverence. The Suttas also mention prostration at the feet of the Buddha.   Lay people, however, are free to express their reverence in any appropriate manner.

 

Shrine Offerings

Offerings of candles, incense and flowers to a Buddha shrine are just one of many reverential practices to be found within Theravada Buddhist countries –  

Candles or lights are lit to symbolize the light of Dhamma, which protects the mind from the darkness of ignorance, aversion and craving –

PADĪPAPŪJĀ
Offering of Lights
Ghana-sāra-ppadittena dīpena tama-dhaṃsinā
Tiloka-dīpaṃ sambuddhaṃ pūjayāmi tamo-nudaṃ.
Brightly shining lights removing darkness as a pūjā to the Enlightened One who dispels the darkness of the
Three Worlds.

Incense is lighted to remind one that the Dhamma-light can only be found with the aid of good moral conduct (sila), a quality frequently praised by the Buddha.  The vessel for incense, filled with fragrances, is compared to the Buddha
who is a supreme vessel filled with Dhamma qualities –

DHŪPAPŪJĀ
Offering of Incense

Gandha-sambhāra-yuttena dhūpenāhaṃ sugandhinā
Pūjaye pūjaneyyan taṃ pūjā-bhājanam uttamaṃ.
Incense, compounded of aromatic substances,
pleasingly scented — a pūjā to the Buddha as the true vessel of honour.

The offering of flowers is a reminder of the body’s impermanence –

PUPPHAPŪJĀ
Offering of Flowers
Vaṇṇa-gandha-guṇopetaṃ etaṃ kusuma-santatiṃ
Pūjayāmi munindassa sirī-pāda-saroruhe.
Colourful and scented flowers as a pūjā to the Enlightened Lord.

Pūjemi Buddhaṃ kusumen’ anena
Puññena-m-etena ca hotu mokkhaṃ.
Pupphaṃ milāyāti yathā idam me
Kāyo tathā yāti vināsa-bhāvaṃ.
Through the merit of honouring the Buddha may there be freedom.
As these flowers are fading away,

so this body of mine is moving towards dissolution.

Pūjemi Dhammaṃ kusumen’ anena
Puññena-m-etena ca hotu mokkhaṃ.
Pupphaṃ milāyāti yathā idam me
Kāyo tathā yāti vināsa-bhāvaṃ.
Through the merit of honouring the Dhamma may there be freedom.
As these flowers are fading away, 
so this body of mine is moving towards dissolution.

Pūjemi Saṅghaṃ kusumen’ anena
Puññena-m-etena ca hotu mokkhaṃ.
Pupphaṃ milāyāti yathā idam me
Kāyo tathā yāti vināsa-bhāvaṃ.
Through the merit of honouring the Sangha may there be freedom.
As these flowers are fading away, 
so this body of mine is moving towards dissolution.

 

Conclusion: The Importance of ritual trainings

When prostrations, offerings and chants are done with mindfulness of their meaning it gives the mind something to focus on.   For example, doing them prior to meditation in the morning can concentrate the mind when it may still be sleepy; doing them prior to meditation in the evening can concentrate the mind when it may be distracted by the day’s events. Although modern western sceptics in particular may view rituals with suspicion, maintaining a negative attitude toward honouring the Buddha is neither an advantage for one’s own practice nor in agreement with the traditions of early Buddhism.

_________________
Sources of information and recommended reading

 Bhikkhu Khantipalo (1995), ‘Lay Buddhist Practice: The Shrine Room, Uposatha Day, Rains Residence’. Access to Insight.
<http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/khantipalo/wheel206.html>

Samatha Trust (2008), Samatha Chanting Book (PDF File)
<http://www.samatha.org/images/stories/samatha-chantingbook.pdf>

Image Details
Camera: Sony Ericsson SK17i Xperia Mini Pro
Date: 6 June 2013
Processing: Picasa & Snapseed

 

 



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