Sharing merit with the sun and the moon. Why?

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Sharing merit with the sun and the moon. Why?

Postby James the Giant » Thu Apr 03, 2014 2:26 pm

During evening chanting, Why do we share our merit with the sun and the moon? The sun is a vast sphere of thermonuclear plasma, and the moon is a cratered grey rock orbiting the Earth. They are not sentient beings. Or could this be a hangover from animistic times, where everything had a god in it?

I heard something to suggest this chant was quite modern and originally written in Thai, so it might refer to their beloved King and Queen?

Reflections on Sharing Blessings

Now let us chant the verses of sharing and aspiration.

Through the goodness that arises from my practice, May my spiritual teachers and guides of great virtue, My mother, my father and my relatives, The sun and the moon, And all virtuous leaders of the world--May the highest gods and evil forces; Celestial beings, quardian spirits of the Earth, And the Lord of Death; May those who are friendly, indifferent or hostile; May all beings receive the blessings of my life. May they soon attain the threefold bliss And realise the Deathless.

Through the goodness that arises from my practice, And through this act of sharing, May all desires and attachments quickly cease And all harmful states of mind. Until I realise Nibbana, In every kind of birth, May I have and upright mind With mindfulness and wisdom, austerity and vigour May the forces of delusion not take hold Nor weaken my resolve.

The Buddha is my exellent refuge Unsurpassed is the protection of the Dhamma The Solitary Buddha is my noble Lord The Sangha is my supreme support Through the supreme power of all these, May darkness and delusion be dispelled.
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11
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Re: Sharing merit with the sun and the moon. Why?

Postby Ananda26 » Mon Apr 07, 2014 3:02 pm

James the Giant wrote:During evening chanting, Why do we share our merit with the sun and the moon? The sun is a vast sphere of thermonuclear plasma, and the moon is a cratered grey rock orbiting the Earth. They are not sentient beings. Or could this be a hangover from animistic times, where everything had a god in it?

I heard something to suggest this chant was quite modern and originally written in Thai, so it might refer to their beloved King and Queen?

Reflections on Sharing Blessings

Now let us chant the verses of sharing and aspiration.

Through the goodness that arises from my practice, May my spiritual teachers and guides of great virtue, My mother, my father and my relatives, The sun and the moon, And all virtuous leaders of the world--May the highest gods and evil forces; Celestial beings, quardian spirits of the Earth, And the Lord of Death; May those who are friendly, indifferent or hostile; May all beings receive the blessings of my life. May they soon attain the threefold bliss And realise the Deathless.

Through the goodness that arises from my practice, And through this act of sharing, May all desires and attachments quickly cease And all harmful states of mind. Until I realise Nibbana, In every kind of birth, May I have and upright mind With mindfulness and wisdom, austerity and vigour May the forces of delusion not take hold Nor weaken my resolve.

The Buddha is my exellent refuge Unsurpassed is the protection of the Dhamma The Solitary Buddha is my noble Lord The Sangha is my supreme support Through the supreme power of all these, May darkness and delusion be dispelled.


Connected Discourses Chapter 20 refers to devas who attend on the sun and moon.

There's 2 aspects of "sharing" merits. We work together and doing meritorious deeds, having meritorious deeds in common.


Then there is the Shradda Offering in which we share merits of our departed ancestors in general. Buddha explains who is capable of benefiting from these merits. Those who were reborn in the peta realm are capable of benefiting from sharing merits in this way.
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Re: Sharing merit with the sun and the moon. Why?

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Mon Apr 07, 2014 5:27 pm

St Francis of Assisi referred to 'Brother Sun and Sister Moon'. ('Frate Sole, Sora Luna').

He bestowed upon them a beneficence, a giving quality, that passes to us the benevolent intention of their respective virtues, or valuable gifts of 'light'.

Whenever I see them in the sky at the same time (like on a beautifully clear early summer morning) I think of what St Francis meant, and i like the idea.
:namaste:

You will not be punished FOR your 'emotions'; you will be punished BY your 'emotions'.



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Re: Sharing merit with the sun and the moon. Why?

Postby gavesako » Mon Apr 07, 2014 6:06 pm

According to ancient Buddhist cosmology there were devas associated with the sun and the moon that one could share merit with.
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Re: Sharing merit with the sun and the moon. Why?

Postby waterchan » Mon Apr 07, 2014 6:49 pm

James the Giant wrote:During evening chanting, Why do we share our merit with the sun and the moon? The sun is a vast sphere of thermonuclear plasma, and the moon is a cratered grey rock orbiting the Earth.


Maybe they're asaññasattas?! (Beings with only form and no consciousness)
quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur
(Anything in Latin sounds profound.)
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Re: Sharing merit with the sun and the moon. Why?

Postby James the Giant » Mon Apr 07, 2014 11:30 pm

Thanks for the replies. Hmm, looks like it's animism then. Disappointing.
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11
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Re: Sharing merit with the sun and the moon. Why?

Postby culaavuso » Mon Apr 07, 2014 11:54 pm

James the Giant wrote:During evening chanting, Why do we share our merit with the sun and the moon?


SN 46.54: Metta Sutta wrote:keep pervading the first direction [the east] with an awareness imbued with good will, likewise the second, likewise the third, likewise the fourth. Thus above, below, & all around, everywhere, in its entirety, keep pervading the all-encompassing cosmos with an awareness imbued with good will — abundant, expansive, immeasurable, without hostility, without ill will.


It's interesting to note that the sutta doesn't just suggest directing good will to the moving things made of flesh, but to direct good will, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity everywhere, pervading the "all-encompassing cosmos". The sun and moon would seem to be part of the all-encompassing cosmos. Sharing merit seems like a way to foster good will. Developing these attitudes in a way that is abundant, expansive, and immeasurable suggests that they should not cease when the object of attention is a piece of rock or a sphere of plasma. Thus it seems to be justifiable as a training of the mind without needing to take a position on whether the sun and moon represent beings or not.

Considering sharing merit to be a form of giving a gift, this is consistent with giving a gift so that it is an "ornament for the mind", which leads to rebirth in Brahma's Retinue. Such a rebirth seems to be an appropriate result of the dedicated practice of training in the Brahma Viharas.

AN 7.49: Dana Sutta wrote:but with the thought, 'This is an ornament for the mind, a support for the mind' — on the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of Brahma's Retinue. Then, having exhausted that action, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a non-returner. He does not come back to this world.
Last edited by culaavuso on Tue Apr 08, 2014 12:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sharing merit with the sun and the moon. Why?

Postby daverupa » Tue Apr 08, 2014 12:05 am

culaavuso wrote:It's interesting to note that the sutta doesn't just suggest directing good will to the moving things made of flesh, but to direct good will, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity everywhere, pervading the "all-encompassing cosmos". The sun and moon would seem to be part of the all-encompassing cosmos. Sharing merit seems like a way to foster good will.


I think sharing merit is a foreign idea to the Nikaya layer of texts - anyway, it's not the case that the underlined portions mean the same thing. So I wanted to mention AN 8.39. Going for refuge to the Triple Gem is framed up as three results (!) of merit, and the five precepts are framed up as gifts.

So, perhaps as an alternative to chanting in order to share merit, it's possible to engage with Sila as - among other things - a form of generosity. Training the mind is similar... each step of the Path, a better gift to others... this is also implied in the Sedaka Sutta, in my signature...
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Sharing merit with the sun and the moon. Why?

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Tue Apr 08, 2014 7:19 am

James the Giant wrote:Thanks for the replies. Hmm, looks like it's animism then. Disappointing.


Why is it 'disappointing'....?
What would you rather it had been?
:namaste:

You will not be punished FOR your 'emotions'; you will be punished BY your 'emotions'.



Image

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‘Absit invidia verbo’ - may ill-will be absent from the word. And mindful of that, if I don't respond, this may be why....
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Re: Sharing merit with the sun and the moon. Why?

Postby gavesako » Tue Apr 08, 2014 6:18 pm

The Gaia hypothesis, also known as Gaia theory or Gaia principle, proposes that organisms interact with their inorganic surroundings on Earth to form a self-regulating, complex system that contributes to maintaining the conditions for life on the planet. Topics of interest include how the biosphere and the evolution of life forms affect the stability of global temperature, ocean salinity, oxygen in the atmosphere and other environmental variables that affect the habitability of Earth.

The hypothesis, which is named after the Greek goddess Gaia, was formulated by the scientist James Lovelock[1] and co-developed by the microbiologist Lynn Margulis in the 1970s.[2] While early versions of the hypothesis were criticized for being teleological and contradicting principles of natural selection, later refinements have resulted in ideas highlighted by the Gaia Hypothesis being used in subjects such as geophysiology, Earth system science, biogeochemistry, systems ecology, and climate science.[3][4][5] In 2006, the Geological Society of London awarded Lovelock the Wollaston Medal largely for his work on the Gaia theory.[6]


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaia_hypothesis
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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