Should we offer food to Buddha?

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nalinJ
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Should we offer food to Buddha?

Postby nalinJ » Tue Mar 25, 2014 12:23 pm

Did Lord Buddha mention that by offering food to his status we can gain merits?

Or

Did Lord Buddha mention something similar?

If yes, when/where did he mention that?

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Weakfocus
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Re: Should we offer food to Buddha?

Postby Weakfocus » Tue Mar 25, 2014 1:40 pm

nalinJ wrote:Did Lord Buddha mention that by offering food to his status we can gain merits?

Or

Did Lord Buddha mention something similar?


To the best of my limited knowledge, there is no such reference anywhere in Tipitaka.
Buddha was very much against such ignorant rites and rituals.

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gavesako
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Re: Should we offer food to Buddha?

Postby gavesako » Tue Mar 25, 2014 7:11 pm

The later Buddhist traditions came to believe that somehow the Buddha "resides" in the Buddha statues (and there are rituals associated with their making which are meant to invite the Buddha "spirit" to enter them) so that when people offer food to them it is similar to offering food to the Buddha himself, as was the case when he was still alive.
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Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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SDC
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Re: Should we offer food to Buddha?

Postby SDC » Tue Mar 25, 2014 7:16 pm

If you feel the need, make offerings to statues to acknowledge the worth and value YOU have for the Buddha. This will help further develop and strengthen that worth and value and you will find the path is easier to follow. Do it with this in mind and it will be of benefit. Don't concern yourself with merits or with what anyone else thinks about it.

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waterchan
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Re: Should we offer food to Buddha?

Postby waterchan » Tue Mar 25, 2014 7:20 pm

nalinJ wrote:Did Lord Buddha mention that by offering food to his status we can gain merits?


The real question is: how does one offer food that the Buddha will actually eat? In all the time I've offered food to a Buddha statue, it has never even taken a bite :(
quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur
(Anything in Latin sounds profound.)

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Re: Should we offer food to Buddha?

Postby SarathW » Tue Mar 25, 2014 10:37 pm

Please see the previous topic
=================
"It is the common practise of most Buddhists to offer food and water etc to the Buddha Statues (Buddha puja) and also when in a temple, most people do venerate the Bodhi-tree. I believe these are mostly done by way of honouring the Buddha and as a gesture of Saddha. My question is, did Buddha tell us to do these two things? Could you please give me a reference to it?"


viewtopic.php?f=13&t=19695
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Re: Should we offer food to Buddha?

Postby Coyote » Tue Mar 25, 2014 10:55 pm

I don't see the problem with it, as long as one understands that the point is not mechanistic ritualism but faith and respect for the Buddha and his teaching, or so it seems to me. As I understand, it most likely evolved as a way of replacing similar rituals practiced in pre-Buddhist societies, but this does not mean it is not a wholesome action.
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
Iti 26

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waterchan
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Re: Should we offer food to Buddha?

Postby waterchan » Tue Mar 25, 2014 11:00 pm

It is not unwholesome, but it encourages bacterial growth on fresh food that could've been used to nourish a living bhikkhu's body. Especially in tropical countries where these practices are common. If the food on offer is dry like biscuits and potato chips, then... *shrug*
quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur
(Anything in Latin sounds profound.)

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gavesako
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Re: Should we offer food to Buddha?

Postby gavesako » Thu Aug 07, 2014 8:17 am

In Cambodia they offer food and money to a living Buddha (as he claims to be):

'Fake’ Buddha’s Followers Defend His Teachings
http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php ... -M0q9_zsUQ

:shock:
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Kare
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Re: Should we offer food to Buddha?

Postby Kare » Thu Aug 07, 2014 6:38 pm

One solution is this: If you wish to offer food, go out in the street and give the food to someone who needs it and can eat it. Afterwards you can go back and bow to the Buddha.
Mettāya,
Kåre

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Subharo
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Tea Party with the Buddha

Postby Subharo » Sat Oct 10, 2015 5:25 pm

I've mentally struggled a long time to try to understand the Buddha Puja as being something other than completely daft.

Here's what I finally arrived at, which perhaps others might find helpful (especially Westerners, who are not used to seeing devotional offerings of food being offered, on a regular basis, to whatever idol or whichever god(s) you believe in, as is commonly the case in India and Sri Lanka).

OK, work with me here. :smile: Do remember when you were about five years old, and you (or perhaps a sister) had a Tea Party with Teddy Bears and dolls around a little table in the back yard? It's very fun to offer little cups of tea and biscuits to your Teddy Bears, even if they are inanimate objects which will not actually drink the tea or eat the biscuits. To a child at play, the activity is rewarding in and of itself. It feels nice to go through the motions of being generous, even if the recipient is an inanimate object, which represents a real, living being. One's imagination (especially when you are a young child) fills in the gaps between fake and real, and the emotional response of feeling "warm fuzzies" is triggered.

It is for this benefit, namely the triggering of emotional "warm fuzzies" (which I'll never feel in a hundred years, as a Westerner), but perhaps many ethnic Asians have been conditioned from a very young age to feel, that offering the Buddha Puja can make sense. Personally, I would far prefer spending my efforts cultivating the Brahmaviharas or Jhanas, thereby reaping at least 16 times the merit (See "The Development of Loving-kindness" Sutta).

When I asked Ajahn Dhammasiha (of Dhammagiri) to dispel my perplexity and quench my thirst in understanding this vexing matter, he masterfully explained to me that the Buddha did explain, in many ways, how to help lay people attain to a heavenly rebirth, even though they may perhaps never attain to experiencing the Brahmaviharas or Jhanas. Laypeople can skilfully take a worldly emotion like affection (pema), which they already know and can access, then they can aim that affection at the Buddha and thereby increase their faith and devotion (even though they may not be able to help themselves in choosing to do it in an intensely Hindu-like manner). This faith and devotion, when developed, can lead to a heavenly rebirth.

So those of us who would scoff at the whole Buddha Puja thing would do well to be glad that these laypeople are at least increasing their faith and devotion (as opposed to staying at home and watching Cricket or Kickboxing). They are also probably at the same time visiting the monastery for the purpose of offering food to the monks. They'll also feel really offended if they pick up any sort of condescending vibes from Westerners, as they practice what they believe to be "The Tradition". :quote:

Note that, strictly speaking, affection/pema is not really a good thing when you're a monk (but it's understandably OK, when you're a layperson):
Pema Sutta: Affection. Furthermore, a monk should have pema towards his teacher (Acariya), as that is an important ingredient in the Student-Teacher relationship. (Ajahn Dhammasiha also explained this whole "pema" thing to me, in its Canonical context, which I really appreciated).
Subharo Bhikkhu
"There is but one taste on this path, the taste of freedom" -The Buddha :buddha1:

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mikenz66
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Re: Tea Party with the Buddha

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Oct 10, 2015 7:33 pm

Hi Bhante,
Subharo wrote:I've mentally struggled a long time to try to understand the Buddha Puja as being something other than completely daft.

Do you mean food offerings in particualar or Puja in general?

Despite being a Westerner, I find the various rituals very helpful. As Ajahn Sumedo observes:
Ajahn Sumedho: I personally like rituals. They are quite pleasant to do; they are calming. One does them with a group of people. It is doing something that is pleasant, together and in unison. The intention is always good: to radiate kindness and to chant the teachings of the Buddha in Pali. It tends to uplift and inspire the minds of many people. That is its only function as far as I can tell.

I think ceremony makes life much more beautiful. I have seen Dhamma communities which do not have ceremonies. They are a bit gross, actually.

RW: Gross?

AS: Gross. People just do not have a sense of etiquette, a kind of refinement, a lovely movement, a sense of time and place that one has when one understands the value of precepts and ceremonies. They have their beauty.
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=21616&start=20#p310828

As I see it, the rituals are simply an aid to implementing the instructions in suttas such as:
"There is the case where the disciple of the noble ones recollects the Tathagata, thus: 'Indeed, the Blessed One is worthy and rightly self-awakened, consummate in knowledge & conduct, well-gone, an expert with regard to the world, unexcelled as a trainer for those people fit to be tamed, the Teacher of divine & human beings, awakened, blessed.' As he is recollecting the Tathagata, his mind is calmed, and joy arises; the defilements of his mind are abandoned, ...

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an03/an03.070.than.html#recall-Buddha

:anjali:
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Subharo
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How about reverencing living arahants?

Postby Subharo » Sun Oct 11, 2015 2:02 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Bhante,
Subharo wrote:I've mentally struggled a long time to try to understand the Buddha Puja as being something other than completely daft.

Do you mean food offerings in particualar or Puja in general?


I was referring to food offerings in particular (including gilampase/nampana/7-day tonics, as well as medicines) to a Buddha Rupa, which is the topic of this thread.

I'm glad you like participating in them, as well as Ajahn Sumedho, and other Westerner monks who have integrated deeply into any Hindu-style ethnic Asian Buddhist customs. I've also participated in many of these food offerings myself, and I try to be a good sport about it, although I must confess that my heart will unfortunately never really be into it. That's just the kind of monk I am. The above post is the story I need to tell myself to not go crazy while being all-but-coerced into participating (if I want to continue living in a given monastery harmoniously). I admire your ability to just go with the flow, and suspend whatever it is in your mind that needs suspending.

There is a Sutta which plausibly suggests that such reverence towards the "post-parinibbana Buddha" (that this thread is discussing, namely food offerings) was not practised in Early Buddhism (other than the complete non-mentioning of said custom, let alone the exhortation to do it). I can't find it right now (maybe later, I'll link to it if possible), but I'm 99% sure it's in the MN, and it takes place after the Buddha had pari-nibbana'ed. To paraphrase, a brahmin approaches Ananda, and asks "now that the Buddha is gone, who is it then, that you now dwell reverential towards (instead of the Buddha)"? Ananda answers, saying "we now dwell reverential to any arahant among us who posesses these ten qualities", then Ananda goes on to list those ten qualities (and they include things such as psychic powers). I agree with Ananda that that's what still remains for us to reverence, in lieu of a living Buddha, when we can. That's what I can "get behind", emotionally. That's what makes much more sense to me, to be reverencing. That's my perspective as a Westerner bhikkhu, which anyone is free to disagree with. And I feel that the Suttas agree with my perspective (or at least, do not contradict it).

The point I'm making here is that Ananda does NOT answer the brahmin by saying "what do you mean, 'who do we reverence now, other than the Buddha'? Of course we continue to reverence the Buddha. Didn't you notice that 10-foot-tall golden statue of the Buddha in our shrine room, that we make offerings to, such as candles, incense, and food, before every meal we eat?"

Ananda takes the brahmin's question at face value, implying that of course you can't continue reverencing the Buddha, who has pari-nibbana'ed, as though he were still alive.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against reverencing the Buddha, in whatever way the Buddha actually told us to. It's just that I do not particularly dig Hindu-style rituals which, when taken at face value, seem to strongly imply that the Buddha must still be up there somewhere, looking down upon us from the heaven called "Nibbana", where he finds it pleasing, and is appeased, whenever we make sacrificial offerings of food to him.

I wasn't born in India or Sri Lanka. Is that so wrong? I prefer not to view Buddhism through Hindu-tinted glasses (unless I am virtually forced to).

I have no expectation that this cultural tradition will ever end. That's why you'll see that I've been careful to never speak in a way stating that I oppose it, or would ask that it be stopped. In fact, I pointed out positive aspects about it, much like the ones you made in your Ajahn Sumedho quotation.
Last edited by Subharo on Sun Oct 11, 2015 2:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
Subharo Bhikkhu
"There is but one taste on this path, the taste of freedom" -The Buddha :buddha1:

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mikenz66
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Re: Should we offer food to Buddha?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Oct 11, 2015 2:41 am

Hi Bhante,

Thank you for the clarification. I was referring mostly to rituals such a bowing, chanting praise, taking refuges and precepts, and various ceremonies, such as Kathina, all of which appear to me to be firmly grounded in the suttas. The food offering is a small part of the ritual that goes on on a monastery.

I don't personally feel a need to "suspend" anything. That seems like an odd way of describing participation in shared Dhamma experience, which for me is the point of turning up to a monastery. If I had to have these internal dialogues about how "this is just some harmless Hindu-influenced thing" to make the rituals palatable, I'm not sure I'd be able to continue. For me it would be much too distracting. Any organisation has customs, and customs clearly change with time, and are influenced by local culture.

Clearly different practitioners come from different backgrounds. Mine was one of participation before any particular book learning. Others clearly have a much more analytical approach. Luckily there is room for variety in Dhamma practice.

:anjali:
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Re: Should we offer food to Buddha?

Postby No_Mind » Sun Oct 11, 2015 2:58 am

I have a different but related question. Let alone offer food and perform a Puja, is there any liturgy and rituals at all in "pure" Buddhism ? Am I even required to bow to a Buddha statue .. Buddha is not residing in that statue and it is doubtful if Buddha at all looked like that.

The altar of Dhamma is not out there but in here.

With my deep belief in and dogged pursuit of Theravada, I cannot help but feel slightly superior when I visit Rumtek Monastery (located about 450 miles north of where I live.) It is the second or third most important monastery of Tibetan Mahayana. The amount of Buddha Puja that goes on there is simply astounding and comparable to twice or thrice daily Puja routine at Hindu temples. No matter how important that temple is to Mahayana I find it all rather pointless and slightly funny.

Hindus do not bow to any idol of a deity but only ones in which divinity has been invoked / invited to come and reside through a lengthy process of Puja. That is why one can smoke, drink and eat meat without any fear of sin, in front of a newly constructed idol in which divinity has not yet been asked to reside.

Do Buddhists have a process by which post parinibbana Buddha has been asked to come and reside in a statue ? If not then that statue is no different from a piece of stone or a brick. Why shall I bow to it.
Last edited by No_Mind on Sun Oct 11, 2015 3:15 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Subharo
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Re: Should we offer food to Buddha?

Postby Subharo » Sun Oct 11, 2015 3:09 am

mikenz66 wrote:I was referring mostly to rituals such a bowing, chanting praise, taking refuges and precepts, and various ceremonies, such as Kathina, all of which appear to me to be firmly grounded in the suttas.


I feel the most comfortable when a puja consists of lighting candles, bowing, chanting for about 15 minutes, and meditating silently for at least a good 45 minutes. I like it when silent meditation gets "place of pride", and not the chanting (in terms of duration). And that's what the Ajahn Chah tradition does at their pujas (at least in the Ajahn-Chah monasteries I've practised in).

It is indeed a "shared group experience", as you say, which gives a valuable sense of camaraderie.

The mental discomfort I mentioned above was usually just for the duration of the actual food offering. The rest of the time (the other 99% of the time), life in those monasteries was really great, and I'm grateful to have been there. I no longer let the issue stick in my mind (making me upset), now that I've thought it through, and feel I understand it (even if I don't feel particularly inspired by it). I can accept it, without necessarily agreeing with it. I have a much more equanimous attitude towards it now.
Subharo Bhikkhu
"There is but one taste on this path, the taste of freedom" -The Buddha :buddha1:

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mikenz66
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Re: Should we offer food to Buddha?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Oct 11, 2015 3:52 am

No_Mind wrote:I have a different but related question. Let alone offer food and perform a Puja, is there any liturgy and rituals at all in "pure" Buddhism ? Am I even required to bow to a Buddha statue .. Buddha is not residing in that statue and it is doubtful if Buddha at all looked like that.

Yes, that's an interesting question.

I already quoted the verses about the recollection of the Buddha above, and the Mahāparinibbānasutta certainly talks about shrines and offerings:
DN 16 wrote:So they act in regard to a Universal Monarch’s body, and as they act in regard to a Universal Monarch’s body so should they act in regard to a Realised One’s body, and a Shrine should be made for the Realised One at the crossroads. Whoever there prepares flowers, incense, or powder, or worships or establishes confidence in his mind, that will be for their benefit and happiness for a long time.
https://suttacentral.net/en/dn16

Clearly many details have evolved since then (and it might be argued that the Mahāparinibbānasutta itself was evolved). I think how that evolution is viewed depends on whether there is an aspiration for Dhamma "only as on can find in the suttas", or "consistent with the suttas". The latter allows for much more flexibility.

:anjali:
Mike

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Re: How about reverencing living arahants?

Postby forestmat » Sun Oct 11, 2015 5:40 am

Namasakarn Tan Ajahn Subharo, and hope you are well in the holy life,

you mention an important point in your reply:

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against reverencing the Buddha, in whatever way the Buddha actually told us to. It's just that I do not particularly dig Hindu-style rituals which, when taken at face value, seem to strongly imply that the Buddha must still be up there somewhere, looking down upon us from the heaven called "Nibbana", where he finds it pleasing, and is appeased, whenever we make sacrificial offerings of food to him [..]


It's rather refreshing to see a monk prepared to actually say this.

With metta

Matt

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Re: Should we offer food to Buddha?

Postby robertk » Sun Oct 11, 2015 5:41 am

dear Venerable
attachment is normal but still it is always akusala, even to the Buddha.
When the Buddha came down the jewelled staircase at sankassa, after preaching Abhidhamma to his mother in Tavitimsa deva world, it is said that all the putthujhanna who saw this amazing sight had strong attachment . Understandable.

Is it good to encourage attachment to teachers or rituals?
I think it is better to help people see the difference between the attachment and appreciation.
robert

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Re: Should we offer food to Buddha?

Postby NotMe » Sun Oct 11, 2015 6:03 am

Weakfocus wrote:
nalinJ wrote:Did Lord Buddha mention that by offering food to his status we can gain merits?
Or
Did Lord Buddha mention something similar?

To the best of my limited knowledge, there is no such reference anywhere in Tipitaka.
Buddha was very much against such ignorant rites and rituals.

Good answer, but I believe there is a sutta where the Buddha is asked if he approved of a statue, and he replied something like "If it inspires just one person to the path, it is worth it."

To survive in the west for westerners, the cultural baggage must be stripped.


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