Is water sprinkle blessing allowed in vinaya and sutta?

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Is water sprinkle blessing allowed in vinaya and sutta?

Postby faraway » Sun Jun 08, 2014 10:39 am

I often saw that in the end of dhamma talks by bhikkhu, the monks will give water sprinkle blessing (although not all blessing use water sprinkle). It looks like this if you haven't known: the main monk will chant paritta, then while the monk is chanting, the other monks will walk around the audiences and sprinks the (holy?) water on them. The audiences will be told to keep silent and make anjali gesture (not mandatory at all) while the blessing is ongoing. When the chanting is done, the water sprinkle will stop too.

My questions:
1. Is water sprinkle blessing (or general blessing) allowed in vinaya and sutta?

2. Does blessing really has benefit for the people? I worry the blessing will make buddhists to grow attachment to rites and rituals.

I often thought when I got the water sprinkle (especially if it's done by forest monks), some good things will happen to me later :D


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Last edited by faraway on Sun Jun 08, 2014 11:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is water sprinkle blessing allowed in vinaya and sutta?

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Sun Jun 08, 2014 10:52 am

I know this blessing is extremely common and prevalent in Roman Catholicism. It is a symbolic 're-baptism' of the Flock, a bringing together the faithful; a reminder that they are baptised into the Catholic faith by their love of Christ, who was also baptised, in the River Jordan, by his cousin, John (named 'The Baptist').

However, I personally have never heard of, or seen this practice in a Buddhist Theravada temple...

I'm sure you are right in the account. I have simply neither ever seen it or had it happen to me.

Of course, others may have different experiences.
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Re: Is water sprinkle blessing allowed in vinaya and sutta?

Postby faraway » Sun Jun 08, 2014 11:03 am

I live in Indonesia, mahayana and theravada sects are equally dominant here. I often saw the practice from theravada monks here (and maybe mahayana too, I don't quite remember). Even I had ever seen ajahn brahm giving a blessing too in a dhamma talk here before, but he was only chanting (as he is the main monk who gives a talk), and the water sprinkle task were done by local monks.
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Re: Is water sprinkle blessing allowed in vinaya and sutta?

Postby Denisa » Sun Jun 08, 2014 11:17 am

Appreciate mod help to delete this post since I merged it to make it clear, thank you.
Last edited by Denisa on Sun Jun 08, 2014 1:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is water sprinkle blessing allowed in vinaya and sutta?

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Sun Jun 08, 2014 11:22 am

I don't think that's the point... I think the question is, 'why do it at all?'
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Re: Is water sprinkle blessing allowed in vinaya and sutta?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sun Jun 08, 2014 11:27 am

The practice is described in the Commentary to the Ratana Sutta, where the Buddha instructs the Venerable Ānanda to circumambulate the city of Vesāli three times while reciting the Sutta. Having taken the Blessed One's almsbowl, he sprinkled water.
Bhagavato pattena udakaṃ ādāya sabbanagaraṃ abbhukkiranto anuvicari.

The occasion was that the city was infested with plague and evil spirits. After the ceremony there was a great downpour, washing the streets, and all the evil spirits departed.
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Re: Is water sprinkle blessing allowed in vinaya and sutta?

Postby Denisa » Sun Jun 08, 2014 11:31 am

Appreciate mod help to delete this post since I merged it to make it clear, thank you.
Last edited by Denisa on Sun Jun 08, 2014 1:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is water sprinkle blessing allowed in vinaya and sutta?

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Sun Jun 08, 2014 11:45 am

To be honest with you, I can't see how.
And I'm not trying to argue with you. I'm sincerely having difficulty in seeing a connection....
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Re: Is water sprinkle blessing allowed in vinaya and sutta?

Postby cooran » Sun Jun 08, 2014 11:59 am

Hello all,

This previous May be of interest:

Theravada water rite?
viewtopic.php?f=24&t=18090

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Re: Is water sprinkle blessing allowed in vinaya and sutta?

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Sun Jun 08, 2014 12:07 pm

On the one hand it seems to be a general theme that as water is very much a representation of 'cleansing' and of renewed life, it plays a big part in many religious rituals and festivals.
Water is what we are first created in, and without it, as an element, we suffer a great deal. we can go without food, for much longer than we can survive without water.

That said, interestingly cooran the link you post in the thread reference you have given, above, actually declares such rituals (if they are to do with Merit-making) are a 'waste of time and money' and Making Merit and transferring it, has more worth if it is done by an altruistic action, rather than through enacting pointless gestures (the article deals with Making merit for departed relatives and loved ones)....

.....very few Buddhists who follow this ancient custom have understood the meaning of transference of merits and the proper way to do that.

Some people are simply wasting time and money on meaningless ceremonies and performances in memory of departed ones. These people do not realize that it is impossible to help the departed ones simply by building big graveyards, tombs, paper-houses and other paraphernalia Neither is it possible to help the departed by burning joss-sticks, joss-paper, etc.; nor is it possible to help the departed by slaughtering animals and offering them along with other kinds of food. Also one should not waste by burning things used by the departed ones on the assumption that the deceased persons would somehow benefit by the act, when such articles can in fact be distributed among the needy.

The only way to help the departed ones is to do some meritorious deeds in a religious way in memory of them. The meritorious deeds include such acts as giving alms to others, building schools, temples, orphanages, libraries, hospitals, printing religious books for free distribution and similar charitable deeds.


Very interesting!
Thank you for sharing it!
Last edited by TheNoBSBuddhist on Sun Jun 08, 2014 1:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is water sprinkle blessing allowed in vinaya and sutta?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Jun 08, 2014 12:52 pm

Such sprinking is common in monasteries with Asian roots. Like any other ritual (such as bowing, chanting, etc) it's helpful if it calms and gladdens the mind and/or aids mindfulness.

I empathise with these remarks by Ajahn Sumedho (AS):
RW: As Abbot of Chithurst, how do you advise your monks to view ceremonies and rituals that might seem rather remote to the actual practice?

AS: 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.

The bhikkhu form is a kind of dance one does. One learns to move. It has its own beautiful form, which is a way of training the physical form in beautiful movement, the mental and the physical combined. However, it is not an end in itself. It can become silly if it is an end in itself. And it is not necessary, either. If it does not fit or if people do not want it, then one just does not use it. It is something one can use or not use according to time and place.

If one has never used ceremony or does not understand its purpose, then when one is faced with a ceremony, one might reject it, thinking, 'I don't like it', or 'ceremonies are wrong'. But they aren't! There is nothing wrong with ceremonies, they are quite alright to have. To feel one should not have ceremonies is just as much an opinion as to feel one should. It is not a matter of having to say one should or should not have them. They are a part of our tradition, so we use them if they are appropriate. If they are not appropriate, we do not use them. It is a matter of knowing, rather than of having opinions about it.

http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books3/Ajahn ... viewed.htm


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Re: Is water sprinkle blessing allowed in vinaya and sutta?

Postby Denisa » Sun Jun 08, 2014 1:06 pm

faraway wrote:I often saw that in the end of dhamma talks by bhikkhu, the monks will give water sprinkle blessing (although not all blessing use water sprinkle). It looks like this if you haven't known: the main monk will chant paritta, then while the monk is chanting, the other monks will walk around the audiences and sprinks the (holy?) water on them. The audiences will be told to keep silent and make anjali gesture (not mandatory at all) while the blessing is ongoing. When the chanting is done, the water sprinkle will stop too.

My questions:
1. Is water sprinkle blessing (or general blessing) allowed in vinaya and sutta?"

A simple question: Will you achieve anything because someone blessed you or because you pray or wish? Water or not is irrelevant since I heard some high rank Thai generals even went as far as to apply and drink urine from a certain monk thinking it'll bless them with success!

Then Anathapindika the householder went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there the Blessed One said to him: "These five things, householder, are welcome, agreeable, pleasant, & hard to obtain in the world. Which five?

"Long life is welcome, agreeable, pleasant, & hard to obtain in the world.

"Beauty... "Happiness... "Status... "Rebirth in heaven...

"Now, I tell you, these five things are not to be obtained by reason of prayers or wishes. If they were to be obtained by reason of prayers or wishes, who here would lack them? It's not fitting for the disciple of the noble ones who desires long life to pray for it or to delight in doing so. Instead, the disciple of the noble ones who desires long life should follow the path of practice leading to long life. In so doing, he will attain long life, either human or divine.

"It's not fitting for the disciple of the noble ones who desires beauty to pray for it or to delight in doing so...

"... happiness... "... Status... "... Rebirth in heaven...

Long life, beauty, status, honor, heaven, high birth: To those who delight in aspiring for these things in great measure, continuously, the wise praise heedfulness in making merit. The wise person, heedful, acquires a two-fold welfare: welfare in this life & welfare in the next. By breaking through to his welfare he's called prudent, wise.
AN. 5.43, Ittha Sutta

Now at that time the Lord, surrounded by a large assembly, sneezed while he was teaching dhamma. Monks, saying: “Lord, may the Lord live (long), may the wellfarer live (long),” made a loud noise, a great noise; the talk on dhamma was interrupted by this noise. Then the Lord addressed the monks, saying: “Now, monks, when (the phrase) ‘Long life’ is spoken to one who has sneezed, can he for this reason live or die?”

“That is not so, Lord.”

“Monks, ‘Long life’ should not be said to one who has sneezed. Whoever should say it, there is an offence of wrong-doing.”

Now at that time people said “May you live (long), honoured sirs” to monks who had sneezed. The monks, being scrupulous, did not respond. People … spread it about, saying: “How can these recluses, sons of the Sakyans not respond when (the phrase) ‘May you live (long), honoured sirs’ is being spoken to them?” They told this matter to the Lord. He said: “Monks, householders like lucky signs. I allow you, monks, when (the phrase) ‘May you live (long), honoured sirs’ is being spoken to you by householders to say, ‘Long life’ (to them).”
Vinaya


faraway wrote:2. Does blessing really has benefit for the people? I worry the blessing will make buddhists to grow attachment to rites and rituals."

I often thought when I got the water sprinkle (especially if it's done by forest monks), some good things will happen to me later :D

If it has benefit Buddha would have recommended it rather than speaking against it. A placebo may be the best benefit, if there's any.

"Endowed with these five qualities, a lay follower is an outcaste of a lay follower, a stain of a lay follower, a dregs of a lay follower. Which five? He/she does not have conviction [in the Buddha's Awakening]; is unvirtuous; is eager for protective charms & ceremonies; trusts protective charms & ceremonies, not kamma; and searches for recipients of his/her offerings outside [of the Sangha], and gives offerings there first. Endowed with these five qualities, a lay follower is an outcaste of a lay follower, a stain of a lay follower, a dregs of a lay follower.

"Endowed with these five qualities, a lay follower is a jewel of a lay follower, a lotus of a lay follower, a fine flower of a lay follower. Which five? He/she has conviction; is virtuous; is not eager for protective charms & ceremonies; trusts kamma, not protective charms & ceremonies; does not search for recipients of his/her offerings outside [of the Sangha], and gives offerings here first. Endowed with these five qualities, a lay follower is a jewel of a lay follower, a lotus of a lay follower, a fine flower of a lay follower."
AN 5.175, Candala Sutta


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Re: Is water sprinkle blessing allowed in vinaya and sutta?

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Sun Jun 08, 2014 1:31 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Such sprinking is common in monasteries with Asian roots. Like any other ritual (such as bowing, chanting, etc) it's helpful if it calms and gladdens the mind and/or aids mindfulness.

I empathise with these remarks by Ajahn Sumedho (AS):
RW: As Abbot of Chithurst, how do you advise your monks to view ceremonies and rituals that might seem rather remote to the actual practice?

AS: 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.

The bhikkhu form is a kind of dance one does. One learns to move. It has its own beautiful form, which is a way of training the physical form in beautiful movement, the mental and the physical combined. However, it is not an end in itself. It can become silly if it is an end in itself. And it is not necessary, either. If it does not fit or if people do not want it, then one just does not use it. It is something one can use or not use according to time and place.

If one has never used ceremony or does not understand its purpose, then when one is faced with a ceremony, one might reject it, thinking, 'I don't like it', or 'ceremonies are wrong'. But they aren't! There is nothing wrong with ceremonies, they are quite alright to have. To feel one should not have ceremonies is just as much an opinion as to feel one should. It is not a matter of having to say one should or should not have them. They are a part of our tradition, so we use them if they are appropriate. If they are not appropriate, we do not use them. It is a matter of knowing, rather than of having opinions about it.

http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books3/Ajahn ... viewed.htm


:anjali:
Mike


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as a Scotsman enmeshed in various 'North-o'-the-Border' traditions, through family activities and social gatherings, I can equate.
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Re: Is water sprinkle blessing allowed in vinaya and sutta?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Jun 08, 2014 7:55 pm

Clearly if someone takes these rituals the wrong way, they are unhelpful. I see riturals such as water sprinkling as part of a rejoicing of merit, which does, of course, have sutta support, and positive effects on one's mind.

See, for example, the links and discussion here: viewtopic.php?f=13&t=20959&p=294610#p294610

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Re: Is water sprinkle blessing allowed in vinaya and sutta?

Postby Sam Vara » Sun Jun 08, 2014 8:29 pm

We are sprinkled every new year at Cittaviveka when we do the "Refuges and Precepts" ceremony with Ajahn Sucitto. Sometimes at Wesak too. Most of the western converts just enjoy the aspect of reverence, or treat it as good fun.
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Re: Is water sprinkle blessing allowed in vinaya and sutta?

Postby Sylvester » Mon Jun 09, 2014 2:01 am

Perhaps the tradition began with the Buddha's sprinkling of water over the dysteric monk, recorded in the Vinaya -

Bhagavā udakaṃ āsiñci. Āyasmā ānando paridhovi.

The Blessed One sprinkled water on the monk, and Ven. Ananda washed him off.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


Granted, āsiñcati is somewhat different in form from the abbhukkirati cited by Bhante Pesala, but they seem to carry the same import of sprinkling water.
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Re: Is water sprinkle blessing allowed in vinaya and sutta?

Postby Mr Man » Mon Jun 09, 2014 7:49 am

Last time I visited Amaravati I was blessed with water from Lake Manasarovar.
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Re: Is water sprinkle blessing allowed in vinaya and sutta?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Jun 09, 2014 8:30 am

Cool! ( :tongue: ). From Ajahn Amaro's sojourn in Tibet?

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Re: Is water sprinkle blessing allowed in vinaya and sutta?

Postby Mr Man » Mon Jun 09, 2014 9:01 am

mikenz66 wrote:Cool! ( :tongue: ). From Ajahn Amaro's sojourn in Tibet?
Yes. I always enjoy receiving blessings. It is a way of coming together with shared aspirations and focus.
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