Hello hunter, Bankei, all,
This might be of interest:”Do Buddhists Pray?“A panel discussion with Mark Unno, Rev. Shohaku Okumura, Sarah Harding and Bhante Madawala Seelawimala.
Sarah Harding is a Tibetan translator and lama in the Kagyü school of Vajrayana Buddhism and editor of Creation and Completion: Essential Points of Tantric Meditation (Wisdom).
Rev. Shohaku Okumura is director of the Soto Zen Buddhism International Center in San Francisco.
Mark Unno is ordained in the Shin Buddhist tradition and is an assistant professor of East Asian religions at the University of Oregon.
The Venerable Wadawala Seelawimala is a Theravadin monk from Sri Lanka and professor at the Institute for Buddhist Studies and the Graduate Theological Seminary in BerkeleyEXCERPT:
Bhante Seelawimala, what is the Theravada tradition’s view of other power and self power, and of supplication and prayer generally?
Bhante Wadawala Seelawimala:
In Theravada Buddhism we don’t get into the discussion of self power or other power. We don’t use the notion of “power” in the same way to begin with. We believe our minds are weak in certain areas of our thinking. The ordinary mind is not working to its fullest capacity, but we can correct its drawbacks by proper mental exercises, by following the step-by-step guidance of the Buddha. Gradually, the mind starts to work properly and see things clearly. As a result we can overcome our suffering, frustration and fear.
Prayer is not a necessary part of the process of mental exercise as taught in the Theravada tradition. We discuss these matters in completely different terms than we have heard from Reverend Okumura and Professor Unno. The language is quite different.
In Theravada, are there any deities or universal buddhas or other such principles?
That is not part of our language. We don’t regard the Buddha as universal spirit, or self as universal self, or personal self. We don’t discuss things in those terms. We don’t have any power beyond dhamma. Dhamma means things as they really are, the power of cause and effect, dhammata—real knowledge of how things are. That genuine knowledge—knowing what causes what—can be used to improve our condition.
For example, if we understand that we are ignorant of how things work, we see what causes the ignorance. That help came from the Buddha, to be sure. We appreciate the Buddha for that and we appreciate the dhamma, which is the knowledge given by the Buddha. We appreciate other people who use the knowledge and thereby improve their conditions. That is called sangha. We respect Buddha, dhamma and sangha as our model and our support system, but the actual work is done by ourselves.
We don’t have the notion of praying to someone or asking for help from someone.http://www.thebuddhadharma.com/issues/2 ... _pray.html