Vipassana1501 wrote:I'm a Buddhist Chaplaincy student at the who's been asked to do some research on comparing/translating the Christian concept of Grace in regards to Theravada practices. I feel like I may be missing something obvious but I keep finding myself going down dead ends. Does anyone have any thoughts or suggestions? Thanks!
I imagine "grace" in a Christian sense has something to do with the view of divine causality:
"tamañño evamāha `na kho pana metaṃ, bho, evaṃ bhavissati. santi hi, bho, devatā mahiddhikā mahānubhāvā. tā imassa purisassa saññaṃ upakaḍḍhantipi apakaḍḍhantipi. yasmiṃ samaye upakaḍḍhanti, saññī tasmiṃ samaye hoti. yasmiṃ samaye apakaḍḍhanti, asaññī tasmiṃ samaye hotī'ti. ittheke abhisaññānirodhaṃ paññapenti.
'On that another said: "That, Sirs, will never be as you say. But there are certain devas of great power and influence. It is they who infuse consciousness into a man, and draw it away out of him. When they infuse it into him he becomes conscious, when they draw it away he becomes unconscious." Thus do others explain the cessation of consciousness.
It probably also has to do with the view that brahma is "sañjita" - one who assigns beings to their station in life:
yepi te sattā pacchā upapannā, tesampi evaṃ hoti `ayaṃ kho bhavaṃ brahmā mahābrahmā abhibhū anabhibhūto aññadatthudaso vasavattī issaro kattā nimmātā seṭṭho sajitā vasī pitā bhūtabhabyānaṃ. iminā mayaṃ bhotā brahmunā nimmitā. taṃ kissa hetu? imañhi mayaṃ addasāma idha paṭhamaṃ upapannaṃ, mayaṃ panamha pacchā upapannā'ti..
And those beings themselves, too, think thus: "This must be Brahmâ, the Great Brahmâ, the Supreme, the Mighty, the All-seeing, the Ruler, the Lord of all, the Maker, the Creator, the Chief of all, appointing to each his place, the Ancient of days, the Father of all that are and are to be, And we must have been created by him. And why? Because, as we see, it was he who was here first, and we came after that.
I think it is unreasonable to insist that grace has any place in the Buddha's teaching; even the Buddha himself was merely "akkhātu", one who shows the way:
tumhehi kiccamātappaṃ, akkhātāro tathāgatā.
paṭipannā pamokkhanti, jhāyino mārabandhanā.
You yourselves must strive; the Buddhas only point the way.
Those meditative ones who tread the path are released from the bonds of Mara.