Pali term or concept related to Grace?

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Re: Pali term or concept related to Grace?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sat Sep 04, 2010 6:08 am

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!


Hi Vipassana1501,

I recommend reading the book Early Buddhism and the Bhagavadgītā by Kashi Nath Upadhyaya

If I recall correctly (it being almost 10 yrs since I read it), it does contain some discussion on the notion of "grace", albeit from the position of the Gita. However, considering that both the Gita and Christianity tend towards the monotheistic, I hope that this provides some grist for the mill.

The "Early Buddhism" in the title should be close enough to you wish for a Theravada perspective.

By the way, whereabouts are you studying Buddhist Chaplaincy? I can only think of two places that have such a program.
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Re: Pali term or concept related to Grace?

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Sep 04, 2010 7:32 am

octathlon wrote:I don't remember whose specific posts they were, but comparing grace to either ripening of good kamma or dedicating merit seems like just too much of a stretch to me.

:smile:


so you have never heard of saying grace then? a common prayer of thanks before a meal

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grace_%28prayer%29
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Re: Pali term or concept related to Grace?

Postby octathlon » Sat Sep 04, 2010 7:57 am

Manapa wrote:so you have never heard of saying grace then? a common prayer of thanks before a meal
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grace_%28prayer%29

Hi Manapa,
Yes I have, in fact that's the meaning of it that I grew up with. But I had also heard of these other meanings for it, which is why I asked the OP to define it for us, so we wouldn't have to speculate on which meaning. :smile:

I checked Wikipedia which starts off with "Within Christianity, there are differing conceptions of grace. In particular, Catholics and Protestants use the word in substantially different ways."
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Re: Pali term or concept related to Grace?

Postby Goofaholix » Sat Sep 04, 2010 9:47 am

Manapa wrote:so you have never heard of saying grace then? a common prayer of thanks before a meal


In Christianity the concept of Grace is extremely important and this is what the OP asked about. The prayer of grace before a meal is a different word and just a little ritual.
"Whenever we feel that we are definitely right, so much so that we refuse to open up to anything or anybody else, right there we are wrong. It becomes wrong view. When suffering arises, where does it arise from? The cause is wrong view, the fruit of that being suffering. If it was right view it wouldn't cause suffering." - Ajahn Chah
"Remember you dont meditate to get anything, but to get rid of things. We do it, not with desire, but with letting go. If you want anything, you wont find it." - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Pali term or concept related to Grace?

Postby Anicca » Sat Sep 04, 2010 2:46 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Metta is one thing, but do we really give our merit - the results of our kamma - to others other than in a symbolic way of well wishing? I do not think the Buddha taught that.
I have no wish to argue with you, Tilt - but i had read from others knowing more than i do (but not necessarily more than you do):

- the former Bhikkhu Khantipalo sees it this way:
It is widely believed in Buddhist lands that merits (puñña) are transferable providing that one has a compassion deep enough with others and a wisdom grown great.


- Ajaan Thate states in his autobiography:
One consideration was that he could share the merit gained from such ordination with his dead son and that would certainly enable the son to take rebirth in a happy realm (Sugati).


These beliefs are most likely from the culture, not the suttas. Could not find any sutta support - so you most likely are absolutely right, Tilt.


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Re: Pali term or concept related to Grace?

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Sep 04, 2010 2:57 pm

from my experience, even within protestantism there are differing concepts, if you don't like something, you don't need to like it but you also don't need to say anything about it, maybe there are different understandings of something based on other experiences and traditions you yourself are unfamiliar with.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Re: Pali term or concept related to Grace?

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Sep 04, 2010 3:08 pm

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Pali term or concept related to Grace?

Postby octathlon » Sat Sep 04, 2010 4:35 pm

Manapa wrote:from my experience, even within protestantism there are differing concepts, if you don't like something, you don't need to like it but you also don't need to say anything about it, maybe there are different understandings of something based on other experiences and traditions you yourself are unfamiliar with.

Hi Manapa,
I think the above may be a response to my post since it refers to the quote I posted from Wikipedia (if not, please ignore this post :) ). But I don't understand what you are saying exactly, can you elaborate a little-- what is "it" and is that the generic "you" or did you mean I personally didn't like "it"?

:smile:
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Re: Pali term or concept related to Grace?

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Sep 04, 2010 6:17 pm

octathlon wrote:
Manapa wrote:from my experience, even within protestantism there are differing concepts, if you don't like something, you don't need to like it but you also don't need to say anything about it, maybe there are different understandings of something based on other experiences and traditions you yourself are unfamiliar with.

Hi Manapa,
I think the above may be a response to my post since it refers to the quote I posted from Wikipedia (if not, please ignore this post :) ). But I don't understand what you are saying exactly, can you elaborate a little-- what is "it" and is that the generic "you" or did you mean I personally didn't like "it"?

:smile:


sorry had connection problems soon after that post!
the first part was for you, as you guessed, but the rest you was more of a general statement, and 'it' can be anything.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Pali term or concept related to Grace?

Postby octathlon » Sat Sep 04, 2010 6:54 pm

Ah, ok. Thanks, Manapa.

:smile:
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Re: Pali term or concept related to Grace?

Postby Vipassana1501 » Sun Sep 05, 2010 12:38 am

My apologies, I have not been at the computer and thus unable to respond to the posts that have come up regarding my question about "Grace".

First let me say that If it seemed as if my initial question left a great deal of room for interpretation, that would be because that was the way I received the question myself. My intuition is that the best point of comparison would be the Christian idea of "Gods Grace". Beings as how I'm a life-long Buddhist, I'm not overly familiar with Christian Theology- In many ways as I study interdenominational spiritual counseling I'm being exposed to some of the basic concepts the Abrhamic faiths for the first time. If we take Grace in the literal Christian sense we might say it is "Gods unmerited favor" or gods ability to do for us what we are unable to do for ourselves. I really cannot imagine a concept more antithetical to my beliefs as a Buddhist- However, as I'm studying at a Buddhist College in the West, I'm quite sure that what was being asked was not just that I explore the obvious differences between these two belief systems but rather to investigate the "possibility" of an intersection of ideologies. I brought this question to this board thinking that perhaps there was a particular word from the Pali Canon such as "anubhava" that might shed more light on the topic. It may be that such a word does not exist and since this seems to be the general consensus here in regards to linguistic interpretation, I refined my question and found some interesting responses from other sources. The refined question read as follows: "In the Theravada tradition can one find a concept corresponding to the idea of something outside of the self, which in contact with the self creates significant positive transformation the self?" (This is of course just one, VERY BROAD, interpretation of Grace). I realize that this moves the question outside of the realm of Pali vocabulary and into that of hermeneutics, so I'm not seeking a response on this board. But if you must... And thanks for everyone's input!

PS: Buddhist Chaplaincy is the practice of institutionally based spiritual counseling offered from a Buddhist perspective to people of all faiths. It is a recent development in Western Buddhism that allows Buddhists to interact with large public institution in an official capacity, this does not require one be a monk or priest as such. The School is The University of the West in Rosemead, Ca.
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Re: Pali term or concept related to Grace?

Postby Ben » Sun Sep 05, 2010 1:05 am

Hi Vipassana1501,
I tried responding yesterday but my dinky internet connection dropped out as I hit the submit button and I lost the post.
What comes to mind is a post Ed (Zavk) wrote in a thread I started on 'Gratitude' in the personal experience sub-forum, where he mentioned that the contemplation or spontaneous arising of gratitude led him to an experience of something that he described as 'grace'-like. Its tangential because its not going to be an answer rooted in textual evidence but the result of personal practice of a contemporary practitioner.
Its a shame Ajahn Dhammanando rarely posts on Dhamma Wheel as he is an expert in Pali and I am sure he would be able to introduce some interesting insights into your line of enquiry.
I am also beginning to wonder whether what you are looking for, in grace, are the ten paramitas (perfections), which when practiced, supports one in their aspirations. Just an idea!
all the very best with your studies!
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Re: Pali term or concept related to Grace?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sun Sep 05, 2010 2:10 am

Vipassana1501 wrote:My apologies, I have not been at the computer and thus unable to respond to the posts that have come up regarding my question about "Grace".

...

PS: Buddhist Chaplaincy is the practice of institutionally based spiritual counseling offered from a Buddhist perspective to people of all faiths. It is a recent development in Western Buddhism that allows Buddhists to interact with large public institution in an official capacity, this does not require one be a monk or priest as such. The School is The University of the West in Rosemead, Ca.


Hi Vipassana1501,

Thanks for answering the question on where you are studying. I thought that it might be at UWest. If you know any of the Foguang Shan monastics studying or working there, like Ven Huizai or Ven Jueqian, please say hi to them from me (Huifeng).
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Re: Pali term or concept related to Grace?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sun Sep 05, 2010 2:13 am

Ideas like the anubhava or adhisthana of the Buddha (or bodhisattvas) "empowering" other living beings is something that is associated with the later stages of the Mahayana. In particular, some (but not all) far eastern Buddhist forms of "Pureland" buddhism, involving the "other power" of Amitabha, may have something very close to this. Or, the power of the guru in awakening the student in tantra. This really isn't Theravada territory.
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Re: Pali term or concept related to Grace?

Postby Goofaholix » Sun Sep 05, 2010 3:31 am

Vipassana1501 wrote:The refined question read as follows: "In the Theravada tradition can one find a concept corresponding to the idea of something outside of the self, which in contact with the self creates significant positive transformation the self?" (This is of course just one, VERY BROAD, interpretation of Grace).


No not really. Maybe there is the possibility of a teacher transmitting some level of awakening to a student but this idea doesn't really exist much in Theravada I think other than in the minds of idealistic students I suppose, it's more of a Mahayana concept.

I think maybe several Mahayana concepts are closer to the concept of "Grace" than anything you'll find i n Theravada.

For example the idea that we are all fully enlightened but don't realise it, or the idea of instant enlightenment, both are about receiving or having something you haven't necessarily earned. Also as mentioned before the idea of receiving transmission from a teacher or guru.
"Whenever we feel that we are definitely right, so much so that we refuse to open up to anything or anybody else, right there we are wrong. It becomes wrong view. When suffering arises, where does it arise from? The cause is wrong view, the fruit of that being suffering. If it was right view it wouldn't cause suffering." - Ajahn Chah
"Remember you dont meditate to get anything, but to get rid of things. We do it, not with desire, but with letting go. If you want anything, you wont find it." - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Pali term or concept related to Grace?

Postby yuttadhammo » Mon Sep 06, 2010 5:14 pm

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.

D. 9

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.

D. 1


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.

Dhp 276
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