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Why Don't Buddhists Pray?


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Here's the philosopher Osho telling it straight it up:

"Buddhists have lived a better life without God than anybody who has believed in God. And the reason is clear ― because there is no God, the whole responsibility falls on your shoulders. You cannot pray to God because all prayer is meaningless. Only your actions are going to decide, not prayers. The way of prayer is the way of the impotent man, who is not going to do anything. He is just continuing to live his life, and praying that God will help: "When God is there, all-compassionate ― and I am such a small sinner in comparison to his compassion ― I need not be worried."

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I feel just like that, though I am not a Buddhist. But as a Deist, I don't pray and don't depend on any god to hook me up - it's all my responsibility, and I only answer to myself, and it's wonderfully freeing.

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Buddhism is mostly unfamiliar to me, having been shielded from such heresies by my well-meaning Xian upbringing :-/. The more I hear of it, the more I find to appreciate. Thanks for the introduction to Osho! So much to read ... so little time %-)

 

It is interesting - and something I am just now realizing in retrospect - that a major evolution in my attitude toward prayer seems to have precipitated my transition from Christian dogma to free thought. Prayer for me became less of an attempt to change God's actions and more of a mechanism to change my own.

 

I think all of our backgrounds can either hinder or benefit us. Ultimately it depends on whether we learn to (and allow ourselves to) stop praying and start to think.

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Here's some more of the guy...his writing is quite captivating!

 

The search for truth.

"Nobody should be conditioned from childhood about any religion, any philosophy, any theology, because you are destroying his freedom of search. Help him to be strong enough. Help him to be strong enough to doubt, to be skeptical about all that is believed all around him. Help him never to believe, but to insist on knowing. And whatever it takes, however long it takes, to go for the pilgrimage alone, on his own, because there is no other way to find the truth.

 

The search for truth...you should not teach anybody what truth is because it cannot be taught. You should help the person to inquire. Inquiry is difficult; belief is cheap. But truth is not cheap; truth is the most valuable thing in the world. You cannot get it from others, you will have to find it yourself.

 

And the miracle is, the moment you decide that "I will not fall victim to any belief," you have already traveled half the way towards truth. If your determination is total, you need not go to truth, truth will come to you. You just have to be silent enough to receive it. You have to become a host so that truth can become a guest in your heart.

 

Right now the whole world is living in beliefs. That's why there is no shine in the eyes, no grace in people's gestures, no strength, no authority in their words. Belief is bogus; it is making castles of sand. A little breeze and your great castle will be destroyed.

 

Truth is eternal, and to find it means you also become part of eternity."

- Osho

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It should be noted that prayer is quite common in many forms of Buddhism, such as the Tibetan variety. (Of Dalai Lama fame) So it's not quite fair to say that Buddhists don't pray. Some do, and some don't. It just depends on the flavor of Buddhism we're talking about.

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Buddhists have gods and heavens... but they are caught up in samsara just like the rest of us. They are not enlightened. The Buddha, on the other hand, reached complete enlightenment, and is thuus more revered than the gods... or at least should be according to traditional Buddhist teaching. Theravada Buddhism, which is considered most like what the Buddha taught, teaches that it is futile to pray to these gods. However, many average adherents still do so. Most Buddhists feel it is up to each individual to see that praying is futile and monks are the ones who typically don't participate in praying.

 

Just like in all the other religions, there are sects and variances of belief... so to answer your question, some Buddhists do pray devotionally to gods. Also, in many areas, Buddhists beliefs have melded with traditional beliefs to the point where it is hard to distinguish between the Buddhist beliefs and the non-Buddhist beliefs.

 

I am taking a Buddhism class right now at the university, and I admit I was under the impression that there were no gods. I was shocked to find out that they believe gods exist, it is just that there are no Creator gods.

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^^^Hmm I didn not know that Buddhists believe in gods! Is this some kind of recent development?? Has christianity being influencing Buddhism?

The Buddha himself promoted questioning and critical thinking--so in real Buddhism there are no beliefs!

I guess the popular version is quite diluted.

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^^^Hmm I didn not know that Buddhists believe in gods! Is this some kind of recent development?? Has christianity being influencing Buddhism?

The Buddha himself promoted questioning and critical thinking--so in real Buddhism there are no beliefs!

I guess the popular version is quite diluted.

 

You are half right and half wrong... right in that the popular version is diluted and expanded compared to the pure philosophical Buddhism, but wrong in that it isn't really a recent development. Remember, Buddhism developed under the influence of Hinduism, and the Buddha did not prohibit lay followers from attending local temples dedicated to gods.

 

Philosophical Buddhism is very different from the religoin that is actually practiced by its adherents. Usually, only monks, elitist westerners, and Theravada Buddhists really pay attention to this supposed form of pure Buddhist philosophy... most Buddhists don't care. :)

 

Very interesting to say the least... this kind of inconsistency is hard for us Westerners to get our minds around, let alone ex-Fundy Christians... that makes it even harder for us. I know it does for me. I have to stop myself from judging and saying "This is Buddhism, This is not..."

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