Reliance on Rites and Rituals

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Wayfarer
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Reliance on Rites and Rituals

Post by Wayfarer » Sun Jul 16, 2017 8:34 am

When I took my formal refuge ceremony, at Nan Tien Temple, in 2005, one of the points I particularly noticed in the vows, was to avoid 'reliance on rites and rituals.' It struck me as a little incongruent, as what I was engaged in was indeed 'a rite', namely, the rite of taking refuge. I read this again the other day while studying a Dharma text - that the bodhisattva is to avoid reliance on rites and rituals. But Buddhism has its rituals - even a daily meditation is a ritual, or so it seems to me. And as I understand it, life in many Buddhist monasteries is a constant succession of recitations which I would have thought were 'rites'?

So, what do I make of this apparent discrepancy between principle and practice, if indeed it is? Is there a difference between chanting the Buddhist precepts, and what is considered a rite or ritual?

Thanks to all

:namaste:
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

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Re: Reliance on Rites and Rituals

Post by Anonymous X » Sun Jul 16, 2017 10:37 am

Wayfarer wrote:When I took my formal refuge ceremony, at Nan Tien Temple, in 2005, one of the points I particularly noticed in the vows, was to avoid 'reliance on rites and rituals.' It struck me as a little incongruent, as what I was engaged in was indeed 'a rite', namely, the rite of taking refuge. I read this again the other day while studying a Dharma text - that the bodhisattva is to avoid reliance on rites and rituals. But Buddhism has its rituals - even a daily meditation is a ritual, or so it seems to me. And as I understand it, life in many Buddhist monasteries is a constant succession of recitations which I would have thought were 'rites'?

So, what do I make of this apparent discrepancy between principle and practice, if indeed it is? Is there a difference between chanting the Buddhist precepts, and what is considered a rite or ritual?

Thanks to all

:namaste:
We're waiting...............

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Re: Reliance on Rites and Rituals

Post by The Artis Magistra » Sun Jul 16, 2017 11:26 am

It seems to mean that compassion is more important than a rite or ritual, so that one does not become blindly attached to ritualism but does such actively out of goodness and for good purposes, not just because its done out of tradition or habit or various reasons other than to cultivate good and spread good for yourself and wherever possible.

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Re: Reliance on Rites and Rituals

Post by Fortyeightvows » Sun Jul 16, 2017 11:58 am

I'm pretty sure it is referring to a common instruction that after one has taken refuge in the three jewels, one may still perform other rituals for our family, etc, but understands that while they may be of benefit they are not to be taken as refuge.

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Re: Reliance on Rites and Rituals

Post by Wayfarer » Sun Jul 16, 2017 12:18 pm

Right. So this might be distinguishing religious rites and rituals, like propitiations to the Gods, from Buddhist practices. In other words, then, Buddhist ceremonies, such as Refuge Ceremony, are not actually regarded as 'a rite' in the sense intended by this vow. So, 'reliance on rites and rituals' is more like 'hoping prayers come true'. Perhaps that is nearer to the meaning.
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Re: Reliance on Rites and Rituals

Post by MiphamFan » Sun Jul 16, 2017 12:25 pm

I think it dates back to the Buddha refuting Brahmins who thought karma could be manipulated by means of rituals rather than through intention and action.

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Re: Reliance on Rites and Rituals

Post by Fortyeightvows » Sun Jul 16, 2017 12:36 pm

I'm not sure what they are translating but I think reliance is pretty good.
We rely on the three jewels as refuge. And while we may perform other rites and rituals, and even count on them to have some function for us, we don't rely on them in the way way we rely on the three jewels.
See what the nuns at the temple say and let us know.
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Re: Reliance on Rites and Rituals

Post by Fortyeightvows » Sun Jul 16, 2017 12:38 pm

MiphamFan wrote:I think it dates back to the Buddha refuting Brahmins who thought karma could be manipulated by means of rituals rather than through intention and action.
This also sounds correct.

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Re: Reliance on Rites and Rituals

Post by Wayfarer » Sun Jul 16, 2017 12:40 pm

MiphamFan wrote:I think it dates back to the Buddha refuting Brahmins who thought karma could be manipulated by means of rituals rather than through intention and action.
Thank you, I also think this is probably the correct interpretation.
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

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Re: Reliance on Rites and Rituals

Post by MiphamFan » Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:55 am

Anyway, going back to the OP, the main difference in Buddhist rites conferring vows is that, according to abhidharma IIRC, accepting a vow comes with an invisible rupa that is maintained as long as you do not renounce the vow. I am not sure about this 100%, best to check the Abhidharmasamuccaya

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Re: Reliance on Rites and Rituals

Post by Fortyeightvows » Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:50 am

MiphamFan wrote:accepting a vow comes with an invisible rupa
I think that what your are talking about may be the same thing that is being discussed here:
https://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=39&t=25372

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Re: Reliance on Rites and Rituals

Post by Astus » Mon Jul 17, 2017 2:56 pm

"What is adherence to observances and rituals (śīlavrataparāmarśa)? It is the admission, inclination, idea, point of view, opinion of him who considers observances and rituals or the five aggregates of attachment constituting the basis, as being pure, just (or providing deliverance) and leading to emancipation. Its function is to supply a basis for fruitless efforts."
(Abhidharmasamuccaya, p 13)

"The view which considers as cause that which is not cause, or as the path that which is not the Path, is called śīlavrataparāmarśa: namely, to consider Maheśvara, Prajāpati, or any other entity which is not a cause of the world as a cause of the world; to consider the rituals of suicide,— entering into fire or drowning—as a cause of a heavenly rebirth when they do not in fact procure heaven; or to consider morality and ascetic practices as the only path to deliverance when they are themselves not the only path to deliverance, nor the "knowledges" (jñāna) of the Sāṃṃmkhyas and the Yogins which are not a path to deliverance; and so too the rest."
(Kosha, vol 3, p 778)

"Rules-and-vows clinging is the adherence [to the view that] purification comes through rules and vows, according as it is said: “Herein, what is rules-and-vows clinging? … That purification comes through a rite, that purification comes through a ritual, that purification comes through a rite and ritual: such view as this … such perverse assumption is called rules-and-vows clinging”"
(Visuddhimagga, p 591 / online ATI p 649)

"Any precept & practice life whose essence is training,
and the holy life whose essence is service:
This is one extreme.
Any who say, "There's no harm in sensual desires":
This, the second extreme."

(Ud 6.8)
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Reliance on Rites and Rituals

Post by Malcolm » Mon Jul 17, 2017 4:10 pm

Wayfarer wrote:When I took my formal refuge ceremony, at Nan Tien Temple, in 2005, one of the points I particularly noticed in the vows, was to avoid 'reliance on rites and rituals.' It struck me as a little incongruent, as what I was engaged in was indeed 'a rite', namely, the rite of taking refuge. I read this again the other day while studying a Dharma text - that the bodhisattva is to avoid reliance on rites and rituals. But Buddhism has its rituals - even a daily meditation is a ritual, or so it seems to me. And as I understand it, life in many Buddhist monasteries is a constant succession of recitations which I would have thought were 'rites'?

So, what do I make of this apparent discrepancy between principle and practice, if indeed it is? Is there a difference between chanting the Buddhist precepts, and what is considered a rite or ritual?

Thanks to all

:namaste:
It means believing that rites result in liberation.
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Re: Reliance on Rites and Rituals

Post by Wayfarer » Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:50 pm

Thank you kind Sirs. It is nevertheless the case that I first heard this teaching at a Buddhist ceremonial occasion - hence my question.

@Astus- this saying:
"The view which considers as cause that which is not cause, or as the path that which is not the Path, is called śīlavrataparāmarśa: namely, to consider Maheśvara, Prajāpati, or any other entity which is not a cause of the world as a cause of the world
I take this reference to 'considering as a cause, that which is not a cause' is reference to the idea of a Creator?
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

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Re: Reliance on Rites and Rituals

Post by rory » Tue Jul 18, 2017 12:51 am

I'm just wondering if the 'rites and rituals' since this is a Chinese temple and specifically a Fo Guang one which advocates 'humanistic Buddhism' most probably relates to Daoism and Daoist rituals.

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Re: Reliance on Rites and Rituals

Post by Wayfarer » Tue Jul 18, 2017 2:56 am

No, it's not specific to Nan Tien. As I mentioned, I encountered the same phrase in Prajnaparamita recently and as Astus shows above, it is also in abhidharma. The quote Astus gives from the Nikaya is very interesting:
Any precept & practice life whose essence is training,
and the holy life whose essence is service:
This is one extreme.
Any who say, "There's no harm in sensual desires":
This, the second extreme.
One could easily think that the first 'extreme' is what Buddhists generally do - but one would be mistaken.
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

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Re: Reliance on Rites and Rituals

Post by Fortyeightvows » Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:39 am

It means believing that rites result in liberation.
Shouldn't a correctly performed rite result in a numinous experience which then result in liberation?

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Re: Reliance on Rites and Rituals

Post by Nyedrag Yeshe » Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:53 am

Wayfarer wrote:When I took my formal refuge ceremony, at Nan Tien Temple, in 2005, one of the points I particularly noticed in the vows, was to avoid 'reliance on rites and rituals.' It struck me as a little incongruent, as what I was engaged in was indeed 'a rite', namely, the rite of taking refuge. I read this again the other day while studying a Dharma text - that the bodhisattva is to avoid reliance on rites and rituals. But Buddhism has its rituals - even a daily meditation is a ritual, or so it seems to me. And as I understand it, life in many Buddhist monasteries is a constant succession of recitations which I would have thought were 'rites'?

So, what do I make of this apparent discrepancy between principle and practice, if indeed it is? Is there a difference between chanting the Buddhist precepts, and what is considered a rite or ritual?

Thanks to all

:namaste:
This is a specific reference to the Brahmanical or Hindu Mimamsa notion of attaining liberation solely on the reliance on external rituals. In order to get birth in swarga loka or heaven!
“Whatever has to happen, let it happen!”
“Whatever the situation is, it’s fine!”
“I really don’t need anything!
~Tsangpa Gyare Yeshe Dorje (1161-1211)
ओं पद्मोष्णीष विमले हूँ फट । ओं हनुफशभरहृदय स्वाहा॥
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔ ཀརྨ་པ་མཁྱེན་ནོ།

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Re: Reliance on Rites and Rituals

Post by Astus » Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:28 am

Wayfarer wrote:I take this reference to 'considering as a cause, that which is not a cause' is reference to the idea of a Creator?
The cause as
- "to consider Maheśvara, Prajāpati, or any other entity which is not a cause of the world as a cause of the world"
- "to consider the rituals of suicide,— entering into fire or drowning—as a cause of a heavenly rebirth when they do not in fact procure heaven"

So it is both to the idea of a creator, and the idea of certain actions leading to heavenly birth (could add other actions as well, like the heroic actions of a warrior, as taught in SN 42.3-5).
One could easily think that the first 'extreme' is what Buddhists generally do - but one would be mistaken.
The reason such an extreme is avoided is that the precepts are not the whole of the path, nor do they bring about liberation on their own. Furthermore, the various elements and stages of the path are understood as only means to an end, not end in themselves, hence there is no precept, practice, or view one should remain bound to, as stated in the Ratha-vinita Sutta and the Magandiya Sutta.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Reliance on Rites and Rituals

Post by Wayfarer » Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:40 am

Thank you, I will meditate on that.

:namaste:
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

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