Ancestor worship from a Mahayana POV

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Varis
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Ancestor worship from a Mahayana POV

Post by Varis » Sat Jan 27, 2018 7:05 pm

How is ancestor worship/placation viewed from the perspective of Mahayana?

I ask because I noticed that most forms of Mahayana and even Vajrayana (atleast in Japan, please correct me if this is not true in Tibet) have incorporated ancestor worship into their repertoire. How are these ancestors classed in the scheme of the six realms? From what I've read in anthropological studies, those who worship their ancestors report them as acting quite differently from descriptions of pretas in Buddhist texts.

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javier.espinoza.t
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Re: Ancestor worship from a Mahayana POV

Post by javier.espinoza.t » Mon Jan 29, 2018 11:22 pm

Varis wrote:
Sat Jan 27, 2018 7:05 pm
How is ancestor worship/placation viewed from the perspective of Mahayana?

I ask because I noticed that most forms of Mahayana and even Vajrayana (atleast in Japan, please correct me if this is not true in Tibet) have incorporated ancestor worship into their repertoire. How are these ancestors classed in the scheme of the six realms? From what I've read in anthropological studies, those who worship their ancestors report them as acting quite differently from descriptions of pretas in Buddhist texts.
i knew of parental care, love, looking-for, specially in relation to after death rituals and practices, but never heard of worshipping. mmm
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Carlita
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Re: Ancestor worship from a Mahayana POV

Post by Carlita » Tue Jan 30, 2018 2:19 am

Most don't worship in the submission sense of the term. We build altars, talk to them, and visit our families graves etc more so than bowing to them as above us rather than related to us. As for Mahayana teachings, it's in Nichiren Buddhism which is originated from the Ten Tai sect (as Nichiren's teacher was Ten Tai so all of this teachings are influenced from that sect). Vietnamese Zen also has it. I took precepts at the Vietnamese temple near me. During the Uposatha day, on the full moon respectively, we have a whole day devoted to our ancestors and loved ones.

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[The Buddha says to his monks], when he opens his mouth to expound or when he reads the sutra, he should not delight in speaking of the faults of other people or scriptures. He should not display contempt for other teachers of the Law or speak of the good or bad, the strong or weak points of others. -Saddharma Puṇḍarīka Sūtra
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Motova
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Re: Ancestor worship from a Mahayana POV

Post by Motova » Tue Jan 30, 2018 2:40 am

I've seen my former Vietnamese land lord offer rice and fruit to pictures of her ancestors. She also donated some thangkas to a temple and dedicated the merits to them to be reborn in Buddha Amitabha's Pureland.

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Mantrik
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Re: Ancestor worship from a Mahayana POV

Post by Mantrik » Tue Jan 30, 2018 9:54 am

Rather than a long list, to which I would add Nepal, I wonder:

Where indigenous practice includes ancestor worship, has Buddhism incorporated it or simply worked alongside it? It seems to me to be the latter, where celebration of festivals etc. is simply accepted and not shunned. Is there anywhere this has not happened, and Buddhists have been isolationist? If not, we can take it that in all countries, they work alongside it and maybe even take part in the festivals etc.

Although in recent times we have seen terrible acts of suppression by Buddhists, for the most part there seems to be synergy but not symbiosis.

Ancestor worship can take different forms. Worship of and interaction with biological ancestor spirits is one, worship of dead Saints and Masters is another. In the case of Tibetans, Lamas may certainly revere past family members who were also Lamas, so maybe it is not that far removed from ancestor worship, but that is Vajrayana.
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Sentient Light
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Re: Ancestor worship from a Mahayana POV

Post by Sentient Light » Tue Jan 30, 2018 4:31 pm

The Ksitigarbha Sutra explains a lot of this.

We give offerings to our ancestors, but the merit of these offerings is mostly our own merit. The merit received by the recipients of the offerings is only said to be "one seventh" of the merit offered. So the practice of offering is primarily about practicing mindfulness of death, of cultivating generosity, and of cultivating compassion within one's own mind.

The ancestors have largely gone on to new births, but it doesn't so much matter, because the practices are more about us than it is about them. And when we do ancestor worship rituals, we often are inviting other wandering ghosts and spirits to partake in the feast as well. But since many of us are Pure Landers, we do believe that many of our ancestors are studying as bodhisattvas in Sukhavati, so our offerings can reach them and the merit of these offerings can adorn the Pure Land with dharma artifacts to expedite their study of the bodhisattva way for the sake of all sentient beings.
:buddha1: Nam mô A di đà Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Quan Thế Âm Bồ tát :bow:
:bow: Nam mô Đại Thế Chi Bồ Tát :bow:

:buddha1: Nam mô Bổn sư Thích ca mâu ni Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Di lặc Bồ tát :bow:
:bow: Nam mô Địa tạng vương Bồ tát :bow:

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Malcolm
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Re: Ancestor worship from a Mahayana POV

Post by Malcolm » Tue Jan 30, 2018 6:37 pm

Varis wrote:
Sat Jan 27, 2018 7:05 pm
How is ancestor worship/placation viewed from the perspective of Mahayana?
What would be the point? All of our ancestors have long since taken rebirth.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Re: Ancestor worship from a Mahayana POV

Post by SunWuKong » Tue Jan 30, 2018 10:21 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Tue Jan 30, 2018 6:37 pm
Varis wrote:
Sat Jan 27, 2018 7:05 pm
How is ancestor worship/placation viewed from the perspective of Mahayana?
What would be the point? All of our ancestors have long since taken rebirth.
More likely that it's Confucian, and there is plenty of overlap in populations into Taoism, Mahayana, and Confucianism.
"We are magical animals that roam" ~ Roam

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Malcolm
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Re: Ancestor worship from a Mahayana POV

Post by Malcolm » Tue Jan 30, 2018 11:29 pm

SunWuKong wrote:
Tue Jan 30, 2018 10:21 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Tue Jan 30, 2018 6:37 pm
Varis wrote:
Sat Jan 27, 2018 7:05 pm
How is ancestor worship/placation viewed from the perspective of Mahayana?
What would be the point? All of our ancestors have long since taken rebirth.
More likely that it's Confucian, and there is plenty of overlap in populations into Taoism, Mahayana, and Confucianism.
In China, but not in India, Tibet, and so on.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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liuzg150181
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Re: Ancestor worship from a Mahayana POV

Post by liuzg150181 » Wed Jan 31, 2018 3:48 am

Malcolm wrote:
Tue Jan 30, 2018 11:29 pm
SunWuKong wrote:
Tue Jan 30, 2018 10:21 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Tue Jan 30, 2018 6:37 pm


What would be the point? All of our ancestors have long since taken rebirth.
More likely that it's Confucian, and there is plenty of overlap in populations into Taoism, Mahayana, and Confucianism.
In China, but not in India, Tibet, and so on.
More Chinese than China, in Singapore where I am from, more traditional Singaporean Chinese would place the ash urn of the deceased in monasteries and 'pray' to them in the monasteries,esp during certain festival such as QingMing and 'Ghost Festival':
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qingming_Festival
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost_Festival

Many Chinese also doesnt know the difference btw Chinese folk belief,Taoism and Buddhism.

PS: After becoming a Buddhist,my mindset of such rituals changes to that of rememberance.

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Re: Ancestor worship from a Mahayana POV

Post by Seishin » Wed Jan 31, 2018 12:06 pm

Similar activities are done in Sri Lanka and Thailand.

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Re: Ancestor worship from a Mahayana POV

Post by Admin_PC » Sun Feb 04, 2018 1:42 am

Pali Sutas have a few references to making offerings to ancestors, even if only the hungry ghosts can collect.
月影の いたらぬ里は なけれども 眺むる人の 心にぞすむ
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Malcolm
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Re: Ancestor worship from a Mahayana POV

Post by Malcolm » Sun Feb 04, 2018 4:59 am

Admin_PC wrote:
Sun Feb 04, 2018 1:42 am
Pali Sutas have a few references to making offerings to ancestors, even if only the hungry ghosts can collect.
There are references to ancestral offerings, but they refer to mundane rites belonging to a group, in so far as they do not involve killing.

I’ve never noticed offerings to ancestors mentioned.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Re: Ancestor worship from a Mahayana POV

Post by Admin_PC » Mon Feb 05, 2018 3:09 pm

To be clear, I was talking about references like:
Tirokudda Kanda: Hungry Shades Outside the Walls (from the Petavatthu of the Khuddaka Nikaya) - offerings benefit dead relatives.
Janussonin Sutta: To Janussonin (from the Anguttara Nikaya) - which dead relatives can receive offerings.
Sigalovada Sutta: The Discourse to Sigala (from the Digha Nikaya) - offering alms on behalf of dead relatives.

Since the OP is about Mahayana, the obvious sutra references are:
The Ksitigarbha Sutra
The Ullambana Sutra
Fascicle 40 of the Avatamsaka
月影の いたらぬ里は なけれども 眺むる人の 心にぞすむ
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Malcolm
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Re: Ancestor worship from a Mahayana POV

Post by Malcolm » Mon Feb 05, 2018 4:07 pm

Admin_PC wrote:
Mon Feb 05, 2018 3:09 pm
To be clear, I was talking about references like:
Tirokudda Kanda: Hungry Shades Outside the Walls (from the Petavatthu of the Khuddaka Nikaya) - offerings benefit dead relatives.
Janussonin Sutta: To Janussonin (from the Anguttara Nikaya) - which dead relatives can receive offerings.
Sigalovada Sutta: The Discourse to Sigala (from the Digha Nikaya) - offering alms on behalf of dead relatives.

Since the OP is about Mahayana, the obvious sutra references are:
The Ksitigarbha Sutra
The Ullambana Sutra
Fascicle 40 of the Avatamsaka
That is quite a bit different than making offerings to ancestors. For example, it includes one's deceased children, deceased siblings, and so on. No doubt one can try to relieve the suffering of one's deceased relatives by making offerings of sur while they are in the bardo. But such people do not even need to be related to you as well.

As Merriam-Webster defines the term:
Definition of ancestor worship: the custom of venerating deceased ancestors who are considered still a part of the family and whose spirits are believed to have the power to intervene in the affairs of the living.
There are remnants of this in Tibetan culture in the form of rgyal po spirits -- almost every Tibetan family has something like this. But it is not part of Buddhadharma, it is a hangover from pre-buddhist Tibetan folk religion, and I suspect that it is the same in China, and Japan. In Shinto, there is definitely an idea of ancestor veneration in the form of the Kami.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Re: Ancestor worship from a Mahayana POV

Post by Admin_PC » Mon Feb 05, 2018 5:33 pm

Ah, I can see where I caused some confusion. I did not mean to imply that ancestor worship was Buddhist, merely that there were references to practices of making offerings for the benefit of deceased family members.
月影の いたらぬ里は なけれども 眺むる人の 心にぞすむ
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Varis
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Re: Ancestor worship from a Mahayana POV

Post by Varis » Sat Feb 17, 2018 2:20 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Tue Jan 30, 2018 6:37 pm

What would be the point? All of our ancestors have long since taken rebirth.
This is actually why I asked. I wanted to know how Mahayana and Vajrayana practitioners who perform these practices in Japan, Tibet, etc. rationalize worshiping their ancestors with the view of rebirth. It seems difficult for me to imagine that they have no reasoning for continuing these practices other than cultural mores, considering when you look at other practices adopted from non-Buddhists, like sang, they're always rationalized/reformatted within a Buddhist context.

I bet the Bonpo would have interesting answer.

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Re: Ancestor worship from a Mahayana POV

Post by Varis » Sat Feb 17, 2018 2:32 pm

Mantrik wrote:
Tue Jan 30, 2018 9:54 am
Rather than a long list, to which I would add Nepal, I wonder:

Where indigenous practice includes ancestor worship, has Buddhism incorporated it or simply worked alongside it? It seems to me to be the latter, where celebration of festivals etc. is simply accepted and not shunned. Is there anywhere this has not happened, and Buddhists have been isolationist? If not, we can take it that in all countries, they work alongside it and maybe even take part in the festivals etc.
Have you heard of the stories of Guru Rinpoche apparently protecting the Bonpo in Nepal/Northern India? According to those myths, Guru Rinpoche and a Bonpo came to an agreement where the Bonpo would deal with healing, etc. and the lamas would deal with things pertaining to Buddhism. As a result the lamas in these areas leave the Bonpos to do their thing working with spirits, healing, etc. and vice-versa.

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Re: Ancestor worship from a Mahayana POV

Post by Mantrik » Sat Feb 17, 2018 2:46 pm

Varis wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 2:32 pm
Mantrik wrote:
Tue Jan 30, 2018 9:54 am
Rather than a long list, to which I would add Nepal, I wonder:

Where indigenous practice includes ancestor worship, has Buddhism incorporated it or simply worked alongside it? It seems to me to be the latter, where celebration of festivals etc. is simply accepted and not shunned. Is there anywhere this has not happened, and Buddhists have been isolationist? If not, we can take it that in all countries, they work alongside it and maybe even take part in the festivals etc.
Have you heard of the stories of Guru Rinpoche apparently protecting the Bonpo in Nepal/Northern India? According to those myths, Guru Rinpoche and a Bonpo came to an agreement where the Bonpo would deal with healing, etc. and the lamas would deal with things pertaining to Buddhism. As a result the lamas in these areas leave the Bonpos to do their thing working with spirits, healing, etc. and vice-versa.
I hadn't heard that, no. :)
Doesn't seem to be in keeping with taming spirits as Dharmapalas or the really extensive parallels between the two paths.
http://www.khyung.com

Om Thathpurushaya Vidhmahe
Suvarna Pakshaya Dheemahe
Thanno Garuda Prachodayath

Micchāmi Dukkaḍaṃ (मिच्छामि दुक्कडम्)

Varis
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Re: Ancestor worship from a Mahayana POV

Post by Varis » Sat Feb 17, 2018 3:27 pm

Mantrik wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 2:46 pm
I hadn't heard that, no. :)
Doesn't seem to be in keeping with taming spirits as Dharmapalas or the really extensive parallels between the two paths.
https://books.google.com/books?id=gzIPS ... he&f=false

Here's a link that describes multiple version of the stories, in some versions Guru Rinpoche is viewed as the first true shaman.

I doubt the lamas care about what those shamans are doing. As far as I'm aware there is no animosity or tension like there might be with Tibetan lamas.

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