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Sentient Beings' Pray Vs. Bodhisattva's Prayer
편집장  2017-01-19 07:38:31, 조회 : 3,960, 추천 : 1472
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Last year, Hyeon Gak Sunim, an American Buddhist monk who practiced in Korea for 25 years, mentioned that Korean Buddhism  is very much oriented to earthly benefit. His remark was considered very brave he touched an important and sensitive aspect of Korean Buddhism. It generated lots of heated debate for a while. As a Buddhist taught in Korean tradition, I sincerely appreciate Ven. Hyeon Gak offered me a chance to re-think about one of our own religious practices.

In routine daily life, Koreans are not very attached to religion. However, there are times when they suddenly become very religious. A good example is when when their children apply to colleges. All at once, a lot of parents go to temples, churches and even to fortune tellers. However, once the college application season is over, the praying stops.

This pattern repeats itself whenever people are faced with other life obstacles: passing an exam, getting a promotion, succeeding in  business, finding a good spouse, and so on. Some people pray for a cure for family members. Some people even carry the wish list  like a talisman.

However, nobody, even God or Boddhisatva, can make such wishes come true. This is because it is impossible to respond to two conflicting prayers. For example, if one prays for one’s business success, does that mean the rival company should go out of business? If two soccer teams pray to win to the same Supreme Being, will he be in a dilemma? If the Supreme Being responds to one of the two teams, on earth this is considered third party intervention in the game, which means a foul play. Is the Supreme Being a foul player?

According to the Han Feizi (韓非子) written by Han Fei( ? ~ BC 230) an ancient Chinese political philosopher, there is an interesting story about a mortician and a horse-carriage seller. These two men came to a shrine and prayed. The mortician prayed for people to die early, while the horse-carriage seller prayed for people to become rich. Does the mortician have an evil nature and the horse-carriage seller a good nature? Han Fei said that the mortician could have good business if people died early, and the horse-carriage seller could sell more if people became rich enough to afford them. Therefore, they prayed for such things not because of their nature but because of their belief that their prayers would directly relate to their profit-making endeavor and personal benefit.

As the story suggests, the purpose of praying among many people is for earthly benefit and happiness. It may seem very natural that people pray to pursue their happiness. However, the problem is that the purpose of many such prayers lies in the fundamental desire for personal gain which stems from greed. This in itself contradicts the rule of cause and effect and Buddha's teachings.

All things in the universe follow inter-dependent arising. You reap what you sow. If you rely on prayer without effort, it is like wanting to harvest fruits without planting seeds. Call it greed, but this is basic laziness (a symptom of our modern era). A prayer based on laziness with greedy intent cannot be fulfilled according to the cause and effect rule.

A prayer can be realized when done with sincere intent and effort. Mindful intent is a cause, and with sincere effort to provide conditions, becomes a true prayer. Then, we must question the purpose of our prayer (earthly benefit or spiritual enlightenment).

In the beginning, many people turn to Buddhism for their happiness in this life and the next life. This is because we are just sentient beings. However, after studying Buddha’s teachings, we no longer want to remain as sentient beings. The ultimate goal of Buddhism is not to pursue personal gain but to learn Buddha's teachings and put them into practice and help others. That is why we have to redirect our earthly benefit type of Buddhism into practice oriented Buddhism, elevating ourselves from a selfish lifestyle to an altruistic religious lifestyle.

Devoting ourselves to Buddha and Dharma means following through with Bodhisatva's prayer and Buddha's prayer.


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2019-07-21
14:21:19


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