Ritualrefers to a system of language that seeks to express many scopes ofour mortal condition, including our interactions with others and toour transcendent life. The influence of the rituals reveals when youengross in them wholly, with your whole heart and mind. Sacrednarratives, on the other hand, refer to stories explaining how theworld and human being changed into their current form. Buddhismintegrates a range of practices and rituals, which are envisioned toassist in journeying to enlightenment and bring benedictions to oneand others. Rituals are meant to create a community and mutualsupport (Kalupahana 12).
Thereis no special ceremony required for one to become a Buddhist. One isonly held to the earnest repetition of the consecrated formula, thefive precepts and the three refuges. However, to become a Bhikkhu(Buddhist monk), there is an extensive process of disciplinaryteaching and education. Preceding an initiation, responding to thequestions from the senior monks and shaving off all hair is amandatory (Kalupahana 132).If the responses are satisfactory, and nobody objects, one isadmitted to the Sanghaand his sacred training commences.
Buddhismas a religion advocates the view that all humans have the Buddhanature, or the prospective to achieve enlightenment, within them. Ithas several rituals accustomed to their practice. They includemeditation, mantras, mudras, prayer wheels, offering homage toBuddha, confession of faults, dedication of merit, rites of passagesuch as funerals and weddings, blessings and ordinations. Thepractice of meditation is central to Buddhism. It involves a state ofmental focus and mindfulness that results in spiritual freedom andenlightenment. Buddhist meditation exists in two types Samantha(tranquility) and vipassan(insight). Tranquility meditation ritual aims at stilling the mindand training it to concentrate (Faure 27).The practice starts offwith a detachment from the external world and a consciousness oftranquility and joy.
Concentrationsets in immediately and encompasses suppression of investigation andreasoning. Thirdly, there is the passing of joy and lastly passingaway of tranquility. The purpose of insight meditation, on the otherhand, is the realization of significant truths. Precisely, one whoperforms vipassana expects to comprehend the realities ofimpermanence, anguish and "no-self." (Faure 87).
Buddhismreligion is accustomed to mantras. Mantras refer to sacred soundsbelieved to possess mystical powers. TibetanBuddhism practicemantras and they are believed to embody the attributes and power ofparticular divinities. As well providing supernatural powers andinvoking deities, mantras are for protection from misfortune andevil. They are recited during large communal rituals to avert dangerand to guard individuals against sickness or other bad luck. Forinstance, every summer in Japan, youngsters sit in a circle andcirculate a rosary to appeal to the fortification of the bodhisattvaKshitigarbha, protector of children. Buddhist mudras are anothertype of ritual among the Buddhists (Harvey 36). It refers to sacredhand gestures or symbolic gestures used to evoke particular ideas orBuddha’s in the mind. Similar to symbols exhibited by saints inChristian art or Hindu art, Buddhist mudras designate thedistinctiveness of a Buddha or a specific scene being portrayed. InTibetan Buddhism, mudras are used to generate powers thatinvoke a certain Buddha or deity. In Buddha images, there are anumber of obscure mudras, five of which frequently depicted. Theseinclude the gestures of earth witness, wheel-turning, fearlessness,meditation, and gift-giving. The wheel of life symbolizes thecycle of life and rebirth. Thelotus flowersignifies pureness and godlike birth. The diverse color lotus flowershave explicit meanings: for instance, the red lotus implies thepotentials of the heart (Kalupahana 14).
Goingfor refuge is probably the most important ritual practiced byBuddhism followers. It is the oldest and most shared ritual allthrough the Buddhist traditions. The Buddha depicts a refuge sincehis illustration and teaching signify real and reliable answersto our worries in the face of life. They aid free us from affectionto false refuges we look to for pleasure and refuge, but which areeventually inept of providing them (Lewis 203).
Buddhismalso practices certain rites of passage. It instills the teachings ofrebirth a related teaching to reincarnation, and the conviction thateverybody is predisposed to influence by past karma. In selectedBuddhist countries, sometimes boys aged between 8 and 20, join amonastery for a short period. They are treated as greenhorns andassist run the monastery. Marriage ritual is solely theresponsibility of the parents of the couple. Thereis no sacredwedding formality in the monastery instead a modest ceremony isarranged in the home. The couple exchange vows and usually gives eachother rings (Lewis 23).
DeceasedBuddhists may be cremated or buried. At the burial place, the threerefuges and the five precepts are recited by monks. The relativescomplete the emblematic actions of giving the white fabric whichcovers the coffin to the monks. The mourners dispense water into amug till it overflows, signifying the transference of worth to thedeceased. The monks recite appropriate verses and give a sermon onlife and death.
Inmost monotheistic faiths, the Koran, Bible and other holy books areseen as the revelation of the truth of God. Buddhist holy texts, onthe other hand, are considered as guides on the pathway to truth.That said, there exist numerous sacred scripts in Buddhism, but notall scripts are recognized by all schools. Some of the sacrednarratives include the Buddha’s raft parable, the golden mallard,the golden deer, the jataka tale of the selfless hare, and theabhidharma.(Harvey 36).
Thelife story of Gautama Siddhartha is themost renowned of thesacred narratives. The story goes that he became the Buddha. Lots ofthe lessons of Buddhism are understood within the story of his life.Paintings and carvings of extracts from his life story are oftenplaced around temples. Equally acknowledged in the Buddhist realm arethe Jataka tales, which voice of the Buddha`s former lives. In thistale, the Buddha is exhibited as a selfless hare that outshines allof his associates in the perfection of generosity (Harvey 65).
Thegolden mallard story narrates about a young man who died while hischildren were still young. The man was reborn in the form of amallard with feathers of fine gold. He came to the realization thathis former family was living in abject poverty. He was touched anddecided to intervene. He visited the mother and his three childrenand introduced himself as their father. He decided to pluck one ofhis golden feathers every time he visited. (Harvey 78). The motherworried uncertain about the future, decided to pluck all the featherswhich unfortunately turned to normal feathers. The moral lesson fromthis narrative is that one should be contended with what he or shehas.
Inthe raft parable narrative, the Buddha compares his philosophy to araft that can be left once you’ve reached the other shoreline. Thebasic story involves a man travelling and unfortunately reached acoastline without any signs of transport across the ocean. The shorewas marred with lots of insecurity and discomfort whereas the otherbeach looked safe and fascinating. With great determination hecollected grass and twigs and secured them all together to create asimple raft. Trusting on the raft to retain him afloat, the man rowedwith his hands and reached the other shore (Lewis 45).
Thepower in Buddhism is in giving yourself to it. Undoubtedly there isfurther to Buddhism than ritual. But rituals are both teaching andtraining. They are lifetime practice, and learning to be present andopen in ritual is practicing to be completely present and open inyour life. And that`s where you discover the focus of Buddhism (Faure123).
Allfaiths offer a sacred or mythological narrative so that normal peoplecan comprehend that which is inconceivable. For instance, there aretales of crucifixions, virgin births, visits by angels, andresurrections. A number may dismiss legend as fabricated or just nicelittle tales but in actuality, legends serves as the channel by whichour internal deep intuitive mind relates with our external mindfulmind and world (Faure263).Mythologies manifest themselves in an illusory manner, coming fromour insight physiques, whose origin is the foundation of our livingbeing, the spring of life.
Faure,Bernard. ChanBuddhism in ritual context.London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003.
Kalupahana,David J. BuddhistThought and Ritual.Delhi: MotilalBanarsidass, 2001.
Harvey,Peter. Buddhism.London: Continuum, 2001.
Lewis,Todd T. PopularBuddhist Texts from Nepal: Narratives and Rituals of NewarBuddishm.Albany: State Univ. of New York Press, 2000.