February 24, 2019 at 4:33 am #22062
“It is a common belief amongst the Buddhist public that such deities can be influenced to grant their favours by transferring merits to them whenever meritorious deeds are performed. This belief is based on the Buddha’s injunction to the deities to protect those human beings who lead a religious way of life. This is the reason why Buddhists transfer the merits to such deities or remember them whenever they do some meritorious deeds. However, making of offerings to and worshipping such deities are not encouraged, although some Buddhist customs center around such activities”.
Can I have your opinion on the above,thank you very much.
Didn’t the Buddha said that it was “OK” to make offers to the Devas?
February 24, 2019 at 5:44 am #22063
My understanding is this (and I find myself contemplating the devas and their conditions of existence frequently):
Reading what preceded and what followed the section you quote, the basic facts are there. DEVAS CANNOT UNDO OR ALTER THE KAMMA VIPAKA OF HUMANS. They may ‘intervene’ only to provide some temporary relief, or in some cases, (unknown to us) with advice in indirect ways or to protect in dangerous circumstances, having seen that with the divine eye. Now we do not know whether a particular deva is one with magga phala. Many, if not most,are not. They are just in the same predicament that we are in; actually, in a more disadvantageous one.
Whatever ‘favours’ a deva grants cannot be a refuge, cannot be IN ITSELF a solution in any definite or permanent way. It may be of assistance ‘on the way’ but the Refuge is always the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha:
Kamma vipaka will work itself out in the appropriate conditions when they arise, be it here now in the human or later in other realms. No deva (or brahma or the Buddha Himself) can come in the way of that.
So devas cannot act as ‘intermediaries’ between kamma and kamma vipaka. Vipaka will depend on kamma, and kamma is done or left undone by us alone. This is the main point.
February 24, 2019 at 6:50 am #22070
Yes. The description of y not is right.
Just as people with same gati (gathi) tend to associate with each other, many unseen beings tend to be attracted to people with similar gati; see, “The Law of Attraction, Habits, Character (Gati), and Cravings (Asavas)“.
So, devas and even brahmas may “help out” or at least give their blessings to those humans with high moral standards like theirs.
On the other hand, beings from lower realms (with bad intentions) tend to be attracted to humans with similar “bad gati”. They may influence those with “weak minds” to do immoral things. So, there could be truth to some stories where people claim that they heard voices asking them to kill certain people.
Of course, there are some devas in higher realms, like the Mara Devaputta, who may harass those humans who are making an effort to attain Nibbana.
– Mara would not encourage people to do bad, immoral things. He just wants people to to moral deeds and to become a deva like him.
– Mara does not understand that his life as a deva of a higher realm will end one day, and thus he may be born in an apaya in the future.
In any case, it ALWAYS good to give merits to ALL BEINGS.
However, “worshipping devas or brahmas” is not in Buddha Dhamma.
February 24, 2019 at 8:00 am #22071ChristianParticipant
There is an esoteric way to influence devas and different beings into action to do something but Buddha already explained it was not the right way to do so in his suttas about wrong livelihood. Most are superstitious and made up but some practices are real based on my experience but I do not know about their consequences in the future. I think we can bypass to some extent kamma of this life and influence things the way we want if we know how but compared to the whole sansara it’s still nothing. I would compare it to the smartphone, we can use certain ways nature and supernatural moves but it’s still mundane stuff that will not lead to Nibbana. Imagine that you can magically create some wealth or bring something to yourself – your mind would be very “hyped” up and you would develop lustful, hateful thoughts, you would smash your enemies etc. which is only fuel to ignorance.
February 24, 2019 at 2:47 pm #22072
Excellent,all that is needed is in your answers.
I have only one more doubt; @Lal: “Mara would not encourage people to do bad, immoral things. He just wants people to to moral deeds and to become a deva like him.” But isn’t Mara the deva whose “specialty” consists in arising great lust in people ?
Thanks once more.
February 24, 2019 at 4:28 pm #22073
February 25, 2019 at 3:31 pm #22104
@Siebe thanks for the info on the Sutta
February 24, 2019 at 4:46 pm #22074
Is there a relationship between Mara and death? If he is a Deva what is his role and why was he born in that realm? I always misunderstood Mara as ” thought of death” in one’s mind.
February 24, 2019 at 5:44 pm #22079
Yeos wrote: “” But isn’t Mara the deva whose “specialty” consists in arising great lust in people ?”
Mahendran wrote: “Is there a relationship between Mara and death? If he is a Deva what is his role and why was he born in that realm? I always misunderstood Mara as ” thought of death” in one’s mind.”
Yes. Both perceptions are out there. The first one more accurate than the second. The second is also accurate in a deeper sense as I discuss below.
As I mentioned above, Mara Devaputta is in the highest deva realm. He has anything that he desires, and he of course enjoys all those sense pleasures. He cannot understand why people want to attain Nibbana. His mindset is that if one attains Nibbana, one will have to give up all such pleasures.
– So, he tries to entice people to indulge in sense pleasures.
– Of course he does not understand that all such “pleasures” will come to an end, and once one is born in an apaya, it is very hard to get out.
But the perception that Mara Devaputta is DIRECTLY associated with death and suffering is not correct, at least in the mundane sense. He is not trying cause direct physical harm to people, or trying to get people to commit murders, as some beings do.
However, in the lokottara sense, Mara can be associated with death, since if one follows him, one will never be able to be free from the cycle of birth and death (or the rebirth process), where one is subjected to much more suffering than any periods of pleasures like when born in such deva realms.
– So, “death” in the lokottara sense is associated with not being able to attain Nibbana.
– Since Mara is trying to prevent people from attaining Nibbana, he can be called an “agent of death”, as the Buddha himself stated. One will never be free from death, if one falls under Mara’s influence.
It is possible that the references Siebe has given may have some of these descriptions.
February 25, 2019 at 9:06 am #22098
Thank you Lal for the explanation, I always thought it’s a metaphor, because I remember learning in Daham paasala on Sundays, that Mara’s three daughters Thanha Rathi Raga came and danced to distract Gautama from attaining enlightenment. As I understood later that the three women were the metaphors for Raga, dwesha, moha, I understood Mara too as death. That’s the confusion.
Now the other question that comes to my mind is that how can Mara and other Devas have influence on us? Is it some kind of Devine power? Is it like the belief system of Hinduism where they have so many Gods to whom they worship asking for favours, and offering things with transferring merits? Is it the same Brahma and Deva realms Hinduism refer to as well?
February 25, 2019 at 3:27 pm #22103
@Lal said : “One will never be free from death”…Neither from life ?
February 25, 2019 at 4:27 pm #22105
Mahendran wrote: “Now the other question that comes to my mind is that how can Mara and other Devas have influence on us? Is it some kind of Devine power? Is it like the belief system of Hinduism where they have so many Gods to whom they worship asking for favours, and offering things with transferring merits? Is it the same Brahma and Deva realms Hinduism refer to as well?”
This “having infleunce” should NOT be looked at as “having power over a human”.
It is more like “being able to persuade”. If you read the thread from the beginning, this is what I have emphasized.
For example, when a given person has a weakness for drinking, it is easy to entice him to “have a drink”. When a person has “rough character qualities”, it is easy to get to him to participate in beating a another person, etc.
“Good” Devas and brahmas are attracted to people with moral character.
“Bad” beings of any kind are attracted to people with bad moral character, AND they can make them do more bad things.
– So, not only devas/brahama, but humans also can influence other humans. This is how kids join gangs or become drug addicts, for example. If the parents instill good character qualities in them and teach them morals, they will not be able to be influenced like that.
Yeos wrote” “One will never be free from death”…Neither from life ?”
To be free from death in this world is to be free from birth, because any birth in this world of 31 realms leads to death without exception.
February 25, 2019 at 5:52 pm #22107
Thanks Lal, my confusion is due to the fact that I am under the impression that all the Devas are good. In Devathanussathi bhavana, as I have read and listened, it is said that bhavanayogis need to think of the five characteristics of the Devas, ( sadhdha , sila, shrutha, thyaaga and pragngna) and develop them within themselves. It is because they possess a higher level of those qualities than humans and that is also the reason for them to be in that realm having left human form. So if Mara likes to entice people for pleasures and also doesn’t know about the consequences of such pleasures, does he lack some of those five qualities?
February 25, 2019 at 6:27 pm #22108
@ Mahendran: I can comment on that only if I can read/hear about that reasoning. If you can publish a link, I can take a look at it.
February 26, 2019 at 7:11 am #22122
February 26, 2019 at 10:30 am #22123
Thanks sybe, I cannot open that link. I am not that advanced in dhamma to follow the references, what do they say?
February 26, 2019 at 1:50 pm #22125
an example from SN4.18: …”Now at that time Māra had possessed the brahmins and householders of Pañcasālā, so that they thought: “Don’t let the ascetic Gotama get any alms!”
apparantly Mara can influence thought processes of beings.
February 26, 2019 at 4:02 pm #22126
Hi Sybe, this is what I can’t understand, if Devas as we have heard are celestial beings with good intentions, how can they entice people to bad things.
February 26, 2019 at 6:27 pm #22127AkvanParticipant
I am not really sure how this works and the technicalities of it but if we look at it in the following manner it makes a bit more sense.
Humans are above animals in their good deeds and intentions, but not all humans are of good nature. They got to being a human because of a good kamma but how they react will differ from person to person. So this could be the same for Devas as well.
Again even a human who is predominantly good can do harm to others sometimes. Someone can look at person A and say he such a good human being, he does so many good deeds and so on. But in some instances that same person A might do harm to others for some reason. Another example is that some people give arms to beggars but not to monks or vice versa. I guess things like this could also happen with Devas.
So generally we can say that devas are beings with good morals and intentions, but there can be instances where this does not hold.
February 27, 2019 at 1:13 am #22129
Just the fun of it.
Remember they are not perfected in wisdom, far from it. They got that deva birth through one or other good deed, mostly generosity. It is like a good-natured and generally well-behaved graduate with higher education teasing or taunting a colleaugue because he has nothing better to do. Still a schoolboy at heart.
Most of them are not on the Path. They have no idea that their stay there will end, even unexpectedly,so they are given to such nonsense at times. There is a sutta where a certain deva was enjoying himself with one thousand ‘dove-footed nymphs’. Suddenly 500 of them disappeared there and then. He went looking for them with his deva eye and saw they had appeared in an apaya – one the hells, if I remember correctly.
For the rest, I am with what Akvan says.
February 27, 2019 at 5:41 am #22130
I have once done some exploratory research on Mara in the sutta’s. Maybe i have overlooked but i have not seen in the sutta’s that Mara lives in a certain realm, but i know this is the doctrine. Does anyone has a sutta reference?
February 27, 2019 at 6:00 am #22131
Mahendran sent me a desana and a writeup on Devanussati. Since both are in Sinhala, no point in providing the links.
– However, Devanussati does not involve encouraging people to seek births in deva realms.
– However, one must do deeds while cultivating Noble Path, in order to purify the mind and such punna kamma do lead to births in human and higher realms.
Mahendran wrote:” my confusion is due to the fact that I am under the impression that all the Devas are good. ”
I have provided evidence that all devas are not good: “What Does Buddha Dhamma Say about Creator, Satan, Angels, and Demons?”
– Mara Devaputta is in the highest deva realm, yet he tried to put obstacles in the way for the Buddha, because he did not want people to attain Nibbana.
Mahendran wrote: ” it is said that bhavana yogis need to think of the five characteristics of the Devas, ( sadhdha , sila, shrutha, thyaaga and pragngna)..”
That is the root cause of the problem. While some devas have them (especially those with magga phala), not all devas have them. But of course, they received that good birth due to at least some of those qualities in a PREVIOUS life; see below.
– If Mara Devaputta had pragngna (the correct Pali word is panna, meaning wisdom about the true nature of this world), then he would not have tried to block people from practicing Buddha Dhamma.
– Some Bhikkhus in Sri Lanka try to highlight the benefits in births in deva worlds. That is exactly what Mara Devaputta tries to do too.
– While it is good to realize that deva births are good births due to good deeds, one must realize the futility of getting deva births in the long run. Most devas indulge in sense pleasures and are reborn as animals (many of the beautiful birds had deva births in the previous life).
The key point to understand is that devas are another type of living beings, with more sense pleasures than humans. They get that birth mainly due to dana and sila (giving and moral living).
- There is nothing wrong with giving merits or even making offerings to devas.
- But one should NOT seek REFUGE in any living being, other than Sangha (By the way, bhikkhus do not necessarily belong to Sangha. Only Noble Persons belong to Sangha and some bhikkus are Noble Persons; of course, one should ALWAYS pay respects to bhikkhus because they do represent the Buddha Sasana).
- One should take refuge only in the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha.
Mahendran wrote: “So if Mara likes to entice people for pleasures and also doesn’t know about the consequences of such pleasures, does he lack some of those five qualities?”
Of course. The birth as Mara Devaputta was due to good kamma. But Mara himself has bad qualities.
– It is no different from some humans have very bad qualities, i.e., they kill, steal, etc. They also have relatively good births due to PAST ACTIONS.
One’s current birth is due to past kamma.
– If one is now engaged in bad kamma, one will get bad births in the future. If one is engaged in good kamma, one will get good births in the future. That is what we all have been doing for an infinite time.
– The problem is that most of those births are bad (in the apayas), because living beings, by nature, tend to do bad things to get sense pleasures.
February 27, 2019 at 6:04 am #22132
Hi Akan, Ynot and Siebe,
Thank you for all your explanations, I appreciate all what you say, but what I can’t understand is that if Devas have such mild imperfections, why should we refer to them and say may I be able to develop the characteristics of Devas as ” stated in Devathanussathi bhavana?
Could it be another area of contradictions that would have happened during the time of translation of the original work? Or, have I read / interpreted something incorrectly?
February 27, 2019 at 7:33 am #22136
Thank you Mahendran,
I am finding difficulty understanding how it is still not clear to you, especially after Lal’s comprehensive explanation.
“why should we refer to them and say may I be able to develop the characteristics of Devas ”
I will try to re-phrase, perhaps it will help.
The qualities of the devas, or those that they had developed, mainly dana and sila, are IN THEMSELVES worthy to pursue, to develop and to ingrain into one’s gati. For one thing,they lead to good births. For another, IN TIME, to Nibbana. They constitute ‘the basics’. But just because one practices those deva qualities does not make one or any deva in any way ‘holy’ on that account. Other necessary qualities are to a large extent still absent in them, mostly wisdom (panna). That is why at times they relapse into unwholesome acts with humans.
For that reason they are not worthy of worship or adoration of any kind; and that goes too for devas WITH magga phala – what to say of those without. And that is also why one should not place too much importance on these ‘contacts’ with devas; anything that comes of such ‘contacts’, is,for better or for worse, at best temporary and to limited effect.
Better the few words of an Ariya here in the human realm, even of One with lower magga phala, understood, accepted and acted upon ; that leads in time to the cessation of all suffering, to happiness, to Nibbana, beyond the realms of devas and of brahmas. And you are here now in such a position. You have earned that right. I urge you to make the most of it.
If still it remains not clear to you, I will try again, although I cannot see now how I can go any further. Others may.
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