In all schools of Buddhism, worship, whether on your own or inside a temple is considered a vital part of every day life. Inside a Buddhist temple, different kinds of worship and ceremonies take place. Mahayana worship tends not to be congregational, although there are opportunities to get together in shared activities. Offerings are made at the shrine as a mark of respect to the Buddha. Usually, seven different types of offerings are made at the shrine – two bowls of water, essential for drinking and washing, symbolise hospitality. Other offerings are white flowers, incense, lamps, perfume and food.
These represent the five senses. Occasionally, all seven bowls will contain water and be symbolic of the seven offerings. In Theravada Buddhism worship may take place either at home or in the temple. No lay believer is obliged to visit a temple, although most of them do. Most lay believers will have their won shrines at home. The bhikkus worship in the shrine and meditation rooms of the vihara, usually once in the morning and once in the evening. Lay believers attend whenever they can, preferably once a day in Theravadin countries. There is no special time for attendance as such.
The Theravadin philosophy is that each individual has to work out his or her salvation on their own, meaning most of the worship inside the temple will be individual, not congregational. The bhikkus are there to give guidance and clarify the Dharma, but that is all. Offerings are also very important. Lay believers offer flowers, incense, candles and food before an image of the Buddha. They chant the three refuges and five precepts as an additional offering. Worship in a Tibetan shrine is rich in colour and sound. Horns may be blown, there may be the chanting of mantras over and over again. The robes are richly coloured.
There may be candles, both in front of the images and around the shrine room. There may also be incense burning. Tibetan Buddhists use prayer wheels. Mantras are written out on paper and tucked into prayer wheels. Small prayer wheels are carried in the hand. Larger ones are fixed and people turn them with their hand as they pass, reciting a mantra. In all forms of Buddhism, chanting accompanies ceremonial acts. The chanting in itself is a soothing act which leads to greater self confidence and a pure mind. Usually, mantras are chanted. A mantra is a phrase that raises a particular aspect of enlightenment.
Most worship inside the temple will take place as meditation. In Buddhism, there are three main types of meditation: samatha meditation, vipassana meditation, and samathidi meditation. Samatha meditation helps the individual to gain right effort, one of the aspects of the eightfold path. Samatha meditation is carried out by sitting upright with your arms crossed. The eyes are then closed and the individual concentrates on their breathing. Slowly, their mind begins to settle. Vipassana meditation follows the seventh step on the eightfold path, right mindfulness.
Vipassana cannot be taught from a book, it must be taught by a master. Vipassana is usually practised in a sitting position, with legs crossed and feet resting on the thighs. The back should be perfectly straight, at ninety degrees to the legs. This is known as the lotus position. However, someone who is skilled in vipassana will do it sitting, walking, standing, or lying down. Explain how following the eightfold path affects Buddhists in their daily life There are three aspects to the Buddhist way if life. They are wisdom (Prajna), morality (Sila) and mental training (Samadhi).
The Noble Eightfold Path deals with all of these. The Eightfold path covers all aspects of everyday life. The first two aspects of the eightfold path are :Right View and Right Intention. These are morale aspects which try and guide Buddhist to have a positive, open and loving mind. Right view tries to deepen on Buddhists the understanding of life, as this is vital for a Buddhist to have if they want to attempt to follow the eightfold path. It encourages a Buddhist to worship regularly, this plays a huge part of a Buddhists life whether it be at home or in the temple.
The second aspect of the eightfold path is right intentions. This tries to teach a Buddhist to approach everyday life in a religious view and helps a Buddhist think carefully about the consequences of their actions. The next step of the eightfold path is right speech. This teaches Buddhist to be truthful, kind and speak only positively. A Buddhist isn’t expected to waste time in general meaningless chat, gossip, lies and speaking harshly of others, a Buddhist is expected to avoid bringing harm and suffering to themselves and others and to only speak when something useful is to be said.
Buddhists are taught to value silence. The next aspect is right action, this is following the five precepts. These are the basic rules for all Buddhists. By following the five precepts, and therefore the fourth part of the Eightfold path, a Buddhist is following the moral and ethical rules for everyday life. They form the basis of how a Buddhist lives their life not to steal, harm any human beings, mis-use drugs, drink alcohol, lie, kill any living things and over indulge their senses. By living a life which follows the fifth step of the eightfold path a Buddhists can earn a living without going against Buddhist teachings.
An example of this would be a Buddhist could become a teacher but not a butcher. The last three aspects of the Eightfold path deal with mental training. They encourage the Buddhist to make themselves more aware of what is happening around them. The sixth aspect of the eightfold path is right effort, Buddhists are taught to avoid all negative and evil thoughts by performing meditation. This will not occur over night but if the right effort is made in time all the negative thoughts will become positive thoughts. The seventh aspect right mindfulness.
Meditation is performed by a Buddhist to try and help them keep an open mind of other peoples lives and their own. They are taught to be aware of the changes of life and the world. The last step of the eightfold path is right concentration. This helps a Buddhist be calm, loving and gain insight into the truths of life. This helps a Buddhist deal with the daily stresses of life and helps them to be positive in their thoughts and feelings towards others. Do Buddhists have difficulties following their way of life in Britain? The amount of Buddhists entering Britain is still growing.
It is obviously more difficult for Buddhists to follow their usual way of life in a Christian country but this is the same with all countries which don’t practise Buddhism as a national religion. This is because the majority of religious buildings will be churches and as there are many other different religious minorities which live in Britain such as Jews, Muslims and Sikhs etc, the amount of Buddhist temples will be limited due to the fact that the major percentage of the country are not Buddhists. But in major cities Buddhist temples are existent and it would be encouraged for Buddhists to live in areas near their places of worship.
Worship (puja) is essential to a Buddhists life and this is preferably performed in a temple and this applies for all Buddhists but as there are limited Buddhist temples in Britain most Buddhists living in Britain will have to worship to a shrine in their own home. I believe this problem can be overcome by a Buddhist firstly attempting to find housing near a Buddhist temple but if this cannot be done for the Buddhists to continue daily worshipping at home and for them to try and visit a Buddhist temple as frequently as possible especially at special occasions.
The main problem a Buddhist living in Britain might have is celebrating their religious festivals. There is only really one festival which all Buddhists celebrate-that is Wesak. The rest of the festivals are unique to certain countries and are only celebrated in those countries. During the Theravada festival of Wesak, many large processions are held and streets are decorated with lights and lanterns. These sort of celebrations cannot happen in Britain.
This could affect the life of a Buddhist but exceptions must be made and although it may be on a small scale an attempt to replica the festival in their own household should be attempted as this is showing the 6th step of the Noble Eightfold Path well as its showing right effort. Another difficulty is that a Buddhist boy will be expected to spend sometime in the Sangha being a monk, and it is rare to find a Sangha in Britain. Also for Buddhist children it will be difficult to learn about their religion at school as most schools will teach the pupils of Christian festivals.
But a solution to this is that the Buddhist children should be taught about their religion at home and boys should be sent to a Buddhist country to a Sangha to spend time as a monk(but this can cause financial problems and that the child maybe separated from their family for an amount of time which can cause emotional strain). Throughout answering this question I have tried to find solutions which may help try and resolve the difficulties which arise in the life of a Buddhist living in Britain.
There is one view that is a Buddhist cannot possibly lead a Buddhist life in Britain due to problems such as festivals, education etc. However there an increasing amount of Buddhist temples being built in Britain and the fact that worship at home is perfectly acceptable for a Buddhist and as long as the Buddhist is frequently worshipping and keeping up Buddhist traditions and customs than although there are set backs a Buddhist can lead a good religious life in Britain. A pilgrimage will also help a Buddhist understand more about their religion and give them a great feeling of religious closeness.