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Author Topic: Worship? Honor? Venerate? What?  (Read 13364 times)

Starglade

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Worship? Honor? Venerate? What?
« on: July 05, 2011, 09:13:36 am »
This jumps off from the "Who do you work with" thread elsewhere, which Sage started over the weekend. In my response there I explained that as a Vajrayana Buddhist, I don't "worship" in the sense that most folks use that term. I honor, yes, I venerate, yes--but I don't worship.

I don't supplicate. I don't pray for guidance, or assistance, or what have you. I chant, to align myself more completely with a given emanation of Buddha (be that one of the 21 Taras, or Avalokiteshvara, or Medicine Buddha, or another). I chant, to focus and center myself in a place of calm. I light candles and/or incense, to honor Buddha's gift of the Dharma. I light a candle for HHDL, the incarnation of Avalokiteshvara and the head of Tibetan Buddhists around the world.

But don't tell me I worship. I know what worship feels like--and this ain't it, as they say.

So--what do YOU do? How do you define your interactions with the divine, for lack of a more comprehensive term?
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Devo

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Re: Worship? Honor? Venerate? What?
« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2011, 11:11:24 am »
Quote from: Starglade;1265

So--what do YOU do? How do you define your interactions with the divine, for lack of a more comprehensive term?

 
I always say that I "Work with X god". I don't like using the term worship, because it has a negative connotation to most people. I don't bow before them, kiss their ass, and beg them to do things. I like to sit with them, chat a bit, leave them some offerings, and go about my day. I have faith that the universe will see to my needs, and that I have no need to ask. I really only ask for help when I'm seriously at the end of my rope, and can't see any positive outcome (and when I get to that point, usually, things change). If they need something, I will oblige them, and see to their requests. And a lot of times it helps me to grow- which is another reason to want to help out. But really, that's what my relationship with most of the gods is like.

 So I'm not sure what the proper term for me is, but that's what I call it "working with".

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Sage

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Re: Worship? Honor? Venerate? What?
« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2011, 11:18:44 am »
Quote from: Starglade;1265
But don't tell me I worship. I know what worship feels like--and this ain't it, as they say.

So--what do YOU do? How do you define your interactions with the divine, for lack of a more comprehensive term?

 
I have to say I agree with you and Devo - worship seems to have a lot of negative connotations for people and I never want to have another relationship with a deity like the one I had growing up Baptist. I usually say "follow" or "work with" because it's wide enough to encompass a variety of actions - prayer, meditation, offerings, setting up altars - that can be shared with worship.

I think part of it may be the attitude with which one approaches a deity that makes an action worship or not. Starglade, I know I asked you how much of a difference it was between honoring a deity and honoring a being like a bodhisattva. From the outside looking in, the two actions seem very similar, but the intention behind it can be different (especially if one is worshiping the deity).
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What you have created, no one can tear asunder.

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Juni

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Re: Worship? Honor? Venerate? What?
« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2011, 12:20:49 pm »
Quote from: Starglade;1265
So--what do YOU do? How do you define your interactions with the divine, for lack of a more comprehensive term?

 
I definitely worship my gods. Supplication- asking for assistance/guidance with humility- is a part of my interaction, as is just honoring them when it feels appropriate. I don't grovel, I don't beg, and I don't debase myself, but I don't associate those behaviors with worship though some do.
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Sage

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Re: Worship? Honor? Venerate? What?
« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2011, 12:22:49 pm »
Quote from: Juni;1373
I definitely worship my gods. Supplication- asking for assistance/guidance with humility- is a part of my interaction, as is just honoring them when it feels appropriate. I don't grovel, I don't beg, and I don't debase myself, but I don't associate those behaviors with worship though some do.

 
It's funny, because I do the "asking for assistance/guidance with humility" thing too, but I don't call it worship. Usually.
Maker, though the darkness comes upon me,
I shall embrace the light. I shall weather the storm.
I shall endure.
What you have created, no one can tear asunder.

-Canticle of Trials 1:10

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Starglade

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Re: Worship? Honor? Venerate? What?
« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2011, 12:33:31 pm »
Quote from: Sage;1303


I think part of it may be the attitude with which one approaches a deity that makes an action worship or not. Starglade, I know I asked you how much of a difference it was between honoring a deity and honoring a being like a bodhisattva. From the outside looking in, the two actions seem very similar, but the intention behind it can be different (especially if one is worshiping the deity).


You nailed part of it right there: For me, it's the difference between the being as deity and the being as--not-deity. Bodhisattvas aren't deities. Buddha's not a deity.

The waters of Buddhism get very muddy in this regard, however. I wish I could find the reference, and the fact that I can't could be due to it being a generalization I drew from lots of reading on the matter, but anyway--It seems accurate to say that the more "learned" a practitioner is, the less likely s/he is to "worship the Buddha" or "worship White Tara" or whoever. The more study one has done, the more likely one is to realize and understand that these beings are NOT gods or goddesses per se (and here it gets muddy on another front, because there ARE Nepalese deities, f'ex, that have been integrated into Buddhism in that locale), but are understood--and "best" approached--as "emanations of the Buddha nature." The less educated one is, the more likely one is to see the requisite actions as "worship." (I'll keep digging for where I got this from. I swear, it's not out of my own head, I got it from somewhere else and it made sense to me.)

A deity by its very nature commands worship of some kind, IMO. The nature of that worship may be simple or complex, personal or communal, etc. This is likely a holdover from my own JCI-shaped childhood (Protestant, Dutch Reformed, family instrumental in founding a congregation in N IL, etc etc yadda yadda), but it's where I come down. Not to say I can't understand someone saying "I don't worship Thor, but I work with him." I can understand it. I do think that as you say, there's so much mental baggage associated with that one word, people do whatever necessary to NOT use it if it makes them uncomfortable for whatever reason.

There's also a sense, to me, of supplication, of asking for help, involved in worship. The actions of honoring Buddha or a bodhisattva aren't so much asking for something, as working to bring one's self into alignment with them--to move closer to Buddhanature, to enlightenment by following the path associated with that particular being. I'm still exploring this and am far from being any kind of expert whatsoever, but it's my understanding so I'm sharing it. If I chant the Praises of the 21 Taras, I'm working toward understanding their various natures and incorporating those into myself. If I perform a Medicine Buddha ritual, I'm drawing on the healing power manifested by that emanation to use it either on myself or someone else. It's not so much about "OMG, I'm in trouble, HELP MEEEEEE" as it is about "I want to be come more like you, so I'm performing X repetitions of this mantra and Y number of prostrations to help me channel your essence into myself."

If that helps at all.
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Tay Redgrave

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Re: Worship? Honor? Venerate? What?
« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2011, 08:03:28 pm »
Quote from: Starglade;1381
It's not so much about "OMG, I'm in trouble, HELP MEEEEEE" as it is about "I want to be come more like you, so I'm performing X repetitions of this mantra and Y number of prostrations to help me channel your essence into myself."

In a way it sounds like admiration and/or looking up to someone and wanting to become more like them. Am I way off the mark with this one (and if I am, I apologize!) or is it just a similar tone? I do feel like I've learned something new today though. It's got me extremely interested. :D

Starglade

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Re: Worship? Honor? Venerate? What?
« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2011, 09:04:09 pm »
Quote from: LuciaStar;1685
In a way it sounds like admiration and/or looking up to someone and wanting to become more like them. Am I way off the mark with this one (and if I am, I apologize!) or is it just a similar tone? I do feel like I've learned something new today though. It's got me extremely interested. :D


I have to preface everything I say with "Remember, I'm very much a student and in NO WAY and by NO MEANS an expert on this." So, with that being said . . .

For me, and by my understanding through my studies and practice thus far: It's a little more than admiration. It's honor and gratitude for the Dharma gifts given to us by Buddha himself, and it's aspiration to walk the bodhisattva path for those of us who feel drawn to that. (Yeah--I'll say it. I think I'm supposed to be working toward that. There's a reason Kwan Yin sent me those rainbow glass fish.)

I think I can rightly say that the view of Buddhism Americans got from "The King and I" with Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr was pretty slanted. :) Brynner's character was definitely speaking to Buddha in the same way that a Christian might speak to God--and from what I've found, that's just not what it's about. Buddha himself denied being a deity, over and over. (Now, some folks may *treat* him like one--but that's not his fault. And remember what I said earlier about more "learned" Buddhists versus less "learned" ones. I think I'm zeroing in on where I got that, btw--when I'm sure, I'll stick it in here just for good measure. It's got to do with the animistic folk religion of Tibet, which long predates Vajrayana Buddhism. Recall, also, that I'm only studying Vajrayana--none of the other types, and within that, I'm focusing on Gelugpa, none of the other three schools.)

So yes--it's admiration, but it's beyond that. It's just--not what I equate with "worship."

http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/history/b_faqs.htm

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starlilica

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Re: Worship? Honor? Venerate? What?
« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2011, 09:31:25 pm »
Quote from: Starglade;1265
This jumps off from the "Who do you work with" thread elsewhere, which Sage started over the weekend.


I worship. I believe that the gods are more than I, and while they don't NEED to be worshiped - nothing bad is going to happen to me if I don't worship them - but I do worship them. I ask for guidance, for prosperity, for protection, and other things. I just feel that's right for me, but I certainly don't judge others on their relationship with the gods.

I do agree, "follow" might be a better word, but I'm not ashamed to say worship. Perhaps I'm just ignorant on the negative connotations?

Asch

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Re: Worship? Honor? Venerate? What?
« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2011, 11:08:16 pm »
Quote from: starlilica;1710
Perhaps I'm just ignorant on the negative connotations?


Speaking for myself I think worship has some negative connotations via my lingering resentment of / toward certain aspects / factions of Christianity and persons involved with them that used the term like a bludgeon/warning etc.

I use the term worship for what I due and still get a vaguely almost-but-not-quite guilty/self conscious reaction to it, which then brings me back to the actual definition of worship, which, according to dictionary.com is:

–noun
1. reverent honor and homage paid to god or a sacred personage, or to any object regarded as sacred.
2. formal or ceremonious rendering of such honor and homage: They attended worship this morning.
3. adoring reverence or regard: excessive worship of business success.
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/worship

Which certainly applies to my activities more so than the abuse and misappropriation and associations I have with the term. If that makes sense.

So, yes, I worship the Kindreds :)

starlilica

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Re: Worship? Honor? Venerate? What?
« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2011, 11:30:05 pm »
Quote from: Asch;1770
Speaking for myself I think worship has some negative connotations via my lingering resentment of / toward certain aspects / factions of Christianity and persons involved with them that used the term like a bludgeon/warning etc.

 
I can understand that, but I guess I never had a real negative experience with Christianity that really ruined it for me. My parents were always a bit neutral towards it when I was young and impressionable, not really forcing it on me. But I see how the idea of it would be hard to accept if it was shoved down one's throat for eighteen years.

I guess the opposite for me - saying that one "works" with a god suggests, to me, that one equates themselves with gods. Not that that's a bad thing if one believes that (pantheism), but I don't so it feels like the wrong way of looking at it for me.

But its interesting :)

Starglade

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Re: Worship? Honor? Venerate? What?
« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2011, 11:32:42 pm »
Quote from: starlilica;1710

I do agree, "follow" might be a better word, but I'm not ashamed to say worship. Perhaps I'm just ignorant on the negative connotations?

 
As usual speaking only for myself: I don't have any particularly negative baggage associated with the word "worship." It's that for me, that is something one renders to a deity. I don't work with deities. So--no worshiping here.

That said, I'm about to recite a few repetitions of the prayer for the long life of HHDL, whose 76th birthday is tomorrow.  Honoring him, venerating him, respecting him, asking for blessings on him--but no worship, even if he is an incarnation of "my" bodhisattva. :)
"The Eightfold Path is sometimes called the pathless path. Each step brings a growing awareness that enlightenment is in the here and now--in the world and in our relationships as we read these words . . . now." -- Jonathan White
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starlilica

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Re: Worship? Honor? Venerate? What?
« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2011, 12:13:26 am »
Quote from: Starglade;1782
As usual speaking only for myself: I don't have any particularly negative baggage associated with the word "worship." It's that for me, that is something one renders to a deity. I don't work with deities. So--no worshiping here.


I agree, worship is something reserved for a deity, so no deity = no worship :)

Nyktipolos

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Re: Worship? Honor? Venerate? What?
« Reply #13 on: July 06, 2011, 02:10:56 am »
Quote from: Asch;1770
I use the term worship for what I due and still get a vaguely almost-but-not-quite guilty/self conscious reaction to it, which then brings me back to the actual definition of worship, which, according to dictionary.com is:

–noun
1. reverent honor and homage paid to god or a sacred personage, or to any object regarded as sacred.
2. formal or ceremonious rendering of such honor and homage: They attended worship this morning.
3. adoring reverence or regard: excessive worship of business success.
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/worship

This is how I view "worship" as well. I don't have any negativity associated with the word either, so I don't view "worship" in a negative way. So yes, I worship my Gods. I also occasionally follow, work with, and give honour to Them. :)

The same goes for kneeling (or submission, I can't quite recall. But I'm pretty sure it started with kneeling) before an altar or shrine. I recall getting into a discussion on another board that it was something inappropriate to do, especially for the Hellenic Gods, and I just remember being baffled that it was somehow bad or wrong, because inherently I didn't see it that way. It just seemed natural to me to kneel before God(s) to show reverence to Them. Then again, if a God told me to stand, then hell yeah I would! But that's just my... default stance.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2011, 02:11:37 am by Nyktipolos »
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starlilica

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Re: Worship? Honor? Venerate? What?
« Reply #14 on: July 06, 2011, 03:51:05 am »
Quote from: Nyktipolos;1817

The same goes for kneeling (or submission, I can't quite recall. But I'm pretty sure it started with kneeling) before an altar or shrine. I recall getting into a discussion on another board that it was something inappropriate to do, especially for the Hellenic Gods, and I just remember being baffled that it was somehow bad or wrong, because inherently I didn't see it that way.


IIRC, I remember someone saying somewhere that it wasn't how the Ancient Greeks prayed. This site has a reference to it but I don't know how accurate it is.

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