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Buddhist devotion

Lay Buddhist

Offerings · Bows
3 Refuges · Chanting
5 Precepts · 8 Precepts
Bodhisattva vows
Meditation · Giving
Supporting Monastics
Study · Pilgrimage

Buddhist Devotion is an important part of the practice of most Buddhists.[1] According to a spokesman of the Sasana Council of Burma, devotion to Buddhist spiritual practices inspires devotion to the Triple Gem.[2] Most Buddhists use ritual in pursuit of their spiritual aspirations.[3]

Examples of devotional practices:

  • bowing:
    • to images of the Buddha, and in Mahayana also of other Buddhas and bodhisattvas; such images originated some centuries after the Buddha's time
    • to religious superiors:
      • a monk to a monk ordained earlier
      • a nun to a nun ordained earlier
      • a nun to a monk, regardless of date of ordination
      • a lay person to a monk or nun
  • offering flowers, incense etc. to images
  • chanting:
  • pilgrimage:
    • according to sources[5] recognized by most scholars as early, the Buddha, shortly before his death, recommended pilgrimage to four places:
      • his birthplace (Lumbini, now Rummindei in Nepal)
      • the site of his enlightenment (Bodh Gaya)
      • the site of the preaching of his first sermon (near Benares)
      • the place of his death (Kusinara)

Other places were later added, particularly in other countries, where pilgrimage to the original sites would be daunting.

A very important form of Buddhist devotion is Pure Land Buddhism, which is practised by most Chinese monks, some combining it with Chan (Zen).[6] It exists as a group of independent denominations in Japan, the most radical, and largest, of which, Jodo Shinshu, holds to a subtle idea of effortless salvation .

See also


  1. ^ Harvey, page 170
  2. ^ Morgan, pages v, 73
  3. ^ Macmillan (Volume One), page 139
  4. ^ Choong Mun-keat, The Fundamental Teachings of Early Buddhism: A comparative study basted on the Sutranga portion of the Pali Samyutta-Nikaya and the Chinese Samyuktagama; Harrassowitz Verlag, Weisbaden, 2000, pages 105-106. See also Anguttara Nikaya, volume II, page 72 (Pali Text Society edition pagination) and the Atanatiya Sutta in the Digha Nikaya, number 32, in volume III.
  5. ^ Digha Nikaya, volume II, pages 140f (PTS pagination)
  6. ^ Welch, page 396


  • Harvey, Peter, An Introduction to Buddhism: Teachings, History and Practices, Cambridge University Press, 1990
  • Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism, 2004
  • Morgan, Kenneth W., ed, The Path of the Buddha: Buddhism Interpreted by Buddhists, Ronald Press, New York, 1956
  • Welch, Holmes, The Practice of Chinese Buddhism, 1900-1950, Harvard University Press, 1967