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How do Buddhists look to deities such as Green Tara or the Medicine Buddha by saying prayers or mantras for another person? How do the deity and the divine operate or function for this purpose? I believe that there can be divine intervention of a divine source. How is it with these deities? When I send healing to another person through reciting a mantra to the Medicine Buddha for example? How does the thought get through? How is the Medicine Buddha or Tara a vehicle for my prayers?

The sutras speak about the benefits of reciting Medicine Buddha mantras for oneself. What does it do in praying for someone else? Simply, does the deity have powers to heal that person in a divine way? Like through God or calling for the archangels to assist?

  • I think that Green Tara and Medicine Buddha are from Tibetan Buddhism. Should users assume that you want an answer from, specifically, the perspective of Tibetan Buddhism: and that you don't want answers from other forms of Buddhism, which deny that kind of tradition? – ChrisW Oct 27 '16 at 9:44
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    Is this a rhetorical question? (i.e. "I don't believe this belief I suspect you have, I can't really be convinced either way, but I want to see you try to defend yourself") – MatthewMartin Oct 27 '16 at 17:25
  • Chris you are incorrect, the Medicine Buddha is present in the Chinese tradition. His sutra was translated by the famed master Xuanzang himself. – Yinxu Jan 25 '17 at 7:05
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There are many misconceptions regarding mantrayana.

In essence, the ultimate nature of the deity is bliss and emptiness, just like the ultimate nature of our own minds.

When we invoke the deity via visualization and/or recitation or chanting of the mantra, we are invoking that aspect of our own consciousness, our Tara-ness or our Medicine-Buddha-ness.

The Buddha Shakyamuni did teach that treasuring someone while in positive states of mind or sending beneficent prayers and thoughts would benefit another being, certainly in the "realm beyond" (afterlife, afterlives) and in the present there can certainly be effects.

It is important to remember that Tara is Prajnaparamita, she is not a self-existent deity, the same for all the deities of the Buddhist pantheon. Some are called deities to mean deva or god-like rebirth, but in the tradition you are referring to deity means something special: it means that long ago a being aspired to be of benefit to countless sentient beings and through the strength of such aspirations and the diligence and patience of practice one was able to reach a state that helped reflect the fundamental goodness of all beings who practice their mantra/visualization with joy and faith, or devotion.

So what happens when you are invoking green Tara or Medicine Buddha to help heal a friend? Well, the attitude you have is the most important part. You are using enlightened Buddha forms as a fulcrum for your own praxis, to adjust your mind and heart attitude to embrace their full healing potential. This will certainly result in a positive effect, and the waves of which may reach your friend rapidly through causation and intensity, having an ameliorative effect. At the very least, your mind will become more adjusted to these divine states of being (please see the four unlimited or immeasurable abodes) which is of immense benefit to yourself and to others.

In Buddhism, attitude is just about everything. Karma is intention, so cultivating the intention to heal and relieve suffering (kindness, bodhichitta) is excellent.

There are many methods, but sometimes it is easiest and fastest for us to relate to our own primordial purity through the practice of such sophisticated "spiritual technologies" such as deity and mantra practice. There are pure aspects of our consciousness, just remember that their ultimate nature is no different from the nature of mind itself.

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Praying to a Buddhist deity for healing of someone

My friend always ask me Praying for him but I simply tell him I do not pray or will do ever. In the book Buddha and His Dhamma of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar. He describe what is praying. Praying is a bribe to god that expecting from devotee and want praise through chants. And there is a quote about praying Doing deed toward's someone for thier sake is always better than praying for them

If someone in trouble or need help praying for them never help them really but If you'll go for them to raise your helping hand will definitely survive them.

If you want healing someone physically or mentally go for them. Look after them. There are techniques that Buddha taught us. Meditation is there. Benefits of Buddhism is not about praying but always beyond praying while practicing those techniques.

But as you ask for mantra may it is about vajrayana. But never seen someone praying to Buddha or Buddhist deities here in India. Even most of people don't know about it.

I believe nursing someone who is sick is always helpful than praying. So I do not pray. Hope may it helps you.

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No...this is not possible as the Buddha stated he was not a God!! Instead he wanted people to follow his path to liberate themselves through hard work in study and meditation . .the Buddha has left the great noble path with his teachings for us to use...he will not intervene like say / maybe the Christ or other dieties again that too is a hugely faith based debate ...

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There are two answers to this. First, the traditional answer you would get from classical sources like the Sutta Pitaka, which are, at the very least, close to the Buddha's words.

The Buddha's goal was to discover a way to end individual human stress/suffering. His critical analysis of the human condition was heavily bound by personal, empirical experience. This is expressed within the Kalama Sutta, where he advises the Kalamas:

"So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said."

This gives you a basic insight into his method for gaining insight. It does not deny the validity of God, but the Buddha had something to say about faith in concepts that are neither provable, nor verifiable within our experience:

"There are some brahmans & contemplatives with a doctrine & view like this: 'After death, the self is exclusively happy and free from disease.' I approached them and asked them, 'Is it true that you have a doctrine & view like this: "After death, the self is exclusively happy and free from disease"?' When asked this, they replied, 'Yes.' So I asked them, 'But do you dwell having known or seen an exclusively happy world?' When asked this, they said, 'No.' So I asked them, 'But have you ever been aware of a self exclusively happy for a day or a night, or for half a day or half a night?' When asked this, they said, 'No.' So I asked them, 'But do you know that "This is the path, this is the practice for the realization of an exclusively happy world"?' When asked this, they said, 'No.' So I asked them, 'But have you heard the voices of devas reborn in an exclusively happy world, saying, "Practice well, my dears. Practice straightforwardly, my dears, for the realization of an exclusively happy world, because it was through such a practice that we ourselves have been reborn in an exclusively happy world"?' When asked this, they said, 'No.'

"So what do you think, Potthapada — when this is the case, don't the words of those brahmans & contemplatives turn out to be unconvincing?"

"Yes, lord. When this is the case, the words of those brahmans & contemplatives turn out to be unconvincing."

"Potthapada, it's as if a man were to say, 'I'm in love with the most beautiful woman in this country,' and other people were to say to him, 'Well, my good man, this most beautiful woman in this country with whom you are in love: do you know if she's of the warrior caste, the priestly caste, the merchant caste, or the laborer caste?' and, when asked this, he would say, 'No.' Then they would say to him, 'Well then, do you know her name or clan name? Whether she's tall, short, or of medium height? Whether she's dark, fair, or ruddy-skinned? Do you know what village or town or city she's from?' When asked this, he would say, 'No.' Then they would say to him, 'So you've never known or seen the woman you're in love with?' When asked this, he would say, 'Yes.'

"So what do you think, Potthapada — when this is the case, don't the words of that man turn out to be unconvincing?"

"Yes, lord..."

"In the same way, there are some brahmans & contemplatives with a doctrine & view like this: 'After death, the self is exclusively happy and free from disease.'... Don't the words of those brahmans & contemplatives turn out to be unconvincing?"

"Yes, lord..."

This is from the Potthapada Sutta and it addresses exclusively one sides concepts of Self, or Atman. The relationship between the Hindu Atman and the Hindu concept of God (Brahman or Ishvara, depending on whether the deity is impersonal or personal, is complicated, but a close parallel can at the very least be drawn here).

The Buddha's realization was that, within the empirical world*, "every thing that has a beginning, has an end". As such, when you try and find this 'thing' that you look for, this Atman, you 'only' find emptiness. As such, there is no base, no ground on which to build a reistic philosophy (nor for that matter any reason to infer a God, at least not a God that has any Essential properties whatsoever!)

*this is a very important point - the Buddha did not step into metaphysical conjecture, because it was not conducive to the goal of liberation from stress/suffering. In fact, the first Sutta within the Digha Nikaya (a sort of introduction to Buddhism for novices and the curious) denies the validity of all metaphysical speculation. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.01.0.bodh.html and the first Sutta of the Majjhima Nikaya (arguably for the more advanced student) states that 'the root of all things' is not found. https://suttacentral.net/en/mn1

The above realization was key to the First of the Four Noble Truths:

"Now this, monks, is the noble truth of stress: Birth is stressful, aging is stressful, death is stressful; sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair are stressful; association with the unbeloved is stressful, separation from the loved is stressful, not getting what is wanted is stressful. In short, the five clinging-aggregates are stressful."

If permanence within the empirical world is denied (a property that Atman and God must maintain in some way, in order to be anything more than the mundane impermanence that our experiences reveal to us), then the above follows (like Satre's exsistential dread). From this follows the next Three Truths, which are on the origination of stress/suffering, the cessation of stress/suffering, and the path to end stress/suffering. This is best read from the source! http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn56/sn56.011.than.html

What is understood is that the Noble Eightfold Path stated in the Fourth Truth, is entirely dependent on the individual. There is not even the slightest removal of power to progress within the path from the individual to any other individual, including any conception of God.

This makes sense because a world view that explicitly states that the ground from which the world manifests is not to be found, explicitly denies that any truth can be gleaned from such a ground (after all, it is not found!).

In denying the validity of reistic world views, the Buddha did not however embrace annihilationism (or nihilism to us). He created a relational philosophy, where things are dependently originated. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.15.0.than.html

(If you like classical logic, here is a nice article on why Essentialism and Nihilism can be treated as the same: https://plus.google.com/+DenisWallez/posts/K9PsvMRQhve )

If you like quantum physics, this is not much different from the relational interpretation of Quantum Mechanics by Rovelli. https://arxiv.org/pdf/quant-ph/9609002v2.pdf Whilst drawing parallels between the scientific method in the late 20th century and the Buddha's world view 2,500 years before that is a complex enterprise, Nagarjuna (the second Buddha to most, and someone who took the Tripitaka as authoritative, took a much more 'Western friendly approach' to this concept of 'dependent co-arising' within his Mulamadhyamakakarika, and you do get comparisons with his reasoning and Rovelli within Western publication: http://philpapers.org/archive/CAPIOQ-2.PDF )

Because the Buddha created a method that denied the validity of a permanent Essence, it ironically gave him the right to say that the power to deliverance from stress/suffering lies in each person's individual power.

With regards to ethics, this is explained in https://suttacentral.net/en/mn8

With regards to the practice of Buddhism, the Maha-Satipatthana Sutta lays out what needs to be done in its entirety: https://suttacentral.net/en/dn22

So to sum up, the Buddha did not place any faith in prayer, mantra, chanting or God. The path is, mostly, walked alone http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/snp/snp.1.03.than.html

There are gods within Buddhism, but they are simply beings that through their good karmic actions end up in higher realms (in fact, humans who practice the Noble Eightfold Path diligently can end up in these realms too). But none of them are permanent, and they all still possess the risk of falling into lower realms (including the hells, the animal realms and the human realm), if they act in such a way as to bring bad karma onto themselves. The Buddha neither worshiped nor placed any authority in them.

The second answer is that Buddhism has spread to a very diverse group of people, some of which invoke the power of prayer, mantra, even begin to define Buddha as divine in one way or another. Strictly speaking, this is not Buddhism as the Buddha envisioned.

So! If you place your faith in God and the divine, His power and authority, you will find Buddhism lacking in these respects. But, in that all possible power to act, change and improve, is left within the sphere of influence of the individual, all that is necessary to bring about an end to suffering is already within you. Physical illness the Buddha would have likely advised to leave to those that practice medicine!

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