Thursday, January 5, 2012

If the Buddha is not a god why do people worship him?

QUESTION: If the Buddha is not a god why do people worship him?


There are different types of worship. When someone worships a god, they praise him or her, make offerings and ask for favors, believing that the god will hear their praise, receive their offerings and answer their prayers. Buddhists do not practice this kind of worship. The other kind of worship is when we show respect to someone or something we admire. When a teacher walks into a room we stand up; when we meet a dignitary we shake hands; when the national anthem is played we salute. These are all gestures of respect and worship and indicate our admiration for a specific person or thing. This is the type of worship Buddhists practice.

A statue of the Buddha with its hands resting gently in its lap and its compassionate smile reminds us to strive to develop peace and love within ourselves. The perfume of incense reminds us of the pervading influence of virtue, the lamp reminds us of the light of knowledge, and the flowers, which soon fade and die, reminds us of impermanence. When we bow we express our gratitude to the Buddha for what his teachings have given us. This is the meaning of Buddhist worship.

- Good Questions Good Answer, Venerable S. Dhammika.

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