Daily Buddhist Practice
This topic can be explained
in two ways: what Buddhist should do daily or what they actually do to practise
their religion in daily life.
I shall be focussing on both
What a Buddhist should do in
Religious acts through social work
Devotional activities are to develop devotion and
confidence in the Buddha. Devotion must be developed; it does not come
automatically just by professing a Buddhist. Devotion in the Buddha will
increase only once we learn more of him. We can recite the stanzas everyday
mindfully knowing their meaning. Offering flowers, candles and food to the
statue of the Buddha with the living Buddha in our mind can be a very good
practice. We have to know the message behind each offering. For example, light
symbolises wisdom of the Buddha and we are reminded of his wisdom, to follow
his footstep whenever we see light offered to him. Or it will become a mere
ritual which the Buddha went against.
Flowers symbolise his
goodness in words, deeds and thoughts. As flowers are dear to people, making
them happy, confident and reputed in society, the Buddha has been known to us
through his morality. We should be inspired by the example of flowers and
become motivated. This is the way to cultivate devotion that can strengthen our
determination to practise. This is just to give you some thoughts on devotion
Contemplation is to make use of our mind more
effectively and deepen our understanding of nature. While reciting a stanza or
looking a flower you offer to the Buddha, you may contemplate on his morality,
and at the same time the impermanence of flowers that our physical body is
likened. Flowers fade away gradually, so does our physical strength and beauty.
Gradual contemplation leads us to accepting the nature of being impermanent and
not to feel upset about the reality. Contemplation includes meditation
practice. Meditation on daily basis, no matter how short you do at the
beginning, is essential to become a good Buddhist.
We can read Holy Scriptures,
like Dhammapada trying to discover the wisdom of the Buddha in them. Devotional
aspect is as much important as contemplation. Contemplation makes sure we go
the right way, while devotion gives strength in times of difficulty. A mother's
devotion to her child is what makes her go through all the hectic life of a
mother. She enjoys it. With devotion, we enjoy more of having to contemplate.
Social work through Buddhist practice is like observing
precepts not to hurt, harm, kill etc. It is good to repeat this on daily basis
to remind ourselves what a human can do to each other and what we can be best.
Sharing is another thing;
sharing what we have with others, like money, other material things, time,
knowledge, and peace of mind. People often offer alms to the Sangha, and the
latter in turn share with them the teaching. Giving donation to charity is a
good one, even sharing among family members is considered not only a social
duty but a religious one as well (for more please read the Discourse on
What do Buddhists do in their
Regarding the second
definition, what do Buddhists do in their daily life is a tricky question. The
answer is as varied as individuals.
Some recite some pieces of
scripture everyday. It is not a prayer though. Prayer in a sense of asking for
something from the Buddha is not a correct practice. The Buddha is not God and
he does not believe in it. We have to depend on ourselves.
Offering food, flower, and
light to the Buddha image is a common practice to all Buddhist traditions. Many
reaffirm their taking refuge in the Triple Gems (Buddha, his teaching and Noble
At least most of them bow
down in front of the Buddha image on daily basis at home or in a nearby temple
to dedicate their mind towards spiritual aspect of life. This is to develop
humbleness in our heart.
For those advanced, of
course, Buddhist practice is everywhere since it means mindfulness. It can be
there when you are driving or working at home or office. Mindfulness gives us
to see the danger of anger, harsh words, wrong motivation in life, bad
associates etc. and provides us a chance to develop and renew loving-kindness,
compassion and understanding as days go by.
For ordained ones like monks
and nuns, daily practice is more intensive and in some cases different from
Related articles for further reading selected by the
Family in Burma, by U Kin Maung,
Routine of a Buddhist , Extracted from 'The Teachings of the
Buddha', Basic Level, 1998.
(Next Week: "Taking the Three
Refuges and Precepts")