Is Worship Buddhist?
The most important thing about spirituality is that everyone has a unique experience with it. That being said, nobody has the right to say what is and what is not someone else’s belief system. Then we come to the case of Buddhism, where the initial teachings have evolved over the course of its history, and the question of being Buddhist becomes even more muddied.
There are several works, claiming words directly from the mouth of Buddha, which describe methods of worship that will grant a worshipper great amounts of spiritual merit, such as presenting gifts or creating extravagant places of worship, which promise a better reincarnation or other good fortune. When one examines who stands to gain from such actions, however, it is fairly evident that whoever controls the fate of such sacrifices and work has much to gain indeed. This may be necessary for the survival of the religion and better for the entire community, but is not in of itself Buddhist.
Then there are other Buddhist works which seem to directly contradict aspects of such worship. One central theme in the teachings is to avoid attachment to physical things; a ritual such as bathing a stone image daily or building a jewel encrusted shrine clearly opposes that idea.
For one to attach oneself to even the attribute of being Buddhist is unbecoming of the purest practitioner. For nearly all things, and especially with spiritual practice, there is no black and white, merely shades of grey. Worship, along with all things, is subject to interpretation.
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