Common Qs and As on the Practice of Prostrating to the Buddha - 5. Can prostrating to the Buddha eliminate karmic obstacles?Many people have encountered numerous physical and psychological obstacles in the process of studying Buddhism. For example, when meditating, their minds always wander; or, when listening to the sutra teachings, they doze off. No matter what obstacles one encounters, the Fashis always give the same answer: "make more prostrations to the Buddha to eliminate karmic obstacles". Why is this? Can making prostrations to the Buddha really eliminate karmic obstacles?
Karmic obstacles, in simple terms, refer to the hindrances to one's practice or life that arise specifically as a result of deeds performed in this life or in past lives. These deeds include our thoughts, spoken words, and physical behaviors. When prostrating to the Buddha, we should have a heart of sincerity and reverence, recite the Buddha's name or repentance verses in silence, and add body movements to achieve a state where the bodily, verbal, and mind actions are pure.
In his article "Repentance of Karmic Obstacles Should be a Constant Daily Practice", Master Sheng Yen pointed out that to confess shame and declare repentance to the Buddha statue is to request the Buddha to bear witness to the sincerity of our repentance. Only when we truly feel ashamed, can we truly repent of our karmic obstacles. From the Buddhist perspective of the law of cause and effect, our negative karma will not disappear simply from prostrating to the Buddha. However, through every prostration done out of the sincerity of our heart and earnest confession, we will realize that these physical and psychological obstacles are not punishments coming from outside, but, rather, the result of our own doing. Naturally, we will feel ashamed, but at the same time, our mind is transformed. In this way, we are able to accept the negative karma calmly, letting go of all attachments and anxiety that we have, and thereby allowing the mind to truly settle down.
Therefore, during a seven-day Amitabha Buddha Recitation Retreat, the chief retreat coordinating Fashi will encourage everyone to, in addition to participating in group practice, make at least 300 prostrations per day. According to the Tibetan Buddhism tradition, beginners should start from practicing the Four Foundations, the first of which is to do 100,000 prostrations.
Prostration: Paying Homage to the Buddha
Common Buddhist Etiquette
Common Qs and As on the Practice of Prostrating to the Buddha - 1. Buddhism does not advocate for idolatry, so why would people still make Buddha statues and even prostrate to them?
Common Qs and As on the Practice of Prostrating to the Buddha - 2. If we do not have a Buddhist altar or a Buddha statue at home, then towards which direction should we prostrate?
Common Qs and As on the Practice of Prostrating to the Buddha - 3. When is the appropriate time to make prostrations to the Buddha? How many prostrations should one perform?
Common Qs and As on the Practice of Prostrating to the Buddha - 4. Are the objects to which Buddhists prostrate only limited to Buddha statues?
Common Qs and As on the Practice of Prostrating to the Buddha - 5. Can prostrating to the Buddha eliminate karmic obstacles?
Prostrating to the Buddha to Train the Body and Cultivate the Mind
Prostrating to the Buddha and the Four Foundations of Mindfulness
Practice Method of Prostrating to the Buddha
Resource: Issue 347 of Life Magazine, Dharma Drum Publishing Corporation
Photos: Issue 347 of Life Magazine, Dharma Drum Publishing Corporation
Editing: Bright Su, Keith Brown