Lectures on Insight Meditation
Part 1 - Devotional Aspect
The devotional aspect of Buddhism means rites and rituals, chanting of suttas and parittas, offering of flowers and incense as well as offering of food and robes. When we perform such good deeds, we do so with sraddha (in Sanskrit) or saddha (in Pali).
The word saddha is difficult to translate into English. There is no English equivalent for the Pali word saddha If we translate saddha to be faith, the word faith does not cover the real sense, and if we translate it as confidence, it also does not cover the real sense of saddha. We cannot find a single word in English which can give a complete meaning of saddha To me, saddha can be taken to mean belief through right understanding of the Dhamma.
When we perform religious ceremonies we do it with a belief in the Triple Gem (Tiratana). We believe in the Buddha, the Dhamma (his teachings) and the Sangha (the Order of Buddhist monks). We hold the view that the Buddha has eradicated all defilements through his supreme enlightenment, so he is worthy of respect (an Arahant). He was Buddha because he had strived and was enlightened by himself, not because he learned the Dhamma from any teacher. We believe in the Buddha in this way. The Buddha taught us to live happily and peacefully and he taught us the way leading to the cessation of all kinds of sufferings. We believe that if we follow his teaching or his way, we are sure to live happily and peacefully and to get rid of suffering. For this reason, we believe in the Dhamma. In the same way, we believe in the Sangha. When we say Sangha, it mainly means theAriya sangha, the Noble Sangha who have attained any one of the four stages of the Path (magga). But in the general sense, it also refers to the Sammuti sangha (those who are still striving to eradicate the defilements). Thus we pay homage to the Triple Gem (Tiratana) - the Buddha. Dhamma and Sangha. We also believe that by chanting suttas and parittas as taught by the Buddha, we perform meritorious deeds which will be conducive to the cessation of suffering. Performing these meritorious deeds forms the devotional aspect of Buddhism. However, we should not be content with this devotional aspect if we want to enjoy the essence of Buddhism and be free from all kinds of suffering. Therefore, we must proceed to practise the higher aspects.