Practicing the puja without the words

Hello everyone,

As I am looking to incorporate some parts of the traditional puja into my daily practice, such as the homage to the Buddha, the reverence to the Triple Gem, taking the Refuges, taking the Precepts, and so on, I wonder if there are possible ways to practice this without the use of the words or phrases in pali or translations but rather as meditations or contemplations? I have been looking if such a thing has been talked or written about but I have not found anything so far.

The reason being is that, for example, in the practice of Metta Bhavana, I found that the visualisation of the persons and the loving-kindness thoughts and intentions imagined through the breath that I diffuse towards the persons for instance, was a pretty effective way for me to generate loving-kindness. So I am wondering if a similar approach could be applied to the puja.

I welcome any thoughts about this.

Thanks you in advance,
With Metta,

Thank you for the question.

The instructions and outcomes for practising the recollections are listed in AN 11.13.
The reason there is not much written is because this sutta is addressed to the level of lay practice, and the western lay view overlooks that advice in favour of trying to emulate arahants.

Hello @paul1 ,

Thank you very much for your response and for the sutta reference which I just read. Much helpful, thank you.

Regarding your statement that I quoted above, I am not sure to understand it, would you mind elaborating a little bit more on this?


Western lay practice is opposed to the devotional lay practice of traditional Buddhist countries such as Thailand. The important point in AN 11.13 is the outcome instructed at the end, it is not merit but joy and concentration. In western Buddhist doctrine, the subjects in AN 11.13 are treated as supplementary to the main meditation on the breath, but they are legitimate subjects in their own right, and contain a devotional element which is wrongly avoided in the western lay view.

Although I am not able to quote any Sutta that support this, IMHO recitation can be replaced with non verbal contemplation without any detrimental effect. In fact, it is better because non verbal contemplation can be practised at any place without disturbing the others.
With Metta

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Oh I see, thank you for your answer.
So, if I understand correctly, the recollections referred to in this sutta can be practiced as subjects of entire samatha meditations (like the anusatti) as means of paying homage, reverence and refuge like in the Puja?

Hello @Nimal ,

Thank you for your reply. Yes, that is why I am pondering this. I thought this too, and was wondering if anyone had an specific, structured way of doing this “non verbal contemplation”.

Indeed, that is one of the reason I am considering this. Another is that it feels more natural, intimate, and authentic.

No the point the Buddha is making in AN 11.13 is the practice should result in direct experience, not reliance on him. In all six subjects this is ‘a sense of Nibbana’ and ‘a sense of the Dhamma.’ So nibbana should be an ‘experience’ from the earliest stages of practice. However there is a difference in feeling tone between these contemplations and the physical subject of the breath, because the subjects arouse supportive feelings.

“At any time when a disciple of the noble ones is recollecting the Tathagata, his mind is not overcome with passion, not overcome with aversion, not overcome with delusion. His mind heads straight, based on the Tathagata. And when the mind is headed straight, the disciple of the noble ones gains a sense of the goal, gains a sense of the Dhamma, gains joy connected with the Dhamma.”

Hi Noé—

In addition to the excellent suggestion by @paul1, have you checked Bh. Khantipalo’s Buddhist Lay Practice? Maybe it doesn’t address your question directly, but I thought it could be a useful resource.


I personally like reciting the triple gem, the refuges, etc because I find it to be a better mnemonic device than just repeating them in my head. I see daily recitation of a common set of verses as a gentle rote memorization. You can both recite them and contemplate them of course. Contemplating them is highly recommended since you sit with the ideas they present longer. How you contemplate them is up to you, I think the point is to stick with the single subject for an extended period (such as the session). Suggested readings on this thread will likely tell you the benefits of contemplating verses frequently. I found daily puja helpful to internalize the teachings and keep them readily accessible.

Recollection of the triple gem and of the devas are considered important meditation techniques, and so there are many ways to practice them, from simply reciting “buddho” as a mantra up to formal visualization practices.

Personally, when I’m recollecting the Saṅgha, for example, I often imagine the hundred of generations of monks and nuns who dutifully preserved and passed down the teachings which we now enjoy. When recalling the Dhamma, I like to remember specific times when the teachings helped me out: for example a time when someone was mean to me and I was able to let it go by remembering the Buddha’s teachings. And then to remember the Buddha who compassionately gave those teachings and lived a perfect, holy life as a beautiful example for us.

This kind of thinking is “recollection of the triple gem” and need not be strictly according to the formulas (though the formulas do help! Just think of them more as prompts than as magic spells)

Does that answer your question?

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Hello Banthe,

Yes absolutely, this is much helpful. And thank you for sharing about your personal practice.

With Metta,

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Hello @ngvitor ,

Thank you for your reply. Yes, I am familiar with this book, it’s been one of my go-to resource to guide my practice.

With Metta,

Good! Unfortunately, I do not have any other suggestions I could share. The question you asked has never occurred to me, but it is intriguing, and I’ll have to explore it.