Monday, October 26, 2009

Buddhist Prayers

This morning, I wrote a status update on my facebook account that said "wishing.hoping.praying." A religious friend commented that prayers should be first. My response is this blog:

Like a Buddhist, I believe in prayer as a form of meditation, the idea for enlightenment through contemplation and insight. I do not believe in prayers for worship. I suppose the difference for me is that I prefer looking within than to some external source. I prefer compassion over fear; insights over ignorance; guidance over contradictions. A Buddhist prayer is like embracing the universe, conversing with it, then cultivating it within. I was born and raised Jewish. Today, I would say I am spiritually religious. I arrogantly believe that I have strong faith, compassion, and spirituality that needs no organized religion.

so when someone tells me that prayer should be first, yes I get a little defensive...
I pray, meditate everyday.
It just may not be to the same god, jesus, or other worshiping idol you pray to.

"Buddhist prayer is a practice to awaken our inherent inner capacities of strength, compassion, and wisdom, rather than to petition external forces based on fear, idolizing, and worldly and/or heavenly gain. Buddhist prayer is a form of meditation; it is a practice of inner reconditioning. Buddhist prayer replaces the negative with the virtuous, and points us to the blessings of life."

"For Buddhists,...prayer inspires our hearts towards wisdom and compassion for others and ourselves."

What's more, it can a function as a form of self-talking or self-therapy in which one mentally talks through a problem, or talks through it aloud, in the hope that some new insight will come or a better decision can be made. Prayer therefore frequently has the function of being part of a decision-making process."
- G.R. Lewis

Buddhist prayers are a form of meditation. Meditation is a technique intended to transcend the cognitive and thinking process (a working progress for me). Meditation instructions vary, but ultimately they are to sit quietly and focus on your breath or a repetitive chant. It is said, that regular practice cultivates wisdom and compassion and leads to awareness and letting go, "so that one can experience the mind's underlying innate qualities of bliss, equanimity, and the peace that surpasses understanding."

I read a story once about Mother Teresa and how she was asked what she said when she prays: "I don't say anything, I just listen." She was then asked what was it that God says to her. Mother Teresa replied "God doesn't say anything, he just listens too." This is a perfect example of transcending thoughts. Isn't this the ultimate purpose of all prayers and medication in all religions?

I suppose I can carry on and on about I always do on this subject. But I'd like to end it with a specific meditation chant I learned and use, the four immeasurables, a series of four virtues used as a chant in meditation to cultivate those very virtues:

May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness; (loving-kindness)
May all be free from sorrow and the causes of sorrow; (compassion)
May all never be separated from the sacred happiness which is sorrowless; (sympathetic joy)
And may all live in equanimity, without too much attachment and too much aversion,
And live believing in the equality of all that lives. (equanimity)

a short version:
~~may i be well, may i be safe, may i be happy, and may i be peaceful~~
This chant should be directed first toward oneself, then to family, friends, strangers, enemies, and all beings.

~~may i be well, may i be safe, may i be happy, and may i be peaceful~~
~~may i be well, may i be safe, may i be happy, and may i be peaceful~~
~~may i be well, may i be safe, may i be happy, and may i be peaceful~~
~~may i be well, may i be safe, may i be happy, and may i be peaceful~~
~~may i be well, may i be safe, may i be happy, and may i be peaceful~~


Anonymous said...

Love it !!! And agree 100%!!! by the way, I'm going to India in February... Spiritual retreat. Let's go to dinner.... xoxo

Your kindred soul.

Anonymous said...

Amen. Lol. With your explanation of what prayer means to you, maybe praying should come first? From my perspective, the potential enlightenment that can be achieved via your prayer/meditation seems to be more valuable than simply wishing or hoping.

sol said...

Buddhists believe in wishes and hoping too. Take their tradition of wishing trees as one example.

Isn't the idea of praying, in some case a wish or a hope just the same? I don't understand the need to classify in any significant order.

To Anonymous...may you have many happy returns! :)


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