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LesCLesC Bermuda Veteran
edited January 2009 in Sanghas
Having been raised in the Judeo-Christian belief, I have always been a believer of the existence of God. My understanding of God has changed over the years, and now look to be changing again. I still have an overwhelming belief in some all powerful force in the Universe, something that is in everything and of everything, and I'm trying to reconcile that with Buddhist belief systems. When I pray for someone/something, it is to this all powerful force that my prayers are focused.

One of the issues I'm having trouble with is that I hear you all talking about praying for this friend that is experiencing some difficulty. I'm certainly confused. As a Buddhist, who or what to you pray to/for when you are offering up prayers? Can you share some examples with me (without being personal).



  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited December 2008
    Well, inspite of a regimented catholic upbringing (and I must say, my experience was never as painful or angst-laden as that of some others) I have no belief in a God of any kind.
    So I understand your puzzlement....

    I guess the word 'prayer' is an easier one than saying "offering up a votive wish for good to come to pass".
    But my prayers are simply an expressed intention and general fervent desire for "bad" or 'negative' kamma to be transformed, and for "good" or 'positive' kamma to be generated for that person.

    because Buddhists lack a God, it is felt by some that their 'prayers' or offerings are less valid, or ineffective.
    I do not for one moment believe it to be true.

    Just as you can walk into a room and cut the atmosphere with a knife, or be in the presence of HH the Dalai Lama and simply feel what an extraordinary person he is, so I believe that by generating a fervent, honest genuine and True Desire to bring about a positive outcome, we can move mountains.
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited December 2008

    You touch on one of my daily puzzles. I say "daily" because, each morning, as part of my exercises, I review the list of intentions, specific and general, which I have been asked to and have chosen to remember.

    The paradox for me is that there seems to be and, simultaneously, not to be a friendly 'receiver' of those intentions. I avoid now the notions of god or gods but am still loeft with an awareness of what I can only call a "relationship" which can, somehow, use my poor intentions as a small stone may start an avalanche.

    There have been times when, in cynical mood, I have deemed these lists to be no more than ego-satisfaction, a sop to my guilt that I do not do more. And, despite the cynic within, I carry on.

    A version of Pascal's wager works for me:
    If prayers for others have no effect on them, they do affect me. They focus my attention outwards towards other beings. If they do have an effect, that is just so much better but if none, then at least they have done no harm
  • edited December 2008
    Hi Les,

    When I want to "pray for someone," I usually chant "Om Mani Padme Hum" and/or the Great Compassion Mantra, either alone or with my Zen group.

    Sometimes, not very often (because I'm lazy), I'll recite a sutra and dedicate the merit to someone in difficulty.

    I'm not entirely sure what I'm trying to accomplish by these recitation though. I don't really expect Guan Yin or Amitabha to actually descend from the heavens on a cloud of incense and charge to the rescue. Maybe I'm just trying to make my own self feel better, but I hope that's not it.
  • PalzangPalzang Veteran
    edited December 2008
    Well, again we come back to the fundamental delusion that gives rise to samsara, that of the deluded belief in "self" and "other". If you can realize that there is no "self" and no "other" that are separate and apart, then your question becomes moot, Les. There is no one and no thing "out there" to pray to. When I pray to the guru, I am simply acknowledging the buddhanature that informs all of us. And prayer does work, btw.

  • LesCLesC Bermuda Veteran
    edited January 2009
    Thank you all for your input... it provides additional food for thought. :)
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