Not long before posting a recent blog entry that asked the question, “Do Buddhists Pray?” I purchased a book called 863 Buddhist Ways to Conquer Life’s Little Challenges, by Barbara Ann Kipfer. The universe was definitely guiding my hand that day; I love when that happens. But I guess I wasn’t listening, until today.
In the interim, I received some terrific feedback here and on my Facebook page, for which I am extremely grateful. The conundrum of how prayer fit into my life as a Buddhist was a thorny matter for me, and the advice you shared with me really made a difference. Thank you.
Back to the book. When I finally got around to opening it, this is what I saw on the first page:
Situation: While you believe in many ideals of Buddhism, you also believe in the power of prayer. From your upbringing and background as a Christian, prayer has always been important in your life. You want that to continue.
Wisdom: Embrace the adage that “prayer is speaking and meditation is listening.”
This is what I saw on the second page:
Situation: Sometimes it feels as if your prayers go unanswered. Is there any point to praying?
Wisdom: A good way to pray is to ask that the person you are praying for receive what he or she needs most at this time. You can pray in this way for yourself, too.
No doubt, I was not only meant to buy this book, but to wait to read it until after I had written the blog. There may have been people who needed to read it. I may have needed (no, I definitely needed) to hear what others had to say, to know that I wasn’t alone. If I had read the book right away, I might not have written the blog, and none of that would have happened.
I’m glad that the universe was still speaking, even if I wasn’t listening yet.
Follow me on Twitter @DharmaBeginner
See “Live the Green Dot” to learn about ways to be direct, distract or delgate and compassionately interrupt the sort of verbal and emotional violence you witnessed. Blessings.
Thanks, Jennifer. I will check it out.
Don’t you think that is just a human way of letting ‘God’, or whatever, off the hook-so to speak? A way to continue to ‘believe’ in the power of some other force to know better then we do what is needed or wanted? Perhaps an excuse to keep hanging on to something that doesn’t really exist because we are afraid to know that, that may just be true? I have often been annoyed by the fact that when something Good happens we call it a miracle, a gift from god! YAY! But when it doesn’t or the opposite comes along, we say, Oh, God knows best” or, “It wasn’t meant to be” or, “He works in mysterious ways”?!
This is the only part I have read, FYI, I have not read the other posts..<3
I hope you will read on, Dee. ❤ to you, too. 😉
I think I get what you're saying. I have witnessed that kind of passivity. I think it's equally common for people to blame God for what is wrong in their lives, rather than to take responsibility, or to recognize that not everything bad in their lives is a result of something they've done. Personally, I found many things–still find many things–to be "miraculous." Which is a synonym in my opinion for incredibly cool. The way nature works, the way the human body functions, it's all so incredibly cool when you think about it. Miraculous, really. 🙂
The book is at best misinformed. The Buddha specifically rejected prayer in the sense of supplication to some sort of deity as delusional. That does not however mean that individual Buddhists in certain countries do not pray but that is a cultural artefact, not part of Buddhism.
I guess it depends on how you define prayer. It seems to me that Tonglen, for instance, is very much like Christian intercessory prayer. At least, when I was a Christian, I often reached out to feel the pain and suffering of others, to take it as my own, and to send out love and compassion and healing. I didn’t understand it in the way I do now, but it was quite meaningful, as much as my meditations on compassion are today.
I, too, embrace the Buddhist philosophy and yet still pray. I find it comforting to still talk to the God I’ve always talked to while finding ways to tap into and feel the universal consciousness. In fact, I feel that I understand far more about spirituality and God now than I did when I was attending/learning from only mainstream Christian teachings.
Peace – D
I love the way you phrase that thought. Thank you!
Which is great, except of course that Buddhism sees belief in any supreme being as delusional. One can of course practice Buddhist meditation and believe in God and use Buddhist practice in that way to deepen one’s experience in whatever other tradition one happens to be in. That though is not the same as being a Buddhist and believing in God, which is a contradiction in terms.