Johan, in Southampton, asked Ringu Tulku, how do Buddhists pray? The answer was so good but we didn’t have a recorder in the garden!
Later, a recording was made with Johan’s question and today we are pleased to share it with you:-)
Rinpoche explains the different aspects of prayer from a Buddhist perspective. He covers: How do you pray? to whom do you pray? for what do you pray?
Rinpoche is comprehensive, inspiring and clear in his explanations.
Apologies for the rather intrusive background noise to the recording.
Today is Full Moon day and Amitabha meditation day.
Wishing you all the very best,
Prayers in Buddhism
People often ask, how do the Buddhists pray? Who do you pray to? Actually, most of the time, what Buddhists do is what can be called as prayers.
It’s not really only prayers, it’s what we call sadhanas, which is kind of going through how to do the meditation, and then doing the meditation at the same time. But, there’s also prayers in Buddhism.
There are two things, one is to whom you pray and another is for what you pray.
The first is that Buddhists don’t think about a creator but they have Buddhas and enlightened beings that anybody who develops their wisdom, compassion, and all their positive qualities, they can become Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and they have the capacity that they not only help themselves become free from sufferings and the problems of the samsara but they can also help others to do that,
Therefore, when we pray to them it’s like seeking help. When we seek help from somebody, we need to seek help from somebody who is able to give help and who is above that problem and that difficulty.
So we pray to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and because of their wisdom and compassion we seek their help, their blessings but at the same, we also want to learn from their way of doing things and their footsteps so that we can also become like them. It’s not only seeking help and positive influence from them but also a willingness to tread in their footsteps.
When we pray there is the other aspect of prayer is, we pray for what? For Buddhists that’s very important, and actually more important. We pray not only for something that’s good for me, or get rid of some problems for me just now.
We always start to pray with keeping all the sentient beings in mind and (pray) for the liberation of all sentient beings from any kind of suffering. Then (we pray) for the well being of the people of this world, and the for the welfare of the people in my own country, then slowly down and down to my little community, and then my family, my friends and then myself. Whatever I wish for, I pray for that. And that’s aspiration, what I really wish and what I aspire to, that I try to express. I kind of make a statement of what is it I wish to achieve, now and in the long run.
But then in Buddhism, just making a prayer is not enough. There needs to be a support for that prayer with some good deeds, because from a Buddhist point of view if you make a prayer but you don’t do any positive deed to support that then that prayer would not happen. But if you do something positive, some positive accumulation, some positive action and then make the prayer, then by the power of that positive action, positive karma, then it is more likely that this prayer would also happen. So, therefore, all these (aspects), when we make a prayer in Buddhism it has to go with certain positive actions.
Most of the time we have The Seven Branch Prayer practice which is making these positive actions.
They (positive actions) are:
- Making prostrations to enlightened beings
- Making offerings and giving to everybody.
- Purification: purify our own negative deeds.
- Rejoicing, good things and positive deeds people have (and do)
- Requesting for teachers, requesting for guidance to make people more free from darkness and ignorance.
- Asking great beings to be and stay with us for longer and to appreciate good beings and great people.
Then whatever positive deeds that we have done, to share it with everybody, to dedicate the (positive) result for other beings and (for) larger and greater causes.
These kinds of actions are supposed to bring positive accumulations of positive actions. This will cause the prayers to get a positive result.
So, therefore, these three things: pray to great beings, to enlightened beings.Then pray for the goodness for the benefit of more people, immeasurable people equally with compassion. And then do some positive things in order that this prayer will have some support.
These three things, that’s the Buddhist way of doing prayers.”
Ringu Tulku Rinpoche.
This is a rough transcription of more or less exactly what Ringu Tulku Rinpoche says in the above video. Transcribed by Margaret Richardson