http://www.UrbanDharma.org ...Buddhism for Urban America


The Urban Dharma Newsletter... November 25, 2003


In This Issue: Prayer & Buddhism

1. Click here for good karma
2. Re: Buddhism and prayer ...
...Buddhist Faith Fellowship of Connecticut
4. Prayer In Buddhism
...From SGI Quarterly
5. The meaning of prayer in Buddhism
-- Robert Kurniawan
6. Buddhist Prayer Beads
7. Temple/Center/Website- of the Week:
Prayer Directory - Buddhist - Buddhist Prayers
8. Book/CD/Movie Review: Loving-kindness Meditation


1. Click here for good karma


This is where prayer wheels enter the cyber-age. Prayer wheels are used by Tibetan Buddhists to purify themselves and the entire world of its accumulated negative karma. Inside each prayer wheel is a paper or some other medium (such as microfilm) on which a mantra has been inscribed many times over. Typically the mantra is OM MANI PADME HUM, which Tibetans pronounce: Om Mani Pémé Hung.

In English this means "the jewel in the lotus of the heart"; it is a reference to the hidden spark of divinity within each of us. The six syllables of the mantra are said to purify the six negative emotions: pride, jealousy, desire, ignorance, greed, and anger, while simultaneously engendering the six qualities of the enlightened heart: generosity, harmonious conduct, endurance, enthusiasm, concentration, and insight.

If the mantra is inscribed once and placed into a prayer wheel, each rotation of the prayer wheel accumulates the same merit as saying the mantra once. Similarly, a prayer wheel containing 100 million instances of the mantra yields the same purification power per rotation as saying the mantra 100 million times.

To set your very own prayer wheel in motion, all you have to do is download this mantra to your computer's hard disk. Once downloaded, your hard disk drive will spin the mantra for you. Nowadays hard disk drives spin their disks somewhere between 3600 and 7200 revolutions per minute, with a typical rate of 5400 rpm. Given those rotation speeds, you'll soon be purifying loads of negative karma.

If you occassionally post articles to netnews, you can exponentially increase the good karma that is generated by including the mantra in your .sig file. Shortly after posting an article, every news server in the world will be spinning your mantra round and round. If we assume that the news servers are Unix machines that operate continuously, a single news posting with this .sig will probably spin over 5 trillion times before the article expires. Sentient beings everywhere will be thanking you. However avoid spamming the net, as the negative karma produced by the spam tends to cancel out the good karma that might otherwise have been generated.

2. Re: Buddhism and prayer ...Michael



* Subject: Re: Buddhism and prayer
* Date: Tue, 12 Aug 2003 02:05:26 -0700


Dear David,

<< Since most Buddhists don't believe in God, or that Buddha talked about

God, who are they praying to? Or is it just a personal development strategy?>>

The Buddhist devotional book I have explains the purpose of Buddhist
devotional practice is effectively to express reverence and devotion to Buddha,
generally through homage to the Triple Gem (Buddha, dhamma, and Sangha). From this regular devotional *practice* comes spiritual solace and development. It
stresses that this is not just for times of trouble, but a daily remembrance of
Buddha. It includes recitations for the departed, pregnant women, the sick, etc.

While it is different from prayer as practiced in Western religion, the
functions are largely the same. And the main object of this devotion is Buddha, who,
as made clear in the words below, is effectively the most Supreme Being to

"Those who believe in God would pray to him for help and protection when they
experience fear, sorrow, or disturbance. Many Buddhists [laity] ask whom
could they turn to when confronted with the thoughts of fear, insecurity and
helplessness. Under such circumstances, we can turn our minds to the Buddha and
seek solace through him." (K. Sri Dhammananda) *see below

"...according to the Buddha, there are some people who pray to gods or devas
in times of danger for their own protection not realizing that these same gods
are themselves not free from greed, anger, ignorance and impermanence. ...
Therefore, for our protection, it is more advisable to remember Buddha, Dhamma,
and Sangha." (p. 38, Daily Buddhist Devotions)

"The Buddha was the holiest, most viruous, wisest and most spiritually
perfect personality who ever lived. His Dhamma (doctrine) is the Ultimate Truth
about the Universe which explains the real nature of the world and of life as
well." (p. 26)

"The Buddhas in the past are infinite in number. Of the known 28 Buddhas,
only four Buddhas belong to this present world cycle, the fourth being Gotama the
Buddha whose teachings we now follow. In time to come and during the course
of the present universe itself, one more Buddha will appear. He will be the
Maitreya Buddha.... Buddhists pay their homage in veneration to all these
Buddhas. In essense, all these Buddhas are exactly the same as the Buddha of this
world cycle. They have all realized the same Universal Truth (Dhamma) that
Sakyamuni Buddha had realized and they have all His qualities." (p. 48)

"It is good to start our daily work after offering some ... objects [incense,
flowers, etc.] to the Buddha as a mark of respect to the holy religious
teacher who has shown us the correct Path for our peace, happiness and salvation.

However, Buddhists should not be satisfied by simply offering something in the
name of the Buddha and reciting in a parrot-fashion some verses or Suttas
thinking their duty is done. To become good Buddhists they have to do something
more, they have to correct themselves by following the Buddha's advice."

"A fervent wish takes the place of prayer in Buddhism.... A wish has more the
function of contemplation and meditation rather than a petition or
supplication." (p. 72)

"If by deeds, speech or thought heedlessly,
I have done anything wrong,
forgive me O master!
O Teacher, Most Wise!"
(translation of Khamatha me Bhante, p. 77)

"Protect me and my loved ones tonight,
O Blessed One.
Keep us away from harm and danger.
Let our sleep be peaceful so that we awake in the morning refreshed in body
and mind." (p. 124, excerpted from Evening Recitals)

"I revere the Buddha, highest jewel and best balm ever, beneficial to gods
and men. By the Buddha's glory, safely, may all obstacles and suffering cease."
(translated from the Maha Jaya Mangala gatha, verse 3, p. 135)

"There is no other refuge for me. The Buddha is my matchless refuge. By these
words of truth may joyous victory be mine!" (Maha Jaya Mangala gatha, verse
9, p. 137)

"It is impossible to visualize the Buddha even in His Rupakaya (physical
form). How much more inconceivable is His Dharmakaya (doctrinal body) of unique
wisdom?" (Buddhanussati, v. 11, p. 166)

Warmest, Michael


Shasta Abbey Buddhist Supplies - http://www.buddhistsupplies.com/sabsthera.htm

*DAILY BUDDHIST DEVOTIONS by Venerable K. Sri Dhammananda

#B206 Daily Buddhist Devotions $11.25 - The Buddhist Missionary Society, 1993, 224 pp.

This beautifully produced pocket-sized book may be used for integrating Buddhist teaching into daily life and for teaching children about Buddhism. The means offered are short verses for recitation (Pali, paritta) and the subjects covered include transference of merit, loving-kindness, meditations for funerals and other times of sorrow, offerings (puja), and paying homage to the Three Treasures. Carefully designed and illustrated throughout, the book includes explanations by the author and gives the verses in both Pali and English.

3. BUDDHIST PRAYER ...Buddhist Faith Fellowship of Connecticut


The purpose of Buddhist prayer is 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 expresses an aspiration to pull something into one's life, like some new energy or purifying influence and share it with all beings. Likewise, prayer inspires our hearts towards wisdom and compassion for others and ourselves.  It allows us to turn our hearts and minds to the beneficial, rousing our thoughts and actions towards Awakening. If we believe in something enough, it will take hold of us. In other words, believing in it, we will become what we believe. Our ability to be touched like this is evidence of the working of Great Compassion within us. 

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.

Everywhere and Anytime

The wonderful thing about prayer practice is that we can do it everywhere and anytime, transforming the ordinary and mundane into the Path of Awakening. Prayer enriches our lives with deep spiritual connection and makes every moment special, manifesting the Pure Land here and now.

Pray for all living things.

Lord Buddha taught to have compassion for all animals as well as human. We all have Buddha-nature.

4. Prayer In Buddhism ...From SGI Quarterly


Prayer is central to the practice of Nichiren Buddhism. SGI members often relate experiences of "offering earnest prayer," or "praying from the bottom of my heart." They also speak of having their prayers "answered." What do SGI members mean when they make such statements?

The Webster's Third International Dictionary defines prayer as "a solemn and humble approach to Divinity in word or thought, usually involving beseeching, petition, confession, praise, or thanksgiving."

In what way does the Buddhist understanding of prayer accord with this definition, and how does it differ?

Prayer appears to be a universal human activity. There is evidence to suggest that humans have been engaged in some form of "prayer" since the earliest days of our species. As soon as humans developed a consciousness of their relative powerlessness before the forces of nature, the precariousness of their existence and their own mortality, they no doubt began giving expression to intense feelings of petition, praise or thanksgiving.

SGI President Daisaku Ikeda has written that religion grew from prayer; that the sentiment and act of prayer precedes the forms that different religious traditions have since given this primordial human act. Buddhist prayer likewise may be thought of as a focused expression of these same sentiments of yearning, commitment and appreciation. It is, however, distinguished by the fact that Buddhism locates the divine within the life of the individual practitioner. The purpose of Buddhist prayer is to awaken our innate inner capacities of strength, courage and wisdom rather than to petition external forces.

Also, as in many Eastern spiritual practices, there is an emphasis on a specific physical form of prayer. For practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism this means reciting portions of the Lotus Sutra and the repeated chanting of the phrase "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo," the name of the mystic law that lies within all life, and which Nichiren derived from the title of the Lotus Sutra. That the chant is audibly intoned expresses the fact that in Nichiren Buddhism prayer is not a meditative turning inward, but an act making manifest inner qualities, bringing them out into the real world.

SGI members direct their prayer to the Gohonzon, or object of veneration. This is a mandala, a symbolic representation of the ideal state of Buddhahood, or enlightenment, in which all the tendencies and impulses of life--from the most debased to the most noble--function in harmony toward happiness and creativity. The Gohonzon is not an "idol" or "god" to be supplicated or appeased but a means for reflection and a catalyst for inner change.

SGI members are encouraged to make their prayers specific, concrete and focused on real-life problems, hopes and concerns they confront. Nichiren Buddhism stresses the inseparability of "earthly desires" and enlightenment. Nichiren states that it is by burning the "firewood" of our desires--through the act of prayer--that we are able to bring forth the flame of renewed energy and the light of our inner wisdom. Buddhist prayer is the process by which our intensely felt desires and sufferings are transformed into compassion and wisdom. In this sense, it inevitably involves self-reflection, including a sometimes painful confrontation with our own deeply-rooted destructive tendencies. To quote Nichiren again, "Your practice of the Buddhist teachings will not relieve you of the sufferings of birth and death in the least unless you perceive the true nature of your life." (The Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, "On Attaining Buddhahood in this Lifetime," page 3.)

SGI members are also encouraged to view prayer as fully integrated with the actions and behavior of daily life. Prayer only becomes genuine prayer when it is acted upon. To succeed in life we need determination and prayer, effort and ingenuity.

Most fundamentally, prayer is the process of bringing forth the supreme state of life referred to as our "Buddha nature." A potential possessed equally by all people, the Buddha nature is the fundamental, compassionate life force inherent in the cosmos. Prayer is the process of realigning our individual lives (the lesser self, with all its impulses and desires) with the rhythm of the living cosmos (the greater self). In doing this we unleash previously untapped sources of self-knowledge, wisdom, vitality and perseverance. And because, in Buddhist philosophy, there is no separation between the internal world of human beings and their environment, changes that occur in our inner life are reflected in our external circumstances. The experience of having one's prayers "answered" is the manifest result of this process.

Daisaku Ikeda has written that the ultimate form of prayer is in fact a vow--a vow to contribute to the happiness of others and the development of human society.

It is this vow and pledge to action that most profoundly attunes our lives to the larger life of the universe and brings forth our highest, most noble "selves."

5. The meaning of prayer in Buddhism -- Robert Kurniawan


The last and first month of Lunar Calendar is full of religious ceremonies. Traditional Chinese people give offerings to their deities and ancestors. The arriving of winter is the time for "Onde-onde" and we send the God of Kitchen up to heaven by pasting sweets to his lip so he will report all good things about our deeds.

We held a large worship table to treat our ancestors the first day of new year and we finish off the spring festival with a big feast for the living. In addition to the offerings we pray either by chanting or burning incense. What do we pray for ? We extend our appreciation to the deities and ancestors for their protection in the year passed and request similar treatment in the coming year. tradittionaly speaking, this is proper as Buddhists, let us consult what Buddhism says about prayer.

Man is not a fallen creature who begs for his needs as he awaits mercy. According to Buddhism, man is a potential master of himself and the universe. Only because of his deep ignorancedoes man fail to realize his potentiality. Since the Buddha has shown this hidden power of man, he must cultivate each grain of spirit and try to develop it by realizing his ability.

Buddhism gives full responsibility and dignity to man. It makes man his own master. Accroding to Buddhism, no higher being sits in judgement over his/her affairs and destiny. That is to say, our life, our society, our world, is what you and I want to make out of it, and not what some other unknown beings want.

Remember that nature is impartial, it cannot be flattered by prayers. Nature does not grant any special favours on request. thus in Buddhism, prayer is meditation which has self-change as its object. Prayer in meditation is the reconditioning of one's nature. It is the transforming of one's nature into something better and noble. This transformation of one's inner nature is accomplished by the purification of the three faculties -thought, word and deed. Through meditation, we can understand that "we become what we think" in accordance with the teachings of psychology. When we pray, we experience some sort of relief in our minds; that is, the psychological effect that we have created through our faith and devotion. After reciting certain verses we also experience the same result. Religious names or symbols are important in order to develop this faith and devotion.

The Buddha Himself has clearly expressed that neither the recital of religious books, nor the repetition of prayers, penances, hymns, charms, mantras, incantations and invocations can bring the real happiness of NIBANNA.

Regarding the use of prayers for attaining the final goal, the Buddha once made an analogy of a man who wants to cross a river. If he sits down and prays that the far bank of the river will come to him and carry him accross, under any circumstances, it will not ever happen. If he really wants to cross the river, he must make some efforts; he must find some logs and build a raft, or look for a bridge or construct a boat or perhaps swim. Somehow he must work to get across the river. Likewise, if he wants to cross the river of SAMSARA, prayers alone are not enough. He must work hard by living a religious life, by controlling his passions, calming his mind, and by getting rid of all the impurities and defilements in his mind. Only then can he reach the final goal. Prayer alone will never take him to the final goal.

If prayer is necessary, it should be diverted to strengthen the mind but not to beg for merit or mercy.The following prayer of a well-known poet, teaches us how to pray. However, to Buddhists, this is only meditation to cultivate the mind:

"Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers,
but to be fearless in facing them.

Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain,
but for the heart to conquer it.

Let me not crave in anxious fear to be saved,
but for the patience to win my freedom."

6. Buddhist Prayer Beads


Although many people may recognize a variation of these prayer beads among today’s newest fashion accessories, they carry a far deeper significance in the Buddhist culture.  For this group of individuals, prayer beads, or mala beads as they are called in the Buddhist religion, represent a meditative tool.  Their specific purpose may vary for different individuals, but commonly the beads are used to enhance ‘goodness’ and diminish ‘toxins’.  The overarching purpose of these beads from a true Buddhist perspective is to drive away evil and fill you and all beings with peace and bliss.  In accordance with the active nature of practice in Buddhism, this material object is used as an accomplice for gaining merit on the path to enlightenment. 

The origin of mala beads is rooted in the Hindu religion.  Individuals who converted from the Hindu faith to Buddhism during its birth, transferred this devotional practice with them and it soon became a part of the Buddhist faith.  The story of the beads' origin is as follows:

“Sakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism, paid a visit to king Vaidunya…Sakya directed him to thread 108 seeds of the Bodhi tree on a string, and while passing them between his fingers to repeat… ‘Hail to the Buddha, the law, and the congregation’… (2,000) times a day (Dubin).”

Another interpretation of this prayer is ‘om mani padme hum.’  During recitation, this phrase is repeated over and over again according to how many beads are on a person’s strand of mala beads.

Traditionally, there are 108 beads on a strand of mala prayer beads.  This number is significant because it represents the number of mental conditions or sinful desires that one must overcome to reach enlightenment or nirvana.  Monks usually have mala beads with 108 beads, where as a lay person may have a strand numbering in 30 or 40 beads.  This difference in length may possibly be explained by understanding each person’s distance traveled on the path to enlightenment.  Commercial sellers of mala beads have also suggested that individuals just beginning this prayer ritual begin with a shorter strand of beads.

Just as variety exists for the number of beads, variety exists for the style, color, and material composition. Differences in the popularity and use of mala beads also exist cross-culturally.  Typically, monks’ mala beads are made of wood from the Bodhi tree.  In Tibet, mala strands often contain parts of semi-precious stones.  In this culture, the most valued strands are made of bones of holy men or lamas.  Typically there are 108 beads divided by 3 large beads.  The end pieces on these strands are “djore” (a thunderbolt) and “drilbu” (the bell).  These end pieces represent the Three Jewels, or Buddha, the doctrine, and the community.  In Japan, mala prayer beads are popular at social events such as funerals, weddings, and other ceremonies.  Mala beads in Japan typically are 112 in number and made of wood.  Additionally, the most coveted strands have been blessed by a monk.  In Korea, the use of mala beads has been extensive.  Their popularity diminished, however, during the period when Buddhism was banned from the country (1392-1910).  In addition to the traditional 108 beads, Korean mala strands usually include 2 large beads, which are used during special prayers.  In China, the use of mala beads was never really popular.  They were used, but more commonly, they were used by the ruling hierarchy as a status symbol.

Although the structure of mala beads may vary among individuals or groups of Buddhists, the overall purpose of all mala beads is to create a sense of tranquility and inner-peace for not only the individual, but for the community as a whole.  In reciting the prayer, ‘toxins’ will leave and a sense of peace will enter making an individual that much closer to reaching nirvana.

7. Soul to Spirit - Prayer Directory - Buddhist - Buddhist Prayers

"A web page of Buddhist payers" - (First line of each prayer is below)

* Assailed by afflictions, we discover Dharma ...
* By the strength of my pure motivation ...
* Do everything with a mind that lets go ...
* For as long as space endures ...
* From the blossoming lotus of devotion ...
* I always believe that it is much better to have a variety ...
* I am of the nature to grow old ...
* Just as the stem of a banana tree does not exist ...
* Living beings are without number ...
* May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness ...
* May all our defilements be dispelled completely ...
* May I be a protector to those without ...
* May I be filled with loving kindness ...
* May I become at all times, both now and forever ...
* May you be filled with loving kindness ...
* Mesmerised by the sheer variety of perceptions ...
* Nam myoho renge kyo ...
* Nothing real can be threatened...
* Now when the bardo of dying dawns ...
* O Guru Rinpoche, Precious One, You are the embodiment ...
* Pray to put an end to hope and fear ...
* Sentient beings are numberless ...
* Shariputra, any noble sons or noble daughters (The Heart Sutra) ...
* Since things neither exist nor don't exist ...
* The sun and the moon dance ...
* There is only one time ...
* This life, you must know as the tiny splash ...
* Through your blessing, grace ...
* Thus it is our own mind ...
* When my time has come and impermanence ...

8. Loving-kindness Meditation — Ven. Sujiva.  Free - e-Book - (211 KB)


Loving-kindness Meditation or Metta Bhavana and other Sublime States by Ven. Sujiva is a clear and comprehensive step-by-step explanation of the systematic practice. It is based on the Visuddhimagga or The Path of Purification by Buddhagosha. The texts describe metta as characterised by promoting the aspect of welfare. Amity, goodwill, friendliness and loving-kindness are some words used to describe this mental state. There is no better way to know it than to study it as it occurs in one's own and others' minds. It is a totally unselfish and pure state of mind that brings profit to oneself and others now and hereafter.


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