Praying. Where to start?

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Hazel
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Praying. Where to start?

Post by Hazel » Sat Sep 28, 2019 3:49 am

Hello,

I recently became interested in the prospect of praying (which is a quite foreign concept to me) and wanted to experiment with this practice. Specifically I would like to work on 2 things: 1. change in my own life and the parts of me I am struggling with changing through sheer will power alone and 2. praying for the well being of friends and strangers.

I am not affiliated with a specific school and have not taken any initiations or received empowerments (and would not want to do something that required them without them!). Where would be appropriate for me to begin this exploration?

Thank you friends!

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Ayu
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Re: Praying. Where to start?

Post by Ayu » Sat Sep 28, 2019 7:26 am

I think, the refuge and bodhicitta prayer is an excellent start. The four immeasurables in addition are wonderful as well.
Refuge & Bodhicitta

SANGGYÉ CHÖEDANG TSHOGKYI CHOGNAM LA/
In the Buddha, Dharma and the Supreme Assembly,

JANGCHUB BARDU DAGNI KYABSU CHI/
I take refuge until enlightenment.

DAGGI JINSOG GYIPEI SÖENAM KYI/
By the merit of my generosity and other perfections,

DrOLA PHENCHIR SANGGYÉ DrUBPAR SHOG/
May I attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all beings.

Repeat three times

The Four Immeasurable Thoughts

SEMCHEN DEDANG DENGYUR CHIG/
May all beings obtain happiness and be happy.

DUGNGEL GYUDANG DrELGYUR CHIG/
May all remain free from sorrow and the cause of sorrow.

DEWA DAMDANG MIDrEL SHOG/
May all never be separated from authentic happiness.

CHAGDANG DrELWEI TANGNYOM SHOG/
May all remain in a state of equanimity, free of attachment and aversion.

Repeat three times
Source: http://drukpa.com/component/muscol/G/1- ... bodhicitta

You can leave out the Tibetan text, if you don't know how to pronounce it.

There are many sources about refuge and bodhicitta.
For the benefit and ease of all sentient beings. :heart:

Fortyeightvows
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Re: Praying. Where to start?

Post by Fortyeightvows » Sat Sep 28, 2019 7:52 am

Here is my thoughts-
Lots of people pray for things and it doesn’t happen.
So, we have to look at people who pray for things that happen and follow that.
Some lamas or saints are said to have very efficacious prayers. Why?

In a Buddhist context, prayer is almost always accompanied by offerings or ritual. For ritual, check of Frazer’s correspondence and/or contagion.

You can understand the offerings as a sort of gift for the deity, to sweeten them up (or as making the merit needed) In my job, we always bring gifts and buy meals for our potential customers and even after we get their business we always give gifts on holidays, etc. that’s to keep a good relationship.
Propitiating the deity can be understood a bit like that, or like courting a lover.
It takes some time to build the relationship before we can ask for too much, right?

If the prayer is answered, then you have to say thank you. A lot of people will promise to do this or that if the prayer is answered, keep vegetarian for some time, build an altar, make a donation, things like that.

Another way of looking at prayer is as a form of therapy. Free talk therapy to express one’s anxiety. That has value too.

Do we pray for circumstance to change or for the ability to deal with the circumstance ?

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Hazel
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Re: Praying. Where to start?

Post by Hazel » Sat Sep 28, 2019 4:59 pm

Such a great balance between responses! Thank you :-).

In regards to praying to dieties (lets use Tara for example as I seem drawn to her which is a weird feeling) I am having some trouble determining what is appropriate for someone such as myself that also has textual or historical precedent (I feel attached to historicity, but perhaps I shouldn't be? My justification is I have no other means of discernment than historocity and the words of my teacher and the people here). I feel strongly that I shouldn't be dabbling with practices that the related cultures have rules about initiation and empowerment, and that's most of what I find on the internet.

Russell
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Re: Praying. Where to start?

Post by Russell » Sat Sep 28, 2019 5:33 pm

Maybe you would like to do something like this at some point..
https://www.taramandala.org/online-prog ... -packages/


Simon E.
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Re: Praying. Where to start?

Post by Simon E. » Sat Sep 28, 2019 6:29 pm

You don’t need the Empowerment to recite the Tara mantra Hazel.. :smile

It’s Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha...
“The difference between us and Tara is that she knows she doesn’t exist”.

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Hazel
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Re: Praying. Where to start?

Post by Hazel » Sat Sep 28, 2019 6:48 pm

Ayu wrote:
Sat Sep 28, 2019 7:26 am
I think, the refuge and bodhicitta prayer is an excellent start. The four immeasurables in addition are wonderful as well..
I got started on these right away :-). Thank you!

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tobes
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Re: Praying. Where to start?

Post by tobes » Sun Sep 29, 2019 12:51 am

Fortyeightvows wrote:
Sat Sep 28, 2019 7:52 am
Here is my thoughts-
Lots of people pray for things and it doesn’t happen.
So, we have to look at people who pray for things that happen and follow that.
Some lamas or saints are said to have very efficacious prayers. Why?

In a Buddhist context, prayer is almost always accompanied by offerings or ritual. For ritual, check of Frazer’s correspondence and/or contagion.

You can understand the offerings as a sort of gift for the deity, to sweeten them up (or as making the merit needed) In my job, we always bring gifts and buy meals for our potential customers and even after we get their business we always give gifts on holidays, etc. that’s to keep a good relationship.
Propitiating the deity can be understood a bit like that, or like courting a lover.
It takes some time to build the relationship before we can ask for too much, right?

If the prayer is answered, then you have to say thank you. A lot of people will promise to do this or that if the prayer is answered, keep vegetarian for some time, build an altar, make a donation, things like that.

Another way of looking at prayer is as a form of therapy. Free talk therapy to express one’s anxiety. That has value too.

Do we pray for circumstance to change or for the ability to deal with the circumstance ?
Buddhas, bodhisattvas, yidams etc don't need to be sweetened up ~ I think that seeing offerings as some kind of gift exchange is the wrong idea.

I think it is better to see it like this: Buddhas etc are all around us, all the time, but we are closed off from their presence. Offering is a means of opening one's heart. If the heart is not opened, it cannot receive help/blessings etc. So in this sense, offerings are like a key to our own heart; they are for us not for the higher beings we are beseeching.

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Re: Praying. Where to start?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Sun Sep 29, 2019 1:46 am

tobes wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 12:51 am
Fortyeightvows wrote:
Sat Sep 28, 2019 7:52 am
Here is my thoughts-
Lots of people pray for things and it doesn’t happen.
So, we have to look at people who pray for things that happen and follow that.
Some lamas or saints are said to have very efficacious prayers. Why?

In a Buddhist context, prayer is almost always accompanied by offerings or ritual. For ritual, check of Frazer’s correspondence and/or contagion.

You can understand the offerings as a sort of gift for the deity, to sweeten them up (or as making the merit needed) In my job, we always bring gifts and buy meals for our potential customers and even after we get their business we always give gifts on holidays, etc. that’s to keep a good relationship.
Propitiating the deity can be understood a bit like that, or like courting a lover.
It takes some time to build the relationship before we can ask for too much, right?

If the prayer is answered, then you have to say thank you. A lot of people will promise to do this or that if the prayer is answered, keep vegetarian for some time, build an altar, make a donation, things like that.

Another way of looking at prayer is as a form of therapy. Free talk therapy to express one’s anxiety. That has value too.

Do we pray for circumstance to change or for the ability to deal with the circumstance ?
Buddhas, bodhisattvas, yidams etc don't need to be sweetened up ~ I think that seeing offerings as some kind of gift exchange is the wrong idea.

I think it is better to see it like this: Buddhas etc are all around us, all the time, but we are closed off from their presence. Offering is a means of opening one's heart. If the heart is not opened, it cannot receive help/blessings etc. So in this sense, offerings are like a key to our own heart; they are for us not for the higher beings we are beseeching.
Here the analogy of the Iron Ring seems apt, we hold up the iron ring of our discipline, ethics, aspiration etc. and Buddhas can help to pull us out of samsara. I've also heard one teacher liken it to tuning into a radio station. I suppose here the ability to tune in is based on the same stuff.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low

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明安 Myoan
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Re: Praying. Where to start?

Post by 明安 Myoan » Sun Sep 29, 2019 2:25 am

Eight Verses of Training the Mind
by Geshe Langri Thangpa

By thinking of all sentient beings
As more precious than a wish-fulfilling jewel
For accomplishing the highest aim,
I will always hold them dear.

Whenever I’m in the company of others,
I will regard myself as the lowest among all,
And from the depths of my heart
Cherish others as supreme.

In my every action, I will watch my mind,
And the moment destructive emotions arise,
I will confront them strongly and avert them,
Since they will hurt both me and others.

Whenever I see ill-natured beings,
Or those overwhelmed by heavy misdeeds or suffering,
I will cherish them as something rare,
As though I’d found a priceless treasure.

Whenever someone out of envy
Does me wrong by attacking or belittling me,
I will take defeat upon myself,
And give the victory to others.

Even when someone I have helped,
Or in whom I have placed great hopes
Mistreats me very unjustly,
I will view that person as a true spiritual teacher.

In brief, directly or indirectly,
I will offer help and happiness to all my mothers,
And secretly take upon myself
All their hurt and suffering.

I will learn to keep all these practices
Untainted by thoughts of the eight worldly concerns.
May I recognize all things as like illusions,
And, without attachment, gain freedom from bondage.
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

Reciting the nembutsu and believing in birth in the Pure Land naturally give rise to the Three Minds and the Four Modes of Practice. -- Master Hōnen

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Hazel
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Re: Praying. Where to start?

Post by Hazel » Thu Oct 03, 2019 12:46 am

I've been working on these and it has been great.

I have a question though. When people talk about praying for specific others or specific circumstances (like in the prayers subforum) or when (and I take this from an old DW post) a Buddhist keeps a secret folder full of people to pray for, how does that work?

Fortyeightvows
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Re: Praying. Where to start?

Post by Fortyeightvows » Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:15 pm

Hazel wrote:
Thu Oct 03, 2019 12:46 am
I have a question though. When people talk about praying for specific others or specific circumstances (like in the prayers subforum) or when (and I take this from an old DW post) a Buddhist keeps a secret folder full of people to pray for, how does that work?
One of my teachers keeps a sheet of paper in the back of his prayer books with a list of names.
And alot of people will write names on paper and put them on their shrine. (best to burn with the prayer when finished, instead of just putting in the trash.)
Or just say the name, birthday, etc of the person you pray for and the deitys will know.

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Nicholas Weeks
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Re: Praying. Where to start?

Post by Nicholas Weeks » Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 pm

This is based on the Four Infinities:
May I always radiate peace, love, compassion, joy for all beings!

Always radiate peace!
Always radiate love!
Always radiate compassion!
Always radiate joy!

May all people radiate peace, love, compassion, joy for others!

All people radiate peace!
All people radiate love!
All people radiate compassion!
All people radiate joy!

May all people that I know radiate peace, love, compassion, joy for others!

All people that I know radiate peace!
All people that I know radiate love!
All people that I know radiate compassion!
All people that I know radiate joy!
Repeat each line many times. No need to be specific, the intent "all people that I know" will cover them.
May all seek, find or follow the Path of Buddhas.

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Re: Praying. Where to start?

Post by PadmaVonSamba » Fri Oct 04, 2019 5:00 am

Hazel wrote:
Sat Sep 28, 2019 4:59 pm
Such a great balance between responses! Thank you :-).

In regards to praying to dieties (lets use Tara for example as I seem drawn to her which is a weird feeling) I am having some trouble determining what is appropriate for someone such as myself that also has textual or historical precedent (I feel attached to historicity, but perhaps I shouldn't be? My justification is I have no other means of discernment than historocity and the words of my teacher and the people here). I feel strongly that I shouldn't be dabbling with practices that the related cultures have rules about initiation and empowerment, and that's most of what I find on the internet.
The function of making offerings is that you get into the daily practice of generosity.
Prayer inn Buddhism is a funny thing,
because ultimately you want to get beyond the subject/object level where
you are talking to some other being who is not you,
and they are listening to beings other than themselves,
because really, this is not what the Buddha taught.
The different buddhas and bodhisattvas are all the same as your own true nature.
Every being already has the potential for full realization, and we personify that potential and make prayers and offerings to that potential
that is within each of us, and that we look for in others.

I had a very dear friend who was not a buddhist, but who was nonetheless very devoted to Kwan Yin,
who is a peaceful female form of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara.
She had a shrine and lit a candle and incense every morning, drank some tea. But she wasn't a buddhist.
she didn't like 'patriarchal religions', but she felt a strong connection with Kwan Yin.
(The Dalai lama is also believed to be a living emanation of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara.
it was through this friend that I really got into studying Buddhism.

There is a story about some people a long time ago who went to a temple in China devoted to Kwan Yin
and there, they left a food offering of some kind of meat.
A caretaker of that temple saw this and ran out and yelled at the visitors,
and told them they had desecrated the temple, and offended all the buddhas, etc. and the visitors ran away.

Then, the big Kwan Yin statue sort of came to life, and said to the temple caretaker something like:
"those people made a sincere offering of what they had. But you have made the insult by yelling at them and driving them off!"

So, the point of this is, the rituals and customs are not important in themselves.
They provide a means of practice, of connecting with the teachings, of expressing devotion, and so on.
But it is your own inner motivation which is really the important thing.
As one person put it, "you can teach a monkey to ring a prayer bell" (meaning a ritual bell)
Conversely, there are many people who learn every ritual, how to properly set up a shrine, bow, etc,
but who never develop any wisdom or compassion, or develop very little,
because they lack the right motivation, which is to attain realization for the benefit of all beings
("all" includes yourself too).

For most people, I think this is true, that they kind of develop on their own, not knowing too much at first, maybe they meditate a little every daymaybe they have a buddha picture or a pretty sea shell or something meaningful to focus on, still on their own, making it up as they go.
But, if they have good motivation, at some point (many people say, "at just the right moment")
they make a connection to a dharma teacher or dharma center that seems to fit with where they are.
.
.
.
Profile Picture: "The Fo Ming (Buddha Bright) Monk"
People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.

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明安 Myoan
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Re: Praying. Where to start?

Post by 明安 Myoan » Fri Oct 04, 2019 6:02 am

:good:

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Agdistis
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Re: Praying. Where to start?

Post by Agdistis » Fri Oct 04, 2019 9:26 am

>You don’t need the Empowerment to recite the Tara mantra
Awesome to know - thanks!

I presume that without having formally taken refuge, it's just an 'OK' thing to do and doesn't really benefit you?

Also, what exactly can you pray for - aside from Bodhicitta? At a certain point, I was in a holding pattern over Catholicism, and asked a lot of questions - I was told, among many other things, that God won't change your eye color, hair color or sex.

Consider Shancai;

>https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sudhana
>In the tale, Shancai was a disabled boy from India who was very interested in studying the Buddha's teachings
>Guanyin, after having a discussion with Shancai, decided to test his resolve to fully study the Buddhist dharma
>Shancai and Guanyin managed to reascend the cliff, and at this point, Guanyin asked Shancai to look down. Shancai saw his mortal remains at the foot of the cliff. Guanyin then asked him to walk and Shancai found that he could walk normally and that he was no longer crippled. When he looked into a pool of water, he also discovered that he now had a handsome face

I interpret this story as illustrating the caveat that Shancai was healed so he practice Buddhism - I guess a handsome face is just an extra that wasn't even his idea, since Shancai never mentions considering himself ugly.

So why did Guanyin change his face? Can we pray to Tara or other Buddhas/Bodhisattvas for similar boons on the condition that we cultivate Bodhicitta motivation?

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Hazel
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Re: Praying. Where to start?

Post by Hazel » Sat Oct 05, 2019 8:08 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
Fri Oct 04, 2019 5:00 am
Hazel wrote:
Sat Sep 28, 2019 4:59 pm
Such a great balance between responses! Thank you :-).

In regards to praying to dieties (lets use Tara for example as I seem drawn to her which is a weird feeling) I am having some trouble determining what is appropriate for someone such as myself that also has textual or historical precedent (I feel attached to historicity, but perhaps I shouldn't be? My justification is I have no other means of discernment than historocity and the words of my teacher and the people here). I feel strongly that I shouldn't be dabbling with practices that the related cultures have rules about initiation and empowerment, and that's most of what I find on the internet.
The function of making offerings is that you get into the daily practice of generosity.
Prayer inn Buddhism is a funny thing,
because ultimately you want to get beyond the subject/object level where
you are talking to some other being who is not you,
and they are listening to beings other than themselves,
because really, this is not what the Buddha taught.
The different buddhas and bodhisattvas are all the same as your own true nature.
Every being already has the potential for full realization, and we personify that potential and make prayers and offerings to that potential
that is within each of us, and that we look for in others.

I had a very dear friend who was not a buddhist, but who was nonetheless very devoted to Kwan Yin,
who is a peaceful female form of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara.
She had a shrine and lit a candle and incense every morning, drank some tea. But she wasn't a buddhist.
she didn't like 'patriarchal religions', but she felt a strong connection with Kwan Yin.
(The Dalai lama is also believed to be a living emanation of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara.
it was through this friend that I really got into studying Buddhism.

There is a story about some people a long time ago who went to a temple in China devoted to Kwan Yin
and there, they left a food offering of some kind of meat.
A caretaker of that temple saw this and ran out and yelled at the visitors,
and told them they had desecrated the temple, and offended all the buddhas, etc. and the visitors ran away.

Then, the big Kwan Yin statue sort of came to life, and said to the temple caretaker something like:
"those people made a sincere offering of what they had. But you have made the insult by yelling at them and driving them off!"

So, the point of this is, the rituals and customs are not important in themselves.
They provide a means of practice, of connecting with the teachings, of expressing devotion, and so on.
But it is your own inner motivation which is really the important thing.
As one person put it, "you can teach a monkey to ring a prayer bell" (meaning a ritual bell)
Conversely, there are many people who learn every ritual, how to properly set up a shrine, bow, etc,
but who never develop any wisdom or compassion, or develop very little,
because they lack the right motivation, which is to attain realization for the benefit of all beings
("all" includes yourself too).

For most people, I think this is true, that they kind of develop on their own, not knowing too much at first, maybe they meditate a little every daymaybe they have a buddha picture or a pretty sea shell or something meaningful to focus on, still on their own, making it up as they go.
But, if they have good motivation, at some point (many people say, "at just the right moment")
they make a connection to a dharma teacher or dharma center that seems to fit with where they are.
.
.
.
This is really helpful. Thank you :-).

Simon E.
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Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 11:09 am

Re: Praying. Where to start?

Post by Simon E. » Sat Oct 05, 2019 8:36 pm

Agdistis wrote:
Fri Oct 04, 2019 9:26 am
>You don’t need the Empowerment to recite the Tara mantra
Awesome to know - thanks!

I presume that without having formally taken refuge, it's just an 'OK' thing to do and doesn't really benefit you?

Also, what exactly can you pray for - aside from Bodhicitta? At a certain point, I was in a holding pattern over Catholicism, and asked a lot of questions - I was told, among many other things, that God won't change your eye color, hair color or sex.

Consider Shancai;

>https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sudhana
>In the tale, Shancai was a disabled boy from India who was very interested in studying the Buddha's teachings
>Guanyin, after having a discussion with Shancai, decided to test his resolve to fully study the Buddhist dharma
>Shancai and Guanyin managed to reascend the cliff, and at this point, Guanyin asked Shancai to look down. Shancai saw his mortal remains at the foot of the cliff. Guanyin then asked him to walk and Shancai found that he could walk normally and that he was no longer crippled. When he looked into a pool of water, he also discovered that he now had a handsome face

I interpret this story as illustrating the caveat that Shancai was healed so he practice Buddhism - I guess a handsome face is just an extra that wasn't even his idea, since Shancai never mentions considering himself ugly.

So why did Guanyin change his face? Can we pray to Tara or other Buddhas/Bodhisattvas for similar boons on the condition that we cultivate Bodhicitta motivation?
On the contrary reciting the Tara mantra can bring all sorts of boons even without the Empowerment. It could for example be a means to achieve one pointedness of mind, which is the basis for all kinds of good stuff..
“The difference between us and Tara is that she knows she doesn’t exist”.

Punya
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Re: Praying. Where to start?

Post by Punya » Sat Oct 05, 2019 10:59 pm

X2.

Thank you PadmaVonSambha.
We abide nowhere. We possess nothing.
~Chatral Rinpoche

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Re: Praying. Where to start?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Tue Oct 08, 2019 6:27 am

A practice I was taught early on, and which I engage in regularly, really to me is one of the most simple and beautiful practices I've been taught:

Simply take a mala (or not if you don't have one) and recite each of the Four Immeasurable for oneself, one's close one's, and all beings. After each round (or where it feels appropriate) rest in awareness.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low

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