Buddhist practitioners, especially those who are new to the practice, can be susceptible to magical thinking. A practitioner may say, “I just spent ten continuous days praying for my brother and now his doctors have told him his cancer is in remission.” Or “I did two months of Buddhist prayers for my mother’s heart condition, but my practice wasn’t strong enough and she died last week.” These are examples of deluded magical thinking and unrealistic expectations. Because of the potential confusion caused by the popular use of the term “prayer,” some Buddhist traditions avoid the word altogether. Rather than say “pray for,” one might speak of holding another in one’s thoughts. And instead of talking about the “prayer of,” one might speak of realization or awakening. Therefore, when you are concerned for another’s well-being, you might simply say, “I’m holding her in my thoughts” or “I’m holding you in my heart.” And instead of referring to the power of the Buddha’s prayer of awakening, you might refer to the power of the Buddha’s realization of simply awakening itself. It’s easy to forget that the ultimate realization is boundless compassion and oneness. When we put our palms together, it is not just one pair of hands meeting palm to palm. In that moment, whether we live or die, achieve health or not, become “enlightened” or not becomes secondary to knowing that the power of buddhanature is fully present- that everything we need is between our palms as we bow, that the working of great compassion is already unfolding, here and now. We can call that prayer if we like.
it’s ok to complain, to be sad, to fight, to deny your truth……from there, you open….
inquiry for today~ what is your answer to prayer? how is it that nothing seems to change? where is your constancy?
When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it’s bottomless, that it doesn’t have any resolution, that this heart is huge, vast, and limitless. You begin to discover how much warmth and gentleness is there, as well as how much space. Your world seems less solid, more roomy and spacious. The burden lightens. You’re willing to get to know yourself at this deep level. After awhile this same feeling begins to turn into a longing to raze all the walls, a longing to be fully human and to live in your world without always having to shut down and close off when certain things come along. Curiously enough, along with this longing and this sadness and this tenderness, there’s an immense sense of well-being, unconditional well-being, which doesn’t have anything to do with pleasant or unpleasant, good or bad, hope or fear, disgrace or fame. It’s something that simply comes to you when you feel that you can keep your heart open.