Monday, September 19, 2011

Do Buddhists "Pray"? (video)

Amber Dorrian (Wisdom Quarterly)

100 million mantras for Tibet with Vajrayana nuns in Nepal and Dharamsala: with every turn a prayer to the compassionate universe and its guardians (

In every dream home a heartache, and every step I take, takes me further from heaven. Is there a heaven? I'd like to think so..." says Bryan Ferry. Whether or not Buddhists pray depends on the definition of "prayer." To beseech, beg, supplicate, worship, and petition an all-powerful "God," that does not happen much. But to ask favors of devas, brahmas, bodhisattvas, or Sakka (the leader of the "Second Heaven" and the overseer of the first celestial world, that might happen. Since Buddhists need not reject their former traditions or beliefs, American Buddhists might well go on taking part in Christian, Islamic, Jewish (polytheistic traditions that many think of as always have been monotheistic faiths), atheistic practices, Hindu (polytheistic), or shaman (animistic) practices.

Solar powered prayer wheels revolving to evolve

Vedic mantras (hymns and "magic spells") in Vedic-Brahminical India were largely replaced by discourses (sutras) and protective chants (parittas) by monastics as well as lay practitioners -- something brahmins would never have tolerated from non-brahmins. Early schools akin to Theravada went on to face rivals that returned to Vedic views using Buddhist terms while bearing a striking similarity to the old Brahmincal ideas. Among those, there must have been an understanding of the various modes of prayer -- including what Gregg Braden popularized as the Isaiah Effect. This was made a mainstream theme by Hicks-Abraham, the original source of the Law of Attraction teachings that made "The Secret" so popular (but they were cut out of the second edition of the film that went viral and which most people know). A million prayers for Tibet could only help.

Some "prayers," being eidetic, have no sound; others have ancient intonations.

All we listen to at the Wisdom Quarterly offices is punk, alt female artists, drum and bass, metal, and this new song by Pink Floyd (new to me) called "Time" that ends: "Far away across the field, tolling on the iron bell, calls the faithful to their knees to hear the softly spoken magic spell [mantra]."

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