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Buddhadharma : Fall 2014
40 HEN WE THINK about prayer in a Buddhist context, we find there are at least two major types: prayers for and prayers of. Prayers for are directed to future fulfillment of specific goals. These might include prayers for peace, prayers for health and well-being, or prayers for the fulfillment of the bodhisattva vows. Prayers of are the prayers of buddhas and bodhisattvas— that is, prayers arising out of the awakened mind. The prayers for may or may not come to fruition. You might pray for a family member’s health to recover, or for the success of a fellow practitioner’s efforts at a particular stage of practice, or for yourself. Your family member may recover from illness, or she may not. The practitioner may attain the next stage of practice, or he may not. However, the prayer of the Buddha, be it Shakyamuni or Amida or some other expression of the ultimate oneness of the dharmakaya, is already fully present, unfailing. Buddhist practice involves a transformation of one’s whole being; thus, it is sometimes referred to as a mind-body practice. When practiced communally, such as in a sesshin or dharma gathering, one’s own practice is supported by the mind-body energy of the entire group. There are palpable physical effects of practice that seem to be transferrable from one person to another—from master to disciple, teacher to student, and within a group-practice setting—so it makes a certain amount of sense If It Sounds Too Good to Be True... When we pray, says Mark Unno, it’s important not to get caught up in magical thinking or to become attached to specific outcomes. Just praying is enough. PHOTO | KIYONOBU KUWAHARA W MEGUMIUNNO