path could be summarized as having two main aspects. The removal
of dysfunctional states of mind, such as anger, attachment and
ignorance and the development of functional minds such as compassion
and wisdom the wisdom knowing the nature of reality.
Why are minds such as anger dysfunctional? Because, although
wishing for happiness the mind of anger in fact produces an
agitated experience. Often when we get angry we lash out either
physically or verbally, thinking this will make things somehow
better but, in fact these actions often make things worse.
For this reason the mind of anger does not function as we
intent and is therefore dysfunctional. In contrast to this
the mind of compassion and wisdom are functional because they
operate in way that is concordant with our fundamental intentions.
The purpose of prayer in Buddhism
Buddhist Prayer and by extension chanting, as chanting is
nothing more than rhythmic vocalization of prayer, are guided
meditations used to remind us of the internal knowledge that
prayer can render. They are also affirmations, by reciting
them with heartfelt devotion the spiritual aspirant is reaffirming
their commitment, not to some deity or another person, but
to the development of ideal inherent in the prayer. For instance,
the purpose of this prayer composed by Shantideva in his famous
text Engaging in the Bodhisattva Deeds.
For as long as space endues
and for as long as living beings remain
may I too remain,
to eliminate the suffering of the world
is the generation of compassion and the universal responsibility
that is a prerequisite to the development of Bodhichitta. Matireya's
Ornament for Clear Realisations defines Bodhichitta as: Bodhichitta
means for the sake of others, wishing to achieve complete, perfect
By reciting this prayer the spiritual aspirant is implicitly
endorsing compassion and bodhichitta - the mind of enlightenment
- and reaffirming their commitment to the development of these
minds. All Buddhist art, literature and music has the same
intention. Even the folds in a monks robes have symbolic meaning
related to the Buddhist path.
So does this mean there is no benefit in praying to the Buddhas
and Bodhisattvas? No, there is benefit but, if the Buddha
is omniscient and has infinite compassion, they, all Buddhas,
are already helping us whether we ask for it or not! By praying
to these beings for help and inspiration we are opening ourselves
to their influence even more than if we do not pray and, we
are also implicitly saying, I think the qualities of the enlightened
beings is useful. I would like to have these qualities myself.
Therefore I will practice the methods that are the causes
of these qualities.