How Do You Pray to Buddha?

How Do You Pray to Buddha?

How Do You Pray to Buddha?

Buddhism is not marked by multiple "essential" prayers, like some other religions, but prayer is a spiritual dialogue that helps you center yourself mentally and emotionally.

As you begin to pray, visualize the beings you mention as happy and peaceful. 

Envision your thoughts of loving-kindness reaching them, touching them, embracing them and making them well, happy, and peaceful.

The Posture of Prayer

Dozens of wizened men and women circled a massive Buddhist stupa as an act of worship and prayer.

We walked in the opposite direction, counterclockwise, so we could see the faces and postures of the worshipers.

Buddhists moved their lips silently as they recited the lines from mantras. Most, if not all, used prayer beads to help them keep track.

A few carried hand held prayer wheels, while the majority spun the prayer wheels attached to the stupa’s outer walls.

Nearby, a different group of Buddhists—Tibetan monks—were offering prayers in a completely different manner—monotonously reciting mantras in a room with pictures of tantric deities and lamas, also known as gurus.

Having grown up in countries that practice Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism, my experience observing prayer in a Tibetan Buddhist setting was enlightening—pun intended—and a reminder that prayer practices of Buddhists can’t be generalized.

Buddha Sculpture FAQS

How Many Times Do Buddhist Pray A Day?

of a re-enactment of the Buddha's life in liturgical celebrations. three times a day (morning offering, noon or afternoon prayers, and evening sacrifice) the early Chris- tian Church likewise had originally three periods of worship and sacrifice.

What Do Buddhist Chant When They Pray?

One of the most well-known mantras is Avalokiteshvara, which contains the words “Om mani padme hum”. This mantra means “Behold! The jewel in the lotus!” Buddhists also sometimes use a prayer wheel, which is spun around to show the prayers to be chanted.

Does Buddha Believe In God?

Siddhartha Gautama was the first person to reach this state of enlightenment and was, and is still today, known as the Buddha.

Buddhists do not believe in any kind of deity or god, although there are supernatural figures who can help or hinder people on the path towards enlightenment.

What God Does The Buddhist Worship?

Most Buddhists do not believe in God. Although they respect and look up to the Buddha , they do not believe he was a god but they worship him as a form of respect.

By doing this they show reverence and devotion to the Buddha and to bodhisattas .

How Do You Pray Buddha For Money?

The Buddhist money mantra, "Om Vasudhare Svaha," is a prayer to the earth goddess, Vasudhara.

The chant should be repeated 108 times in order to be blessed by deities who will shower them with abundance.

Prayer and Buddhism

When we as Christians say the word prayer, we often think of a conversation we have publicly or privately with God where we praise him, thank him, and make supplications.

In other faiths, prayer has a different function and form depending on the religion, culture, and belief of the worshiper.

For some, prayer is highly ritualistic and strictly controlled, while for others, prayer may be informal and spontaneous.

Defining prayer in Buddhism is challenging because the prayer rituals are varied in practice just as the fundamental doctrines and tenets are varied across the different Buddhist sects.

Buddhism in Thailand looks different from Buddhism in Nepal. And, Buddhism in Nepal looks different from Buddhism in the East.

Here’s a quick overview of the various Buddhists sects and how they practice prayer differently.

Theravada Buddhism

Theravada Buddhism is practiced throughout most of the mainland of Southeast Asia, especially in Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka. It’s thought to be the oldest and strictest sect of Buddhism.

Theravada Buddhist doctrine, built on the Four Noble Truths, teaches the necessity of self-dependence in the pursuit of enlightenment, or nirvana.

Because the search for truth is a self-directed pursuit, prayer for adherents of Theravada Buddhism might be best described as meditation, rather than supplication to a being of greater power or authority.

Meditation might occur at a temple or a home while lighting incense.

Chanting is thought to prepare the mind for meditation. Theravada adherents chant parts of the Pali Canon, a collection of Buddhist scriptures.

Often, when chanting or meditation, adherents kneel with their palms together and fingers pointing up, and then raise their head and then lower their head and body so their forearms touch the ground. 

This gesture is used to greet, show gratitude, or make a request. In meditation, it symbolizes veneration and the giving of respect.

Theravada Buddhists repeat this three times while reciting different parts of the Pali Canon. Worshipers bow their head to end the chant or meditative session.

Buddhist monks often lead worshipers in chants in temples. They also chant Buddhist scripture in newly dedicated homes and businesses.

Incoming families in my neighborhood have had monks come in to chant blessings and protection over their new homes. I’ve overheard the hum and drone of their chants, and it spurs me to pray for God’s presence to fill my home.

In some Southeast Asian nations, animism has found its way into Buddhist beliefs. Many homes in Thailand have small spirit houses, built for guardian spirits that are believed to shield the home or workplace from evil spirits. Buddhists place food and drinks inside the spirit houses and ask for protection.

Mahayana Buddhism

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Adherents of Mahayana Buddhism—practiced throughout mainland China, Vietnam, South Korea, and Japan—comprise the largest sect of Buddhism.

Mahayana Buddhist doctrine also focuses upon the Four Noble Truths. However, at least one major difference exists: Mahayana Buddhist doctrines teach that the world is populated with multiple bodhisattvas.

Bodhisattvas are people who attained enlightenment but refused to enter nirvana so they can help others reach enlightenment. Bodhisattva means those who bestow grace.

Mahayana Buddhists focus their prayer rituals on supplications to these givers of grace. Worshipers might sit on the ground, barefoot, and face a statue of Buddha or a Bodhisattva. Many worshipers light incense before, during, or after their supplication to show honor to Buddha and bodhisattvas.

The smoke from the incense stick symbolizes the burning away of negative personal characteristics so as to purify and cleanse the individual.

Mahayana Buddhists also practice prostration, both full prostration or half prostration (bowing) while making their supplications.

The act is thought to show gratitude, humility, and reverence. In the course of these movements, Mahayana Buddhists chant sutras, which are sermons given by Buddha or one of his disciples.

Vajrayana And Tibetan Buddhism

Vajrayana Buddhism is a smaller sect and is practiced in Nepal, Bhutan, Mongolia, Tibet, and Inner Mongolia.

It focuses more on the demonic realm and occult-like texts, called tantras.

You may have heard of Tibetan Buddhism, which incorporates elements of the Vajrayana and Mahayana sects.

Prayer habits in these sects can be more ritualistic and robust.

In Vajrayana Buddhism, some worshipers meditate on tantras or on mandalas—spiritual, circular, and geometric patterns—that they believe will lead to out-of-body experiences.

Prayer also takes the form of repeating mantras: short, repetitive prayers that Buddhists believe help them gain merit and move them toward becoming an enlightened being. Reciting mantras might happen while standing, sitting, or walking.

In Vajrayana Buddhism, the posture of prayer is often one of movement. Worshipers use prayer beads to help them keep track of mantras. When reciting them, they circumambulate temples, monasteries, or shrines.

Often when praying, adherents spin prayer wheels.

The prayer wheels have the mantra, Om Mani Padme Hum, inscribed on the outside, and spinning them is thought to release the power of the mantra.

Worshipers prostrate themselves before times of teaching or meditation. Prostration is believed to rid oneself of impurities and purify the mind, speech, and body of defilements such as pride.

Devotion to a guru is also a fixture of Vajrayana Buddhism. Gurus are also called lamas, the most famous of which is the Dalai Lama in Tibetan Buddhism.

Tibetan Buddhists often prostrate themselves before a lama and pray to him for wisdom and direction.

Performing Buddhist Prayers

Center Yourself With Good Posture, Steady Breathing And Mindfulness. 

Before praying, take a deep breath, get comfortable, and close your eyes. Focus on the here and now, centering yourself however feels right. You want to sink into your prayers, not just say them.

  • Candles, scents, and low lighting can help calm yourself down and bring yourself closer to your prayer.

Learn Some Basic Mantras. Mantras Are Simply Phrases Meant To Be Repeated Over And Over Again. 

You do not necessarily need to know their full meanings, as the words themselves, through repetition, lose their "meaning" and help you avoid distraction.

  • Om mani padme hum: Pronounced ohm man-ee pad-mae hoom, this translates to "Hail to the jewel in the lotus."
  • Oṃ Amideva Hrīḥ: Pronounced "OM Ami-dehva re." Or, in English, "To overcome all obstacles & hindrances"
  • Om A Ra Pa Ca Na Dhih: This chant is believed to help with wisdom, critical thinking, and writing. Emphasise the "Dhih" (pronounced Di) when chanting.
  • There are many, many other chants out there to practice, and listening to audio tracks is a great way to learn them quickly.

Try Repeating Or Voicing A Simple Prayer For The Three Jewels

This prayer is a good, short prayer that can be repeated as a mantra. Remember to focus on yourself and your own spiritual growth, not simply asking for it from Buddha:

I take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha

Until I attain Enlightenment.

By merit accumulations from practicing generosity and the other perfections

May I attain Enlightenment, for the benefit of all sentient beings.

  • Sangha translates as "community, group, or assembly." It usually refers to the community of believers in Buddhist ideals.
  • Dharma is the overall universal truth common to all people. It is the common force, of sorts, that binds and holds the universe together.

Pray For The Happiness And Wellbeing Of Your Friends And Family 

This prayer is a great way to stay thankful for the people around you, and to recognize their connection.

May I be well, happy, and peaceful.

May my teachers be well, happy, and peaceful.

May my parents be well, happy, and peaceful.

May my relatives be well, happy, and peaceful.

May my friends be well, happy, and peaceful.

May the indifferent persons be well, happy, and peaceful.

May the unfriendly persons be well, happy, and peaceful.

May all meditators be well, happy, and peaceful.

May all beings be well, happy, and peaceful.

Perform Simple Thankfulness Prayers Before Meals

Mealtime is a wonderful time to slow down and show gratitude for earthly blessings. Eating food is a time where you can become close to those around you and respect your physical nature. Try out the following mealtime prayers:

May this food be dedicated to the triple jewel

The precious Buddha

The precious Dharma

The precious Sangha

Bless this food so we may take it as medicine

Free from attachment and desire

So that it may nourish our bodies so we may

Work for the benefit of all sentient beings.

Learn The Metta Prayer

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The following prayer, adapted from a lecture by The Buddha, is an all-encompassing and powerful prayer to repeat to yourself:

In order that I may be skilled in discerning what is good, in order that I may understand the path to peace,

Let me be able, upright, and straightforward, of good speech, gentle, and free from pride;

Let me be content, easily satisfied, having few duties, living simply, of controlled senses, prudent, without pride and without attachment to nation, race, or other groups.

Let me not do the slightest thing for which the wise might rebuke me. Instead let me think:

“May all beings be well and safe, may they be at ease.

Whatever living beings there may be, whether moving or standing still, without exception, whether large, great, middling, or small, whether tiny or substantial,

Whether seen or unseen, whether living near or far,

Born or unborn; may all beings be happy.

Let none deceive or despise another anywhere. Let none wish harm to another, in anger or in hate.

Just as a mother would guard her child, her only child, with her own life, even so let me cultivate a boundless mind for all beings in the world.

Let me cultivate a boundless love for all beings in the world, above, below, and across, unhindered, without ill will or enmity.

Standing, walking, seated, or lying down, free from torpor, let me as far as possible fix my attention on this recollection. This, they say, is the divine life right here.

Remember That Prayer Is Simply A Way To Connect To Yourself Spiritually. 

Buddha is not a creator god, though some practices do see him as divine. That said, prayer is not meant as an offering to Buddha. Rather, it is a way to deepen your own spirituality. If you feel like praying, then you should pray, and worry about the theology later. You can, of course, make up your own specific mantras, and think about your own ways to pray, as there is no wrong way to practice.

  • There are a vast array of prayers, and no right way to pray as a Buddhist. This frees you to practice your prayer and spirituality how you desire it, not how you are told.

Using Tibetan Prayer Beads

Use The Beads To Help Count Your Prayers Or Mantras, Not As A Rigid Amount Of Prayers You Must Say. 

The prayer beads, also known as Mala, are used to keep track of your prayers, not as some punishment or benchmark. They are a bit like rosaries, but know that they are there to help, not hinder, your spiritual practice.

  • Counting the beads activates your body in the prayer, allowing you to work the body (beads), mind (prayer), and spirit (visualization) at once.
  • You can use whatever prayers or mantras you desire with your beads.
  • Prayer beads can be found online, or purchased at many Buddhist temples or Tibetan shops.

Understand The Make-Up Of A Mala

There are, usually 108 beads on a Tibetan Prayer Bead, plus one larger "head bead." Whenever you get around the mala, you're considered to have accomplished 100 prayers/mantras, with the other 8 used as spares in case you miscounted or missed a mantra.

  • Some people believe the head bead has special significance, and it is sometimes called the "guru bead." This bead is your teacher, leading you through the prayer cycle.

Perform A Prayer For Each Bead

Close your eyes and feel the first bead, often the head bead. Perform your prayer or mantra completely, then move up to the next bead, feeling your way up the mala.

Some people use different mantras for the different sized beads, if you have them.

  • You may use your right or left hand to count on.
  • Don't worry about getting it all "perfect." Focus on visualizing your prayer as you say it, staying completely in the current moment. Ground yourself in the physical world by keeping your hands on your current bead.

Do Not Skip Over The Guru Bead Once You've Completed The First Set. 

Once you've gone all the way around the beads, flip the chain over and keep going in the same direction you were already going.

  • This is mostly symbolic, indicating that you would not "step-over" your teacher, guru, or head.

Store Your Mala In A Clean, High Place, Or Around Your Neck And Hands. 

There is nothing wrong with wearing your mala, keeping it with you so that you can count your prayers anywhere.

If you are not carrying it, hang it somewhere out of the way or on your altar, tucked away safely.

Function of the Tibetan & Buddhist Prayer Wheel

Buddhist prayer wheels are cylinders in various sizes made of wood, metal or stone. Inside they contain a prayer written numerous times on paper, and the same prayer is inscribed around the outside of the cylinder.

Buddhists spin the wheel during prayer to acquire good karma and purify bad karma, and to help them develop compassion and wisdom.

Symbolism Of The Wheel

The wheel, in Buddhism, represents universal law and the reflection of that law in the ethics of human beings. For Buddhists, to intimately know these laws is to know the nature of the universe and to be free.

The rim of the wheel represents the cycle of birth, death and rebirth; a cycle of suffering that Buddhists strive to liberate themselves from. The hub of the wheel signifies liberation, while the spokes represent the various pathways to achieving liberation.

There are generally eight spokes or more, in multiples of eight, denoting the noble eightfold path, the way to the cessation of suffering as taught by the Buddha.

Objects Of Prayer

Tibetan Buddhists use small hand-held prayer wheels during meditation and prayer, and larger, fixed prayer wheels in Buddhist temples and at pilgrimage sites.

Buddhists also place prayer wheels in the entryway to their homes, so people can turn them as they come and go.

They also place wheels over the hearth, to be turned by smoke, or in the bed of a stream where the flow of the current sets them in motion. In this way the owner of the wheel, day and night, is in a constant state of prayer.

Spiritual Function

Buddhists, particularly within the Tibetan tradition, gain merit from reciting certain mantras.

The prayer wheel is a physical manifestation of that recitation, as the turning of the wheel and the cyclical movement of the prayer inside and out is equivalent to the utterance of the human voice.

The meditation involved with the quiet turning of the wheel helps Buddhists acquire wisdom and compassion.

The rotation of the wheel is a metaphor for the turnings of the wheel of the dharma, a term that Buddhists use to describe the Buddha’s first teachings.

Om Mane Padme Hum

The prayer inscribed on the outside and inside of prayer wheels is a six-syllable mantra that is associated with the Buddha of compassion, Avalokitesvara, who is the patron deity of Tibet.

Although the meaning of the mantra has several nuanced and esoteric interpretations, the literal translation is "the jewel in the lotus," or "praise to the jewel in the lotus" or, simply, the "jeweled lotus."

Regardless of its literal meaning, Buddhists believe the whole of the Buddha’s teachings are contained within these six syllables.

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