A Comparison of Prayer and Meditation


"God, give me the serenity to embrace what I cannot change, the confidence to change what I can, and the patience to realize the difference," says a common prayer associated with the Christian faith. If I use the prayer, I simply mean, "Grant me the serenity to embrace what I can't change, the confidence to change what I can, and the patience to choose between the two." About the fact that many people believe Buddhists should not make such demands verbally, I have no reservations about this adapted form of the "serenity prayer" because it has so many Buddhist parallels.

Three questions will be addressed in this article. The first is that the common perception that prayer is incompatible with Buddhism's nontheistic nature is correct. The second argument, which is founded on a negative response to the first, asks whether a nontheistic faith prays, if prayer implies a receiver or listener. Finally, the most speculative and abstract question is whether there is any distinction between praying theists and praying nontheists in terms of religious experience. One iteration of the above-mentioned serenity prayer refers to "God," and the other does not.

Theological contradictions between Buddhism and Christianity are reflected in the differences in type. However, the more intriguing question is whether this linguistic change had any effect on the people praying's perceptions or the outcomes of their prayers. Is it true that this serenity prayer has a different influence on me, a Buddhist, than it does on a Christian, everything others being equal? Although observational experiments to see if discrepancies exist are potentially difficult to come up with, I wouldn't be surprised if these theological opposites mask common experiences and outcomes. Since Buddhism and Christianity seem to be such disparate faiths, a thorough examination is needed.

What seems to be a straightforward distinction one minute can turn out to be a startling resemblance the next. There are a lot of crossovers. Buddhism seems to deny the presence of the ego, while Christianity does not; however, some Buddhists speak of the "big I," and Christian teachings also speak of the need to "lose the self" before finding it. Christianity is a theistic faith, positing a god independent from mankind, and Buddhism is one of the world's only nontheistic religions, rejecting the existence (or, more precisely, the relevance) of any transcendent, external supreme being who created the world and bestows redemption on foes.

But then we hear about Pure Land Buddhism, in which it is recommended that one focus entirely on Buddha Amida's Other Power to ensure rebirth in the Pure Land. This is how it works. On the surface, it seems that a philosophical continental division exists between and, a theological divide that makes the word "Buddhist prayer" an oxymoron and can make Buddhists unable to say anything like the serenity prayer. Because of the religious differences between theistic and nontheistic faiths, it is commonly taught in world religions introductory courses that Christians pray while Buddhists meditate. Prayer is spoken, full of thoughts, and addressed to another person, while meditation is not.

However, this distinction only says half of the tale. Many people associate Buddhist meditation with nonverbal silence meditation, but Buddhist practice requires many verbal utterances. Furthermore, many Tibetan Buddhists openly use the term "prayer" while speaking English. For example, in September, after terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., the Dalai Lama held a "prayer service" for the many victims. It's not shocking that a Buddhist would feel perfectly relaxed saying the serenity prayer without the word "God" at the start and believe it to be powerful and meaningful.

It's also not uncommon for Christians to turn themselves over to a wordless effort to adhere to God's will when praying. Clearly, something more is going on than a contrast between Christians praying to a personal god in words and Buddhists observing the breath wordlessly and impersonally. The study of prayer and meditation is one of the most interesting aspects of comparative Buddhist-Christian studies. Crossovers aren't more frequent in other comparative Buddhist-Christian studies, either.

Still more shocking, several Buddhist religious utterances seem to evoke appearance, as if one were speaking to the "other." Take, for example, the following theological proverb:

Keep me safe in your love's treasury. Protect me from the terrifying sufferings of life, such as birth, old age, illness, death, and so on, and truly cleanse me of all my defilements, you who are the refuge.

If this prayer is clearly introduced to a student and asked to describe its source on an exam in an introductory religious studies course, the average student might mistakenly believe that it is not Buddhist and instead comes from the Christian tradition. Given the plain language of address, implicating a being distinct from oneself, and the petitionary's argument, even anyone with a basic understanding of religious practices might conclude that this is a Christian prayer. The stock phrase "sufferings of life birth, old age, illness, death, and so on" might provide a hint to anyone familiar with Buddhi expression conventions.

These are the first four of the eight forms of suffering detailed in the Truth, as defined by the Buddha in his first sermon, and are widely used in Buddhist liturgies. Perhaps even more m than a Buddhist prayer that seems to posit a being to whom one may p is the fact that the being to whom one has just petitioned for very real and essential benefits dissolves "a state of radiant void by non-conceptualization a few lines later in the liturgy What is the point of such ostensibly insignificant things? "If the god being invoked does not really exist as such, and this is from a Buddhist liturgy rather than a population in which different super-human deities are invoked, it is theistic.

This is from an esoteric and evolved tradition of Vajrayana Buddhism, which is metaphysically nontheistic and non-dualistic. Such comments lead me to believe that if one did not already know Buddhism is a nontheistic tradition, one could never tell from reading Buddhist liturgies, including those dealing with sophisticated meditation techniques. On the opposite, those liturgies are packed with sacrifices, donations, blessing requests, and a variety of other blessings, at least in the Vajrayana tradition.

Despite religious distinctions, the structure used in such liturgies is at least superficially like many familiar Christian forms to the deity. What is the reason for this? What really is going on? Given the similarities of the linguistic styles, are the inner psychological perceptions of the prayer and the meditator relatively comparable, or are they relatively separate due to identical differences? There are at least three distinct modes of Buddhist verbal utterances, or "prayers," and the doctrine and religious practice associated with these different styles may help answer the question of how different prayer and meditation are.

The first form of Buddhist prayer, which is unfamiliar to many outsiders, entails praying for many people. The second form of prayer entails expressing dreams or desires, in which only one hope is answered. The third, most enigmatic kind of o utterance is found in Tibetan "deity yoga" liturgies, such as the o above. In a non-dualistic, non-theistic philosophical sense, forms of address resemble a theological fallacy. There must be a psychological interpretation that justifies using certain ways as a "skillful way" to promote transition, resulting in these non-theistic cousins being quite like their theistic cousins.

The first degree of investigation should focus on the nature of any of the beings to which Buddhists regularly "pray." In this case, I will say that both the modes and spirituality of Buddhism and Christianity are reasonably identical. Prayers are directed to beings that are distinct from others to whom one requests different boons and rewards. Even the most strict and uncompromising forms of Buddhi on supreme non-theism have always acknowledged that super-human entities, invisible to ordinary human eyes, exist and can be petitioned, just as believers in deities petition their invisible deities.

Buddhists claim that pleas to those deities will have an impact on circumstances, just as theists believe that their prayers have an impact. Furthermore, Buddhists have long held the belief that certain spirits exist. These rituals and values are not the product of a later degeneration from a pure early type of Buddhism. Early Buddhists would not have been able to tell stories about the historical Buddha being encouraged to preach his dharma by numerous divine beings who assured him that his preaching would be successful, despite his initial skepticism that everyone would understand his teachings. Only new Buddhist converts from North America have difficulty identifying these entities.

North American Buddhists tend to believe that beings they can't see through their eyes, beings who seem to have empirical life, don't exist in any way, and that this is what "theism" means. However, Buddhist non-theism is traditionally concerned with the actual non-existence of certain entities, rather than their conditional non-existence. Such entities live at the level of relative t, and there is no reason why a Buddhist should not pray, confess wrongdoings, or give worship, thanksgiving, and liturgies to t in the same way as a Christian would.

They can also pray for many of the same things, such as the redemption of bad luck, health, money, and well-being in general. The ultimate enlightenment or redemption for which a Buddhist cannot pray but a Christian can is more ultimate enlightenment or salvation. Since enlightenment is a question of clearing away mystery and uncovering one's primordial pure and enlightened condition, there is no chance of vicarious enlightenment Buddhism and no god can confer it. Regardless, my experience is that Christians agree that human recognition of salvation is needed, and that God does not "save" people at random or indiscriminately.

Buddhists, too, hope that the barriers to enlightenment will be lessened. What does it mean when Buddhists claim that the spirits they pray to "exist"? The meaning of "life" differs significantly from what a Christian would say to God. However, that is not dissimilar to a Christian's belief in the presence of saints or angels. Deities, according to Buddhism, live in the same manner as humans do. We believe we are very real to ourselves, but research reveals that there is no substantial, enduring, or permanent self.

Similarly, deities can be encountered, but there is little evidence to support the idea of a fully external, independently functioning god. All, instead, is made up of a matrix of interdependence and hence devoid of intrinsic reality. However, this does not imply that problems are completely absent. In reality, nihilistic conceptions of emptiness are thought to be incredibly psychologically harmful. What matters to us is that those creatures live independently of us regular, uneducated humans.

We don't make them up any more than we make our own relative life up. They live as much as we believe we do, and they may be of assistance or a hindrance to us. Declaring that saints, demons, and occupants of ancient Buddhist worlds do not exist is simply a matter of mistaken unenlightenment for someone who still trusts in his or her own ego, as do all unenlightened entities. In a Buddhist context, however, such entities should not exist without the wisdom of an enlightened being who can see them for what they are: nonexistent as separate beings.

As a result, they are denied God's absolute freedom, as Christians believe. It seems that, at least in terms of human beings and angels, they are similar. They do not exist independently of God or human beings, much as the countless nonhuman, n beings that inhabit the conventional Buddhist world do not exist independently of God or human beings. Perhaps when we can no longer bear our own void, our own sense of inherent meaning, can we recognize that deities do not inherently exist. Before then, we can only hope the Buddhists do.

There's no reason to believe that a Buddhist praying to God or the saints for general well-being or divine guidance has a different inner perspective than a Christian praying to God or the saints for support. Only the m type of Buddhist prayer is offered to certain comparatively current beings. Buddhists often recite optimistic statements for a variety of reasons, including the well-being of all living beings, the realization of a great teacher's vision, or our own desire to achieve insight and compassion.

Since it represents values or aspirations for which we are working, this form of utterance is often referred to as. The serenity prayer will be an aspiration in Bud, without the single word "God," which helps to understand why it is so unproblematic for Buddhists. The fam aspiration prayer is a common Buddhist practice that dates back to early Buddhism. The plea is sometimes referred to as the Four Immeasurables or the Four Divine Abodes (a literal translation of the Pali), and it goes like this: May all living beings experience pleasure and the root of happiness, and may they be free of misery and the root of suffering. Will they not be excluded from the great joy that is free of pain.

These four feelings, also known as friendliness, sympathy, sympathetic pleasure, and equanimity, are thought to be enlightened or helpful. Such universal desires include the need to advance down the road and eventually achieve enlightenment. For instance, must I not be divided from the ideal guru in any of my births. So bask in the glory of dharma. Can I quickly attain the condition of Vajradhara [ultimate enlightenment] by perfecting the virtues of the paths and levels. The "dedication to merit" is another variation of this theme.

This is a common practice in Buddhism, particularly in the types of Buddhism that are least open to dealings with superhuman, non-empirical entities. This utterance is considered to be an integral manifestation of egolessness, or the absence of a lasting substantive self, since it transfers any merit acquired by divine practice or good action from oneself to all human beings. By this merit, anyone will achieve omniscience. May it be victorious over the adversary, misconduct. May I liberate all things from the stormy seas of birth, old age, illness, and death, from the ocean of samsara. So what really is going on with these desires?

These expectations aren't directed at more boring beings that receive more mundane demands. In reality, there is no "you" to whom they are addressed; the desire and beneficiary of the wishes conveyed in the aspiration or dedication are made by a "I." Buddhists do not believe in an all-powerful being capable of achieving these goals without human effort (and Christians are unlikely to believe that these goals will be achieved without human collaboration with the divine). But, what's the big deal? Why bother with a bot if there's no one to whom these requests can be directed? In particular, religious nontheists from monotheistic backgrounds have expressed reservations about these goals.

They were both apprehensive about the serenity prayer. Their dissatisfaction stems from the fact that, in their opinion, these declarations may not be "valid," because no being could hear or react to a merit commitment, the Four Immeasurables, or the serenity prayer. We can actually run into a fundamental psychological divide at this stage, which is why there are so many theological directions to choose from. Some people can't stand any kind of tradition or something that isn't fully factual and logical.

Buddhist aspiration prayers, for example, seem "superstitious" to them because they cannot possibly magically turn the world's misery mystery. They'd also argue that such change involves hard work in the universe, not prayer or even yoga meditations that are exclusively focused on the breath and body. They argue that these are luxuries that a struggling planet cannot afford. Others, on the other hand, would emphasize the impact that utterances like the Four Immeasurable have on the individual who says or thinks them.

Everything else happens in prayer and religious practice, well-crafted prayers and liturgies have a strong, demonstrable effect on those who attend. Such prayers are for and for the religious matter, the individual who recalls aspirations like the Four Immeasurables on a daily basis and fervently, longingly imagines that he or she will be able to truly carry out these aspirations. Contemplating the Four Immeasurables will assist one in becoming an entity capable of manifesting them. Such utterances are not solely about or about a supposed spectator, the nonexistent or unresponsive God who does not snap his or her fingers and make the aspirations come true, phenomonologically speaking.

If this is the case, prayer is effective regardless of whether or not an actual being refers to it. This is something Buddhists have long understood, which explains why Buddhists who believe the Buddha has passed completely without hearing or responding to petitions venerate, bow, and make offerings. Buddhists understand and conclude that these actions can result in a positive effect on their state of mind and behavior.

Such reasons for the efficacy of prayer are frequently denigrated in a monotheistic society where people are more concerned with the presence of God than with the therapeutic effects of religious rituals. However, since we are so concerned with process, with what works to improve and transform spiritually, the effect of a practice on the religious topic is extremely important to Buddhists. We are more likely to come to values embodied in the aspiration with the prayer than without it.

Though, in the Buddhist scheme of things, it is extremely strong. It is preferable to wish them happiness rather than adversity. However, certain considerations of the motives for praying are not entirely theistic. Often theists reflect that it doesn't matter to the Lord of the Universe whether people eat pork and shellfish on Saturday or Sunday, or whether they pray consistently, properly, and at the appropriate times. It is clarified why such rituals are carried out not because God needs them, but because people do. People need them to establish identity, discipline, and a sense of connection to the origins of life.

People pray, they explain, and it is beneficial to them. Many theists believe that praying is a method of spiritual cultivation that changes the person who prays. Though prayer is indeed a significant aspect of the experience of praying more, any thoughtful theist should be repulsed by the image of God as a tyrant who becomes so enraged at people who do not pray properly, sufficiently, or on time that he or she punishes them with misery. Even in this sense, one might argue that prayer is solely for the good of faith and people. People should pray, but God does not need to hear them.

As a result, nontheistic meditation and supe experiences turn out to be more similar. While a distinction exists between theistic and nontheistic versions of prayer, I will say that the perception of the one who utters the prayer and its consequence are more identical than distinct. Expressions like the one cited earlier, "Keep me with the treasury of your devotion," are far more mystifying in the nontheistic sense of Buddhism than comparatively present entities that can support or impede us, or expressions of t of Buddhist meditators. Protect me from the terrifying sufferings of life, such as birth, old age, illness, death, and so on, for you are the shelter.

These terms are spoken to a visualized being who reflects mate truth and one's own true self. As previously said, later in the liturgy, the being dissolves light and space, but whatever existence this being is referred to is not a conventionally existing, stable being. Visualization activity entails visualizing oneself as this being, which is much more enigmatic to outsiders. When one says, "Keep me with your affection," one is not discussing a being apart from itself. In a strange way, one is addressing oneself in these rituals, one's real being, not, of course, one's private ego. Even in liturgies where one does not identify with the being visualized,

Except in liturgies where one does not identify with the being visualized, the being inevitably dissolves into light, which then dissolves into oneself, most commonly into one's heart base, stressing ultimate theological nonduality.

The metaphysics or theology that underpins these activities is much too complex to thoroughly comprehend in this way. In a nutshell, there are two things to consider. To begin, anything that may possibly be called upon to show that there is no duality of self and that these liturgies use ult truth is used. Second, and even most importantly, the glorious b depicted in these liturgies represents who we really are under our cramped, sense of selfhood trapped behind our skin and feeling to be painfully separated from the rest of existence. Any traditional category can be used to address the issue of certain beings' existential status.

They vanish "by non-conceptualization into the condition of radiant emptiness," which is what the liturgy means when it states they dissolve "like all else, even selves that are not separate from these creatures." As a result, they behave in the same manner that the Christian god is said to exist, though the assumption that they do not exist is still incorrect. This "status" may not have a Western counterpart, in my opinion.

I'm more interested in the praxis here, in the personal, seemingly dualistic vocabulary of address used in these visualizations. Why will such prayerful language be used in such a nontheistic setting? Visualization and its accompanying linguistic liturgies are a "skillful met something designed to catapult the practitioner into recognition of truth as quickly as possible." As a result, such activities are consistent with the simple Buddhist belief that our most fundamental dilemma and the source of all pain is denial of the reality. We prefer to dismiss things, including ourselves, as mundane, insignificant, and unworthy of our respect.

These liturgies and visualizations have instilled in us the assurance that this is not the case. They act as a constant reminder to awaken to the world's and our own magnificent sacredness. The following is an example of how a typical anal could describe the process: A tiger cub has been bred as a lamb, and it bleats and feeds as if it were a lamb. It drinks blood one day and realizes it is a tiger, not a sheep. The visualizations and liturgies are the blood, but it seems that a bite is insufficient to turn our identity from duality to nonduality. A skillful way of transforming our identity from duality to nonduality is to taste things over and over before we have the flavor of things.

Even if we know better, having done so many times, we are convinced that our traditional conviction in duality is incorrect. These analyses do not seem to be able to completely correct our mistaken vi facet of our relative being that is called into action in this form of " efficacy of speech, particularly poetic, passionate, intimate words of language simply appeals to a different dimension of our being than rational language, and is much more successful in guiding our powerful emotion toward awakening than rational language.

Putting all of this together—the apparent reality of abstract, literary, passionate, and intimate language; and the eff emotions for consciousness transformation—results in the skillful means already mentioned many times. The only reason for such activities is that they are efficient. "Praying to the lord is not a matter of supplicating anything outside point of using a dualistic form, visualizing the deity outside of us, is duality," says Chagdud Tulku, Rinpoche. He goes on to say that if the deity's essence is emptiness, then There seems to be a discrepancy here. How do we say that there is no god, just a manifestation of our own nature?

Only once we grasp the inseparability between absolute and partial reality would this make sense. In the most fundamental basis, our essence is buddha, and we are deities. However, we are bound by relative truth because of this. We must walk on our relative feet, on a street, in order to make the jump to our absolute existence. Since objective reality is so inaccessible to our regular, sequential mind, we must work with the mind in slowly subtle steps before we gain acceptance.

Prayer is a crucial component of the operation. And where the religious distinctions between Bu Christianity are stark and uncompromising, the modes are more similar than dissimilar. What is the difference between a Buddhist visualization and a Christian prayer? Empirical answers to this topic are both likely and plausible. When I do this kind of liturgy, I am aware that I am not an invisible savior, just as I am sure most Christians are aware that "s there" hears their prayers.

Does it sound any different if the analytical, linguistic component of the psyche shuts off, as it often does? One would ask what prevents a Buddhist practitioner from taking the practices literally and turning into an egomaniac, which would be the polar opposite of what was meant.

More importantly, they are mystical techniques that are only accessible to those that have been sufficiently trained, both philosophically and in terms of prior meditation practices. This plans are crucial, because providing individuals with access to sp procedures that they are not prepared to learn and properly execute does no one any good. Many people oppose religious esotericism, but there is no other choice in this situation. It can't be any other way because the psychological and spiritual forces being tapped are so subtle and strong.