From the Thursday, March 9, 2006 dharma talk at the Assembly of Stars meditation hall, Lower Hamlet, Plum Village. The theme for this talk is the practice of prayer and we are guided by a series of questions asked by the magazine Publishers Weekly.
- How is prayer related to peace and peacemaking?
- How do you see the relationship between mediatation and prayer in your own life?
- Why is it important to pray with the body?
- How can you avoid falling into the trap of routine when you are praying? The words and motions without attention.
- Some Christians think of God as external, powerful and transcendent would be surprised to hear that Buddhists pray. What would you say to them?
- How can people find the time to pray every day?
- What is the one thing people can do everyday to bring them closer to the happiness they seek?
- Should Christians attracted to Buddhist teachings become Buddhists?
- What did you find in Vietnam when you returned in 2005? What were your impressions?
- You will 80 this year, do you plan to retire as a spiritual teacher at any point?
We begin with the fifth question. When we pray, we ask the sangha to help us, we ask the Buddha to help us. We do this first by being truly present; established in the here and the now with a clear intention. Though we do not speak of God, we do recognize the collective mind from which everything manifests.
At 24-minutes, Thay addresses the third question. Why is it important to pray with the body? There is no separation of the body and the mind.
In the spirit of Buddhism, anything you do that is accompanied with mindfulness, concentration, and insight can be considered a prayer. It also removes the distinction between the one who prays and the one who is prayed to. Every step can be a prayer.
Buddhism is mindfulness, concentration, and insight. If you practice this, then you are Buddhist. Christians can be Buddhists, but we don’t need to use the label. There are also Buddhists who are stuck in dogmatism and they are less Buddhist than many Christians. There are enough Buddhists already; we don’t need to make more Buddhists. People can stay rooted in their own tradition.
Enjoy this 75-minutes teaching.
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