Praying Rightly

Yutang Lin

Desiring could not help but suffer from gains and losses.
Cultivate diligently despite hardship to expect harvest.
Praying for and dedicating merits to all beings equally,
Harmony permeates and tranquility profound prevails.


I often pray for others as requested. Some asked, "How should one pray?"

In the Dharmadhatu the law of causes and consequences prevails. In order to harvest melons, one should first cultivate melon plants. If one desires end of suffering and enjoyment of happiness, one should first reflect on what meritorious deeds one has accomplished that would entitle oneself to such good fortune. If, despite reason and the law of causes and consequences, one blindly beseeches help out of self-centered considerations and greed, then how could such prayers inspire favorable responses from Buddhas who teach selflessness?

Therefore, right before praying one should first develop Bodhicitta, i.e., to maintain the pure intention of wishing all sentient beings to ultimately leave suffering and attain full enlightenment. Then, one should engage in charitable activities or perform some Dharma practices in order to cultivate merits. Then, one dedicates the merits to all sentient being, wishing all of them soon to escape from suffering and attain ultimate enlightenment. Finally, one prays equally for all the matters that come to mind or have been noticed, wishing that all such matters be resolved fairly and harmoniously, and that through such experiences everyone involved would grow toward enlightenment.

Thus one would be spared from falling into the trap of self-centered entanglements and greedy begging. Instead, one would become open-minded through such prayers. Consequently, such selfless prayers for the benefit of all beings would eventually inspire blessings from Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and holy protectors to yield inspirational events that would help oneself and others in miraculous ways.

Written in Chinese on August 30, 2000
Translated on August 31, 2000
El Cerrito, California

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