Prayer in Buddhism

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Posted by Pat ( on August 13, 2000 at 07:41:40:

I come from a Roman Catholic background and am trying to find out more about Buddhism. One question I have is "What is the nature and purpose of prayer in Buddhism?" I find very little in the many books I've consulted on this subject.

In Catholicism there are prayers of intercession (asking saints and the Blessed Virgin Mary to join their prayers with yours to God), prayers of petition (asking God for help in achieving a proper goal or object - e.g. help in resisting temptation, coping with fear or anxiety, etc.), and prayers of worship or adoration (simply celebrating the divine presence and nature).

Does a Buddhist praying to Bodhisattvas and Buddhas expect help to be forthcoming (e.g. as in RC theology, there is the doctrine of Divine Grace), as in some sort of effect in the person praying initiated by the one(s) to whom the prayer is directed? Or are such prayers merely symbolic? Are they meant to be something like a verbal form of yoga - i.e. meant to help the one praying to move his or her spiritual/mental disposition closer to the Buddhist ideal or teaching on the subject at hand?

Does the Buddhist teaching on prayer differ among the schools of Buddhism?

I'd appreciate any help on these topics and especially any references to books and articles on the matter.


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