(Not exclusively Buddhist, of course, but pertinent to our practice)
IT IS GOOD TO PRAY
It is good to pray. There are many ways and many meanings and I shall describe a few. When you organise your living quarters, make sure you include a place for holy things. When you arrange your garden, create places for contemplation that are inviting to yourself and others. It is good to have places for prayer, places that are especially conducive, yet it is also good to pray anytime, wherever you are. Both are good, each in its special way. To create a prayer place is itself a prayer. To enter such a place and stand there at least a moment and feel the presence, is a prayer. Prayer does not have to be words, necessarily. To pause in the midst of a busy day and turn one's mind momentarily to sacred things is similarly holy. Make a habit of prayer and all of life is richer, finer, deeper and more true.
Prayer & Grace
Prayer is not difficult. People of great or little education have been doing it, both deliberately and spontaneously, since time immemorial. Prayer takes many forms, but is an attitude, a direction of mind as well as being something that, like the weather, is always present, but only sometimes imposes itself with force. Prayer involves body, speech and mind and goes beyond them. The best part of prayer is to receive the influence of the Holy into one’s being and one’s life. This is a grace. It cannot successfully be forced or demanded. Basically, one has to be willing. One can do some preparation. It is like gardening: the ground can be prepared and the seed sown, but the action and result are in the hands of a greater power. As Kipling pointed out, the work of the gardener and that of the religious are done mostly on one’s knees.
Learning as One Goes Along
It is good to pray, good for oneself and good for the world, but principally just good, good in itself. It is the deepest point of life and it is good to visit that place as often as one can. Over the years I have gleaned a little about the matter. I hope to encourage others. Let us explore the matter as far as we are able. We can rely upon our own experience and also upon the wisdom given to us by others who have walked this path. Prayer is a path. Many have walked such a path. We can, therefore, learn a great deal from those who have gone before us. However, there is no substitute for experience for it is in experience that the sacred presence speaks and informs one. Formed by angels we are as much as we can be.