Do Buddhists pray?

January 11, 2014

portrait of woman prayingDo Buddhists pray? It certainly looks like it sometimes.

Since Buddhism has no creator God you might assume that the Buddhist tradition has no room for prayer. The Buddha wasn’t a God. So would be the point of praying to him, or of praying at all?

Some forms of Buddhist practice that look like prayer don’t in fact involve the Buddha or any other enlightened figure. When Buddhists are cultivating lovingkindness and they’re repeating phrases like “May all beings be well; May all beings be happy,” they’re not invoking any kind of outside agency. What they’re doing is strengthening their own desire to see beings flourish and be free from suffering. By repeating the thought, … Read more »

Prayer in the face of difficulty…

February 15, 2013

Statue de Bouddha

Ask the friend for love
Ask him again
For I have found that every heart
Will get what it prays for most.
– Hafiz

When offered with presence and sincerity, the practice of prayer can reveal the source of what your heart most deeply longs for—the loving essence of who you are. Perhaps without naming it as prayer, in times of great need and distress you may already spontaneously experience the act of doing so. For instance, you might find yourself saying something like, “Oh please, oh please” as you call out for relief from pain, for someone to take care of you, for help for a loved one, for a way to avoid great … Read more »

Study shows how prayer, meditation affect brain activity

October 25, 2012

Katie Harmer, Deseret News: How do prayer and meditation affect brain activity? Dr. Andrew Newberg, MD, is the Director of Research at the Myrna Brind Center for Integrative Medicine at Thomson Jefferson University Hospital and Medical College, and he has studied the neuroscientific effect of religious and spiritual experiences for decades.

In a video that recently aired on “Through the Wormhole” narrated by Morgan Freeman on the TV channel Science, Dr. Newberg explains that to study the effect of meditation and prayer on the brain, he injects his subjects with a harmless radioactive dye while they are deep in prayer / meditation. The dye migrates to the parts of the brain where the blood flow … Read more »

Prayer versus meditation? They’re more alike than we realize

January 18, 2012

Doug Todd (Vancouver Sun): You could call it a religious war of words, with the West Coast serving as one of its most intense battlegrounds.

The bid to win hearts and minds pits Buddhist meditation against Christian prayer, with meditation, especially so-called “mindfulness,” seeming to be gaining ground.

It’s been the focus of more than 60 recent scholarly studies. It’s being embraced by hundreds of psychotherapists, who increasingly offer Buddhist mindfulness to clients dealing with depression and anxiety. It’s been on the cover of Time magazine.

Even though polls show there are 10 times more Christians in the Pacific Northwest than Buddhists, the forms of …

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Entrepreneurs more likely to turn to prayer, meditation

September 21, 2011

Entrepreneurs are significantly more likely to pray several times a day or to meditate, says sociologist Kevin Dougherty, a co-author of the Baylor Religion Survey.

The survey can’t answer whether prayerful, peaceful folks are more likely to take a business risk or whether the stress of a start-up drives folks to their knees or to the lotus position, Dougherty says.

Either way, 34% of entrepreneurs say they frequently look up to the Lord, compared with 27% of non-entrepreneurs. Nearly as many, 32%, say they look inward in meditation while just 22% non-entrepreneurs say they practice any of the eight forms of meditation…

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Feeling angry? Say a prayer and the wrath fades away

Saying a prayer may help many people feel less angry and behave less aggressively after someone has left them fuming, new research suggests.

A series of studies showed that people who were provoked by insulting comments from a stranger showed less anger and aggression soon afterwards if they prayed for another person in the meantime.

The benefits of prayer identified in this study don’t rely on divine intervention: they probably occur because the act of praying changed the way people think about a negative situation, said Brad Bushman, co-author of the study and professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University.

“People often turn to prayer when they’re feeling negative emotions, including anger,” he … Read more »

Councilwoman wants wants prayer back in Philadelphia schools

The U.S. Constitution may prohibit mandatory prayer in public schools, but it doesn’t prohibit schools from allowing students to pray on their own initiative, says City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, who wants to encourage the practice.

“Students are free to pray alone or in groups as long as the activity is not disruptive and does not infringe on the rights of others,” according to a resolution adopted unanimously in Council yesterday at Blackwell’s request.

It calls for Council’s Education Committee, headed by Blackwell, to schedule hearings on prayer in Philadelphia public schools.

“We want to discuss the policy, see if it needs to be amended and certainly let the citizens know that the issue does exist,” … Read more »

Can’t get the hang of meditation? Relax a minute, it’ll come to you

February 3, 2011

While medical science remains uncertain whether prayer has the power to heal, experts are pretty sure meditation works.

Yet another study released last month — this one in the journal Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging — reports that those who meditated for about 30 minutes a day for eight weeks had measurable changes in brain density in areas related to memory, sense of self, empathy and stress.

Exactly what those brain changes mean is not clear, but there also have been studies confirming that meditation can reduce blood pressure — in healthy people as well as in those with heart disease. And those who meditate report that at the very least it improves their sense of the … Read more »

The quest to sort out competing and comparable religions

Whether one is a Sikh, a Catholic nun, a Buddhist monk or a Sufi Muslim, the brain reacts to focused prayer and meditation much in the same way.

As thousands prayed across the nation Thursday in celebration of the National Day of Prayer, the Rev. Franklin Graham held his own vigil in the Pentagon parking lot.

Oh well, it doesn’t matter where one prays, right? All prayers lead to heaven. Or do they?

Not if you’re Graham, who lost his place at the Pentagon altar after he mocked other religions, specifically Islam and Hinduism. A plea to President Obama to reinstate him apparently fell on pitiless ears.

Graham’s offense was expressing his belief that only … Read more »

Resolution seeks appeal on Day of Prayer ruling

Almost two dozen members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, came together Wednesday to issue a resolution calling on the Obama Administration to strongly appeal the recent ruling by a Wisconsin federal judge declaring the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional.

The members of Congress say they are willing to take the legal fight all the way up to the Supreme Court.

It was Congress in 1952 that designated the National Day of Prayer as a time to “turn to God in prayer and meditation.”

Now, it is current members of Congress who are trying to save the tradition.

“This decision is not representative of a vast majority of Americans regardless of their faith or even … Read more »