By Nhat Quan
In ordinary life, all human wishes, the most basic is probably the wish for a peaceful life, for yourself, and all your loved ones. So the proverb has a saying:
- Stay safe and worry about poverty.
The implication is that peace must be the first, most basic element to have, and then it comes to material needs. Thus, if they had to choose between wealth and security, the ancients made a wise decision when choosing security. Because a rich family is insecure, life cannot be happy and good. While living a poor life in peace without worries can still be much more peaceful and happy.
In the spiritual life too, people always want grace to bestow peace for themselves, their families...., and also want to bring peace and tranquility to someone in need. . Through that, as if your loved one is sick, you pray to God to grant them peace and quickly recover from illness.
In the traditions of religions, any religion has this prayer. Depending on the traditions of each religion, you have many different manifestations of praying for peace. That is, when there is an urgent need, beyond human ability, beyond the ability of medicine, often you believe in the power to help from outside almighty beings. According to Buddhism, Buddhists believe that praying for peace is to stay at home or go to the temple to pray to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for mercy and peace. This method of praying for peace is very popular nowadays, because really with a sincere heart, when you pray like that, you feel safe, to continue to raise the hope that your loved one will recover from an accident or illness. karma is eliminated.
In the ways of praying for peace, in addition to praying themselves often when the followers like in the Buddhist tradition, Buddhists often ask the monks to read and chant prayers. Because they believe that the sincerity of the householder, together with the purity of the monks, with strong attention, will touch the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. They will bless your loved ones to overcome the accident like the verse that the monks often praise and recite:
- Buddha and sentient beings, nature is usually empty
The Way of sympathy is inconceivable
The net of Brahmadeva spread over the ashram
The ten directions of the Buddha Treasure are bright
In front of the throne, my body appears
I bow my head to take refuge.
With a sincere heart, you believe that if you have a request, you will have inspiration. You believe in the protection of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Believing in a superior will be willing to help you, so your mind will be clear, and put your full trust in prayer. For monks, it is at the request of the householder to practice the ritual. The mind of the monks at this time is altruistic mind, so when it comes to praying for peace, they always think about their sacrifice and dedication to helping others, so they are ready to pray to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to help you safely.
In your life, peace is so important, so in addition to your social life, you always pray to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for protection. The Venerables also encourage you, in your daily life, basically, the art of skillful behavior can also help you to prevent some unnecessary insecurities. For example, the ancients often advised you in communication to:
- More friends and fewer enemies.
- To know that living in peace is precious.
- One sentence of yielding, nine sentences of goodness..etc.
But advice like that, you can only do half of it, because these methods are not all that is needed for you to be secure. The reason I say only half, is because if you want:
- More friends, less hatred, but what if other people deliberately cause hatred without wanting to have friends?
- You always value peace, but what about others deliberately trying to stir you up?
- The more you give in, what if people continue to cause trouble?
So, if you always want to be safe, then everyone else around you must too. Therefore, avoiding causing insecurity to others is also protecting your own security. If everyone knows how to limit causing insecurity to others, of course, the whole society will be more secure...
But what has just been mentioned briefly above is only the tip of an iceberg, that is, very sketchy and meager compared to the true magnitude of the problem. The hidden and more important factor to your insecurity lies not entirely in the influence of the external environment, but mostly in your own mind, in the way you perceive things happening to you. Therefore, the Buddha taught that:
- To be at peace, there must be appropriate efforts not only in action but also in the mind, not entirely expected from external factors.
So, if you know, with just one adjustment of perception, you can be at ease, without any restlessness. But life is not that simple, for all the grossest and mixed causes of insecurity are still intact in you. You have not once identified or cleaned up, let go of them... Your insecurity may come from a beautiful flower pot that this morning before going to work you forgot to water, you are afraid when you return it will be dry, wilted. Or a new home that has been agreed to at a great price but has not yet delivered a deposit, and you fear the seller will change his mind, and that will mess up your calculations... and so on and so forth.
And more than that, you have never had the courage to face the woes in the middle of life. When an event has not happened, you are anxious, when it actually happens, you are confused, panic and have resentment against Heaven, blame people... Your mind is full of completely meaningless thoughts and should not be, because all of that will only confuse you instead of helping to solve the problem.
As mentioned, the basis of your insecurity lies not in the external environment, but in your own mind. Therefore, the solution to your peace of mind, or to pray for your peace, is basically, first of all, you still have to go back to examine your own mind to identify your insecurity. So that you can see its deepest and most fundamental causes, then there can find a way to eliminate them. So when preaching the Four Noble Truths, the Buddha taught the first truth, Suffering, indicating all the suffering that pervades this life. However, you all don't want to suffer, you just want to be happy and have fun. Your insecurities start there. When you have not faced the truth of suffering to find out the causes and eliminate those causes in order to end suffering, you cannot yet walk on the peaceful path that leads to true lasting happiness. Therefore, correct awareness of suffering and its causes is also the first step for you to realize peace of mind or peace.
But a lot of you don't go that route. When you are faced with so many insecurities, instead of turning to your own mind, you run around looking for a way to find peace. This tendency has existed since ancient times when people did not know much about the natural environment, so they always had to be afraid of natural phenomena such as thunder, rain, and storm... From a feeling of helplessness. and fear and insecurity in the face of these threats, you begin to think of making sacrifices, invoking the gods you believe have the power to govern those phenomena. Most religions still retain this tendency, just change the objects of invocation according to your beliefs. Your supplications today have also changed and become much more varied. You also pray for good luck buying at low prices, selling for high prices, rich fortune, abundant health... but the most common and most important thing is still praying for peace, and safe.
But, will praying for peace like that really help you feel secure?
- The answer is yes but also no.
It depends on how you choose to pray for peace, as well as how you have prayed for peace with a mind. As mentioned above, most of the base of insecurity is in your own mind. So, if praying for peace is a genuine way that can help you get peace of mind, it will also change your perception of everything that happens to you, and thus praying for peace can be seen as having good results.
On the contrary, if the method of praying for the peace you choose is wrong, blind, and based only on completely untrue beliefs. If you are motivated by greed and selfishness, no matter how hard you try to pray for peace, you will not get peaceful results. Because insecurity is inherently a companion with wrong views and delusion, it will follow you until you are truly awakened, truly aware of things around you.
These methods of praying for the peace of this kind of delusion have been mentioned and warned by the Buddha in many sutras. These are things like divination, dream prediction, tattooing, killing creatures to sacrifice to the gods... These are not true to the Dharma, go against the principle of cause and effect, and arise from greed as well as delusion and lustful antagonism. However, at present, there are still many people who do not realize these things and continue to put their faith in them. Many people still mistakenly believe that it is possible to find security in life by such wrong means.
The sincerity, prayer, star offering, and relief from the accident are completely real. They are worried, afraid, and insecure about the disasters that may happen to them in the new year. This is a completely natural mentality, coming from their own experiences into what they have experienced. This fear is aroused when it is known which year it was hit by what stars. With the psychological fear of those who have fierce stars in their lives, worshiping stars and eliminating accidents becomes a need to relieve stress and give people a little faith.
Regarding the issue of offering stars and solving bad luck, many people have spent a lot of paper and ink on this. Personally, I think it's up to each person to believe it or not. It is not to believe that there is, but not to believe that there is no. For example, furniture in the house, during the day, you can see everything very clearly, but at night when the lights are on, you can still see everything as during the day. But when the lights are off, you can't see anything but a black color. Just because you can't see it doesn't mean there's nothing. So in my opinion, this is just the beginning when you want to be at peace. In fact, in addition to worshiping stars, and eliminating bad luck, you also have to practice, study, and do honest deeds. According to the Lotus Sutra, the Universal Gate, the Buddha teaches about the vow to save suffering and save accidents for all sentient beings by Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. The content of this sutra affirms one thing:
- When sentient beings are in trouble, if they single-mindedly recite the name of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, he will immediately follow that sound to rescue those in distress.
The image of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara in this chapter is a common example for all Bodhisattvas who are practicing Mahayana vows, for the benefit of all sentient beings. Their practice vows, right from the moment of arising the Bodhi mind, have taken service and saving sentient beings as the main goal. Even the attainment of Buddhahood is considered by them as a means to be able to do the best and the most benefit for all sentient beings, not for themselves to be freed from suffering.
Thus, attaining supreme perfect enlightenment is not the end goal, but only the means by which the bodhisattva can benefit all countless sentient beings. With that in mind, they never think of their own benefit first, but all their actions are aimed at benefiting all sentient beings.
Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara with great compassion has made great vows to save suffering and save accidents for all sentient beings. Therefore, in times of suffering and accidents, you can recite his name for peace of mind. With the interplay between the two minds and certain conditions, you will surely achieve peace. The Buddha called this practice of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara giving sentient beings peace without fear.
So, how should Buddhists pray for peace in the right way? And under what conditions can you pray for peace?
First of all, you only think of praying for peace when your heart is uneasy. So, basically, at that time, your mood is similar to that of Than Quang when he said to Bodhidharma:
- My mind is not at peace, may the most venerable make me feel secure.
The difference here is, Mr. Than Quang is only insecure due to not having a correct perception, while you are insecure due to specific physical or mental reasons due to unstable events happening or There's a lot of danger coming your way. Therefore, the method of making peace of mind here still basically fits in the teaching of Bodhidharma:
- You give me your mind, I give you peace of mind
And in order to bring the mind out here, you have no choice but to go back and examine the mind itself. Even if others want to help you, they can't do it for you, so you have to go back to examine your mind yourself, and you can't expect or beg someone to do it for you. In order to return to contemplating your own mind, you need to have an appropriate environment and a suitable setting around you. This is where you need to start for peace.
If the family has a Buddhist altar, it is best to pray for peace at home. Only if your living conditions do not allow it, such as being too cramped or too noisy, or complicated... should you think about conducting a prayer for peace at the temple.
But whether you pray for peace at the temple or at home, you should prepare carefully and dignify the minimum offerings such as incense, lamps, fruits, etc. The problem is not that you offer these things whatever, more or less, good or bad..., but the main thing is to prepare everything with the sincerity of your ability. After you have fully prepared such offerings, you proceed to clean and arrange the Buddha's altar to be dignified and clean. You should all do it yourself, you should not ask others, unless everyone involved in the preparation has the same mind to pray for peace, like children in the family.
Next, you face the Buddha's altar with sincere respect and begin the ritual of praying for peace. Long ago, the chanting of the Universal Gate Chapter in the Lotus Sutra was chosen as a ritual to pray for peace. The rituals of opening the sutras and chanting the Universal Gate are clearly presented in all the chanting rites in circulation today.
While chanting, you need to focus your attention and reflect on the meaning of each verse. Thanks to that, you can blend in with the solemn atmosphere of the chanting, imbuing the meaning of each verse into your mind.
The entire content of the Universal Gate Sutra chapter talks about the endless compassion of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. It was this great compassion that gave him the ability to manifest in all different realms, bringing fearless security to all sentient beings in all situations. As long as those sentient beings have the heart to recite his name, he will appear immediately.
So, what is one heart to recite the name of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara?
Right from the beginning of this sutra, the Buddha explained the cause and effect of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara's name:
- If there are countless sentient beings who are suffering, hear the name of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, and then single-mindedly recite that name, Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara will immediately recognize the sound of people asking for help. There, He immediately appeared to help that person get rid of suffering.
According to that meaning, Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara is the great compassion and compassion toward all sentient beings who are suffering. As long as you single-mindedly recite his name, there is immediately a mutual understanding that helps you to be liberated. Here, as you can see in the Buddha's teaching, suffering beings do not come forward and beg for help, but hear the name of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara and then wholeheartedly confess.
Hearing the name of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara means hearing about his great compassion and compassion for all sentient beings. One-heartedly reciting the name of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara means single-mindedly giving rise to great compassion like him. This is the first condition to have a connection between the Bodhisattva's great compassion and the minds of sentient beings. Because if sentient beings do not give rise to great compassion, they cannot rely on anything to have a connection with the pure mind of the Bodhisattva.
When you are able to generate the aspiration of great compassion towards the sufferings of all other sentient beings, the sutra will then continue to lead you into the realm of the great compassion of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. With boundless power, he can transform countless bodies in the suffering realms to save all sentient beings. Just as you can chant this with one mind, your great compassion will be able to merge with the Bodhisattva's great compassion. In other words, your narrow ego will completely dissolve in the manifestation of great compassion without discrimination, at that time you are the bodhisattva, the bodhisattva is you, no two, no other. Those who have never had one-pointed sincerity in chanting will have a hard time understanding this state.
In other words, you need to see clearly that praying for peace does not mean at all asking the Bodhisattva to save suffering, as many people mistakenly believe. You cannot face the Bodhisattva to ask him to give you this, to help you with that... Such requests are completely misunderstood, even contrary to the Buddha's teachings. The Buddha has repeatedly mentioned in the scriptures that it is your thoughts, actions, and words that determine all the karma that you receive, not by any powerful blessing or disaster. It is impossible to rely on some external force to change the results of karma.
Instead, you must clearly understand that praying for peace is first of all going back to examine your own mind. When you begin to prepare for the prayer of peace, your mind has already begun to quiet down the wrong thoughts. And began to turn towards the Three Jewels, about the pure solemnity in front of the Buddha platform, thereby facilitating the reception of the meaning of the scriptures more deeply. Reciting the name of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara is the motivation to arouse in you your inherent compassion, through contemplation of the Bodhisattva's great compassion. The connection between your sincere heart when professing and the pure compassion of the Bodhisattva will continue to nurture the great compassion in you to grow. The prayer that proclaims the great compassion of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara continues to take you deep into the realm of Bodhisattva's great compassion, helping you to integrate with his great compassion. In other words, at that time, Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara manifested in yourself as the sutra clearly states:
- Where it is necessary to use the body of an elder to save people, the Bodhisattva immediately embodies the body of an elder to speak the Dharma. Where it is necessary to use the body of a layperson to save people, the Bodhisattva immediately embodies the body of a layperson to speak the Dharma. ...
Once you have properly understood and done so, all the restlessness in your mind will be dispelled. Thanks to the great compassion power of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, it is also the power of great compassion that is generated and nurtured in your mind during the peaceful prayer ceremony. The most specific manifestation of this is that after such a peaceful ceremony, all thoughts of greed, anger, and jealousy in you will subside, no more. You feel a state of gentle serenity that you normally would not have. After the ceremony, you should take some time to sit down right in front of the Buddha altar, maintain this peaceful state of mind, and reflect on the causes that have previously caused you unease.
You will notice a miraculous change, that at this moment, what was most serious or scary to you before now doesn't seem so scary as before. you feel calmer, more lucid, and as a result, are able to realize many things that you didn't understand properly about things before. Sometimes a nice solution to the problem may arise at this point.
In reality, it is certain that your anxiety will be mitigated, but to what extent will depend on a number of different factors. For example, depending on how insecure you were before, depending on your faith and sincerity while performing the ritual of peace prayer. And also depends on your perception of whether the meaning of praying for peace is really right or not.
You can immediately see that the above peaceful prayer is not at all in the meaning of supplication, or supplication, but rather an effort to return to contemplating one's own mind, purifying the mind, and generating great compassion mind. Reciting the name of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara and diligently reciting the Universal Gate Sutra is a magical means to help you achieve such a goal. In other words, the power to dispel your restlessness is the power of great compassion. And once that mind has been developed in you, the distinction between you and Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara will be gradually narrowed. Since then there are no givers and receivers in fearless giving, so peace naturally arises in you without needing to ask for it.
Thus, if you go to the temple to ask the Master to recite sutras to pray for peace, or invite the monks and nuns to come to the house as possible, but if you cannot go to the temple and cannot invite the monks and nuns to come to the house, you will do it yourself.
Because, praying for peace cannot be a blessing or a disaster, but the most important point is to help you feel secure, that is, to dispel the insecurity and confusion in your heart.
However, in cases where it is not possible to carry out a prayer for peace at home, you can also organize it at a temple, but you should still chant and worship by yourself, instead of just relying on the chanting of the monks, and you are only there to serve the sutras and consider it done. Even when monks and nuns are chanting sutras, you have to put your whole heart into each verse in order to have any effect.
In short, if you can diligently and sincerely perform the prayer for peace according to the Buddha's teachings, then surely peace will come to you, and all difficulties will be able to be gradually alleviated. On the contrary, if you hold the wrong perception of peace-seeking, only wishing for illusory things to suit your lustful mind, then praying for peace will not bring any benefit.
Praying for peace to be at peace is completely possible in accordance with the Dharma. In the light of the Buddhadharma, I hope that all of you at all times, at all locations, in all places, no matter how many insecurities you carry in your hearts when know how to pray for peace in accordance with the true dharma, surely you will be as desired.
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