I was just forwarded a lovely interview with Thich Nhat Hanh about prayer and his book on the subject: The Energy of Prayer. It looks to be a lovely and thought provoking book about prayer, brought to my attention by the lovely Elizabeth Landman. In this interview, he brings a perspective on Buddhism and prayer, and connects the role of time, ancestors, and being part of what one draws upon or brings forth through prayer. He also draws attention to the difference between thinking and being, and how they relate to the energy of prayer.
Here is a passage so interesting to chew on, from an interview he did with Publisher's Weekly. It's well worth a read. Here are a couple of excerpts:
If you pray to the Buddha, you should know who the Buddha is, and not just have a number of ideas of the Buddha. If you know who the Buddha is, prayer will be effective. If you feel that the Buddha is fully present in the here and the now, that you have the capacity of touching him or her, then the prayer will be effective. You know that the Buddha is there also within you, in the form of mindfulness, compassion, concentration; so the Buddha is no longer an idea but a reality...
According to our insight, the Buddha continues, Jesus also continues in their new forms. And if you are a Buddhist practitioner, you continue the Buddha; so the Buddha as the object of your prayer is a reality, and not just an idea. That practice relies on the basic insight that nothing is ever lost. Your father is still there, your grandmother is still there, Buddha is still there in his new manifestations. So the second person in prayer, the one to whom we pray, is concrete, is really there, and we can really get in touch with him or with her. That is why it is very important to have the insight. Jesus, Buddha and grandfather are not something that only existed in the past; they are there in the here and the now. They are within you, around you, and you can get in touch with them.
There's more on the body and its role in prayer which is also fascinating to me.
Full interview can be found here.
Hannah Burr is a contemporary artist and author. Originally from Boston, she lives in Ann Arbor MI.