By Zuiko Redding
I’m often asked to give a prayer at interfaith services and this usually makes me think about how we Buddhists and those in the Abrahamic faiths are similar and different in this “prayer” thing.
One similarity is that we reach out because we want peace and hope. In our faith we find those by asking for wisdom and clarity, for perseverance, courage and strength. I think people who truly trust in the God of Abraham also ask for these same things, rather than for things that are about their personal comfort and happiness.
We ask for wisdom, clarity, courage, strength and perseverance because we know that the world cannot go as we wish it to, so asking that it do so is not helpful. Reality always functions to benefit all beings. Sometimes that works out the way we want, sometimes not.
As we face the really hard things in our lives with this in our hearts, we can work toward what will be helpful rather than what will give us what we want. We can work wholeheartedly to make our situation better, understanding that we work in the midst of the reality or our world, being ready to make room for the things we cannot control.
One major difference between our faith and the Abrahamic faiths is that we don’t seek outside ourselves for the things we pray for.
To ask for strength is to remember the strength we have. To pray for the endurance and courage to continue is to seek our own endurance and courage. It’s the same for wisdom, clarity and compassion. We have these things already with us, just as we have buddha nature.
We are these things, just as we are buddha nature.
They may be a bit threadbare and grungy, but they’re somewhere in there. We naturally find them when we put aside all the stuff about what we want, consider what needs to be done right now, and do it with our whole heart, not worrying about past or future. Just this thing, right now. Each step is our courage and endurance manifesting. It’s the prayer and the answer. With each step, wisdom arises and things become more clear—answers come—and we have the strength and energy to take the next step.
When things get really hard, let’s remember this.
To ask for strength is to remember the strength we have. ~ Zuiko Redding Click To Tweet
*originally written for the Cedar Rapids Zen Center
Zuiko Redding is the resident teacher at Jikyouji – Cedar Rapids Zen Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in the United States of America. She began studying and practicing Zen Buddhism as a university student in Houston in the early 1960s.
In 1992, she left her career as a sociology professor to receive novice ordination from Tsugen Narasaki Roshi and and enter training at Shogoji Monastery in Japan. She received dharma transmission from Narasaki Roshi in 1996. She returned to the United States in 1997 where she and five other practitioners founded Jikyouji in April 2000.
Editor: Dana Gornall