When it comes to religion, prayers are one of the core aspects not to be missed. But are you aware of what prayers can truly do? Do you fully understand the power prayers can manifest?
We will discuss this in simple terms here.
Prayers in Buddhism: Sutras & Mantras
In Buddhism, the term “prayer” refers to the chanting of sutras and mantras. These are usually in the form of verses and could be present in different kinds of versions, such as Sanskrit, Mandarin, Hokkien, English and more.
Sutras are more towards the reflections of good deeds and virtuous actions while mantras are more inclined to repetition of vows made by certain Bodhisattvas for chanting. Sutras are more suitable for spiritual protections, while mantras are geared towards invocation of the power of manifestation.
Regardless of the differences in usage and chanting methods, sutras and mantras must go hand in hand in chanting. This is because sutras and mantras actually supplement each other for us to gain the inner realisation of altruistic joy and wisdom.
|Type||Often in the form of lengthy verses without musical way of chanting.||Usually short verses with specific rhythm that requires repetition for chanting effectiveness|
|Chanting method||Usually a one-time incantation||Usually requires a minimum 3 times of repetition or more|
|Usage||For protection from negative spiritual forces||To invoke the manifestations of spiritual powers alongside personal spiritual cultivation|
How Do Prayers Work?
Prayers or chanting can only be effective and potent in manifestations through constant daily chanting or incantation. Not only that but our mind must also have full concentration towards the moment of prayer or chanting.
So how do we practise concentration during chanting? Firstly, our mind needs to focus fully onto the subject of the prayer or chanting. For instance, when we chant the Amitabha mantra (i.e. Namo Amitabha 南无阿弥陀佛), we must specifically concentrate on the statue of Amitabha to slowly gain subtle calmness and serenity. The same concept is also applicable to other prayers of any sacred entities, be it sutras or mantras from the Goddess of Mercy Kuan Yin, the Buddha or even by the Arahants – the same notion applies.
Invoking The Efficacy of Prayers
Much to the contrary of the belief by many simple-minded Buddhist laities, prayers do not work magically by merely chanting, but they actually require a few extra “ingredients” for their powers of incantation to manifest.
The efficacy of prayer or chanting will depend on the sincerity of the undertaker as well as the duration of performing the prayer or chanting. In addition, we also need to practise a magnanimous heart by sharing our merits in chanting to our departed relatives or friends.
And whenever we perform prayer or chanting, we should always feel peaceful and tranquil to gain the maximum benefits of prayer or chanting towards achieving sharper human instinct, intuition and earthly wisdom.
When Should I Do My Prayers or Chanting?
Prayers or chanting should always be performed once in the morning before noon, and another time in the evening before 7.00 pm. This is the hidden rule that we should always observe to achieve maximum benefits in our chanting.
So what happens if we do our prayers or chanting after 12.00 noon? Well, it will not be as effective anymore as the best time for chanting has passed. And what happens if we do it after 7.00 pm? Similarly, your chanting will not bring any benefits past that time.
This is because after the sun sets which is around 7.00pm, many wandering souls will be hungry to listen to prayers and chanting, since late evening onwards is usually the active time for wandering souls. And imagine yourself chanting at this period. It’s like offering meat to a hungry lion – the chances of these souls swarming to your place is high.
Well, some may wonder, isn’t feeding the hungry-for-prayers souls a meritorious thing to do? Unfortunately, no. Instead, their presence will create a bad vibration towards our dwelling home, unless you possess the ability to neutralise the negative forces by chanting a special soul mantra, which is messy and inconvenient at best. So rather than dealing with the effect of things, it is still best to perform our prayers before 7.00pm.
In case you are unable to do so, don’t worry, there’s a workaround to it. At best after 7.00pm, you can still perform your prayers or chanting through silently praying in our heart (you still need to read the verses though except in a really soft, low voice, not just thinking), instead of chanting aloud.
Special Prayers for Special Occasions
Prayers or chanting are specifically designed for certain occasions or purposes. If we were to perform prayers for departed relatives, then we have to choose the correct type of sutra or mantra specially crafted for departed souls.
Likewise, if we need spiritual protection, we have to go for protection verses and mantras for evil spell purposes. We need to choose correctly the type of prayer or chanting necessary for the relevant situation. Specifically, blessings for people must be done with blessing verses. Against evil, we will have to chant prayers on protection from evil.
While picking the right prayer to chant that is relevant to the occasion is important, it is interesting to note that chanting has no specific rule when it comes to suitable places or locations. Much to many Buddhists’ surprise, the mobility of performing prayers actually comes from our state of mind.
As long as we find the place convenient to start our prayer of chanting, we can do so provided we have the time and convenience to perform them. We can always perform our prayers or chanting while waiting or driving on the way to work or back home. Otherwise, the only taboo of a place deemed inappropriate and disrespectful for any prayer or chanting is in the toilet or bathroom!
The power of prayers can and should never be underestimated. Through our sincerity, a calm mind and a steady heart with constant practice of proper chanting, one will eventually achieve Jhanas, especially when done right along with constant pondering, contemplation and meditation.
Nothing in this world is ever wasteful or gives no result unless we have taken all the wrong ways or wrong directions in performing our prayers. Remember, in order for everything to come to maturity and fruitful result, it needs time and patience as well as perseverance to finally achieve the success you have been waiting for.