Q: Master Lu, how should we say our prayers when we perform recitations? Should we say the corresponding prayer before we start reciting each type of sutra or mantra? Or should we say an overall prayer before we start recitation? Or should we repeat our prayers with each recitation of a sutra or mantra?
- Avoid saying your prayers with each recitation of a sutra or mantra. Once there was a Buddhist practitioner who said his prayers this way. After performing a Totem Reading for this Buddhist practitioner, Master Lu noticed that each title of the sutra or mantra he recited was “dark”. This was because most of the wishes in his prayers contained unwholesome karmic results, bringing about dark energy. Hence, if you say your prayers with each recitation of a sutra or mantra, the effects of your recitation will be impacted.
- Beginners can say the corresponding prayer before they start reciting each type of sutra or mantra. They can include multiple wishes in their prayers, but the number of wishes should be limited. If one includes too many wishes in their prayers, their prayers may not be effective. In addition, it will serve to intensify their greed. For more details on saying prayers when performing recitations, refer to the procedures described in Q&A 71 and Q&A 72: Introduction to Buddhist sutras and mantras.
- If you still have many urgent or specific problems to resolve, then it would be best to say your prayers separately for each problem. This allows you to address the specific issues in order to attain better results.
- If you have reached a certain spiritual state, and you do not have many wishes or problems, you can say all the prayers once before starting your daily recitation, and then once again after completion. Your spiritual state elevates as you deepen your Buddhist practice, the way you say your prayers should be adjusted accordingly.
Those who have the feeling of a connection with Bodhisattvas’ energy when they perform recitations can say their prayers once before reciting, and once again after finishing the recitation.
The effect of performing recitations with a pure mind is different from performing recitations with a specific intention. Currently, many people perform recitations with the intention to achieve a specific outcome. It is recommended that we gradually rid ourselves of such desires, as they will reduce the effectiveness of the recitation.
As our spiritual state elevates and our Buddhist practice deepens, we must aim to ask for nothing in return. Sometimes, when we have no desire for anything in return, we may end up getting what we want, whereas sometimes when we do have a desire for something, we do not receive anything in the end.
At times, even if we pray to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for something, we may not get what we want, as we do not have enough merits and virtues. On the other hand, sometimes even if we do not ask for anything, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas would help us regardless, because we have accumulated enough merits and virtues. Therefore, it would be false to assume that Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will certainly bless us when we pray for many things.
- The effect of saying the corresponding prayer before reciting each type of sutra or mantra is comparable to the effect of performing more recitations and saying fewer prayers. However, the latter can sometimes be more effective than the former. Suppose you are asking someone a favour. Sometimes, even if you persistently ask this person for help, you may not necessarily get it done, as this may not be achievable in the human realm. It is common for us to perceive most events as following the norm of the human realm. In fact, they also follow the processes of heaven. In other words, many things that you pray for cannot materialise in the human realm because they are related to the effects of collective karma in heaven.
- Regardless of how you say your prayers, for the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance, the Mantra to Untie Karmic Knots, and the Amitabha Pure Land Rebirth Mantra, it is best to say the corresponding prayers separately before you recite them.
- The Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance is an important scripture. Before reciting this text, it is best to say the following prayer: “May the Greatly Merciful and Greatly Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva protect and bless me, <your full name>, help me to repent and eliminate karmic obstacles (in the body or a specific part of the body).”
- Before reciting the Mantra to Untie Karmic Knots, it is best to say the following prayer: “May the Greatly Merciful and Greatly Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva protect and bless me, <your full name>, help me to resolve my negative karmic affinity with <the other party’s full name> (whether it be your relative, friend, or colleague’s name).”
- Before reciting the Amitabha Pure Land Rebirth Mantra, it is best to say the following prayer: “May the Greatly Merciful and Greatly Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva protect and bless me, <your full name>, help the spirits of the deceased, whose death my actions caused, to ascend to a higher spiritual realm.”