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The Power & Purpose of Prayer

An Inspiring Letter from Kadam Lucy

We should pray for world peace. We have had two world wars. If there is a third world war this will almost destroy the world because every country has very powerful weapons, and it is very easy to destroy the world. ~ Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso in 2001

Our world is unstable because our minds are unstable, and without the ability to stay focused on positivity they will stay that way. We all need peace. As Geshe Kelsang says:

From inner peace comes outer peace.

Inner peace comes from familiarity with virtuous objects, such as love and wisdom, which opposes and eventually eradicate our delusions. For if anyone ever doubted the power of our delusions to harm us, we can see right now how the anger, pride, fear, greed, and selfishness in the minds of even just a few people can bring about terrible decisions and mad destruction. We don’t want our own delusions to be a part of this problem.

In general, even without Russia invading the Ukraine and talk of mad fingers on the button, we are all still working our way through a very weird time. There wasn’t even a week off between Covid apparently starting to ease off and the threat of World War 3. News about the worst floods ever to hit Australians, 2022 being the year we seriously have to figure out what we are doing with Mother Earth, the growing mental health crisis, and any number of other horrors have all been pushed below the headlines by the invasion, but of course are still causing unbearable suffering. Not to mention the billions of animals tortured daily who don’t get mentioned at all. Is there anywhere in our world at the moment where peace reigns and everyone is happy?

Faced with this global instability and weirdness, it’s our opportunity to get a real sense of what Buddha has been saying all along: that life is weird. Well, he didn’t put it quite like that. He said life is dreamlike, and that life contaminated by delusions is the nature of suffering. Appearances are thrown up from our minds and our karma — changing very quickly, all the time, and not just in this life but in life after life after life.

Sometimes, not so much this month perhaps, we get settled into our relative comfort zones, our comfy corners in samsara, and we lose sight of how strange samsara (the cycle of impure life) really is. We adapt to new weird things, and I think we can forget that samsara is, quite frankly, always totally strange. From a spiritual point of view, however, weird and frightening happenings are a helpful wake-up call. Our minds and lives and futures are unpredictable because our delusions control us, not the other way around. Are things going to get less weird? Probably not, not unless we get less weird. We’re the ones creating the weirdness because our minds are uncontrolled. How do we control our minds, to keep them from going weird on us? We need to cherish others a lot more, we need compassion, and we need wisdom.

The power and purpose of prayers

In particular, right now we need to be praying for our collective world with compassion and concentration. In 2001, Venerable Geshe-la said:

“I would like to suggest that every Center organizes prayers for world peace at any time when local people can gather and pray for world peace.”

He introduced a short and very beautiful prayer practice called Prayers for World Peace, and this is what I want to talk about on Sunday, in our free event – what are prayers, how they work, how we can pray. And recently, in response to the invasion of Ukraine, he said:

“Of course, we engage in Prayers for World Peace.”

In particular, right now we need to be praying. Big time. It is so important. Venerable Geshe Kelsang has said:

"Our job is, we pray, we pray for these obstacles to be pacified. We pray for people to pacify their negativity, wrong views, their extreme views, through prayer. Our job to solve these kinds of problems is we pray for everybody to become friends. To have harmony, good relationships, to pacify their wrong views of selfish intention. This is our job. I believe it is the best method to help." ~ New York, 2006.

Last month thousands of Kadampas all around the world engaged in prayers for world peace, beaming out from Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre, at Venerable Geshe-la’s suggestion in response to “the dangerous situation now developing in the world”. I sit up and take notice when Geshe-la requests us to pray for a particular situation because it doesn’t happen that often. Genla Dekyong gave a talk at that time on the power of prayers, and I will be reviewing what she said.

In general, Geshe-la has been requesting us to pray for world peace for as long as I can remember. But recent events are giving me pause. Here is some advice he gave us in 2001:

"World peace is very important; we cannot ignore this now. Once something happens, it will be too late. This world is now, as you know, very delicate, very fragile, and very sensitive. It is almost as delicate as the life of a single person; the world situation is so delicate. This is because there are so many disagreements. Political leaders are ready to fight; everybody is preparing weapons ready to fight and are challenging each other. So, we spiritual practitioners need to offer prayers because prayers are very powerful.”

He also explained three reasons why prayers are powerful and effective, which I will be explaining on Sunday. We will also do the prayers and some meditation, and there will be a chance to discuss and ask questions.

We can make a huge difference with our prayers. So, please join us. It is a free event, and we hope that many people will be able to attend both in person and online.

With Love,
Kadam Lucy James

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