Q101: Master Lu, how should we say our prayers when we perform recitations? Should we say all our prayers together before we start reciting a collection of sutras and mantras? Or, should we say the corresponding prayer before we start reciting each type of sutra or mantra? Or, should we repeat our prayers every time before we recite the title of each sutra or mantra?
- It is best not to say our prayers every time before we recite the title. Once there was a caller to “The Art of Applying Comprehensive Metaphysics” radio program who said his prayers this way. While performing Totem Enquiry, Master Lu noticed that this caller had “black” titles for all the sutra and mantra that he recited. This was because most of the wishes in his prayers contained karmic fruits that were not good, causing black or negative energy fields to be generated. For example, as a result of negative karma, a person is suffering from illness and this has a negative energy field associated with it. If this person mentions his illness every time before he recites the title of the sutra or mantra, the titles would be contaminated with negative energy as well. Therefore, the effectiveness of our recitation may be affected if we say our prayers every time before we recite the titles. Beginner Buddhists 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. Having multiple wishes in the prayers would increase thoughts of greed in the mind and hence reduce the effectiveness. For more details, please refer to the procedures described in Q&A 071 and Q&A 072 “Introduction to reciting sutras and mantras”.
- If you currently still have many urgent or specific problems to resolve, then it would be best to say your prayers separately for each problem. This is intended to address the specific problems, hence producing better effects.
- If you have reached a certain level of cultivation and you currently do not have too many wishes or problems, you can say all the prayers once before reciting a collection of sutras and mantras for your Daily Recitation and then once again after your recitation. As you improve in your cultivation, how you say your prayers can be adjusted accordingly. Dharma cultivators who are experiencing positive effects in their cultivation can say all the prayers once before they start their recitation, and then once again after they finish their recitation.
- The effect of performing recitations with a pure mind is different to performing recitations with a specific intention. Currently, many people perform recitations with the intention to achieve a specific outcome or return. It is recommended that we gradually cease the desire for returns, as this desire reduces the effectiveness. As our level of cultivation elevates, we aim to achieve the state of no desire for any return. Sometimes, when we have no desire for any return, we may end up receiving returns, whereas sometimes when we do have a desire for returns, we may not receive any returns in the end. At times, even if we insistently ask Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for help, we may not receive the support that we want. Other times, even if we do not ask for anything, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas would help us regardless. As our spiritual power improves from cultivation, we do not need to make many requests for Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to unconditionally protect and bless us.
- The effect of saying the corresponding prayer before we start reciting each type of sutra or mantra is actually similar to the effect of just performing recitations and saying fewer prayers. However, it would be better to focus more on performing the recitations rather than saying the prayers. Suppose you are asking a person for a favour. Sometimes, even if you persistently ask this person, you may not get what you want. This is how the human realm operates normally. We may think that the spiritual realms operate differently, but in fact they operate in a similar manner. Hence, no matter how hard we say our prayers, we may not able to obtain what we want. It is normal for us to perceive events as following the way they would generally happen in the human realm. However, according to the spiritual realms, especially in the upper realms including the heavens, events actually happen as a result of the karmic fruits from our collective karma in the human realm.
- Regardless of how you say your prayers, it is best to say the corresponding prayers separately for the Eighty-eight Buddhas Great Repentance (Li Fo Ta Chan Hui Wen), Mantra to Untie Karmic Knots (Chieh Chieh Chou), and Amitabha Pure Land Rebirth Mantra (Wang Sheng Chou).
- Eighty-eight Buddhas Great Repentance is one of the most significant sutras. Before reciting the sutra, it is best to say the following prayer, “May the Great Merciful and Great Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva protect me, <your full name>, help me to repent and eliminate karmic obstacles due to negative karmas on my body (or on particular parts of the body).”
- Before reciting the Mantra to Untie Karmic Knots, it is best to say the following prayer, “May the Great Merciful and Great Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva protect me, <your full name>, and <name of the other party>, to untie karmic knots and resolve conflicts.”
- Before reciting the Amitabha Pure Land Rebirth Mantra, it is best to say the following prayer, “May the Great Merciful and Great Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva protect and bless me, <your full name>, help me to transfer merits to the minor foreign spirits of the deceased animals whose death I have caused, and help me to cease karmic obstacles due to negative karmas.”