In this extraordinary celebration of spirituality, Thich Nhat Hanh re-envisions prayer as an inclusive, accessible practice that transcends any particular religious or spiritual tradition, and demonstrates the power of prayer in our daily lives. Continuing his decades-long dialogue between the two great living contemplative traditions, Buddhism and Christianity, which was the central focus of his best-seller, Living Buddha, Living Christ, he argues that prayer is not about asking some external force for what we need, but about creating an internal environment in which it is easier to get what we want. The Energy of Prayer introduces five meditation exercises that will bring awareness and intention into your life, no matter your specific religion of spiritual affiliation, as well as breathing practices, visualizations, invocations, and a rich sampling of prayers and chants from the Buddhist tradition. Ultimately, Thich Nhat Hanh presents prayer as more than just relaxation: it is a way to satisfy the basic human need to make a connection with something larger than our everyday self.
A lovely book, a prayer in itself. —Philip Zaleski, co-author of Prayer
Hanh, the Vietnamese Zen master and author of more than 60 books, asks: “Why is prayer successful at some times and not at others?” Other questions also animate this brief primer on prayer: How can we pray for healing, say from lung cancer, when that disease is the natural karmic result of our own choices (e.g., smoking)? And to whom do we pray, especially since Buddhism teaches that there is no separate, distinct being called God who exists apart from creation? Hanh has a winning style, nimbly mixing deep philosophy with personal anecdotes and helpful illustrations. He also introduces spiritual practices, including the expected (reciting sutras, bowing, or performing walking and sitting meditation) as well as the unusual and ecumenical (praying to the living as well as the dead.) He also dissects the Lord’s Prayer line by line. The book closes with five simple meditation exercises to increase awareness and calm, and some short Buddhist prayers.
—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review,
In the Zen tradition the practitioner has to rely on his or her own force more than the force or the power of others. This means that we have to take our destiny into our own hands, and not just believe and have faith in another person, even if that other person is the Buddha. But, if that is so, then what is the role of prayer? Should we pray or not? And what should we pray for?
When we pray, we need faith, love, and we also need mindfulness—the real presence of our body and mind. If this factor is lacking, then, whatever our tradition may be, we are not able to pray. If you are not present, then who is the one who is praying? When you are really there then you will have concentration and that is the condition that will lead to insight.