Prayer – Potential for the Miraculous

An excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called Coming Alive

Whether you are a beginner or an advanced student–if you are a good student, you are innocent and you are pure, and when you practice, you taste and feel and open your heart. You meditate on purpose.  You give rise to new and fresh longing, almost like re-opening an old wound.  How marvelous if you realize, really, the finiteness of life. How marvelous because then you are empowered to pray as you have not prayed before.

There have been times when my temple was in danger. There have been times when I had the experience of teaching a class in which I realized hardly any of the people in the class had the capacity at that moment to really hear my teaching on compassion. At these times I went to my altar, threw myself down and did repeated prostrations saying, “Please, I gather together all of my virtue in the three times–past, present and future–and I offer it to these students, that their capacity to hear Dharma may be ripened.” Afterwards, I would go back into the same group and give the same teachings, and they were changed.  Their faces were changed.  They were alive.  They were hearing it.  I know the power of praying like that.

I also know there have been times when my children have been in danger. Do you want me to really pray?  Scare me with my children being in danger.  I’m not only talking about my physical children, but also my spiritual children. I have seen amazing life-changing experiences happen through that.  And I have also felt the suffering of praying by rote, I’m sorry to say.  But I will never have that feeling again if I can help it.  If a prayer comes out of my mouth, I’m going to be there with it.  And I would suggest that you do the same.  However you pray, whatever you do, pray as though it were the last time you had that opportunity.  Pray as though you were in front of the miraculous.  You know, that old joke about climbing to the top of the Himalayas to see that guy sitting on the rug so that you can ask him what is the meaning of life?  Pray like that.  Pray as though you had just climbed the mountain and you were looking at the old guy on the rug and he could tell you the meaning of life.  Pray as though it were your last moment to pray, as though you were going to lose your tongue after that.  Pray as though everything depended on it, because it does.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo