Monday, March 12, 2012

Buddhist Bedtime Prayer

The way Buddhist Boot Camp explains prayer vs. meditation has had a huge impact on me recently. I have changed my recitations from please for an outside source to give me strength to reminders to myself that I have the strength and courage and skills in me that I need. 

Bootcamp explains: 
A true prayer is one of gratitude for the blessing in our lives; it is NOT a time to be greedy or to beg for more. We already have everything we need in order to be happy. Even saying "God, please give me strength" implies that we don't already have it (when we actually do). Simply say, "Thank you for the strengh", and you will be empowered to tap into it. 

When I first started learning and thinking about Buddhism I just ignored my mother when she taught my son to fold his hands and say the traditional "Now I lay me down to sleep I pray the Lord my child to keep". Of course he is 16 months and can't say it but he definitely folds his hands and smiles when she reminds him to "say your prayers". 

But as I have continued in my spiritual beliefs I realize that it is important to pray, or rather recite words that remind you of your inner strength. So I have been saying the "Now I lay me" prayer with him recently. However, today I went looking for something more in line with what I am coming to believe. 

Of course prayer is a very careful subject when it comes to Buddhism, and I understand that. I found a dad who is in the same boat as I am who had rewritten a bedtime prayer to reflect the Christian practice of seeking guidance for a child through the night with a more Buddhist interpretation of recitation. Jay N. Forrest wrote

May I sleep peacefully and have no fear. May my heart seek wisdom and my mind be clear. May I be filled with love and compassion for all beings. And may I live a good and long life filled with happiness. 

He also points out that to say "amen" at the end of a recitation is not part of Buddhism so he said that he ends his bedtime prayers with "goodnight" or, more often, "I love you". 

This is going to be our new bedtime routine. I'm really excited to find ways to share my beliefs with my son. 

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