Buddhists do not pray to a divine authority or Creator God, but they do turn their attention to the divine and spiritual nature of reality. Buddhists can pray at home at small shrines or at temples where large statues and icons represent one of the many incarnations of the Buddha. Buddhists believe that prayer can help them achieve the ultimate goal of enlightenment, described as liberation from the material world and the cycle of death and rebirth. Although methods of prayer differ between different Buddhist movements and traditions, a number of practices are common to all.

Sit facing the shrine or image of the Buddha. It is important that you prostrate yourself before the image of Buddha as a sign of humility and as a way to shed yourself of pride and ego.

Bring your palms together and bow to the Buddha as another sign of humility. This shows reverence to the Buddha for achieving enlightenment and the willingness of the follower to embrace his teachings.

Buddhists believe you should always try to control your mind. Clear your mind of distractions. Do not be distracted by the illusions of the physical world. Trying to push gently aside thoughts unrelated to spiritual matters is key to prayer free of the ego.

Chant a mantra. Mantras are repeated phrases that help you concentrate on the spiritual world. One of the most common repeated mantras is "Om mani padme hum," which means "Behold! The jewel in the lotus!" While chanting a mantra, individuals can leave their minds open or pray for a specific purpose, such as helping a friend.

Use a prayer aid if you want to mark the completion of each prayer. Prayer wheels are a common aid, especially common in Tibetan Buddhism. Prayers are printed on each wheel, and followers rotate each one as they complete their prayers.

Items you will need

  • Shrine

  • Prayer wheels

Tip

  • Although many Buddhists do not direct prayer to any one deity, some movements, like some Japanese Buddhists, pray to specific people like Amida Buddha, the Buddha of Infinite Light.