There is, apparently, a ‘discussion‘ going on between Buddhists who believe in prayer, and those who think it’s a term best left to other faiths. Since many Buddhists don’t believe that Buddha was a god (you can be a Buddhist & a Christian, or a Buddhist & a Jew, with no conflict), there’s an understandable reluctance to use prayer as a way of asking ‘Someone’ for ‘something.’
So the term ‘invocation’ is used by some Buddhists — to invoke someone’s name or blessing. I don’t see any difference, but I want to be sensitive to the conversation. That said? I’m letting you know right now: I think of what I do as a kind of prayer. Buddhist, not Christian, but I don’t think that really matters when we ‘invoke’ what unifies the world.
Buddha nature is everywhere: it resides within the smallest tachyon, the largest star, the universes that may exist beyond our imaginations. I think of it as the glue that holds us all together. Kind of like the Quaker idea of the light within. For me, Buddha nature is that light. So I see nothing odd about telling my friends & family (and other needy folks I encounter): I will hold you in the light. The light of Buddha nature is the same as all those other religious images of light.
But there are also Buddhists who believe that to pray is to ask the direct intervention of another being, a bodhisattva. A Buddhist ‘saint,’ to many Christians. If you ask me to be logical & rational, I will tell you I’m an agnostic. I don’t really know what it is that animates us all, only that it connects us, each tachyon of inner light. And that I pray to it when my mother is on her deathbed, asking for strength. Or when my doctor wonders if I may have throat cancer. Or when the evening sky is loud with the cry of the jay and the metronome of cicadas. Because it’s not only the sad that evokes the urge to invoke.
So what does it matter what we call it, this urge to speak from our most sacred spaces? If I believe Something connects us all, and you call that Force God, while I call it Buddha nature… If you pray, and I pray, and someone else chants, and someone invokes, and someone else studies the nature of the tachyon, and finds peace in that mystery.
Mystery. That’s what we do. And what call it, this calling out to the sacred. We call it all a great mystery. And I’m okay with that. Because all I ask is to be held in that vast light.