"Prayer" (excerpt) THE LUNAR TAO by Deng Ming Dao
—“Do So In Prayer” by Samantha Rochard
by Deng Ming Dao
Prayer is simple.
Pressing your palms together is a universal gesture of prayer, benediction, gratitude, and humility. It signals that you are unifying all aspects of yourself and that you are completely present. No one can pick up a weapon or form a fist with palms pressed together. In prayer, there can be no aggression.
Some people doubt prayer. They declare that there are no gods to listen. Prayer works—because that higher part of ourselves is listening—and it works instantly: the very act of prayer is its own truth and its own reward.
We have to free ourselves of childish expectations; we must not pray like children whining to our parents. We must also reject any latent feudalism in our hearts: we still call our gods “lords” and act like serfs begging for consideration. Neither infantile wailing nor medieval supplication is the prayer we need.
Without a doubt, we all have problems. We all have misfortunes. We all face times that try us to our souls. Nevertheless, we cannot go to a temple and order up a solution by bargaining on our knees. In all of history there has never been a single person that the gods raised to float above the earth. Every person has had to walk on the ground, experiencing both good and bad.
We say “I need to pull myself together” when we’re frazzled. If we look at that statement literally, we can see how helpful it is to put our hands together. Press palm to palm, breathe deeply.
When you pray, there is no brand on you that says “Taoist," “Buddhist,” or “Confucianist.” Don’t worry about what kind of prayer you’re making. A sincere prayer is far more important than a crafted or dictated one.
You’re you, a whole person. Give yourself some time to be quiet at the end of each day. If you’re faced with a big decision, take refuge in silence. Put your hands together. Trust yourself to do the right thing. You’ll know instantly.
The gods will instantly appear because we came from One and
remain part of One.
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