Written by editors
When we make a heartfelt wish for all sentient beings to have happiness and the causes of happiness, we are in fact changing the world! ── Zhen-Ru
Zhen-Ru composed I pray in February 2017. Looking back to 2016, the world had been hard hit by storms, floods and frequent earthquakes brought about by climate change, as well as endless warfare, refugee tides... As Zhen-Ru prayed to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for the welfare of the world, she uttered her concern for all living beings through a song. The words she sang became this short prayer, I pray, This prayer carries her care and good wishes for the world, and reminds us all to embrace a heart of kindness and virtue toward ourselves and all living beings alike.
Can wishes actually come true? The teachings of the Buddha tell us that they definitely can! The great Buddhist scholar Nagarjuna says, ‘If virtue is a good stallion; then aspiration is the bridle that steers it.’ Our roots of virtue, both great and small, are like a good horse—a good vehicle—on our path of spiritual growth; and we must harness its power through skillful aspiration and dedication. Zhen-Ru says that if you want to be happy, do more virtuous deeds and avoid non-virtuous deeds; and when things are beyond your current ability, start with a virtuous wish!
The chapter on “Purifying Practices” in the Flower Ornament Sutra gives the best illustrations for how we can make virtual wishes in any situation. While we eat, we can make a wish for all sentient beings to “be nourished by the joy of meditation, and fulfilled by the delight of dharma.” When we go to bed, we can pray for all beings to “attain physical ease, and undisturbed minds.” While we wash ourselves, we can make a wish for all beings to “be undefiled in body and mind, radiantly pure inside and out.” When the heat of summer gradually subsides and the weather begins to cool, we can make a wish for all sentient beings to “attain the highest enlightenment, and the ultimate peace and coolness.”
When Master Bo-do-wa saw people who were in a happy mood, he would silently bless them, “May your welfare and happiness never decline; but may they increase and bring you a life of excellence.” When he met travellers from afar, he would think, “I hope your hometown will have a good harvest, and that you will accomplish very meaningful work while you are away from home.”
Let us start with the mind, and nourish a boundless spirit of enlightenment that loves and cares for the world and all living beings. Even if you are sitting in your own room, when you make a sincere wish for the happiness of all, you are sending a beautiful gift to the whole world!
Some passages from the Flower Ornament Sutra are taken or adapted from Thomas Cleary's translation (The Flower Ornament Scripture--A Translation of the Avatamsaka Sutra, 1993).