If you’ve spent even just a little bit of time researching Buddhists, especially Tibetan monks, the odds are pretty good that you’ve seen or heard about how much time followers of this faith spend praying.
What you should know, though, is that prayer in the Buddhism family of faiths is not quite the same as praying in other religions.
Yes, Buddhists pray but in Buddhism, praying is not done to a creator or a divine God, but is instead done as a daily devotional meditation practice and is quite a bit different.
That said, Buddhists do spend a tremendous amount of time in prayer – so long as you include their meditative practices as a form of prayer in the first place.
How Buddhists Pray
Buddhists do not necessarily pray the same kind of way that followers of different religions pray – especially when there’s a divine God or creator on the other end of those prayers.
Instead, Buddhists have very specific and traditional meditation practices they do on a daily basis (sometimes even multiple times each day) that come close to prayer.
The idea here is to quiet the mind, reaffirm the faith, explore your religious beliefs in a deeper way and connect with the world (and everything in it) more, too.
Tibetan monks, some of the most passionate believers in the Buddhist faith, take this even further.
These monks are known to chant mantras with such passion and intensity that it’s not uncommon for the vibration and energy levels of those chanting (and those hearing the chance) to be raised significantly.
There’s real power in the mind and spirit connection for Buddhists, especially when it comes to mantras and meditation.
Meditation in Buddhism
Meditation in Buddhism is a core and central tenant to the faith, even if the overwhelming majority of Buddhists throughout history have not necessarily focused on meditation as a gateway to their awakening or their enlightenment.
Truth be told, throughout history, the Buddhists most likely to spend time meditating were those that had joined a monastic practice.
Even in those environments, though, only a certain segment of the monks at a Buddhist monastery might spend a significant portion of their day meditating and praying.
In the early 20th century, though, the practice of meditation really started to grow amongst Buddhists.
Today it is a major part of the faith, with folks all over the world – including those not belonging to the Buddhist faith – embracing meditation for all of the benefits it has to offer.
Those outside the Buddhist faith should understand that there are hundreds and hundreds of different types of meditations in this religion, too.
Some of these meditations are much closer to prayer than others, some are designed to deepen the faith of the individual meditating, and others still are designed to unlock extreme concentration, and mental bliss, and just generally help Buddhists get closer to their awakening and enlightenment.
Is Buddhist Meditation the Same as Prayer?
While this meditation is not a 1:1 replacement for prayer – or identical to traditional prayer in a lot of different ways – it does serve a lot of the same functions in the Buddhist faith.
For example, many Christians choose to pray not only to speak directly to their creator (something that obviously doesn’t happen in Buddhism) but also to deepen their faith, the understanding of their religion, and their connection to their Christian community.
Buddhists will often do the exact same thing with meditation.
They’ll use different forms of meditation to analyze their lives, to analyze their faith and their beliefs, and to find ways to better connect with and really deeply understand their religion.
They also use this meditation time to connect with their Buddhist community, not just around them physically but around the world and throughout time.
When you get right down to it, Buddhists may not pray in the traditional way (they have no creator God or divine entity to pray to in the first place), but they do use the power of meditation to deepen their spiritual lives and enrich themselves.
Meditation might not be the exact same thing as prayer, but it does serve many of the same functions for practicing Buddhists.