There’s a teaching Pema Chödrön once gave in response to someone who told her the story of how the threat of rising waters meant a dyke near his grandparent’s home was likely to break. According to the storyteller, his grandfather said “Let’s pray” while his grandmother, who prevailed, said “Let’s go.” Pema chuckled at this and said, “I would say, ‘Let’s go, but pray while we are going.’”
I tell this story because what I want to offer here is a prayer, but not one given in the hope that “wishing it” will make things better.
Having a just, kind, caring society is not inevitable. It requires work, action, and solidarity. We all have a stake in the future of this planet, and therefore we should all have an interest in the wellbeing of those around us, regardless of our background, upbringing and identity. Liberation is not just for a chosen few. It’s an opportunity of which no one should be denied.
We owe it to ourselves to take care of each other. So I offer this prayer as accompaniment to loving action. As we go forth in our communities — getting involved, speaking out for those who are not safe to do so for themselves — it is important to continuously train our minds.
I will not let anyone make me hate them. Nor will I refrain from doing everything I can to keep hateful actions from causing harm to even one other fellow human being. That’s why I wrote this prayer: as a reminder that those I am in opposition with are human beings who suffer, just as I suffer, and are no less deserving of compassion.
May it be of benefit.
A Prayer To Be of Benefit
To those who wish me harm,
Intentionally or not,
Or those I perceive as causing me harm,
I make this aspiration so my heart remains open.
I offer this so I am not tempted to hate,
Nor to justify aggressive acts,
But to act from love.
I offer this to generate merit
And be of benefit to all humanity,
Regardless of embodiment,
So we might take care of each other.
May we see that happiness
Is not to be found in material gains,
Nor the accumulation of wealth, power or adulation.
For the sake of all beings,
May we find cause for kindness,
Generosity, and compassion.
May we have a profound realization
Of the emptiness of all things,
Thereby dedicating this and all future lives
to benefiting only others.
May we see how attachment and ignorance
Are at the root of human misery and suffering.
May we see that happiness is found
In caring for the most vulnerable,
And by giving our materials gains
to those in the greatest need.
May we become the embodiment of love,
Bestowing our wealth on those around us
to generate merit and create a just society
That honors the value of a human being as a human being.
May our clenched and closed hearts and minds
See the value and necessity of compassion, generosity, self-reflection, study, and application.
Like the murderer Angulimala, who encountered the Buddha,
May we realize the root of happiness,
True happiness free of attachment,
and renounce all evil we have done.
May we seek forgiveness through positive action,
Through diligent and gracious conduct
With the aim to benefit all beings.
May we see our frailty
And let it connect us to all humanity
Since beginningless time.
May we be humbled by our own impermanence.
Knowing the only thing we can take with us
Upon death will be our state of mind,
Cultivate a mind of lovingkindness,
Free of greed, hatred, desire, and enmity.
May we appreciate the multiplicity in Oneness
And have respect for the many embodiments
of all sentient beings.
May we become fully aware
of the inaccurate and harmful perversions
Surrounding our various embodiments
And let go of discriminatory thought and action.
May we be fearful for our future lifetimes
Knowing the full gravity our actions will have
Due to karmic law.
And may all this come to fruition post-haste,
So we might still have a habitable planet
And safe communities
And better distribution of precious resources.
For the benefit of all beings.