Prayer: Sensei Pat Enkyo O'Hara

A Zen teacher sees prayer as a skillful means that helps us to pay homage to that which is larger than we.Sensei Pat Enkyo O'Hara

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We see the word through our own mental structures—not to mention the structures of obliviously colonializing translators. As Western Zen practitioners (and, one might argue, even as Western-influenced Eastern practitioners), we practice against a background of Judeo-Christian prayer styles. We enact our Zen practice in the epistemological space that combines elements of Western religion with those of Eastern religion, in a cultural frame that includes prayer as supplication and communion. For many of us, the word prayer conjures up Cotton Mather, Billy Graham, Martin Luther King, Martin Buber, and Thomas Merton. Moreover, in Asia, Buddhism arose amidst local deities and the customs of supplication and offerings of various pantheistic traditions.

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