Archives for category: Prayer

This retreat has been partly prompted by reading a couple of books about the Life of Tenzin Palmo, the Englishwoman who became a Buddhist nun and spent twelve years as a hermit in a Himalayan cave. Game-changing books that, among many other things, helped me understand that Buddhist meditation techniques do not presuppose any particular belief system.

Tenzin Palmo

 

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Writing from Kyoto this time where I’m enjoying 3-day retreat at the Myoshinji Daishin-in Buddhist temple. So much of what goes on here is familiar to me from my experience in Benedictine monasteries: prayer at dawn, sparsely furnished rooms, silent meals, generous hospitality, well-tended gardens, encounters with like-minded guests, space to listen…

Daishin-in

I’m prompted to write this after the recent news from Glasgow and Gloucester Cathedrals:

Back in October, I led a linguistics workshop in Togo at which, as usual, there were Christian and Muslim participants. On such occasions the Christians generally take it in turns to lead morning devotions, and most Muslims usually choose to arrive twenty minutes later.

But when Andy’s turn came round, he had another idea. The day beforehand, he explained to the Muslims what he wanted to do, and they agreed to attend the following day. Andy printed out the parallel Bible and Quran passages about Abraham, the father of both religions, offering hospitality to the unknown guests. He led a simple meditation on the two passages, picking out the common themes of friendship, communion and hospitality.

To my knowledge, everyone in the room – African and expat – had a positive reaction to Andy’s initiative. It seemed perfectly natural, given that Togolese Christians and Muslims live peacefully side by side.

From closed systems of thought
And self-referential sub-cultures
Good Lord deliver us.

During one of our morning devotions at the workshop, someone suggested we should pray for rain.

Then one of the older Nigeria participants stood up and said “First, we should go out and plant ten trees for every one we have cut down, then ask God’s forgiveness for not taking care of the environment, then, yes, by all means, let’s pray for rain.”