Buddhist Prayers

When tragedy, illness or other great suffering strikes it’s hard to know what to do to alleviate it. Acts of kindness will always help.

two Tibetan nuns and butter lamps

Tibetan Buddhist nuns at Dolma Ling Nunnery saying prayers. Photo courtesy of Brian Harris.

In September 2014, 298 people were killed when Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over eastern Ukraine.

We’re sure that Tibetan Nuns Project supporters around the world shared that collective grief during the tragedy and when other catastrophes have hit.

But what can one do to help make the situation better?

A Tibetan Nuns Project donor and sponsor named Heather was struggling with her lack of ability to do anything meaningful to help the hundreds of grieving relatives after flight MH17 was shot down.

“I was particularly moved by the story of the Dutch mother Silene who lost her son Bryce and his girlfriend Daisy. According to media reports, she was tormented by visions of the plane crash and of the body of her son,” said Heather.

“I decided that one simple thing that I could do would be to sponsor prayers by the Tibetan nuns through the Tibetan Nuns Project website. For just US$30 I was able to have 300 butter lamps lit in India by the nuns for the 298 people who died,” she said.

“My intention in making the gift was just to honor those who passed and the families who are suffering,” Heather told the Tibetan Nuns Project.  “I was really impressed at how quickly I had confirmation from India that the prayers had been done and the butter lamps lit.”

Buddhist nuns saying prayers

This photo shows nuns at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute in northern India saying sponsored prayers in 2013. Photo courtesy of Brian Harris

“I like sponsoring prayers through the Tibetan Nuns Project’s online shop. When my friend’s son committed suicide after years of battling mental illness, I also asked the nuns to say prayers for him.” It was something that my friends really appreciated because they too felt so helpless.

“I chose the Four Hundred Offerings, said to be one of the most widely practiced ceremonies in Tibetan Buddhism and which is supposed to aid in untimely death.”

You don’t have to be a Buddhist to sponsor prayers by the Tibetan nuns.

Vicki, a Tibetan Nuns Project board member who is Jewish often sponsors prayers by the nuns. This spring, when her cousin died suddenly in a diving accident she arranged through the Tibetan Nuns Project to sponsor butter lamps for her.

“According to the Jewish faith, after a person dies candles are lit next to the body and the body is never left alone until after burial, as a sign of respect,” said Vicki.

“But because of where she died, her body had to be sent home by plane. So there was no one who could sit with the body. Knowing that the nuns in India were lighting butter lamps for her was a great comfort to me. I felt as if the light was travelling with her,” said Vicki.

If you, someone you love or even strangers are suffering, you can sponsor prayers for them via the Tibetan Nuns Project website at https://tnp.org/products/pujas/.

Buddhist nuns preparing butter lamps

Tibetan nuns preparing a puja with butter lamps. Photo courtesy of Brian Harris.

There are many different types of prayers or pujas to choose from, ranging from offering 100 butter lamps to the elaborate “Twenty-one Praises of Tara” which includes 100,000 recitations of the “Twenty-one Praises to Tara” prayer, renowned for removing obstacles and fulfilling wishes.

Offering butter lamps is deeply ingrained in the Tibetan tradition and sometimes as many as 10,000 are offered. Lamps may be offered for many occasions, such as when someone is starting a new venture, to celebrate a birthday, anniversary or graduation, to say thank you, or when you or someone you know is in trouble. It is good to offer butter lamps whenever you feel there is a need for more light in the world.

Tibetan Buddhist nuns lighting butter lamps

Tibetan Buddhist nuns lighting butter lamps. Photo courtesy of Brian Harris

When requesting a puja or prayers from the Tibetan Nuns Project please provide information about who the prayers are to be directed to and for what purpose.

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