So, I know prayer is a subject in Buddhism, but recently i started trying to learn about prayer in the Soto Zen tradition. I cant seem to find any posts that really help, or some that take me one way and another that takes me the complete other direction. I really just need some good solid place to start.

  • there a large contemporary work of EL scholarship on Soto and funerary rights. HTH
    – user23322
    Commented Jan 31, 2022 at 6:36

1 Answer 1


Like most things in Buddhism, it depends on who you ask and where you practice. Prayer isn't a Zen thing. It's just not. Who, exactly, would you be praying to? What would you even ask for? Zen puts a premium on individual effort. Atta dipa. Be a light unto yourself.

Of course, practically speaking, this isn't true in the least. Zen specifically has a whole lot of East Asian culture rolled into it. We might pray to Guanyin for mercy and compassionate support in our practice. We might pray to Manjurshri for wisdom. In Japan, there's a whole host of kami who can help you with everything from your taxes to your SAT to your...ahem...marital problems.

I think the best question you can ask yourself is why you feel the need to pray. Examine that. Based on what you discover, you should be able to find a way forward.

  • Kami us a Shinto concept. It had nothing to do with Buddhism.
    – Citizen
    Commented Sep 20, 2022 at 7:39
  • i.e. (from above) "Zen specifically has a whole lot of East Asian culture rolled into it."
    – asd123
    Commented Oct 7, 2022 at 11:55

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