Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes


prayers from everywhere

Posted on July 02, 2005 by jimparedes

I’ve been praying a lot lately–for Mio’s travel papers to get fixed, for our country that seems on the brink again, and a lot of other things. There are a lot of reasons I can think of why it is important to pray. Prayers are very powerful. They not only answer our longings and petitions but do a lot of other things. To me, a very important function of prayer is that it can give me a sense of perspective–about the real significance of who we are, or our connectedness to God and everything that is. From time to time, I make my own and I borrow prayers from traditions other than Christian. Below are some of my favorite prayers from zen. Each time I read them, I am greatly moved. These two prayers are said before and after teisho (which is similar to a sermon or talk by a Zen teacher before the sangha or the congregation. A bit long but worth reading!

Jikijitsu (leader):
The Wisdom of God says this:

Sangha:

Source of all Being,
You created me when Your purpose first unfolded
Before the oldest of Your works,
From the everlasting I was firmly set,
From the beginning, before the earth came into being,
The deep was not when I was born.
There were no springs to gush with water.
Before the mountains were settled,
Before the hills I came to birth;
Before You made the earth, the countryside,
Or the first grains of the world’s dust.
When You fixed the heavens firm, I was there,
When You drew a ring on the surface of the deep,
When You thickened the clouds above,
When You fixed fast the springs of the deep,
When You assigned the seas its boundaries —
And the waters will not invade the shore —
When You laid down the foundations of the earth,
I was by Your side, a master artisan,
Delighting You day after day
Ever at play in Your presence,
At play everywhere in Your world,
Delighting to be with the children of earth.

PRAYER AFTER TEISHO

Jikijitsu: Hakuin Zenji’s SONG OF ZAZEN

Sangha:
All beings by nature are Buddha
As ice by nature is water
Apart from water, there is no ice
Apart from beings, no Buddha.
How sad that people ignore the near
And search for Truth afar
Like those in the midst of water
Crying out for thirst
Like a child of a wealthy home
Wandering among the poor.
The karma of our transmigration
Is our dark path of ignorance
From dark path to dark path we wander
When shall we be cut from birth and death?
Oh, the Zenjo of the Mahayana!
To this, the highest praise!
Nembutsu, confession, discipline
The many virtues all rise within Zenjo.
Those who try zazen but once
Sweep all their ancient vice away
Where can evil intentions be
The Pure Land itself is right here.
Those who hear this Truth but once
And listen to It with a grateful heart
Exalting It, revering It;
Gain blessings without end.
Still more, those who turn within
And prove their own self-nature
Self-nature that is no nature
Go far beyond mere cleverness.
They know effect and cause are one
Not two, not three, the path runs straight.
With form that is no form
Going and coming, never astray
With thought that is no thought
Their song and dance are the voice of the Law.
Broad is the sky of Samadhi set free
Transparent the moonlight of wisdom
And what more indeed can we seek?
Here is Nirvana itself revealed
This very place is the Lotus Land
This very body, the Buddha.

* * *

My guide to the Grand Mosque of Bahrain

I was in Bahrain recently and I had a chance to visit the Grand Mosque. What is significant about mosques is that there are no statues, images, symbols of any kind. Why? Because in their view, there is nothing that can represent or symbolize God. Even the elaborate designs and motifs around have no religious significance whatsoever. An 18 year old female scholar who toured me around allowed me to take pictures and gave me the Holy Koran as a present and asked me to look at the very first prayer on it. I was stunned when she pointed out the similarities to the Christian Our Father.

”In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds;
Master of the Day of Judgment. Thee do we serve and Thee do we beseech for help.
Show us the straight way,
The path of those whom Thou hast favoured;
Not the (path) of those who earn Thine anger nor of those who go astray.”


The glorious Mosque which can house 5,000 devotees!

* * *

Our prayers were answered!

Yesterday, Mio left for his 40 day college preparatory course in Oxford and Paris. His visas were issued at the last minute—the UK visa the other day and the French one hours before leaving! I can only roll my eyes since this scenario seems to be very much like Mio. Here’s a little background: He was due to be born Sept. 11, 1987, the late dictator Marcos’ birthday, even as I was hoping he would come out another day. And to further compound the bad luck, the hospital where Lydia was supposed to deliver had a strike going on. But as fortune would have it, the strike ended the very next day, and Mio decided to be born into this world on September 12. It is a better day (definitely much better especially after 9-11 which will forever be known as a day of infamy!). This Blue Dragon boy was born knowing how to avoid minefields. I am confident that no disaster shall befall Mio since so far, the red sea always seems to part when he wants to cross. Ha ha!! This guy always makes it through the skin of his teeth. His Lolas on both sides must be watching out for him as he claims! I do not doubt it.


This my beloved son Mio with whom I am well-pleased!(Generally speaking! ha ha!) Wearing his ‘cool’ cowboy hat!

Farewell Mio! Soak it all in and embrace this wonderful world and all its gifts. Learn from great teachers, meet new, wonderful friends and beautiful girls with strange accents. This is the start of your hero’s journey. May you return a wiser young man with lots of experience but few scars inflicted on yourself and the world!

I wish I could have done this when I was young.

22 to “prayers from everywhere”

  1. lilintian says:

    wow.. i wish i could pursue further education in Oxford too.. *sigh*

    wish your son’s journey well.. :)

  2. Jim says:

    You never what life brings! Dream on! Who knows, one day you’ll get here, too. Mio is just going for a 40 day thing but the exposure to great teachers and the Oxford traditiuon is quite an opportunity.

  3. Doranne says:

    i found out in Legal Theology class (such a class exists!) that the quran has many many similarities with the christian bible: from stories, specific characters, prayers, even some psalms are distinctly similar… but on the outside it seems islam is such a completly different religion.

  4. Jim says:

    Yes! There are many similarities. Islam even has such a high regard for the Virgin Mary. The scholar told me they have a whole chapter on her. I have to read the Quran one day.
    I guess in a great way, the people who inspired the religions to come into being were more similar than we think. It’s when the religions became organized that the differences intensified. Turf concerns may have come into the picture. Or it could have been a “my God is bigger than yours’ mentality.
    But then I am only speculating.

  5. Teacher Sol says:

    JIM, your blog is a source of inspiration. Most of the entries I read from my blogger friends are about the negativity surrounding the country, specifically the political arena. One time, I had a dream that I was reciting the “Handog ng Pilipino Sa Mundo”, not singing but reciting the words while I was in tears. Then I woke up crying and my chest really heavy. Do you know what it means? maybe you can tell me.

    I was in grade 5 during the first People Power in EDSA. It was a very long time ago whan I last heard it. But the lyrics were very clear while I was reciting them in my dream. nakalimutan ko na agad yung lyrics pag gising ko. So I went to Google research the for the lyrics and I found out the you wrote it. I thought maybe I should share my dream with you.

    I am a Pinay Teacher here in Washington DC, a newbie, this is going to be my 2nd year here. But I hope I am making the Pinoys proud with what I am accomplishing here as a Pinoy teacher. And my blog is proactive which aims to give hope and inspiration to our kababayans.

    More power and good luck to your son on his new life in Oxford. He’ll manage to be independent, you taught him so well. You’ve been a great father to him. I am sure he is proud of you as you are ery proud of him.

    Take care. Keep inspiring us!

  6. ang says:

    Wow! That’s awesome that he’s going to Oxford and Paris! I hope he has a fun, and also safe, experience!

  7. JULIA says:

    Hi Jim!
    I just want to wish Mio a safe and wonderful trip to UK and Paris. My family and I just arrived from a Midwest tour while you guys were having the Middle East concerts…and I should be saying instead to Mio… “Howdy! Many Happy Trails to you :-)”. Spread your wings, young man!
    I always check on your website from time to time, what else can I say, Jim na Jim talaga, engaging and inspiring! I will email you when I get settled here at home. Back to my Inday duties plus the boys are on summer vacation HA! I had a chance to speak with “Benru” (Kasala) briefly by cellphone when I was in Omaha, Nebraska. He attended a conference (in San Diego) and I was not able to meet with him while he was in California. I missed him by a day, I was on my way to SFO airport then. I asked him to personally send you our best regards and wishes. Hope all is well with you and the rest of the family. You and your family are always in my daily prayers. Take care Jim. YES, God answers our prayers if it is “good” for us and is meant to be…
    :) Julia
    PS Boboy told me what it meant by suffering when you were in the Middle East because of the extremely hot weather…I congratulate you and your group and other Filipino artists who bring so much pride and joy to Filipinos working overseas under such conditions. I also felt what you meant when you wrote about the “takas” Filipinas in our Philippine embassy over there.

  8. JULIA says:

    Mio and my late father share the same birth date, September 12th. We are all Virgoans pala!

  9. zelina says:

    Hi! since i wasn’t able to find a shoutbox i might as well leave a comment. i happened to chance upon your blog (courtesy of the ‘next blog’ thing) and i found it really interesting, especially the one about the Koran. i also read some of your posts and i share the same opinion about Baguio. you see, i grew up there. here in manila for college. anyway, keep on writing. GOd bless you!

  10. Sef says:

    A coincidence perhaps, but it seems there is this one theme spreading on right now… Prayer.

    Cory Aquino, Bishops Rosales and Vidal, one after the other, are calling for prayers for the country.

    Another coincidence: about 20 years ago there was Band Aid, Live Aid and USA for Africa. We remember our version is “Handog ng Pilipino..” at the time when we needed it.

    Now, there is Live8. Are we coming up with our own version soon?

    Ring… ring… country calling….

  11. jed says:

    I think the only difference between Islam and Christianity is the “eating of pork” and the fact that “they dont believe that Jesus is the son of God.” They think He’s just one of the prophets sent by Allah(SWA) Other than that most differences are minute. What shocks me as almost unbelievable is that I finally accepted, “my longest self-disturbing thought.” I always thought kasi na the world would be a much better place without religion. But, I couldn’t make myself accept it. Its like a going back on all the things your parents has taught you diba? But after watching the movie, “Kingdom of God” and looking back at 9-11 naisip ko na kung walang religion these things wouldnt have happened. Along with about a dozen more ghastly episodes of history.(e.g. World War II, Oklahoma Bombing and etc) And to think that these thing started to bother me ever since my elementary days.

    Dont you think that the world would be a better place without the borders set by religion?… We can all serve God in our way naman dba? I think that would be better than going around killing people just because they chose to call God by a different name.

    These is too much deep thinking for a boy my age. I think I’ll leave these kind of thinking to guys more mature and more experienced like you master Jim. lols…

    On a lighter note I totally envy your son. He’s about my age yet he has the chance to bask in the Philosophical Teachings of the modern day sages of Oxford.(That was a bit wordy dont you think?)I hope na alam nya how big an oppurtunity these is. Sana he won’t waste it.(I think he won’t.)

    forgive me for my blabbering. I think I’ll shut up now

  12. jey says:

    lately, i have been praying not so much for any material thing but for me to be more accepting of the things that have been happening to me, to the people around me. and as i end my conversations with Him, i always feel this sense of peace knowing that everything will be alright.

    and to your son mio, bask in the light and enjoy!:)

  13. Jim says:

    teacher sol–I wish I knew what your dream meant. But I know that your work as a teacher is a good one.

    Julia–Nice you dropped by. Always good to hear from you.

    zelina–salamat sa bisita. Keep coming back.

    sef–I was so impressed with Bob Geldof annd live8 I will be writing about it soon. Yes, prayer is what we need.

    Jed– I recall the song of John Lennon entitled ‘Imagine’ where he talks about a world not hhaving religion. In many ways, I empathize with a lot of what the song says. I think a lo6 about these things too, llike you.

    Jey–many times, that’s what I pray for too–acceptance! It’s the only way to have peace.

    ang and everyone–I will convey to Mio your good wishes salamat

  14. ~C4Chaos says:

    oxford. wow. i’m sure he’ll do well and make you proud. as if you are not yet proud already ;).

    godspeed to Mio. may his world and perspectives get bigger and bigger….

  15. Anonymous says:

    wow! oxford and paris! i wish i couldve gotten the experience too..then again, like you said, it’s still possible. 😀

    mr. jim, i have trouble praying. its not that i don’t know how to pray but sometimes i feel like im not talking to God then i’ll lose my concentration. other times, i pretend that God is looking at me while i pray and this method helps me focus more with the intensity i would want my prayer to have but i have a feeling that im doing it wrong. am i doing it wrong? i grew up in a Catholic environment, studied in a Catholic school but it seems like i can’t really reach that point wherein i could feel His presence while praying…sorry..m being too weird. its just, honestly, i dont really know how to pray. yikes. please dont tell my mom.

    about the quran..i heard they have Jesus’ story there too.

    N

  16. Jim says:

    hey anonymous–prayer can be easy for some but hard for others. I’ve exerienced times when I could not pray. I’ve learned to pray by first centering myself, quieting my mind so I can ‘hear’ or detect the presence of Spirit. It takes practice. But more than a mental effort, it’s a heart activity. Open your heart and be in acceptance mode and you will feel it. I hope this helps.

    coolmel–salamat. will tell Mio.

  17. BabyPink says:

    ganda ng prayers at ang ganda po ng masjid! did your friend recite or read the fatiha (opening chapter) to you in arabic?:)

    did you know po that paolo bediones’ show “extra challenge” had as one of their challenges some sexy stars try to memorize, in between giggles, this chapter of the holy qur’an? i think that was really stupid! mr. bediones did apologize naman daw, but still…

    oh, and, you have the holy qur’an na po pala. i was planning to give you one. does yours have english translation?:)

    may Allah (s.w.t.) bless every step of mio’s trip.:)

    assalaamu alaikum.:)

  18. maricar says:

    “God always says ‘Yes’ to our prayers. It may not be the ‘Yes’ that we want but it is the ‘Yes’ that God knows is best for us.”

    good luck to mio and erica.

  19. Gabriela says:

    “A coincidence perhaps, but it seems there is this one theme spreading on right now… Prayer.
    Cory Aquino, Bishops Rosales and Vidal, one after the other, are calling for prayers for the country.”
    ******

    Let’s just get real. Our country at the brink of a political and economic collapse needs more than prayers. I think that if God could literally speak, He will lambast us for praying too much and NOT doing enough! Afterall,’Nasa Dios ang awa at nasa tao ang gawa!’

    No wonder our country is stuck with good people on their knees while the ‘jackals’ ravage our country while we pray and forgive with apathy. China, India, Vietnam or any of the fast growing countries did not sit down and pray for a miracle to happen.

    All the best to you and your children’s great endeavours. They are blest enough to have parents like you unlike 40+ million of our poor brethren back there who will only have one lugaw to eat today while avaricious gov’t officials siphon approx 300 billion pesos of tax payers’ money while they plot to destablize the country and plan to levy and scrape for more taxes to improve our credit rating.

    Sorry for this harsh rant but ‘aint that just the truth.

  20. Hazel says:

    Your children are very lucky.. how i wish i can provide the same opportunity for my son when the time comes..

    :)

  21. lucyadlao says:

    wow!Your son is truly blessed for having a wonderful,supportive dad like you!I hope someday I can also give the same experience for my son.I’m a new mom and I wonder what the world has in store for him.
    Your blogs are really inspiring!Thanks for sharing them.

  22. lucyadlao says:

    wow!Your son is truly blessed for having a wonderful,supportive dad like you!I hope someday I can also give the same experience for my son.I’m a new mom and I wonder what the world has in store for him.
    Your blogs are really inspiring!Thanks for sharing them.



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