[Wisdom Story] Pray Within Yourself

"Once upon a time in ancient China, the emperor told his ministers that he wished to visit a temple to offer prayers to the Buddha.

One of the ministers, who was particularly adept at flattery, said: “Your Majesty does not need to visit the temple.”
“Is that so?” The emperor was surprised at being contradicted. “Why not?” The minister bowed deeply: “The essence of the Buddha is the compassionate heart.

Your Majesty is constantly worried about the common people out of pure compassion. Therefore, Your Majesty is already a living Buddha and does not need to visit the temple.”

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“Interesting,” said the emperor. “That reminds me of a story. Let me share it with you.

It goes like this: There was a devout Buddhist who had only one wish in life, and that was to see the Kuan Yin Bodhisattva. He traveled to many places and studied many sutras, looking for a way to find her. After years of effort, he finally succeeded. At a holy place far from home, the Bodhisattva appeared before him in a blaze of heavenly glory.
He fell to his knees in awe. Kuan Yin asked him: ‘Why have you come such a long way to look for me?’ The man said: ‘Merciful Kuan Yin, I only wish to ask you a question.’ ‘Very well,’ Kuan Yin said. ‘Go ahead and ask.’ ‘When I am in trouble, I pray to you and ask you for help.

Do you also pray when you feel troubled?’ ‘Yes,’ Kuan Yin replied. ‘To whom do you pray?’ ‘I pray to the Kuan Yin Bodhisattva.’ ‘But… you are the Kuan Yin Bodhisattva! Why do you pray to yourself?’
 ‘Because it is better to ask yourself for help than to ask someone else,’ said Kuan Yin with a smile.

Then, she disappeared in a blaze of heavenly glory.

“What I have learned from this story,”
said the emperor to his ministers,“ is that the Buddha lives in the heart.

When we visit the temple to pray, we are in fact praying to ourselves and asking ourselves for help. That is why I shall override your objection and proceed to the temple today.”
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