A Buddhist Commentary on the Prayer of Saint Francis

My wanting to write a little about Buddhist and Christian prayer in general, and the Prayer of Saint Francis in particular comes from the hope and trust that others can engage this beautiful prayer more deeply, and bring forth its benefits for themselves and others…


I’ve been thinking to write this for a while now, and I’ve mostly enjoyed waiting, and taking this time for reflection. I’ve also noticed some resistance, and that has been interesting to investigate. I have thought about the differences between Buddhism and Christianity, and how I’ve come to regard them in a positive sense, and I’ll try to describe this here.

The resistance I found for the most part came from thinking of describing something as personal as my own feelings and devotions. Whatever we think and intuit, and believe and aspire towards, I’ve found, resist being shared in a common way, as if we were talking about what we had for breakfast.

Lord knows our world needs more peace and the other qualities we seek, and that are mentioned in this universal prayer, however, and this tips the balance for me, and has led me to this point, of wanting to write out these thoughts.


I have read that what has come down to us as the Prayer of Saint Francis wasn’t actually written by him, but by someone in the first part of the twentieth century, at a time of crisis during the First World War. This anonymous person was well versed in Franciscan spirituality, so much so that the prayer is regarded as being very much in the spirit of Francis, which to me accords it equal validity and value. The Divine works in mysterious, and vivifying ways.

Like the Metta Sutta, the Prayer of Saint Francis is a classic of contemplative spirituality, that richly repays any amount time we are able spend with it. It has the power to transform our life, and to help us to mature and support others.


With all that’s going on in our world, all the violence, the wars, the destruction of our living environment, the addictions, greed and the general apathy, it seems worse than pointless to argue about theology, or philosophy. One of our biggest problems these days in fact is the dogmatism of nearly everyone with any religious or spiritual point of view insisting that they alone have found the truth, and negating what others have found, and the ground of their spiritual life.

My approach is different. It is that truth is universal, and that there are many ways to truth. You can call this anything you like, mysticism perhaps, but for me it opens the way to studying and benefitting from what many different traditions and lineages offer.

Here, for instance, although I identify myself as a Buddhist, I have great respect for the Christian Tradition, and I see the divine power there, at work in people’s lives, in the Word, and in the person of Jesus.

I also see universal truth there, and relate to that tradition through an ecumenical Buddhism that is my own, surely, and that I don’t need others to agree with. Take whatever is useful for your lives and leave the rest, as the Dalai Lama says.

Starting with the historical Buddha, through the Ancestral teachers who arrive and abide in our world as fresh streams of insight and inspiration, to the archetypal Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, that bless and support us in countless ways, this whole life bears witness to the truth that we are not alone in the world, and in our efforts to find peace and health and to offer that to others, as much as we can.

I have heard that Thich Nhat Hanh has an image of Jesus on his altar, and this is only fitting for one so noble and wise. Like other wonderful teachers of these modern times, such as Lama Yeshe, he sees truth wherever it is found and wherever it is at work in people’s lives. He celebrates that and relates to it as a source of support and profound benefit.

Oh that we could all reach such inclusiveness!

I’ll not pretend that this would be easy or even approachable in our lifetime, but for a few.


Contemplatives are a natural family. In any time and place and culture, we recognize each other. We’re more at ease with one another than with organized religions or exclusive lineages. It’s for those that I can easily imagine writing this commentary.

For contemplatives, poetry is their mother tongue, and they are at home with different expressions of truth. Far from being seen as a threat, these differences are celebrated as demonstrating the creative power of the spirit.
Imagine bowing to a single image, or to a leaf on a tree, and seeing all that is sacred in that one form. At once, they are all honored.

The word ‘God’ at its best points to something universal, eternal, benevolent, and inexhaustible, and that unites us as one family. How wonderful. That we don’t have the equivalent in Buddhism makes me think we need to make an effort to highlight what we have in common, as the basis for our understanding and having respect for each other.

I think we can learn a great deal from what people have gotten wrong in religion, as well as what was successful. Clearly, the narrowness and destructive fanaticism is a warning, even when we’re practicing with respect. It tell us to take care not to denigrate other paths. On the other hand, when there is peace and joy, the fruits of the spirit, we should be able to celebrate and learn from that.


Buddhism and Christianity differ basically in that Buddhists don’t believe in a creator God. They may believe and appeal to Enlightened beings, and have a close connection with forms of the divine, but it’s not thought that everything is under the control of one all powerful, all knowing and loving deity. Much is up to us as far as what this world is going to be. We do have abundant help, it’s told, but the work is not done for us once and for all.

As for myself, personally, I’ve always had a belief, or a faith in something greater than myself. I’ve felt cared for, and rescued, healed, and guided, and it feels like this connection goes back further than I can remember, maybe lifetimes. How I’ve defined this has changed over the years, but the fact of it remains, and it leads me to this Prayer of Saint Francis. You see, what I’ve found present throughout my life, and what I see and hear about others doing has something universal about it, after all. We all reach beyond our normal frame of reference, with a deep aspiration for freedom, safety, health and peace, of ourselves and our loved ones, our community, and world.

Einstein said that we can’t solve a problem with the same kind of mind that created it. We need something more. In Christianity the language they use is to say that

Except as the Lord build a house,
he labors in vain who builds it….

In Buddhism, we start with Right View, and everything follows after that. If our view isn’t correct from the beginning, anything we attempt will be limited by that. Of course, this understanding of ours can and does change. It deepens and becomes more true over time, especially as we recognize its importance, its urgency, and turn our direction to developing our inner wisdom.

The Prayer of Saint Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;

to be understood as to understand;

to be loved as to love,

for it is in giving that we receive,

it is in forgiving that we are forgiven,

and it is in dying to self
that we are born to eternal life.

1. The Gateway to Prayer

When we say,

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace

it can be heard in a number of ways. For years I read this prayer and heard it as a simple, quiet turning within. Lately though I’ve come to feel that this can also be the prayer of one who is broken open.

When I think of the harm that people are doing to one another these days, the despair and hopelessness, the distraction, and the fatigue I feel, I know I need something more than my limited will can change.

In Corinthians, Paul says, When I am weak, then I am strong, through connecting with Spirit.

Like others, I find myself crying out, and this opening is what I hear now when I read the first word


Whoever we are and whatever faith we hold, it’s the same response from deep within that is being pointed to here, and I think this accounts for the universal appeal of this Prayer.

In Buddhism, when we cry out for help, it can be to the one we call Lord Buddha. It can be to our Root Guru, the one who has helped us the most in this life, or to any one of the Bodhisattvas, any of those divine beings we have an affinity with, such as Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of Compassion, or Tara, Maitreya, or Manjushri, the manifestation of Great Wisdom. And help comes, surely, in its many forms.

Studying world spiritual traditions as a free person has allowed me to see this again and again, and it never ceases to fill me with wonder and gratitude, and to bring forth praise from me, for all these kinds of divine activity, the barest trace I’ve been able to hear about and experience, but that is an intimation of the greater universal working of the spirit.

2. Of Another Order of Being

When we pray, as Buddhists or Christians, as people of another religion or no religion at all, it changes us, and not the one we pray to. This is said in a number of traditions, and it is something we can know for ourselves.

I have the feeling sometimes that it almost doesn’t matter what the object of our devotion is, and that having this openness is what matters, so that the universal benevolent spiritual energy can come to us, and work through us.

When we then say,

make me an instrument of thy peace –

this is not an ordinary wish, but it’s aspiring for something more.

Jesus tells his disciples in John 14:27

…my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth… Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid…

When we look at the problems that plague our communities, of poverty, racism, addiction, and materialism, we are left in despair, if we look only at what we’ve tried before to solve them, or even to just bring a measure of relief. The truth is that these are spiritual problems at their root, and that they will be eradicated only when see and deal with them as such.

A Buddhist would say we need be become enlightened and to help all others to do the same. This aim is knows as bodhicitta – the thought of enlightenment, and it’s what defines a bodhisattva, someone on the Great Path of universal benefit, the Mahayana.

Buddhists have a reputation for being cool at all times, which is a good thing, mostly. We do also need this passion to help others, to develop ourselves and create peace, because the needs are so great. Without what’s called chanda, or a great spiritual desire, nothing much moves. We may attain some peace, or some slight happiness for ourselves and those around us, but the world will soon come pounding down our door, and rouse us to greater devotions.

When a Christian or a Buddhist says,

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace!

they are making themselves a bridge between the spiritual truth they have known, or they trust and believe in, and the tragic, suffering world they know, and the threats to our loved ones; safety and future.

When we know the dimension of spiritual peace, the way we then see the problems that beset our family changes radically.

O, If I could offer this to all those in my care,
I’d surely do that
Lord, help me to accomplish this purpose…

When a Buddhist prays the simple prayer,

May you have happiness and the causes of happiness

it reflects what they themselves have known, the uncommon peace and wholeness they’ve felt in their teachers, or from their meditations.

Any contemplative that reaches some depth in their inner life has a great gift to offer the world, their family and community, in this and future generations. What Buddhism in particular offers is methods to accomplish our aims, of developing peace and insight, that we can then share with others.

3. Light Reaching Where It Is Needed Most

The prayer next opens up in remarkable ways, and offers guidance on how we may practice, to benefit our family and world.

It says,

Where there is hatred, let me sow love

which is truly significant for a few reasons. One, of course, is that it begins with love. We can say that this whole prayer is one coming from love, that tender care for others that characterizes the spiritual life. Beginning with love tells us that this is primary to everything we would do, in times of reflection and in our lives in the world.

It says, where there is hatred… let me sow love, and this is a deep teaching. It is right where we find the most sorrowful, destructive force in the universe that we must find ways to create new life, the life of the spirit.

So often we turn away from the militarists, the torturer, the abuser, the white nationalist, the callous billionaire class, when this is really what we should keep in mind in our prayers.

It says where there is hatred,

meaning that, it is exactly there that our work of transformation lies, in ourselves and in this world.

When we find aggression in ourselves, it’s not to the right or to the left that we should direct our kindness, and peace, but right there, exactly to the center of that feeling. This takes, practice, surely, not to avoid what’s difficult in ourselves and in others, either through spiritual bypassing, or exclusion, but this is the way forward.

This is a long term aim to have, but it can begin to inform our lives and prayers now.

It says ‘where there is hatred, let me sow love’

which is a beautiful and profound universal metaphor for the inner work that must be done. It is organic, taking time, and patient care. Nothing is immediate, but we can create the causes for the life we would see in this world.

People can change. People can transform. From being selfish, one can become generous. From being self centered, and small in thinking, one can become altruistic, and having a broad mind and caring heart.

All this does not happen without a cause, and so we pray to create these, with such a long view in mind.

I think it’s significant that the word hatred is used first as well. This is the most extreme form of what we know of as anger, or aversion. It’s telling us to look at causes. From the most subtle aversion, irritation and then anger can develop, and from that the extreme form we call hatred is even possible, with all its devastating effects. This has one root in people that needs to be thoroughly transformed before we can say that we’ve created heaven on earth.

When I hear this phrase,

Where there is hatred, let me sow love, it’s opposite, and the needed remedy, I hear the other extremes, and their antidote implied. For example, I can reflect here that

where there is attachment, let me sow freedom…

where there is fear, let be bring about confidence and peace

– those opposites that are so needed, and that are supplied by the spiritual life and realization.

We give out of our abundance, and not otherwise, and so this prayer is to be able to offer what is so needed in all our family and community, and in all our world.

4. Forgiveness is Part of Paradise

Where the Prayer next says

Where there is injury, pardon

it is directing us into even deeper levels of faith, and our commitment to healing. It’s well and good to offer love to those near and far, even those who are now being cruel, or destructive, but to forgive is something more. It means we have the deep insight that it’s only ignorance that causes people to act in harmful ways.

As it says

Forgive them Lord, they know not what they do…

Even this will be tested again and again. We may know, as an ideal, that we should forgive, and we may even know the reasoning behind it, but that realization may not be complete in us, and so we pray for a deeper understanding, to those who embody greater love. It could be our Buddha nature we are praying to, or to the divine, however we conceive of it. The same principle is at work.

Eventually we can even look on those who cause us, or our loved ones harm with the care of a mother or father for their sick child. We’d do anything to help them recover, with even more energy, and without anger, because we see them as originally beautiful, and whole, even if they don’t yet see it themselves.

Like a good mother or father, or true spiritual guide, we never give up, and this is the power of compassion that creates miracles in our world.

Now, I could never tell another person to forgive their attacker, or those who wished them or their loved ones harm. That has to come from them. What I do know for sure about forgiveness is this:

– that we don’t have to wait for the other to come to their senses, and apologize, and,

– that without it, we’ll not be at peace in this world.

Holding resentments deprives us of well being and serenity. We resist, I think, only because we haven’t seen into and gotten past our own ignorance and how this is the same everywhere. Whether we’ve harmed others, or mostly only ourselves, it’s been because we didn’t know any better, or the strength of our delusions was too great for us to overcome at the time.

The solution is to become free of the faults of not knowing our true nature, without residue, and then to help all others to do the same. All the delusions and afflictions then fall away.

We can practice this in great and small ways, and, following the model given in the metta teachings, it’s something we can do. It’s taught that we start with what is easy in cultivating loving kindness, and caring attention and go from there. Perhaps someone ignores or neglect us, forgets our birthday, or cuts in front of us in line at the store. We can let it go, and gradually build up the strength of our practice.

Instead of aiming to forgive the hardest people first, we can make our way there step by step, with clear understanding and compassion all along the way. The logic of this is outlined beautifully in metta practice. They say that we may be able to take leaps in our practice of loving kindness and forgiveness, but usually it doesn’t happen like that. We grow and change slowly most of the time, and it’s encouraging to know that others before us have seen this too.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love

Where there is injury, pardon

– here we are sowing the causes in ourselves first. Then we can tell others about it, about the peace we all seek, and the restoration of harmony.

5. The Gift of Knowing and Trusting in Our Heart

Where is says

Where there is doubt, let me sow faith

– there is an affirmation of the truth we all need to know, however we name it. Faith reaches into the unknown, and perhaps the unsayable, and brings forth spiritual gifts. Where there is doubt, it can seem for a time that everything stops. There is no apparent movement, and no growth or reason for hope.

How do we sow faith? We can remember all the times something altogether outside of our will and imagination came to us and restored our life, and order. These experiences don’t fit themselves easily into language, or even thought, and so they get forgotten, but we can turn again to recollection, of how our lives were, and what happened to set them right. It is a re-awakening.

When we remember how we were healed, led out of the wilderness, comforted when we needed it most, or when light appeared to guide us, we can sense how that same compassionate care is here for us now. It may not be visible in the ways we’ve known before, but none of us is without a guardian and protector. This is my belief, proven over time. I forget too, and so this is a prayer to remember again.

Where there is doubt, let me sow faith…

6. Spiritual Rescue

Where there is despair, hope…

I notice the progression in these passages, from doubt we can move to despair, to darkness, and to sadness, and so I think the prayer is telling us we can intervene at any point, to stop the suffering, in ourselves and others.

Perhaps looking back at our depression, we can see its value. When we’re in the middle of it though, we’re just doing what we can to keep going. Despair is the dimming of the light of hope in us, the overshadowing of our creative vision and strength. We may notice that depression feels flat, affect-less, and with little energy to move forward. All this is countered by enthusiasm, meaning literally, ‘inspired’, or ‘possessed by god’. We know that when we’re feeling uplifted, nothing seems insurmountable, in ourselves, or in the world.

How do we make our way there though? It sounds too easy to just ask for inspiration, or we’d be riding that all the time. I think the deep wisdom of a prayer such as this is that it’s telling us how to live, and not just react in the moment, or in times of crisis.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love

Where there is injury, pardon…

Where there is doubt, faith,

Where there is despair, hope…

– these are not just short term fixes, but are practices we can take up as a way of life.

Just exactly where there is despair, let me sow hope, tells me to look for the sadness that comes from losing a way of life that is joyful, celebratory, that has reason for optimism, namely a connection to the spirit, to that inner freedom. This can be in myself, or in another, or more generally in our culture at this time.

Pessimism gets an easy pass these days. It seems almost hip and fashionable, but it is painful, and let’s not forget that. It’s really bereft of vision, ragged and stumbling through life. We can be so much more for each other.

The seed of hope is this light in us, our own Buddha Nature, or the presence of the divine. To sow hope is then to be in touch with that through our spiritual practices, such as prayer, meditation, contemplation, and sacred mantra. When we have this joy and strength awake in us it is palpable. We feel it, and others feel it too. Even without words, our presence edifies and uplifts.

Looking back at those times when we were successful in offering support and encouragement, we’ll find it was directly related to our taking care of our inner life. This will surely strengthen our commitment to doing whatever it takes to keep our joy and vision awake in us, so we can do this essential work of caring for others.

7. Illumination

Where there is darkness, light

– then speaks to the deprivation of being without clarity. We’ve all been there, and wandered through half-lit worlds. It’s vital to remember those times, so we can respond well and fully to the ignorance in others, compassionately and generously.

Darkness takes many forms, from stubborn arrogance, to laziness and lethargy, from violence, to the withdrawal into addictions. When we find even the beginnings of darkening of the mind, or our spirit, we should respond to it by placing our minds on powerful, uplifting things, such as our teachers, or this natural world, or those dedicated friends who do so much good in our world.

This line

where there is darkness, let me sow light

accords perfectly also with the instructions on meditation in Buddhism.
In the calm abiding teachings, the two obstacles to cultivating a balanced, serviceable mind are dullness and distraction.

Ajahn Pasanno taught that as soon as we notice some slight dullness, we should fully arouse our attention and interest, this inner light of ours, in order to dispel it. He says, if we don’t do this at the first appearance of the dimming of our attention, it’s easy for it to slide from subtle dullness to its more gross forms.

The time to sow light is as soon as darkening of the mind is noticed. This brightness is then balanced with calm, that is free of sleepiness and distraction. We can go a long way with meditation, cultivating useful states of awareness just working along this continuum, of bringing light to the mind, and settling our attention on the breath, or steps.

8. Dancing in Sunlit Fields

Where there is sadness, joy

We become a gift to others, meeting them where they are, and especially in their difficulty. This is a prayer to be able to offer water to those who thirst, shelter to those without safety, and ‘breath to the wretched’.

It costs us nothing to be on the lookout, in our friends and family and strangers for the mere shadow of sadness, for the sense of weight and despair. There’s a feeling of fulfillment that comes from helping another out of sadness, if only for a time. It is infused with our own knowledge of what it means to wander lost, a stranger to all, enveloped in an inner darkness. That others reached out to us, or that we found our way to light again, through grace reaching us is enough to make us dedicated to sharing what we have, as much as we can.

On an inner, personal level, we can take the measure of our lives without joy, on the one hand, and can compare it to how we feel and function when we are feeling enriched by the beauty of the world, our family, friends and teachers. Joy is known as the water of life, refreshing and healing. It’s also something we need in our lives every day. When we know this, we see with new eyes. This wish, where there is sadness, let me sow joy then becomes our way of life. It’s not secondary, but goes right to the heart of the reason we are here, namely to care for each other in all the best ways.

9. Cultivating Devotion to Our Teacher

At every stage of the practice outlined in this poem-prayer, we’re referring to something greater than our usual sense of ourselves. This is where we draw our strength and courage. For Buddhists, or the non-theist, it can be our deep inner nature, pure, limitless, the inner light, for those who like to think in theistic terms, our source of strength is God, or the Divine made man.

The prayer continues:

O Divine Master…

– addressing Jesus, as someone closer to us than the creator God, or an eternal presence. This is more personal, and intimate. Just as it is with thinking with longing of our root teacher, we can bring an enlightened presence to mind, and ask for strength, guidance and support.

10. Setting Another At Peace

When I then read

grant that I may not so much
seek to be consoled as to console…

I am moved by the humanity of the author saying, grant that I may not so much… tells me there is still the wish to be consoled is still there. It isn’t denied, but we are reaching beyond this, in our hopes and prayers.

If our lives are about me only, they become small. We can include self care without it becoming our be all and end all. Everything then takes its rightful place, naturally in the spiritual life.

Without caring for ourselves, receiving love and spiritual food, we’d not have the strength or understanding to know how to best care for others. But we should’t stop at just hoping to be cared for ourselves. The way is ever open for us to care for others, in our heart at the very least, if not yet in our words and actions.

The activity of prayer deserves to be highlighted here, as its subtle influence is something that is profound. Even just turning our mind slightly in the direction of loving I’m sure has creative effects in our world. We can so easily overlook this innate capacity, but when we activate it, we begin to see its great value.

In saying

O, Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much
seek to be consoled as to console…

– we take Jesus or the Buddha, a saint or our teacher as our example of loving. We aspire to become more like them, abundantly loving and giving.

I have to say that I cherish this one word, console, as it is so tender, and meaningful. I imagine a friend staying with another, to ease their sorrow after some loss. If I needed to write this whole paper just to arrive at this one word, it would be all worth it. What is this feeling made of, I wonder?

How many times have we needed someone to lean on, and instead found ourselves alone? How much have we felt that absence in our own lives? That feeling goes on in how we meet others who are going through the same kind of need we ourselves have known.

grant that I may not so much
seek to be consoled as to console…

means we’re not caught, as we can be, in our own sorrow or loneliness, but that we actively seek to console others. It’s a shared life we’re living then, as far as we can reach. Something beautiful in us awakens when we seek to comfort another who is in distress.

Whether or not this is our profession, we find ways to be a support, and the meaning of being born a human being is clear, and apparent.

11. Looking with Wonder and Interest at the Lives of Others

The prayer continues, and can be heard as

O, Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much
seek to be understood as to understand…

– since we can go our whole lives wanting to be understood by others, and seldom finding connection, or companionship. Our lives will feel small if we stop at just wanting ourselves to be understood. If we aim to understand the experiences of others though, our own lives are enlarged by that much.

Even just having this openness, the willingness to know and to learn can be felt by others. They will feel respected, listened to. Their worth will be affirmed, silently, and in conversation.

12. The Supreme Gift

grant that I may not so much
seek to be loved as to love…

As before, we should keep this sense of what it feels like to need love. This is something essential for all of us, and from there, we know others. Our lives grow by that much when we love. Whether it’s for our family, friends, animal companions, or this natural world of ours, to love is to be interested in, to celebrate, and to care for another. We can awaken and enlarge our love to encompass more and more of our fellow humans, and other species; all the colors of the world, and its music.

The more we love, the more interesting life becomes, the more energy we have, the more vision, and hope for the future.

When we look at a prayer like this one, we can say it is all about loving more fully. Every quality that is mentioned, the peace, forgiveness, faith, hope, light and joy are found in love. It is the supreme quality that brings illumination and understanding.

We Westerners have, over long centuries, associated learning with the intellect alone, when the knowing that comes from the heart is just as important, if not more so. The heart has an integrated knowledge, not needing to re-assemble the different areas of life or of some challenge. It is immediate, and doesn’t need formal schooling to reach its fullest development. Now, isn’t that something?


grant that I may not so much
seek to be loved as to love…

is to affirm our highest possibility here. When we take this path to its natural conclusion, there is fulfillment, there is wholeness and peace. Gradually, step by step, we can all attain this.

13. Generosity Enlarges Us

for it is in giving that we receive…

Compare – receiving a gift ourselves, something small or grand, like a house, or a trip abroad, with giving the same to another, or to many others. Our own happiness, however deep and rewarding is still just that of one person. Great as that is, we can know a deeper fulfillment. We can give ourselves away, and find that we have more love to give. In this way, in giving, we receive…

14. In the Shape of a Circle – the Way of Understanding and Compassion

it is in forgiving that we are forgiven…

brings me to the phrase I have hesitated to write about, only because up to here in this poem it’s all straightforward in meaning. Here, on the surface, it sounds like we would need to forgive others first in order to be forgiven ourselves, when in many cases it doesn’t happen like this – in such a simple cause and effect fashion.

Instead, what I can find, and the way I can relate to this line is to see how it’s right in the midst of forgiving that we find forgiveness. They happen at once, it seems to me, with understanding our own faults and limitations, and how it’s the same with everyone. We all need understanding, and grace when it comes to our shortcomings, and even, or especially our grievous mistakes.

It is in right there when we are extending forgiveness to others, seeing how we are like them, that we know forgiveness ourselves even more deeply than before.

This is the best I can make of this line, since it seems in fact that we would need to understand and forgive ourselves first, before it extends to others. I’m open to learning more on my own, here, as I hope I would be about the other lines, and to suggestions as well.

15. The Culmination of Love

The prayer then concludes with the lines

and it is in dying to self
that we are born to eternal life

which has an interesting parallel with the closing section of the Metta Sutta. There it says:

Free from wrong views,
greed and sensual desires,
living in beauty
and realizing perfect understanding,
those who practice Boundless Love
will certainly transcend Birth and Death

It’s remarkable to think that two religious texts from different traditions independently arrive just here. To me, they this affirms the universal nature of truth, and the spiritual path.

In Christianity, in dying to self, we reach the ultimate. What does this dying to self mean? It means going beyond the ego, through understanding; becoming enlarged by an untold measure, entering into that stream that takes us to the ocean, that is Love.

In Buddhism, realizing perfect understanding, we transcend the notions of birth and death. We are no longer caught in small thinking or in misidentification with anything less than what we are, in truth.

Practicing boundless love, we reach this understanding, and freedom.


These brief reflections are like taking seeds, placing them in good soil, and then giving them sun and water. They have become seedlings, and this is what I offer here. Given further care, greater results can surely come for anyone who takes up these practices.

May the practices of prayer be taken up,
and brought to fulfillment.

And may all beings benefit

May we all find our home in loving care for one another,
for this and future generations,
for all species ,
and our precious home