Jundo's recent talk about Kannon made me wonder how many people on this forum pray to Buddhas/Bodhisattvas. Or if there were members who follow another religion along with their Zen practice, and pray to some deity.
I'm now attending a Chinese temple. Ch'an and Chinese Pureland are almost always practised together, so the temple is always ringing with "Namo Amituofo" (Japanese=Amida Butsu, Sanskrit=Amitabha Buddha) and "Namo Guan Shi Yin Pusa" (Japanese=Kannon, Sanskrit=Avalokiteshvara - the bodhisattva of compassion).
I've been in pretty rough shape for the past while and am undergoing surgical evaluation for medically refractory epilepsy. The nuns keep saying that they are praying very hard to Guan Yin on my behalf, and got me a CD of the Great Compassion mantra to listen to over and over again.
What does anyone else here think about the usefulness of prayer or mantra recitation? I feel deeply honoured and cared about when people pray for me, and I try to really put my heart into it when we recite mantras for other people. But I feel pretty uncomfortable (and maybe even a bit silly) about praying.