So begins a prayer chanted by His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the 1994 John Main Seminar in London. This yearly seminar is sponsored by the World Community for Christian Meditation, and was the first time that the Dalai Lama had been invited to comment publicly on the Gospels of Jesus Christ. It was truly a momentous occasion, captured in detail in the book The Good Heart, A Buddhist Perspective on the Teachings of Jesus. I share this prayer – not only because it is poignant and lovely – but because it vividly describes the view that I believe a Christian should have of his fellow man and the world. In Buddhist terms, it beautifully reflects Christ’s example of humility as described in Philippians 2:1-8:
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
“When His Holiness resumed his place on a straight chair in the center of the raised platform, the lights were dimmed in the auditorium. He tucked and folded various ends and corners of his robes, shifted and settled his body into a quiet position, took out his beads, closed his eyes, and began to pray. It must have struck many members of the audience who have Catholic mothers and grandmothers how the Dalai Lama’s small preparations and especially his completely familiar, comfortable, easy, and tender way with the beads seemed to cut across the divisions of culture and language. The chant itself did not sound at all like a Hail Mary, but the reverence with which it was sung and listened to was unmistakable.
Regarding all sentient beings
as excelling even the wish-granting gem
for accomplishing the highest aim,
may I always hold them most dear.
When in the company of others
I shall always consider myself the lowest of all,
And from the depth of my heart
Hold them dear and supreme.
Vigilant, the moment a delusion appears,
Which endangers myself and others,
I shall confront and avert it
When I see beings of wicked nature
Overwhelmed by violent negative actions and suffering
I shall hold such rare ones dear,
As if I have found a precious treasure.
When others, out of envy, treat me with abuse,
Insult me or the like,
I shall accept defeat,
And offer the victory to others.
When someone I have benefited
And in whom I have great hopes
Gives me terrible harm,
I shall regard him as my holy spiritual friend.
In short, both directly and indirectly, do I offer
Every benefit and happiness to all sentient beings, my mothers;
May I secretly take upon myself
All their harmful actions and suffering.
May they not be defined by the concepts
Of the eight profane concerns,
And aware that all things are illusory,
may they, ungrasping, be freed from bondage.