Praying Without Goals

A couple of weeks ago I was talking to my father who has recently started practising Nichiren Buddhism with the Bharat Soka Gakkai in India. I asked him what he was chanting towards, what his goals were. He said that he prayed for everything to go well and everything to be ok, and what is wrong with chanting without goals? Here’s what I’ve learned about not having goals.

Praying without goals signals not taking responsibility for one’s life

Prayer in Nichiren Buddhism is a firm pledge of determination. If I chant without a goal, it means I am chanting and waiting for some kind of magic without taking responsibility for my life. Similar to going on a drive but not having a destination.

Praying without goals signal fear and lack of trust in the creative potential of life

Sometimes I don’t pick a goal because I find that it is not completely formed in my mind and I am afraid of setting the wrong goal. I don’t feel confident. I feel afraid of my inability to accomplish a goal and the ensuing disappointment so I try to avoid it. E.g. if I am learning how to drive, I won’t give myself the goal to actually go to a destination.

Praying without goals signals disconnection from the purpose and vow

As a practitioner of Nichiren Buddhism, I have taken a vow to show proof of this practice through my life, to demonstrate that anyone can tap into the creative force of life regenerate themselves and overcome their situation. Then for me to not have goals means I have become unconscious, apathetic and indifferent about life. I am letting life happen rather than courageously grab it by its horns. I have ceased to care about creative value through my life, I have become complacent and ok with the status quo because I can cope with it. I suffer from an absence of dreams and I have no vision. I have stopped contributing.

Praying without goals signals self-centeredness

I find that usually this apathy comes about when I have become extremely self-involved, retreated into my own shell. I spend a lot of time thinking what about me and feeling sorry for myself or just struggling with the day-to-day of life. It is similar to this feeling of standing in a still river in cold water but feeling like I don’t want someone to pull me out because I am just unable to move at this point. I have turned my back to others in the water who need assistance, maybe even someone to confirm that this water is really indeed very cold.

Praying without goals is exponential decay of wisdom and creative life force

Mathematics was my favourite subject at school. At the time, I didn’t realise this was unusual or extraordinary. Tuning into the mathematician inside of me, praying without goals is apathy waiting to consume my life, it is a slow death of hope and life force. It also signals heavy reliance on my mind and my current capability. It signals a fixed mindset, not a growth mindset.

Exponential decay of life force while praying without goals

Therefore, prayer must have goals

As President Ikeda says,

“The greatest tragedy in life is not to die, it is to live as if dead, to let the life within us wither. Toward what goal or achievement are we striving in life? This is the important question to ask ourselves.”

How to define goals for oneself? That’s going to be the next post. Stay tuned!


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