º FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions º
º General º
Please note that on this page the word “prayer” can also be referring to “pūjā” and “practice with mantra recitation”.
º What is merit? º
Merit is good karma created by good thoughts, words and actions. Engaging in generosity, kindness and spiritual practice generates merit. Merit is essential for happiness, good health, worldly success, long life, spiritual realization, good rebirth, etc.
º Why do you ask for an offering when I make my prayer request? º
Making offerings to monastics creates auspicious connections and generates merit, which is redoubled when the monastics then perform the prayers. This abundance of merit is then dedicated to all sentient beings, including you!
º Can I still request prayers if I am unable to make an offering? º
The monks and nuns will always perform prayers when requested to do so. If you are unable to make an offering, please contact us so that you can still be included in prayers. Please note that for almost all of the prayers on the website, it is possible to adjust the offering amount to a minimum of $5.
º How is my offering used? º
Your offering provides food, clothing, housing, books, education and healthcare for the approximately 550 monks at Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery, 200 nuns at Nagi Nunnery, and 30 monastics at Asura Cave, and helps to create excellent conditions so that they can devote themselves to study, practice, and service for the benefit of others. A small amount of your offering also covers the costs of maintaining the website and administering the prayer request service.
º How do I choose a prayer? º
For quick help choosing a prayer, please look at the bottom of the “Home” page. For a full list of the prayers that are performed on a daily and monthly basis, look at the “Prayers” page. For guidance in choosing prayers for specific purposes, look below on this “FAQ” page. For special activities that only occur once a year, please look at the “Annual Activities” page.
The monks stress that all prayers are ultimately the same and will bring benefit. Therefore, they encourage you to have confidence in the power of whichever prayer you are included in and not to worry about whether or not you have made the correct choice.
º What is the difference between a pūjā, a practice with mantra recitation, and a prayer? º
On a practical note, many of the more elaborate pūjās are only performed once a month, whereas prayers and practices can be performed on any day. A pūjā includes reciting prayers, chanting mantras, visualizing deities, and making offerings, etc. A practice is shorter with the main focus being on mantra recitation and invoking the qualities of a deity. A prayer is the recitation of a particular sacred text (often multiple times in a session). Ultimately, these all achieve the result of connecting us to our Enlightened Mind and are equally powerful.
º Where will my prayer be performed and by whom? º
The Praises to 21 Tārās and the Chöd Pūjā are performed by nuns in the main shrine hall at Nagi Nunnery. All of the other prayers are performed by monks at Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery, usually in the main shrine hall, but also in subsidiary shrine rooms.
º When will my prayer be performed?
After we receive notification of your prayer request, your prayer will be scheduled for the next session when it can be performed, usually within 48 hours. For the exact timing of your prayer, if available, see the “Prayers” page.
Please be aware that many of the pūjās are only performed once a month (see the “Prayers” page for details).
º What happens at the monastery or nunnery when I request a prayer? º
Your information is given at the start of each prayer session to the monk or nun in charge who makes certain that you (or whomever/whatever you indicate) are included in the prayer you have requested. The monks and nuns conclude the prayer session by dedicating the merit of the practice, which brings benefit to you and all sentient beings.
º What information do the monks and nuns need for the prayer? º
When you request your prayer, there will be a place to write a name(s) and a very short message.
Usually, the name of the person(s) for whom the prayers are requested is all that the monks and nuns require. There is no need to include birthdate, location, astrological information, photo, etc., unless it seems particularly relevant.
If there is a very specific purpose for the prayers (such as impending surgery or upcoming birthday) you can write that. It is not necessary for the monks to have details or for you to worry if the information is incorrect or incomplete. The monks and nuns connect with the aspirations for the prayers that are in the heart and mind of the person requesting the prayers without the need for this to be written down.
º Can I include more than one person in my prayer request? º
Yes. It is fine to include multiple names (within reason!) in your prayer request; however, the monks advise that the purpose of the prayers for each person should be similar. If you have very different reasons for requesting prayers for each person, the monks recommend making separate prayer requests.
º Can I request prayers for animals? º
Yes! Prayers for any and all sentient beings are welcome.
º Can I request prayers for non-sentient entities and abstract ideas? º
Yes. Here are some examples: for the benefit of a country, for the health of the planet, for the success of a project or organization, for world peace, etc.
º Can I request a prayer on a specific date? º
Yes. We will try our best to fulfill your request if you submit it at least 48 hours ahead of the desired date. Write the date you would like in the message box that will appear when you request your prayer. (Be aware that certain pūjās are only performed once a month on particular days.)
º How to Choose a Prayer for a Particular Purpose? º
Any of the prayers below will be beneficial. Do not worry about making a right or wrong decision. This is only a guide for those who are interested in “fine tuning” their prayer choice.
General Illness & Acute Illness:
Medicine Buddha Practice with Mantra Recitation (Men Zung); Three Prayers to Remove Obstacles & Gather Positive Conditions (Bar Sam Drol Sum); any Amitāyus prayer – for long life; any Dharma Protector prayer – for protection
any of the above plus any Tara prayer – to overcome fear
Chronic Illness (cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc.):
any of the above plus any Vajrasattva prayer – for purification; Recitation and Prayers for Overcoming Obstacles (Dug Sher Seng Sum) – to overcome deep-rooted problems
Parṇaśavari Practice with Mantra Recitation; Medicine Buddha Practice with Mantra Recitation (Men Zung); Three Prayers to Remove Obstacles & Gather Positive Conditions (Bar Sam Drol Sum)
Anxiety, Fear, Depression, Mental Illness:
any Tara prayer – compassion; Avalokiteśvara Practice with Mantra Recitation (Mani Mantra) – compassion; any Dharma Protector prayer – for protection; Medicine Buddha Practice with Mantra Recitation (Men Zung)
any Tara prayer – compassion; Avalokiteśvara Practice with Mantra Recitation (Mani Mantra) – compassion; any Dharma Protector prayer – for protection; any Vajrasattva prayer – for purification; Recitation and Prayers for Overcoming Obstacles (Dug Sher Seng Sum) – to overcome deep-rooted problems; Medicine Buddha Practice with Mantra Recitation (Men Zung)
any Amitāyus prayer; Annual Fish Release (Tse Thar); Medicine Buddha Practice with Mantra Recitation (Men Zung); any Tara prayer
DEATH AND DYING
Burnt Food Ritual (Sur) – for purification; any Vajrasattva prayer – for purification; Prayers to Benefit the Living & the Dead (Mönlam) – for good rebirth; any Tara prayer – to help with fear; Ocean of Amṛta Pūjā (Ngakso Pūjā) – for purification
Death (within the first 49 days):
See the “Death” section on the “Prayers” page
Death (beyond the first 49 days):
if the deceased was close to a particular deity, choose that deity’s prayers; Prayers to Benefit the Living & the Dead (Mönlam) – for continuous good rebirths until Enlightenment; Ocean of Amṛta Pūjā (Ngakso Pūjā) – for purification
Burnt Food Ritual (Sur) – for purification; Bodhisattva’s Confession of Downfalls (Tungshak) – for confession; Ocean of Amṛta Pūjā (Ngakso Pūjā) – for purification; Prayers to Benefit the Living & the Dead (Mönlam) – for good rebirth; Pūjā for the Recently Deceased with Amitabha Jangchok Ceremony · Shitro
Prayers to Benefit the Living & the Dead (Mönlam) – for good rebirth; Burnt Food Ritual (Sur) – for purification; Bodhisattva’s Confession of Downfalls (Tungshak) – for confession; Ocean of Amṛta Pūjā (Ngakso Pūjā) – for purification
For the Loved Ones of the Deceased:
any Tara prayer – compassion; Avalokiteśvara Practice with Mantra Recitation (Mani Mantra) – compassion
Three Prayers to Remove Obstacles & Gather Positive Conditions (Bar Sam Drol Sum); any Padmasaṃbhava (Guru Rinpoche) prayer; any Dharma Protector prayer – for protection
Deep Rooted Obstacles:
Recitation and Prayers for Overcoming Obstacles (Dug Sher Seng Sum)
Three Prayers to Remove Obstacles & Gather Positive Conditions (Bar Sam Drol Sum); any Dharma Protector prayer – for protection
Protect and Support Spiritual Practice:
any Dharma Protector prayer – for protection; Chöd Pūjā (Tsokle Rinchen Trengwa); Kurukullā Pūjā (Pema Khandro); Ocean of Amṛta Pūjā (Ngakso Pūjā)
Purify Negative Karma:
Burnt Food Ritual (Sur); any Vajrasattva prayer; Ocean of Amṛta Pūjā (Ngakso Pūjā)
any Tara prayer; Three Prayers to Remove Obstacles & Gather Positive Conditions (Bar Sam Drol Sum)
Slander and Criticism/Disputes:
Prayer to Avert the Harm of Slander & Criticism (Mi Kha Dra Dok)
Any from General Obstacles; any Tara prayer
Three Prayers to Remove Obstacles & Gather Positive Conditions (Bar Sam Drol Sum); any Dharma Protector prayer – includes offerings to wealth deity Vaishravana; any Tara prayer; Wealth Pūjā (Lama Norlha Pūjā)
To Attract Prosperity:
Wealth Pūjā (Lama Norlha Pūjā); any Dharma Protector prayer – includes offerings to wealth deity Vaishravana; any Tara prayer
AUSPICIOUSNESS AND BLESSINGS
Gather Auspiciousness for Life Event (pregnancy, new baby, birthday, wedding, new house, new job, graduation, etc.):
Verses of the Eight Noble Auspicious Ones (Tashi Tsekpa)
Prayers to Buddha Śākyamuni and the 16 Arhats (Neten Chakchöd); any prayer to a deity; Annual Raising of Prayer Flags (Lungta Tang Gyu)
Three Prayers to Remove Obstacles & Gather Positive Conditions (Bar Sam Drol Sum); any Dharma Protector prayer – for protection; any Tara prayer
Praises to Mañjuśrī with Mantra Recitation (Gang Lo Ma)
º How to Choose a Prayer According to a Particular Deity? º
Each Buddhist deity is an emanation of our Enlightened Mind but with an emphasis on different characteristics, such as the great compassion of Avalokiteśvara (Chenrezig) or the wisdom of Mañjuśrī. It therefore does not matter ultimately which deity you choose. However, if you feel a particular connection to a deity, then the monks advise that you choose prayers related to that deity. Similarly, if you have a certain reason for requesting a prayer, then you might choose a deity known for those particular characteristics (such as choosing Mañjuśrī for someone taking exams).
º Practicalities º
º How do I request more than one prayer? º
You will need to do this in individual transactions. After you have successfully made your offering, please choose another prayer and offer again.
º Do I get a receipt? º
As soon as you have successfully made your offering, your selected payment portal (PayPal or credit card) will send you a confirmation message. Our website will also show you an online receipt with a link for download. Within 24 hours (usually), we will send you a confirmation email with details about the prayers you have requested and a link to view your donation history (including your receipts).
º How does My Account work? º
After you have made a successful offering, you will be able to view “My Account” for the next 72 hours. After 72 hours, you will need to provide your email address in order to receive an email from us with a link to access “My Account“.
Donation History lists all of your previous Offering and Prayer Requests.
Annual Receipts provides a link to download a receipt of all your past donations of the entire year, starting January 1, until the present day.
Recurring Donations provides an overview of your active monthly subscription(s). You can manage your subscription(s) here: change the amount, credit card information, or cancel your active subscription(s).
Edit Profile allows you to edit your personal information.
º How do I cancel a monthly subscription ? º
If you made your subscription on the previous website, please log in to your PayPal account and cancel it from there. If you began your monthly subscription on this new version of the website, please go to “My Account” and click the Recurring Donations button.
º Is my offering tax deductible? º
All donations made through monlam.org are tax-deductible for US citizens and residents. Monlam.org is managed by Shedrub Development Fund, a registered 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization in the United States of America. If you are not a US citizen or resident, please consult your country’s tax codes.
º I tried to make an offering through PayPal and received a message saying “Donations to this recipient are not supported in this country.” What should I do? º
Your country may not allow donations to non-profit organizations through PayPal. If this happens, you will still be able to make a donation using a credit card directly (NOT through PayPal). If you continue to have difficulties, please contact us.