Relying on the Name of Amitabha



The Buddha Sakyamuni understands that all the beings have very heavy illusion, therefore, are deluded and unenlightened by ignorance, TREAT impermanence AS permanence, TREAT no ego, no soul (of an independent and self-contained character), impersonal, no individual independent existence (of conscious or unconscious beings) [The empirical ego is merely an aggregation of various elements, and with their disintegration it ceases to exist, therefore it has no ultimate reality of its won] AS the ego, the self, TREAT misery, trouble, and distress AS joy, TREAT filthiness or impurity AS purity, ever since the beginningless (without beginning, as is the chain of transmigration). These all kind of Upside Down become deeply rooted, so it is doubly hard for beings to eliminate the illusion and attain truth by personal experience, therefore, Buddha Sakyamuni indicated its meaning of Doctrine of Chanting the Name of Buddha with heart of looking on all sympathetically as of the same nature as oneself. This way Buddha Sakyamuni puts a pearl of Buddha into every impure being’s mind, eliminates all the force of worried habit (the remainder or remaining influence of illusion) in every thought of all the beings, purify the mind of all the beings, and eventually lead the beings to the West Pure Land.

The Relying on chanting the name of Amitabha is a very special doctrine of Buddhist cultivating:
Firstly, only a holy name “Amitabha”, anybody can chant, anytime can chant, anywhere can chant, just remember keeping it in mind all the time. Once the thought raising and the thought is Amitabha, when thought after thought raising and all the thoughts are Amitabha, although the aim of chanting Amitabha is not for “beholding the Buddha-nature within oneself”, but the “beholding the Buddha-nature within oneself” will be in there, this is so called “meet the reality” or “meet the right path”. As long as we chant the Amitabha either in mouth or in mind no matter walking, standing, sitting, lying (in every state), then we will get into “without a thought” (apart from thought, nothing exists) from “with a thought” gradually, in this moment both the mind of beings and Amitabha are identical. (the Pure Land as a place is identical with the Pure Land in the mind).

Secondly, for those who were born with base character (or of low capacity), their barrier of temptation, passion, or defilement (which obstructs the attainment of the nirvana-mind) are much heavier, their mind of discriminating and holding on to the reality of self or things are also very heavy. If they can regret or repent for error for the past and future, and rely on the chanting of Amitabha with a mind profoundly engrossed in faith and vows, continuing instant in unbroken thought when chanting the Amitabha, as time goes on, the erroneous thinking and delusion will be cut down gradually, and the mind which clings to things as real will be changed gradually too, when the present life reach the end, the world where saints and sinners dwell together in West Land will be the next life for them.

Thirdly, for those who were born with medium character (or of medium capacity), their barrier of temptation, passion, or defilement are little lighter, they can reach the level of “To do no evil, to do only good”, external and internal are corresponded, and are learning the four all-embracing virtues (1, giving what others like, in order to lead them to love and receive the truth, 2, affectionate speech, with the same purpose, 3, conduct profitable to others, with the same purpose, 4, cooperation with and adaptation of oneself to others, to lead them into the truth), in the meantime the name of Amitabha never leave their mouth and mind, as time goes on, they will reach the level of “with the whole mind or heart”, and get rid of the illusory or misleading views and thoughts gradually, also desire, detestation, and delusion will be removed gradually, when the present life reach the end, the temporary realms (where the occupants have got rid of the evils of unenlightened views and thoughts, but still have to be reborn) in West Land will be the next life for them.

Fourthly, for those who were born with superior character (or of superior capacity), their root of prajna (power of wisdom) are much sharper, and have deep faith in “cause and effect” (every cause has its effect, as every effect arises from a cause”), and never confused with the “reality” (absolute fundamental reality, the ultimate, the absolute), some of them try to get enlightened heart with meditation, some of them try to benefit all beings with preaching or expounding the doctrine, and all of them are relying on chanting the name of Amitabha with pure mind, and devote their merits and virtues to West Pure Land. When they are practicing the relying on chanting the name of Amitabha, they can reach the level of the identity of chanting and contemplating, the level of unimpeded interaction of noumenon and phenomenon, and understand that there is no Buddha that is chanted besides the mind that can chant, also there is no mind that can chant besides the Buddha that is chanted, and reach the level of the active and passive ideas (ability to transform, or transformable and the object that is transformed) are the one and undivided (non-duality), when their present life reach the end, the Realm of permanent reward and freedom in West Land will be the next life for them.

The basic conditions for cultivating the relying on chanting the name of Amitabha:
Preparing the supplies for beseeching rebirth in West Pure Land. The Faith, The Vow, and The Action are the three supplies of beseeching rebirth in Pure Land according to The Amitabha Sutra. And the Faith is most important of them all (faith as the first and leading step), Faith regarded as the faculty of the mind which sees, appropriates, and trusts the Amitabha, that’s why we say only those who have deep faith can reach the great ocean of Buddhist doctrines. And when having the Real Faith, then the vows and actions can be started out.

What is the Real Faith? According to Master Jei-Lio of The Lotus Sect, “I and Amitabha are not two but one in [the enlightened mind free from all illusion]”, “I am the being within Buddha’s heart, Amitabha is the Buddha within my heart”, “Remember Amitabha, maintain Amitabha, and chant the name of Amitabha, eventually I will meet Amitabha”, this is just like pouring some water into milk, then the water are within the milk, the milk are within the water, they are blending mutually, combining mutually. Therefore, when we are chanting the name of Amitabha, there will be mutual interaction between the individual and Amitabha Buddha.

Let’s talk about Vows, according to Avatamsaka Sutra, “When people are reaching the end of their life, all the organs of sense are going out of order, there is nothing we can do, only the power of the vow never leave us”, we should understand how important is the vow. Master Ou-Ee of The Lotus Sect pointed out “The point of going to be born in the Pure Land of Amitabha is Faith and Vow”.

The content of Vow is “To weary of the Soha world and abandon it and to seek gladly the Western Utmost Joy World” and “Starting out the mind of bodhi”, Master Ou-Ee of The Lotus Sect said: “The Saha World is the projection of the dirty thought of our mind, and this kind of dirty thought should be got rid of”, and “The Western Utmost Joy Word is the projection of the pure thought of our mind, and this kind of pure thought should be beseeched”, that’s why we call it “When the mind is pure and the land is pure also”. According to the sutra, when people asked Sakyamuni Buddha, the lands of other Buddhas are so pure, and why yours is not pure, in this moment Sakyamuni Buddha touched the ground with his foot, the world suddenly become pure just like the Utmost Joy World. From these words, we should understand that the Saha World also is pure, but just the thoughts in our mind are not pure.

According to The Sukhavativyuha Sutra, one of the conditions of beseeching rebirth in West Pure Land for the three ranks (superior, medium, and inferior) of practicing the Pure Land Buddhist doctrine is to start out the mind of the supreme bodhi or enlightenment (the mind that perceives the real behind the seeming, believes in moral consequences, and that all have the Buddha-nature, and aims at Buddhahood) (above to seek bodhi, below to save all).

The Vows will lead to the Action, since we have already the deep Faith and the strong Vows, then the Action will be automatically started out. And the action is to rely on chanting the name of Amitabha. The Amitabha indicates the idea of unlimited eternal light and life, in Amitabha’s Paradise, the Western Pure Land, Amitabha receives to unbounded happiness all who call upon the name of Amitabha. This is consequent on Amitabha’s forty-eight vows, especially the eighteenth, in which Amitabha vows to refuse Buddha-hood until he has saved all living beings to Amitabha’s Pure Land, except those who had committed the five unpardonable sins, or were guilty of blasphemy against the Faith. The Amitabha’ Paradise is theoretically only a stage on the way to rebirth in the final joys of Nirvana, it is popularly believed as the final resting-place of those who Believe and Chant Namo Amitabha, or Blessed be, or Adoration to, Amitabha Buddha.

When chanting Amitabha will eliminate the heavy guilt ever since beginningless, chanting Amitabha will get blessedness and wisdom of endlessness. The “A” in Amitabha means the original nature of “impartial and equal attitude towards all beings”, also means all dharani or mantra and the mother of all Buddhas. Therefore, relying on chanting the name of Amitabha is the cultivation of all nature. Relying on the name of Amitabha means to hold to the dharani or mantra, is the cultivation of esoteric incantation.

Master Ou-Ee of The Lotus Sect said: [Sutras show us all kind of ways of practicing Pure Land, such as “Contemplating the image of Buddha”, “Contemplating the thought”, “To worship”, “To make offerings of whatever nourishes”, “The five stages in a penitential service” (1, confession of past sins and forbidding them for the future; 2, appeal to the universal Buddhas to keep the law-wheel rolling; 3, rejoicing over the good in self and others; 4, offering all one’s goodness to all the living and to the Buddha-way; 5, resolve, or vows), and “The six thoughts to dwell upon: Buddha, the Law, the Order, the Commands, Almsgiving, and Heaven with it prospective joys”, when completing any practicing way, will lead you to Pure Land, and only the “relying on the name of Amitabha” covers wildest and easiest to start out]. The relying on chanting the name of Amitabha is really the king of treasure.

“Covers wildest and easiest to start out”, in the 84,000 teachings or lessons credited to the Buddha for the cure of all sufferings, only the relying on chanting the name of Amitabha can cover wildly all kinds of being, from the greatest Bodhisattvas like Manjusri and Samantabhadra to The five rebellious acts or deadly sins (parricide, matricide, killing an arhat, shedding the blood of a Buddha, destroying the harmony of the sangha) and The ten evil things (killing, stealing, adultery, lying, double-tongue, coarse language, filthy language, covetousness, anger, perverted views; these produce the ten resultant evils) all can practice it and will be leaded to Pure Land.

The most important part is Vitality, do not practice when we cannot concentrate, are in a gloomy mood, have weak will, and have too much thought in mind, these will make no result at all. The words from our mouth should be very clear, if we don’t hear it don’t expect the others (Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and other beings) will hear it, don’t start the voice loud and lower it minute by minute, the syllable or tone has to be harmonious this will result in controlling our mind easier.

When we have too much thought during chanting the name of Amitabha (we don’t know where they are from and cannot get rid of them), this is the phenomenon we will meet but we have to ignore it (leave all the thoughts alone, no matter they are in or out, and just listen to the words[Namo Amitabha] from your mouth clearly), the point is the words “Namo Amitabha”. The TONE from our mouth is very important point for the Pure Land Doctrine, and the idea is “LISTEN to our own tone”, we are chanting “Namo Amitabha” at the same time we are hearing “Namo Amitabha”.

When we say “To control the six senses”, first we have to control the sense of tongue and ears, then when we are thinking of the name of Amitabha, we control the sense of thought, when we are holding the Buddha pearl (to tell beads) or forming a mystic positions of the hand, we control the sense of body, when we are watching the Buddha’s image, we control the sense of eyes, when we are smelling the burning incense, we control the sense of nose. The point of control the six senses is “LISTEN”.

The best volume of mouth speaks is the Diamond speaks (a little sound between teeth and lips), it will help us to chant Amitabha longer and won’t hurt our lungs. Also can do the silent chanting way, but it is little harder to listen the words (listen with mind). The volume of sound is kind of flexible, the sound can be raised when we feel scattered or disturbed, thoughts can be controlled by higher volume of mouth speaks. If we can chant very clear, the sound can be very low, but there must be sound in the mouth, and always listen to this sound because it will control our thought. We all know that relying on chanting the name of Amitabha is a very extraordinary way to practice the Buddhist doctrines and the point is here “TO LISTEN TO OUR OWN VOICE” (remember “listen to our own tone”).

If there are delusions or temptations of the passions and of ignorance which disturb and distress the mind, then the sound we chant must be awful. When we chant Namo Amitabha without single mind, our ears will lose their function, then the sound from our mouth will lose the function too (cannot control the mind). In this case there is no way to control the six senses, only to create perceptions or discernings. The reason we cultivate ourselves so hard is to transmute the common knowledge (perceptions or discernings) of this transmigration-world into Buddha-knowledge, one of the purposes for us to chant the name of Buddha is to transmute the discrimination perception into the profound observing wisdom of Buddha. To reach the chanting Namo Amitabha with the whole mind is doubly hard, first we have to learn how to chant Namo Amitabha with quiet mind (do not let it moving around).

When we chanting Namo Amitabha, we have to feel this way that we are in front of Amitabha, or begging Amitabha for help to save our lives when we are in deep trouble, at this moment, every word of chanting Amitabha should be from the bottom of our hearts truly and reliably, one word “Namo Amitbha” after another “Namo Amitabha”, this is called “Pure Thought Continuity”, as time goes on, one day we will reach the level of chanting Namo Amitabha anytime anywhere (every state in our daily life).

The sound (voice) of chanting Buddha should be harmonious and quiet, noble and graceful if they are from those who have true, trustworthy, and pure mind. This wonderful sound of chanting Buddha reach our own mind through our own ears, what we hear is what we chant, therefore, they meet together naturally (the sound meet the mind). The sound is the Buddha’s name that is adorned by millions virtues, therefore the sound is the sound that is also adorned by millions virtues. The sound getting into our mind through our sense of ear is the sound what we chant. Our mind chanting the Buddha, our mind becoming the Buddha. Therefore our mind and the sound what we hear should be corresponded. In fine, we chant Amitabha, it causes the sound of Amitabha, and the sound of Amitabha will help us in return naturally. When we chanting this way, we don’t have to get rid of the false or misleading thoughts, and they will be purified naturally.

In our daily life, no matter how busy we are, no matter how hard we are, when we are wandering about homeless or drifting from place to place, we should always apprehend and hold Amitabha and Pure Land in memory, if we lose them, we should bring them back right away, when time goes on, Amitabha and Pure Land will be in our mind forever. Like Surangama-sutra says: {If the mind of being always keeps Amitabha in mind (remember and maintain Amitabha) and chants the name of Amitabha, now present or future will meet Amitabha and will not leave Amitabha far}. If we fix the thoughts on Amitabha like this, the mind will block all kind of evil thoughts, when we want to make evil doings, it cannot be made because of keeping Amitabha in mind, and supposed we have to it, usually we will become soft-hearted in handling evil doings. When we see the others in deep trouble, we will pray for them to leave the trouble behind, it is because of the mind of chanting Buddha.

Sutra says: {Precepts(disciplines) are the ladder of all doctrines}. Keeping precept is the cause, condition, or organ of advance to a higher stage. The pure precept will produce Samadhi(composing the mind, absorption of thought into the one object of meditation), and Samadhi will produce Buddhist wisdom. When we complete the three passionless knowledge (disciplines, samadhi, and wisdom), the three poisons, concupiscence, anger, and stupidity (greed, hate, and ignorance) will be destroyed naturally. From this, we should understand the precept is the most important thing that we have to rely on if we want the Buddhist doctrines live forever. We have to watch for the precept and follow the precept. And also this is very important for the Pure Lane practitioners, because this is the cause of advance to get rebirth in Pure Land. Therefore, we have to treat the precept as teacher of preceptor, respect precept, admire precept, protect precept, and study precept, remember the Sutra says:{Precepts are the ladder of all doctrines}.

Buddha Sakyamuni made three kinds of commandment, the first one is five or eight of ten commandments that are for laymen or laywomen, the second one is the ten commandments of the sramanera(male), the ten commandments taken by the sramanerika(female), the monk’s rules, and the nun’s rules, and the third one is the rules for bodhisattva. The precept is the root of supreme bodhi, the point is that we have to follow and keep it, this will prolong Buddhist doctrines.

When we are in our sober senses and never confused, we are closed to the step of meditation, the delusion doesn’t have its substance, if there is meditation, there is no delusion. When our mind are like empty sky, we have to remember “do not cling to the heterodox view that karma and nirvana are not real”. When we are mutable or immutable (moving or not moving) should be without any mind. The feelings, passions, and desires of the sinners and saints should be forgotten, the active and passive ideas should be all flowed off, in this case we are always in meditation, this is always called “the impartial mind” (not loving one and hating another).

Buddha Sakyamuni once said: {The precepts benefit beings more than wisdom}, keeping the commandments, chanting Buddha’s name with our mind, starting out the great mind of bodhi are the right deeds of cultivating Buddhist doctrine of Pure Land. And starting out the vows, turning towards (to turn something from one person or thing to another, transference of merit), praising Buddha, worshipping Buddha, seeking forgiveness and regretting for error (repentance), almsgiving, and releasing living creatures as a work of merit are the auxiliary discipline to blessed virtues.

The virtuous actions and felicitous cooperating cause are the true or direct cause of good roots of Bodhi. Just like the sutras say, “If not starting the mind or vow of Bodhi of omniscience of Buddha, although we have been doing the six paramitas (1, charity, or giving, including the bestowing of the truth on others, 2, Keeping the commandments, 3, patience under insult, 4, zeal and progress, 5, meditation or contemplation, and 6, wisdom, the power to discern reality or truth), even for numberless years, we still cannot become Buddha.”

The root of numberless virtues is the Cause, it needs all kind of blessed virtues (all good deeds) to build the Bodhi, BUILDING wisdom with virtues, seeking for virtues and wisdom, completing the theory with practice (reaching noumenon through phenomenon), all these auxiliary actions are the felicitous cooperating cause, therefore, there are all kind of Causes and the felicitous cooperating causes.

According to the sutra, there are three kind of virtues: {first, filial and obedient to parents, to carry out orders from teachers or elderly people, do not take lives (kill the livings, or any conscious being) because of a compassionate heart, and cultivate the excellent karma resulting from practice of the ten commandments; second, to take three formulas refuge, or three surrenders (the three formulas are Buddham, Dharmam, and Sangham, the surrender is to the Buddha as teacher, the Law as medicined, the Sangha as friends), complete whole rules, do not offend against the respect-inspiring deportment, and third, start out the mind of Bodha, deep faith of Cause and effect (every cause has its effect, as every effect arises from a cause), read Mahayana sutras, and exhort others}.

When contemplating Buddha, control our mind with chanting the name of Buddha. The spiritual or true body (universal body of Buddha) of Amitabha is all over the place, the sound of the mind come out of the mouth, the sound of the mind then get into the light of Buddha, when the light of Buddha get into sound of mind, the sound and light blend together, then Amitabha and us become ONE. The doctrine of chanting Buddha is called “A samadhi for realizing that the nature of all Buddhas is the same”, but we have to chant it, otherwise become scattered also we are building karmas. Therefore we have to learn to chant Amitabha with controlling mind, controlling our thought our mind anytime anywhere. Moreover, contemplate Buddha with setting the heart (all kind of thoughts) at rest, such as dirty and polluted thoughts, greedy thoughts, hateful thoughts, infatuated thoughts, worried thoughts, suffering thoughts, haughty thoughts, impudent thoughts, envious thoughts, indecent thoughts, heterodox thoughts, dreary thoughts, and hollow thoughts, all of these thoughts should be destroyed.

There are four kinds of contemplating Buddha, Relying on the name of Buddha, Contemplating Buddha in the mind and repeat his name, Contemplating the image of Buddha and repeat his name, and Meditating on Reality and repeat his name, but the Relying on the name of Buddha is the best for tallying the opportune teaching.

The relying on the name of Buddha is not just chanting the Amitabha with our mouth, but we have to remember Amitabha with our mind, fix the thought on the name of Amitabha anytime and anywhere, this is called “Relying the name of Buddha”.

Although the Pure Land is far way, but if we have the deep faith and strong vows, the West Pure Land must be the place for our next lives.

The Faith and Vows are the actions of wisdom, and these actions of wisdom is the guiding principle of beseeching for rebirth in Pure Land, the Faith and vows are the Right deeds of cultivating the Pure Lane Buddhist doctrine, if we follow this step, rebirthing in Pure Land is not a hard thing.

The master power (strength) of Relying on the name of Buddha is Faith: Believing birth and death, rebirth and redeath, Believing lives are impermanent, Believing the flow of transmigrations are dangerous and trouble, Believing to take very long time for getting out of the evil paths or destinies (animals, pretas, and purgatory), Believing Buddha’s words are true, Believing there is a West Pure Land, Believing rebirth in Pure Land if we have Faith and Vows, Believing when rebirth will be in the position from which there is no falling away, Believing becoming Buddha in a whole lifetime, and Believing all things ( anything small or great, visible or invisible, real or unreal) are all from mind only (the theory that the only reality is mental, that of the mind).

Believing that there is Western Utmost Joy World and Amitabha Buddha. The Deep Faith of Buddhist doctrine is Right Faith. The sutra says:{The Faith is the mother of the beginning of right doctrine and all meritorious virtues, it supports and cultivates all good roots}, it is called the root of Faith, it is power, it is strength, it is good causation, it also is the seed of Bodhi. But for those beginners, [who have doubting heart, heterodox views (not recognizing the doctrine of moral karma), inertia, force of habit (the uprising or recurrence of thoughts, passions, or delusions after the passion or delusion has itself been overcome, the remainder or remaining influence of illusion)], who will meet the real when getting rid of the doubting heart, who will meet the Right when getting rid of the heterodox views, this way will build the Faith and Vows, overcome the inertia, the devotion will follow, destroy the force of habit, then will free from evil and defilement, if we can build the Faith like this, then soon we will start out the mind of Bodhi, once the mind of Bodhi is built, then reaching the Buddha-hood is not far away. A sastra ascribed to Nagarjuna on the greater Prajna-paramita sutra says:{One who can get into the Dharma because of pure and clean Faith in one’s mind, one who cannot get into the Dharma becsuse of no Faith in one’s mind}.

Hank Fu

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