Whether a layperson or a monastic, we need to respect those who are older than we
are and to exist harmoniously with those around us. We are to endure what others
cannot and practice what others cannot achieve. We should do all we can on behalf
of others and help them to be good. When sitting quietly, we would do well to reflect
on our own faults. When talking with friends do not discuss the rights and wrongs
In our every action, from dawn to dusk and dusk to dawn, mindfully chant the Buddha’s
name. When chanting, whether aloud or silently, do not give rise to wandering thoughts.
If wandering thoughts arise, immediately dismiss them. Constantly maintain a modest
and regretful heart. Even if we have upheld true cultivation, we still need to feel
that our practice is shallow and never boast. We should mind our own business and
not the business of others. We should see only the good examples of others instead
of their shortcomings. We would do well to see ourselves as ordinary and everyone
else as bodhisattvas.
If we can cultivate according to these teachings, we are sure to reach the Western
Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss.
Being Attached to Set Forms of Practice
You may recite the Buddha's name sitting, standing, kneeling, or circumambulating
the altar, etc. but you should not be attached to any set ways.
If you become attached to a fixed position, your body may tire easily and your mind
may find it difficult to merge with the Mind of the Buddhas. To reap benefits, you
should make allowances for your health or habits and skillfully select the practice
that fits your circumstances.
Traditionally, Pure Land practitioners circumambulate the altar at the beginning
of a Buddha Recitation session. then sit down, and, finally, kneel. However, if you
feel tired when circumambulation or kneeling, you should sit down and recite. If
you become drowsy while seated, you can circumambulate the altar or recite standing
up, waiting for the drowsiness to go away before sitting down again. When reciting,
it is better to determine the length of the session with a clock, rather than fingering
a rosary, as doing so may make it difficult to focus the mind and keep it empty and
Mistaking a Thief for a Son
Greed, anger, and delusion are afflictions common to everyone. However, if you are
aware that they are diseases, their power should not be overwhelming. They are like
thieves who have broken into the house. If the owner mistakes them for members of
the household, all the valuables in the house will be stolen. If, on the other hand,
he recognizes the thieves as such and immediately chases them away, his valuables
will be safeguarded and he will be at peace. In this connection, the ancients have
Fear not the early arising of thoughts [greed, anger, delusion, etc.]; fear only
the late awareness of them as such.
When greed, anger, and delusion arise, as long as you recognize them for what they
are, these thoughts will immediately be destroyed. However, if you take them for
the true master of your household, it is no different from mistaking a thief for
your son. How can your riches not be squandered and lost.
If You Want Melons, You Need to Plant Melon Seeds
When ordinary beings meet with disaster, if they do not resent the heavens, they
blame their fellow beings. Very few think of repaying their karma and developing
a mind of repentance and reform. You should know that “if you plant melons, you reap
melons; if you plant beans, you reap beans.” This is the natural course of events.
Having sown thorns, do not expect, when the harvest comes, to have wheat and rice.
If those who create evil still enjoy blessings, it is because in previous lifetimes
they amassed great blessings; if not for their transgressions, their blessings would
have been much greater.
It is as if a scion of a wealthy family were to lead a dissipated life, lusting and
gambling, squandering money like so much dirt without suffering hunger and cold immediately
because of his great fortune. Yet, if he were to continue in this manner day in and
day out, even with a family estate in the millions, one day he would surely lose
all his property and suffer a premature death.
If those who perform wholesome deeds customarily meet with misfortune, it is because
they planted the seeds of transgression deeply in past lifetimes. If not for their
good deeds, their misfortunes would have been much worse.
Effective Buddha-name Chanting Method
When one feels it is difficult to concentrate while chanting, one should first collect
one’s wandering thoughts and chant sincerely with serious effort. Then one’s mind
will be unified. To unify one’s mind, one must first be sincere and serious. If sincerity
and seriousness are lacking, it is not possible for one to collect one’s wandering
thoughts. If one is sincere and serious, but the wandering thoughts persist, one
should attentively listen to one’s own chanting.
Whether the chants are silent or voiced, every chant must arise from one’s mind.
The voice exits one’s mouth and enters one’s ears.
Giving rise to the Buddha-name clearly with one’s mind, chanting it clearly with
one’s mouth, and hearing it clearly with one’s ears will help unify one’s mind and
the wandering thoughts will naturally stop. If one’s mind is still flooded with wandering
thoughts, then one should use the ten-chant-and-count method, and devote all one’s
energy to chanting the Buddha-name. Even if the wandering thoughts still exist, they
will not be able to function.
This is the ultimate method to unify one’s mind and one’s chant.
Those who expounded the Pure Land school in the past did not mention this method
because their faculties were considered sharp enough and they were able to unify
their minds without it.
I had problems collecting and controlling my wandering thoughts and then realized
the effectiveness of this method. I have used it many times and never failed. I am
not sharing this information lightly or by imagination. I want to share this method
with everyone as well as those in future generations so that anyone who practices
this method can successfully attain rebirth in the Pure Land.
What is the ten-chant-and-count method?
When chanting, one chants ten times in a single breath. Every chant must be clear,
and one must count and remember where one is and stop at the tenth chant. One then
repeats the process, but never counts to the twentieth or the thirtieth chant. One
must count and remember while chanting, and not rely on moving the chanting beads.
Counting and remembering must be in one’s mind.
If it is difficult to complete ten chants in one breath, one can chant for two breaths.
The first breath is for the first five chants, the second breath for the remaining
five chants. If two-breath chanting is still difficult, one can break the ten chants
into three breaths. The first through the third, the fourth through the sixth, and
the seventh through the tenth chants complete in three breaths.
If one can chant clearly, count and remember the chants clearly, and hear one’s own
chants clearly, wandering thoughts will have no place to step in. Over time, the
state of one-mind undisturbed can be attained naturally.
Belief and Vow
If one wants to quickly be free of the suffering in samsara, there is no method better
than mindfully chanting the Buddha-name and seeking rebirth in the Land of Ultimate
f one wants to be absolutely certain of attaining rebirth in the Land of Ultimate
Bliss, it is best for one to be led by belief and compelled forward by vow.
When one’s belief is firm and vow is earnest, even if one chants the Buddha-name
with a scattered mind, one will surely be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. When
one’s belief is not sincere and vow is not resolute, even if one chants with One
Mind Undisturbed, one still will not be able to be reborn in the Land of Ultimate
What is belief? First, one believes in the power of the vows of Amitabha Buddha.
Second, one believes in the teachings of Sakyamuni Buddha. Third, one believes in
the extolment by all the Buddhas in the six directions.
When people of integrity in this world do not speak any untruthful words, how would
Amitabha Buddha, Sakyamuni Buddha, and all the Buddhas in the six directions do so?
If one does not believe these Buddhas’ words, one truly cannot be saved.
What is vow? At all times, one feels aversion to the suffering of the cycle of birth
and death in the Saha world and believes and yearns for the Bodhi bliss in the Western
When one does a deed, if it is a good one, then one dedicates the merit to rebirth
in the Western Pure Land; if it is a bad one, then one repents and vows to be reborn
in the Western Pure Land. One has no other aspirations. This is vow.
When one has both belief and vow, mindfully chanting the Buddha-name to attain rebirth
[in the Western Pure Land] is the main practice, and correcting wrongdoings and cultivating
good deeds is the auxiliary practice.