Monkey-style Buddha-recitation vs. Cat-style Buddha-recitation
There was a metaphor explaining the difference between two types of Buddha-recitation: the “monkey-style” and the “cat-style.”
Ancient wise men were good at making metaphors so we can easily understand: Sutras are too abstruse, while metaphors are clever. So, what is the “monkey-style Buddha-recitation”?
An old monkey carries a little monkey jumping from one tree to another. The little one doesn’t have the ability to jump or leap, so he needs help from the old monkey, and he holds her tightly. When the old monkey swings to another tree, the little one is there as well. However, if the little monkey lets go of the old monkey when she swings, he will fall down. The little monkey’s arrival at the other tree depends entirely on the old monkey, and he must hold her very tight; otherwise, he would fall off. This is the so-called “monkey-style.”
Some people might say: “I for sure depend on Amitabha Buddha to deliver me to the Pure Land. But I have to hold the six-character name tightly! Otherwise, I will fall!” Hence, they recite the Buddha-name day and night. It is one way of Buddha-recitation. These reciters will undoubtedly be reborn in the Pure Land if they hold the name tightly.
The other type of Buddha-recitation is the “cat-style.”
Observant people know that when an old cat carries a kitty, she picks it up by the back of its neck. The kitty’s four paws thus stretch out and relax. It cannot grab anything but it does not need to because the old cat holds it tightly, carrying it from one place to another. The little kitten moves without any effort; the old cat does all the work: embracing all, forsaking none. That is the “cat-style Buddha-recitation.”
The Eighteenth vow is about the complete dependence on Amitabha Buddha’s power; he embraces reciters and never forsakes them.
(Translated by Chih-Yi Gabriela Lin;
edited by the Pure Land School Translation Team)
Faith in, and acceptance of, Amitabha’s deliverance
Single-minded recitation of Amitabha’s name
Aspiration to rebirth in Amitabha’s Pure Land
Comprehensive deliverance of all sentient beings