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 Practice in Amitabha-Recitation

To recite Amitabha’s name single-mindedly and exclusively, without variation in every single thought, whether walking, standing, sitting or lying down, whether for long or short periods – that is the karma of assurance. It is so because it accords with Amitabha Buddha’s vow. (by Master Shandao)

Name-recitation is the practice specified in Amitabha’s Fundamental Vow. So,when the patriarchs mention Amitabha’s Fundamental Vow, they speak of Amitabha-recitation, because it complies with the teaching given by Shakyamuni in the sutras, and transmitted by the patriarchs. For those reasons, we do not practice any other forms of Buddha invocations; but,
Amitabha-recitation only.
Amitabha-recitation is a form of Buddha invocation because it is vocal, and written in symbols and words. It is the general impression that the other three kinds of Buddha invocation are more superior in level, and name-recitation is comparatively inferior. Actually, that is not the case. It is extremely simple and most ordinary; but, it is also most profound.This name accommodates all beings of superior, medium and inferior virtuous roots, and embraces people of lower and higher aptitudes.

How should practitioners of Amitabha-recitation live their lives? Amitabha-recitation should become the focus of our lives. Thus we can say, Amitabha-recitation is our lives and our lives are Amitabha-recitation. Let our lives always be filled with Amitabha through our recitations.
So, how do we develop this habit? One sentence of five words (ten Chinese characters) - “Every day starts with Amitabha-recitation"

For a practitioner of Amitabha-recitation who truly takes refuge in Namo Amitabha, his aspiration is very earnest; but, what about his mind of taking refuge? He must totally rely on Amitabha Buddha with his whole body and mind, and even his life.
His life is Amitabha’s life, and Amitabha’s life is his life. Amitabha-recitation permeates all he does in his life. As a person of Amitabha-recitation, he is one entity with Amitabha Buddha. They are inseparable in terms of his aptitude [acceptance for rebirth] and Amitabha’s teachings. Thus, he is truly a practitioner of Amitabha-recitation.
On our side, it is said ‘to recite and recite without forsaking’; on Amitabha’s side, it is said ‘to embrace without forsaking’. It is similar to a person who is nearly drowned at sea. Suddenly he is put on a boat. This time he will not leave the boat, and the boat will not abandon him as it sails.

Start each new day with Amitabha-recitation. If a person earnestly wants to leave the cycle of birth and death, and has a deep understanding of the weight of karmic offenses we all carry, he will gratefully rely on Amitabha Buddha, and persistently recite his name.

The serene joy of our teachings comes from the doctrines, and also from Amitabha-recitation.

There are two meanings of ‘continuous recitation without forsaking’ – ‘encouragement with respect to the aptitude of practitioners’ and ‘continuity with respect to the virtues of Amitabha’s teachings (vow power)’.
Continuity with respect to the virtues of Amitabha’s teachings (vow power) – As we take refuge and follow Amitabha’s Fundamental Vow, we should know that none of the 84,000 teachings can save us. Because we cannot master them, there is only one destination left to us – hell. What keeps us away from the burning hell fire, liberates us from reincarnation within the Six Realms, and leads to rebirth in the Pure Land to accomplish Buddhahood ? It is the Name – Namo Amitabha!
Knowing our diminished capabilities, we naturally recite Amitabha’s name without difficulty, because we realize we have no alternative way out. Though we may be proficient in all practices, we know they are insufficient to rescue us from the endless cycle of birth and death. There is only one way in front of us – Amitabha-recitation. Subsequently, we naturally recite Amitabha’s name without hesitation or worries.
It is just like believing we have a lot of money; but, discover all of it is in counterfeit bank notes except one. We naturally use this genuine bank note – Amitabha Buddha. We naturally recite Amitabha’s name. The more earnest our desire for liberation , the more sincerely and diligently we recite this name. It is known as ‘continuity with respect to the virtues of the teachings regarding Amitabha’s vow power.’
Because most sentient beings like to take it easy and not work hard, we don’t want to recite Amitabha’s name at times. Instead we want to read a newspaper or magazine, to watch TV or listen to music, or chat with friends and relatives over the phone, or shopping and hanging out. At these times, we have to encourage ourselves! As Master Honen says, “One who is tired of reciting Amitabha’s name loses immeasurable treasures. One who is courageous in reciting Amitabha’s name realizes boundless enlightenment.”
In this respect, we feel ashamed and encourage ourselves: I have 4 hours a day, how many recitations can I do? It’s good to allow 80% of my time to recite Amitabha’s name. If we don’t fix some time to do it, we shall unconsciously let the time pass away too easily. This is known as ‘encouragement with respect to the aptitude of practitioners.’
‘Encouragement with respect to the aptitude of practitioners’ refers to Our Own encouragement. Some of us may wonder, if we urge ourselves to recite Amitabha’s name so often, is it regarded as ‘self power’ or ‘other power’? It‘s still Entirely ‘Other Power’! Our striving only matters because we know that we are assured of rebirth through Amitabha-recitation. Apart from Amitabha-recitation, you have no other meritorious practices, or other virtues to fulfill your aspiration to rebirth. Though you may have virtues from other practices, you do not dedicate them. This is because we learn that Amitabha-recitation is the ‘definite karma of assured rebirth’ in accord with Amitabha’s 18th vow. With this state of mind, ‘encouragement with respect to the aptitude of practitioners’ is not regarded as ‘self power.’

If we don’t have worldly thoughts during Amitabha-recitation, we feel relaxed and calm, and our temperament will also improve. However, if we still have many scattered thoughts during Amitabha-recitation, we can follow Master Yinguang’s method of ‘counting ten’ during our practice. We can try to recite by 3-3-4, or 5-5 times in one breath. In so doing, we can greatly reduce our miscellaneous thoughts.
In particular, when we recite right after getting up in the morning, it is easier to have our mind relaxed and calm, stable and tranquil. So, try to use the ‘counting ten’ method in the morning to realize tranquility, peace and calmness.

How can we recite Amitabha’s name to reduce illusive and miscellaneous thoughts?
First, be sincere and reverent. Amitabha’s name is active and dynamic, not rigidly black and white, and certainly not an ordinary sound. The Name and Amitabha’s body are one entity.
Though they are two in words, they are actually one. It is similar to our body which consists of eyes, ears, mouth, brain,limbs , etc. As a Buddha, Amitabha possesses the Three Cognitive Powers and the Six Paranormal Powers, hundreds and thousands of dharani, great kindness, compassion, and great wisdom. However, where do all of these powers reside? They are All contained in his Name.
This name consists of Amitabha’s eyes, ears, heart, liver, brain, kindness, compassion, wisdom, paranormal powers, and vow power. So, when we recite his name, we have to be sincere, reverent, and grateful.
If we are sincere and earnest, we will try to be focused and exclusive in our practice. Imagine a child who suffers from a critical illness, or is hurt in a serious car accident. We beg and pray to gods or bodhisattvas for help. At those times, we will definitely be sincere. If we are sincere in praying, we shall not be distracted with other thoughts. We should recite Amitabha’s name with this same frame of mind.
Amitabha is a Buddha, so we should be respectful and reverent to him. Amitabha Buddha delivers us from the sea of birth and death. We live in the burning house of the Three Domains and the sea of suffering in the Six Realms. (Endlessly floating up and sinking down without any possibility of escape) Now, we are finally delivered by Amitabha Buddha; so, we must be grateful for Amitabha sharing his great virtues, and recite his name sincerely and reverently. If we are sincere, our illusive and miscellaneous thoughts will be comparatively less.
Second, listening with a concentrated mind. This means paying attention. If we are attentive, we should have fewer distracted and miscellaneous thoughts. Next, we should listen carefully with our ears, no matter whether we recite aloud, in a low voice, whisper, or within our hearts.
Since we focus on hearing our voice during Amitabha-recitation, we will be less distracted by the surrounding noises. Whoever comes and goes, we do not pay attenion; whatever sounds come and go, we hear without being distracted. It is because we are single-minded and focus attentively. It is known as ‘listening with a concentrated mind’.
Third, ‘counting by ten.’ Whether we recite aloud, in a low voice, whisper, or in our hearts, we count ten at a time. That means, when we recite the first one, we are aware it is the first; when we recite the second time, we are aware it is the second; when we recite the third time, we are aware it is the third; up to ten. Every recitation is clear and distinct. After ten, we start another ten from one. If you find it is difficult to count ten at a time, you can count 3-3-4 adding up to 10. This method is known as ‘counting by ten’.
Counting by ten is regarded as listening with a concentrated mind, while reciting sincerely and reverently. If we can recite Amitabha’s name by counting ten at a time, we have fewer miscellaneous thoughts. Though we may have some, they are reduced and less coarse. If we cannot clearly count up to ten, it means we still have a scattered mind. It is a good idea to use the method of ‘counting by ten,’ whether we have regular time to recite or whether we fix the number of recitations in a day.

How do we recite Amitabha’s name? Is there any standard in recitation? We strive to be ‘always mindful without forsaking.’ We should always be mindful of ‘Namo Amitabha’ , keep reciting with our mouths, and merge Amitabha-recitation with our daily life. As Master Shandao says, “Recite without forsaking, during walking, standing, sitting or lying down.” It should be practiced at any time, in any place, and under various conditions.
Regardless what we do at any time and in any place, we can recite Amitabha’s name. If we come to the Buddhist temple for the sole purpose of reciting Amitabha’s name, it is known as Amitabha-recitation practice with a concentrated mind, because we focus on recitation and do nothing else.
Even though we do other things, as long as we don’t need to think with our brain, we can recite. This is known as Amitabha-recitation with a distracted mind. Thus, when we continuosly recite, we can do it with either a concentrated or distracted mind.

Amitabha-recitation can be practiced with either a concentrated or distracted mind. ‘Concentrated mind’ means - when we have nothing to do in our spare or leisure time, we can focus and concentrate on Amitabha-recitation for half an hour up to three hours, or five thousand or ten thousand times. This is called Amitabha-recitation with a concentrated mind.
We recite with a distracted mind when we need to work. Our eyes see objects and our ears hear sounds, so we cannot be concentrated. Though we are not concentrated, it does not prevent us from reciting Amitabha’s name. We can move our lips in reciting while working. In this way, we can recite Amitabha’s name while walking, sitting, standing and lying, all day long, and under any circumstances
In that way we are always with Amitabha Buddha, and Amitabha Buddha is always with us. We are always together because Amitabha always remembers sentient beings, and sentient beings always remember Amitabha. Amitabha Buddha and sentient beings are in one body, inseparable.

Under normal circumstances, we mainly recite Namo Amitabha. When we practice in the Buddhist hall, we also recite Namo Amitabha. (While sitting or walking) When we sleep, we can just recite Amitabha. Or, if we are very sick, and we cannot recite the six-character Namo Amitabha, we can just recite 4-character Amitabha, or 2-character [e.g. mita], or just one-character [e.g. bha].
At the near end of our life, if we cannot utter any words, we can simply be aware that Amitabha Buddha will come to deliver us. It still works because the six-character name represents Amitabha Buddha himself. ( as do the four-character or two-character name. It is all the same. The only difference is that the six-character name is complete.

There is a special meaning in Amitabha’s six-character name. It represents the oneness of Amitabha Buddha and sentient beings, without duality. Buddha and sentient beings are one entity. Our aptitudes and the teachings of Amitabha are one entity. It also represents the way that Amitabha Buddha dedicates his merit and virtues to us, and accords with Amitabha’s deliverance. We interact and interconnect with each other. The four-character name may lack this significant meaning.
We should mainly recite the six-character version of the Name. However, it does not mean it must be the six-character version. Under certain circumstances, if we cannot recite the six-character name in its complete form, we can change it to the four-character, or two character, or even one character versions. All are acceptable. We are healthy at present and can recite the six-character name, so we should.
Though the four-character name is simplified, it may lead some people unconsciously to self-powered practice. (as they don’t understand the meaning of the six-character name) For instance, they may recite it faster and faster, wishing to pacify their distracted mind, or anticipating the attainment of fruition. In that way, the mind of self-power becomes mixed in their practice.
Conversely, if the practitioner does not involve any self-power in the practice, and wishes to subdue his mind through entirely relying on the power of Amitabha Buddha, that’s just fine. As you see, we can recite in a variety of ways. The most important factor is whether we entirely rely on Amitabha Buddha, and fully entrust in his Fundamental Vow. If we understand this principle, and have faith in it, whatever we recite is correct. However, we normally recite the six-character name.

Normally, we recite Amitabha’s name orally, but when we sleep, we can recite Amitabha’s name by heart. Or, when we are sick or physically weak, if we have difficulty in breathing or opening our mouths, we can remember Amitabha Buddha and be mindful of him. At the near end of our life, if we cannot perform oral recitation because our tongue is almost numb, we can simply recite within our minds.
Maybe a person who hasn’t ever learned Buddhism meets a caring friend, telling him of rebirth through simple Amitabha-recitation at the end of his life. However, he cannot recite orally because his tongue and lips are almost numb. Though he is still conscious, he is near death. Just before his last breath, he doesn’t have enough time to recite “Namo Amituofo”; but, his mind is secure in thinking of Amitabha Buddha at the moment of his last breath. He can be still reborn. It is said in the sutra, “Think upon hearing, securing this thought without confusion.”
Amitabha-recitation throughout one lifetime, short remembrance or recitation in mind, (just a moment before death), is related to long or short duration. It refers to one lifetime or a moment before death. It is also the meaning of ‘even ten times’, as stated in the 18th Vow.

We can apply the ‘Count Ten’ method during Amitabha-recitation. If we recite with the aid of beads, we can move one bead after reciting ten times. We don’t need to recite very fast. If we do, we won’t know whether we recited or thought of other things.
During Amitabha-recitation, we should be relaxed and free. Recite the Name clearly word by word, and move one bead with every ten recitations. We can finish the whole string of beads without noticing the passage of time. In this manner, we will become energized and calm at the same time. It is most suitable for recitation in the Buddhist halls of our school - for people of different ages and genders, for walking, standing, sitting and lying, at the near end of our life or in regular daily life.

We listen to our voice while reciting Amitabha’s name. At the same time, we can count by ten within. In this way, we close our eyes, open our mouths to recite, listen to our own voices with our ears, and count the number within our hearts. This is the meaning of the ‘convergence of all six roots.’
Despite practicing to achieve mental focus, we know that the deliverance of Amitabha’s Fundamental Vow is unconditional. So, it does not mean we must achieve the ‘convergence of the six roots’ in order to have rebirth. Sentient beings will be reborn by the simple recitation of Amitabha’s name. However,when we get the rare chance to meet together and recite Amitabha’s name, if we are single-minded and concentrated isn’t it more joyful?
During single-minded and concentrated recitation while seated, our backs should be straight but not rigid. We should try to be mentally and physically relaxed. Sitting properly means, we don’t have to pay attention to our bodies and we can focus on Amitabha’s name entirely. Then, one recitation after the other, our minds will be in a state of serenity.

Why do I always emphasize Vajra Amitabha-recitation (by moving one’s mouth)? It is because the recitation is compact and tension relieving. So, when practiced slowly, it can be extended for a longer period of time. If our mind power is weak, it can be assisted by our mouths. When we move our mouth in recitation, our mind will follow automatically. If our mouth does not move; but, we just recite within, our mind will be easily distracted by miscellaneous and false thoughts.
If we can have a regular recitation period every morning, or we fix a certain number of times to recite the Name each day, we are sure to accomplish at least those. So, even if we forget for the rest of the day, we need not worry.
For beginners to practice Amitabha-recitation, it’s best to fix a baseline number. Apart from the more formal recitation each morning , we can recite as time allows during the rest of our days. It will become a habit after a period of time.You will remember and recite naturally, and your mouth will move unconsciously.
During concentrated recitation while seated, our backs should be straight but not rigid, with our feet firmly on the ground. Sitting properly allows us to focus fully on our recitations. Then our minds will be in a state of serenity.

Amitabha-recitation using ‘vajra’ form - we only need to move our lips. In that way, we are not easily tired and our breathing is steady. It greatly simplifies our ability to remain focused.
False and miscellaneous thought is an inherited, habitual behavior of ordinary beings. It is very difficult to change it. If we recite within, we may think we maintain our focus, but actually not. Our false and miscellaneous thoughts wander incesantly;but, by keeping our lips moving, we more easily subdue our natral “jumping monkey minds.”

New practitioners of Amitabha-recitation, always crave stimulation in the form of matter, sound, odor, taste, touch, and dharma. These cravings, of course, make it difficult to concentrate on Amitabha’s name. They need some time to develop and nourish new habits, in order to change from novice to skillful.
Since our birth, we are most familiar with greed, hatred and delusion, which foster the Five Desires. What we are not familiar with is the Way of Amitabha-recitation. How do we learn the Way?
In the beginning, we set a number of daily recitations to strive for, perhaps in a 5 hour period. Then we deduct the time to watch TV, read a newspaper, chat with family members, and estimate how many times we can recite ‘Namo Amituofo,’ say 10,000 or 8,000, or 5,000. In doing so, we can gradually change from beginner to ‘skillful.’ We will be happy in reciting and rejoice. After practicing in that way, it will no longer require such a fixed schedule, because it becomes as natural as eating and sleeping.

The aptitude of each individual is different, and the amount of spare time also varies with each individual. Amitabha Buddha does not specify the number of name-recitations required. Hence, the number of name-recitations does not matter.
However, in order to develop the habit of Amitabha-recitation, so that we become more skillful, requires practice. Let Amitabha-recitation become an intrinsic part of our daily lives.
What are we most familiar with? It is the Five Desires (afflictions)! What are we most unfamiliar with? It is Amitabha-recitation! We have to dilute the Five Desires through daily, habitual recitation of Amitabha’s name. That is the meaning of “changing from unskilled to skillful.” Actually, becoming a Buddha is also a matter of “changing from unskilled to skillful.”

As a beginner in the practice of Amitabha-recitation, it is better to have a fixed number of recitations and scheduled sessions.Though Amitabha Buddha does not set any requirement as to the number of recitations for his deliverance. Frequent reciters who practice regularly, are joyful and more easy going in dealing with their daily matters. Those who have deeper faith will generally recite more. The good habits they have developed through daily practice, will permeate their lives.

There are four kinds of name-recitations: recite loudly, recite quietly, whisper with lip movement (known as Vajra form), and recite within the heart. Among these four, recitation by moving the lips is most easily maintained and least tiring.Whispering is moving the lips, so that only you can hear. If we recite quietly, other people can hear. If you recite loudly, you cannot last long. If you recite within the heart, you may easily get lost or distracted. To sustain your practice for a longer period of time, you should recite quietly or whisper. The latter way can be sustained for the longest period of time.
We can recite Amitabha’s name while walking step by step. When we ride on a bus, we can recite with our eyes closed. If we drive, we can recite while driving. Why? It is because this name is very important to us! It is said, “All phenomena are unreal in the world, only Buddha is real.” So, we should not care about other people seeing and judging us.

If we recite Amitabha’s name with only lip movements and whispering, it can be extended easily for longer periods of time and is a great tension reliever. This method is known as Vajra recitation and is the generally preferred one. Why?
It is because if we recite aloud, we may lose our voice. If we recite within the heart, we can be easily distracted. This is because we are used to having habitual afflictions with scattered miscellaneous thoughts. We are not used to reciting Amitabha’s name. If we recite it forcefully, we may have false thoughts most of time.
Though we sit and close our eyes, we are most often day dreaming. To counter that tendency, it is best to practice Vajra Amitabha-recitation. We can recite by moving our lips while: walking, standing, sitting, lying, in any place, and under any circumstance. Let’s just keep moving our mouths to keep Amitabha foremost in our lives! Namo Amitabha!

Usually, when I recite in a Buddhist hall, I don’t follow a melody or a rhythm. It is my experience that: when we recite until a state of tranquility is reached, we will naturally recite one after the other without any high or low pitch, long or short tone.
In addition, it complies with our body conditions. If we recite with long tones, we may easily get out of breath and become easily fatigued. A senior, or a weakened patient cannot recite an extended long tone while lying in bed. So, I think it is best to recite Namo Amituofo in a steady, even tone.
For uniformity in group recitation, we generally recite in the same melody or rhythm. It is particularly good for some beginners who may be happy to recite with a melody, to prevent boredom.
So, reciting with a melody is good for beginners in the practice, and for keeping everybody reciting in unison. However, it merely satisfies our need for entertainment and company.
Actually, part of the reason we feel lonely, is just that need for stimulation.However, experienced Pure Land practitioners generally feel less of those needs and naturally prefer quiet.

When we recite and arrive at a state of serenity, there is almost no rhythm, as it is quiet, calm, and tranquil. The nature of tranquility is silence.
However, in a recitation assembly, we need a rhythm, six characters (syllables) in four beats, so that everyone can recite together.One beat per second (or 1.1 second), and each additional recitation in four seconds (or 4.4 seconds). If reciting solo, it can be accomplished in three beats. You may adjust the speed, and also the manner of recitation – recite aloud, recite within your heart, recite while sitting, recite while walking, or recite while bowing. Be relaxed, and recite clearly, wholeheartedly, and energetically.

If you wish to develop a positive habit, try the Ten Recitation Method for counting. After a few years, you will find your false thoughts have lessened, and you will experience tranquility of the mind. Using the ten recitation method during Amitabha-recitation, your body and mind will become relaxed. If there are no false thoughts in between each of the recitations, you may experience gas, tears, or even hiccups. This occurs because, as your mind quiets, your body reaches a more balanced state. Once you have the feeling of tranquility, your temperament will also change.
How does this happen? When you come across an adverse circumstance, you will not feel ill treated or discontented. It is because you have the feeling of calmness in your mind-consciousness, and have the pure seed stored in your Alaya Consciousness. You will naturally let go easily. Your normally overactive, unfocused brain, and emotions will quiet. When your temperament changes, your personality, behavior and fate will also change.

While reciting Amitabha’s name, we may have many miscellaneous and false thoughts. We recite on one side; but, we have miscellaneous and false thoughts on the other. We become annoyed because focusing our minds seems impossible. What should we do?
Actually, we can tackle it. Let’s sit quietly in the morning and then recite, or use the ‘counting-ten’ method during recitation. We will have fewer and fewer miscellaneous thoughts. We will feel the bliss of relaxation and peace.
If we can manage the ‘counting-ten’ for 2 to 3 times, we will find fewer scattered thoughts in every recitation. Hence, we will become more relaxed and blissful. If we are relaxed and blissful, our temperament and appearance will change in a positive direction. We may even feel joyful during recitation in the morning. In what ways do we change?
You will be more kind to others. You won’t always be calculating and judgemental. You won’t feel unfairly treated, unsatisfied, or blaming, and won’t like to gossip.

There can be differences in the volume of the sound when we recite Amitabha’s name; but, it is more important to note whether we are devoted during recitation. If our mind is very devoted, there will be no sound. Our mind realizes oneness with Amitabha’s and we experience a taste of Buddhahood.

Once we recite the six-character (six-syllable in English) “Namo Amitabha”, Amitabha Buddha will know immediately, and appear instantly upon hearing us. It doesn’t matter what language we use to recite – Standard Chinese, or dialects like Southern Min and Cantonese, Japanese, English, Sanskrit…etc. All of them are expressing full faith in Amitabha Buddha. Because Amitabha is a Buddha, he knows your intent before you recite. The language in which you recite is secondary.

This Name excels in a myriad of virtues. Amitabha Buddha knows even before we utter the words. So, no matter in what language, say English or Japanese, we recite the Name, the effect will be the same.

I always say that there are three kinds of tranquility in the morning – calmness in our spiritual minds, cleanliness in the air, and quietness in the environment. It is the best time to realize the bliss of reciting Amitabha’s name. No requirements as to the period of time – recite more if we have spare time, or less if not. That is why it is best to sit quietly and recite Amitabha’s name early in the morning.

In the morning, our mental spirit is clean and pure. Recitation at such a time is repeated one after the other: “Namo Amitabha, Namo Amitabha……”. If we practice in a seated position, we don’t need to hold beads, or use our voices. We can just recite silently.

Amitabha-recitation in the morning, in a seated position, can rapidly transform and uplift our mental being, disposition, thinking, and temperament. This is because, at this time, our spirit is in the most calm and serene state. Recitation at this time is similar to the reflection of the moon on a frozen pond. The water in the pond is so clear that we can see its bottom. When the moon rises, its reflection and the water are almost one entity.
In the morning, our mind is more calm and clear. When we recite Amitabha’s name one time after another, our karmic offenses will be cleared and our blessings will be enriched. (just like the reflection of the moon on the clear pond) If there are no miscellaneous thoughts during our recitations, our minds will become tranquil and serene. After we finish recitation and leave our seat, all that we see in this world will appear more beautiful.

When we practice Amitabha-recitation in the morning, in a seated position, “watch our nose with our eyes, and watch our mind with our nose”. We recite within our hearts (in silence), without holding beads. If we feel sleepy, we can recite in “vajra” (diamond) form, i.e. just moving our lips while whispering. Nevertheless, we should in principle, recite in our hearts while sitting quietly, because it enhances the Qi circulation in our meridian systems. This improves our physical, mental, and spiritual health.

Apart from sleeping and activities that demand concentration, we can recite Amitabha’s name throughout each day. The number of recitations varies depending on an individual’s circumstances. Purity in mind also varies with each individual. Though people have different circumstances, Amitabha’s deliverance is not greater or less. Once we are reborn in the Land of Bliss, a realm of absolute equality, there is no difference in level at all.

To practice the teaching of Amitabha-recitation is peaceful and joyful, and can be just as natural as eating when you need to eat, or sleeping when you need to sleep. We can recite Amitabha’s name, without forsaking, for the rest of our days.
Amitabha-recitation should be performed in a relaxed and comfortable manner. There’s no need to be rigid. Try to always keep the Name in mind. If you would like to use recitation beads while reciting, you can fix a certain number to recite and keep track of them more easily.

If we overemphasize the technique of reciting Amitabha’s name, we will forget the principle of it. We may be annoyed if we cannot achieve the number of recitations we think are expected, or we may worry whether we can be reborn because of this. This is an incorrect understanding.
Though we may have chosen some particular technique in Amitabha-recitation, it is more important to remember the 18th Vow – assured rebirth through name-recitation. Don’t worry whether you can do it or not! Just go back to the principle of assured rebirth through name-recitation. We do this because name-recitation is the final requiremnt for rebirth. It is the accomplishment of rebirth with recourse to Amitabha’s vow power.

How do we recite Amitabha’s name in line with the Pure Land teachings? Just recite the name in accordance with our individual aptitude and capacity, and recite without forsaking. The practice is adaptable to each individual: some spend more time while others less; some have greater vigor while others slacken; some recite with a more serene mind while others get distracted. It doesn’t matter! Just recite Amitabha’s name the best you can. Eventually, all of us will be reborn equally.

Exclusively recite Namo Amitabha when free time is available. Even in the midst of doing a simple job that doesn’t require concentration, you can recite with a scattered mind. Just do as Master Shandao taught us— “Set our hearts on reciting “Namo Amitabha” without ceasing, while we walk, stand, sit or lie down,”and incorporate Amitabha-recitation into our daily lives.
Make Amitabha-recitation an indispensable part of your life, no matter if you are active or at rest.
Having said that, we should not overexert or compare ourselves with others. Doing so can only make us unhappy. Do you puzzle over and feel vexed if you fail to do these things? How can I recite continuously without a break? How can I find a secluded place for Amitabha-recitation? How can I zealously recite Amitabha’s name? These are totally groundless fears! We have already been assured rebirth in the present lifetime; we have already boarded the ship of Amitabha’s vow ; and we are already saved. What is there to worry about?

Unless retired, most ordinary people have their own family, work, and careers that occupy most of their time. Among these activities, we can also recite Amitabha’s name with a scattered mind (if our job allows us not to use our brains all the time.) When we have a break at work or come home after work, free time is available for us to recite the name. Recitation at these times can be done with a concentrated mind.
We are ordinary beings not saints. We naturally like to watch TV, listen to music, and read newspapers or books. Nevertheless, we can make some adjustments. If a person is really earnest in aspiring to be reborn [in the Land of Bliss], he will gradually gain insight into the mundane world and let go of some of those activities. In his mind and in his life, he will give top priority to Amitabha-recitation.
It doesn’t matter if the person cannot change, since everyone has different aptitudes and capacities. Amitabha will equally deliver them from samsara, as long as they keep reciting his name without ceasing. An Amitabha reciter, no matter how vigorous his practice, is delivered by Amitabha’s power, not by his vigorous practice. Those who are relatively less disciplined need not worry. Whether we recite one time or ten times, deliverance is about Amitabha’s Power, not our’s!

There are two forms of Amitabha-recitation: “concentrated” recitation and “distracted” recitation. Reciting at Buddhist halls or at home in a focused manner is known as “concentrated” Amitabha-recitation. Reciting while walking, standing, sitting, lying down, reciting randomly in various circumstances, or reciting during work are known as “distracted” Amitabha-recitation.
As far as our Pure Land teaching is concerned, it doesn’t matter whether we recite in concentrated or distracted manner. However, reciting in a concentrated way will help us experience a calm and tranquil mind. With respect to rebirth, if you feel calmness and tranquility in your mind, or if you recite the name with fewer miscellaneous thoughts, your rebirth in general, will be smoother. You may have less suffering from illness. You may even have foreknowledge of when you will be reborn.
However, the karma of each person is not the same; so, these phenomena cannot be expected in all cases. The differences in the way of individual rebirth exist only in the human world.
Once arriving in the Pure Land, the differences will disappear. Once there, we are all “the Tathagata’s lotus flowers”, all reborn as “the manifestation of Perfect Enlightenment”.
In conclusion, the way of Amitabha-recitation is different in accordance with the aptitude and capacity of each individual. However, if you want to foreknow the time of rebirth, you must bear in mind Amitabha’s name, all the time and under all circumstances. The best practice is to schedule a fixed time every day for communion with Amitabha Buddha through name-recitation. This may open your consciousness to his response, with the foreknowledge of your date of rebirth.

Reciters usually recite Amitabha’s name in accordance with their own aptitude and capacity. The degree of earnestness and the amount of Amitabha-recitation, however, will have an influence on some phenomena related to the Buddha’s adhisthāna (Sanskrit for blessing, empowerment, or spiritual support). Notwithstanding these differences, rebirth is assured.
Having said that, we can see that the heart of those who always recite Amitabha’s name is more humble, soft, kind, and considerate. They are also relatively less stubborn, more forgiving, and less greedy. They are more likely to keep their bodies away from physical suffering caused by illness, their mind away from attachment to the mundane world, and their consciousness away from confusion and distortion. In general, they are more able to predict their date of rebirth.

All sentient beings think with their brain. As they have brains, they will certainly have false and miscellaneous thoughts, if their minds are not constantly focused on the Buddha. Hence, all of their thoughts are karma. The Ksitigarbha Sutra says, “For beings dwelling in Jambudvipa [our world system], what they commence and what they think are nothing but karma, and nothing but offenses.” If we understand this point, we should focus our minds on reciting Namo Amitabha as often as we can.
A Buddhist should always contemplate his own mind intelligently. When he has a thought pop up in his mind, he should be able to observe it and let it go. However, if we do not have the ability to release our thoughts, we should recite Namo Amitabha instead. In this way, the false and miscellaneous thoughts can be dispelled by the correct thought of Amitabha-recitation.

Generally, there are four kinds of Amitabha invocation: invocation in real form, contemplative invocation (or meditative invocation), invocation by visualization, and oral invocation of the name (or name-recitation). These four can be grouped under two categories: invocation with no form and invocation with form.
Amitabha invocation with no form refers to invocation in real form, which means no physical form, no language, no scripture, no symbol, and no sound. It cannot be described verbally or perceived in terms of images, because the real form is the dharma body, which can only be perceived by buddhas. That is why we don’t talk about Amitabha invocation with no form.
Moreover, if the practitioner has not achieved realization of True Suchness (or Tathagata in Sanskrit), the real form, and the truth of foremost emptiness, he is merely thinking about Buddha recollection and Buddha invocation with the mind, not practicing Amitabha invocation in the real form.
By studying the Pure Land teachings, we learn that Amitabha possesses infinite inconceivable meritorious virtues. We also know that all of these meritorious virtues are contained in his Name. This creates the saying: “The Name is the Body”. Therefore, our recitation of Amitabha’s name awakens us to our union with him. Meanwhile the name of Amitabha is also a name of light; so, when we recite his Name, we are embraced by his light. It is therefore said: “the aptitude of sentient beings is at one with the teaching of Amitabha.”

Amitabha-recollection and Amitabha-recitation, no matter if it is vocal recitation or silent recitation ( within the heart), are tied with Amitabha’s name and deliverance. Amitabha-recitation, however, is the more common practice. A parrot, an infant, a slow witted person, or a person close to death, may not understand the meaning of the name; but, can still be benefitted by just reciting it vocally. They can be safe from jeopardy, be rich in blessings, have a long life, and attain rebirth. All of these are the result of vocal Amitabha-recitation; whereas, silent recitation does not yield these expedient benefits.

Each person should recite the Name in accordance with his aptitude. There are no restrictive conditions, nor specified requirements. If he is a monastic, recite it as a monastic; if he is a householder, recite it as a householder. If his character is relatively gentle and non-contentious, he can recite in such a manner. If his character is relatively stubborn with an inquisitive mind, or if he is loaded with heavy afflictions, or filled with false thoughts in the course of Amitabha-recitation, it doesn’t matter. It is all right as long as he continues reciting the Buddha’s name.
Humans are naturally born with differences in gender and looks. Although we have these differences, we are the same in receiving all of the benefits of Amitabha’s name. (as long as we exclusively recite it) This is because the name is the crystallization of all virtues of all practices, and has the function of taking us to the Land of Bliss.
In other words, this Name can eradicate all of our karmic obstructions, enrich our meritorious blessings, and naturally lead us to the realm of nirvana in the Land of Bliss at the end of our life.

Having false thoughts during Amitabha-recitation is normal and natural, it is totally not related to our rebirth.

Our daily activities involve walking, standing, sitting, and lying. When Master Shandao says, “to recite without forsaking”, he refers to recitation according to an individual’s aptitude and conditions. This means disregarding whether one is walking, standing, sitting, or lying, no matter how long one has spent in reciting the Name. Just recite whenever and wherever he can.
As long as he knows that one should recite Amitabha’s name exclusively and single-mindedly without interruption, all of his practice will then focus on Amitabha-recitation, and his mood will always be ready for it. He will fully spend his time in reciting this Name whenever he thinks of it.

How do we sustain our practices in daily living? For the monastic, they have already renounced the mundane world and given up secular jobs in order to focus their minds on cultivation of Buddhahood. Hence, they should have more time to practice Amitabha-recitation. Apart from their own practice, and teaching others to practice according to this dharma school, their daily activity is nothing other than recitation of Amitabha’s name.

What is meant by “the right conduct of Amitabha-recitation is without right conduct”? It is spoken in terms of the root cause and in principle. It means that when we recite this six character name, just plainly recite it—there are no restrictions, no rules, and no requirements. It doesn’t matter whether our mind is pure or not, what we are doing, where we are, at what time, or with what status-quo.
It is just as Master Shandao says, “To single-mindedly and exclusively recite Amitabha’s name, without forsaking, while walking, standing, sitting, and lying, regardless whether the time spent in practice is long or short.” We can recite under any circumstance while walking, standing, sitting, and lying. It doesn’t matter if we recite with a concentrated or distracted mind, or whether we recite aloud or by murmuring, by moving our lips or within our hearts.

Amitabha-recitation is not to contemplate the brilliant appearance of the Buddha in the form of light, and not to perceive the highest realm of the Buddha. We just exclusively recite Amitabha’s name. Name-recitation can be carried out under any circumstances.(regardless of where we are, at what time, or whatever we are doing). It is simple, with no taboos at all. Even if you are not physically perfect, it still counts whether you recite only 4 vowels, one vowel, or even just have the intention to recite. So, there is no one who cannot do it.
However, if Amitabha-recitation must be accompanied by: sutra recitation, sitting meditation, repentance, interpretation of profound Buddhist doctrines, complete and perfect fulfillment in the Three Studies, or vast cultivation of the Six Paramitas, it is no longer the Easy Path that any of us can practice.

We don’t need to recite Amitabha’s name in a special way. We always have thoughts in our mind; so, we can just switch them to Amitabha-recitation. After a while, we will be fond of reciting because, as we become more consistent with it, we will have fewer miscellaneous thoughts and afflictions. Moreover, we no longer care as much about the trivial matters around us, and our work will go smoother as well. So, there is no need to set a specific time to recite Amitabha’s name. We recite as we want. We can recite while we are doing any work, at any time, and in any place. This is the meaning of “recite even ten times”.

Is there any difficulty in Amitabha-recitation? No, none at all! Sentient beings in the ten directions can simply recite with their present aptitudes. If you are a monastic, you recite as a monastic; if you are a householder, you recite as a householder. Whether you are a man or woman, wise or unwise, knowledgeable or not, pure in mind or not, just keep your own aptitude, and your own mood in reciting this name – “Namo Amituofo”. Nothing is required other than that. Isn’t it easy?
We each have a mouth to speak, and we are only being asked to open our mouth and start to say, “Namo Amituofo, Namo Amituofo…” We are also able to think; so, let’s start to think “Namo Amituofo, Namo Amituofo.”
It is a simple change in mind. As long as you have the intention, you can recite within your capacity and time allowed. It’s All right!

As we exclusively and single-mindedly recite Amitabha’s name, we gain unsurpassed merits and virtues, regardless of the number of recitations. What is meant by reciting a few or a lot? Our virtuous roots and aptitudes are different. Some people may recite more if they have more time, some people less. Some people recite for the same period of time; but, the degree of intensity and exclusivity is different.
As far as merits and virtues are concerned, you receive the same amount for a few or many recitations. What matters are Amitabha’s merits and virtues, not our effort or proficiency in practice. It is just like a Mani pearl (auspicious pearl), each pearl is auspicious.
The so-called Mani pearl is an auspicious pearl that can create gold or silver as you wish. Therefore, if you have two, one hundred, or two hundred Mani pearls, it will yield the same amount of gold or silver. You will not gain more if you have one pearl more; you will not lose anything if you have one less.
This is because Amitabha-recitation transcends the meditative and non-meditative practices; it also transcends the number of recitations (a few or many). Every single recitation contains inconceivable and unsurpassed merits and virtues.

An Amitabha-reciter should not cravenly cling to life or be scared of death; but, trust Amitabha Buddha to arrange everything. We recite “Namo Amituofo” when we are in good health and robust; we also recite “Namo Amituofo” when we are physically weak, tired and fatigued. We are always surrounded and protected by Amitabha’s infinite light.

Through Amitabha-recitation, you can only gain and never lose. There are no taboos against it at all. Anyone can recite in any place, at any time, while doing anything. So, as you see, you can recite, and should recite Amitabha’s Name, and let yourself become an Amitabha reciter.

Extract from the Accounts of Amitaba recitation (1):
There was an ironsmith called Huang Datie. He recited Amitabha’s name while forging iron. As he was heating and hammering the metal by the side of the furnace, he should have felt hot and fatigued. However, since he recited while forging, he took no notice of the heat and weariness, because he was always mindful of the Buddha.
As you see, we can practice Amitabha-recitation whenever there is a will. The most convenient way of reciting is moving our lips. Apart from moving lips, we can sit quietly, and recite the Buddha’s name within our minds. It is because “all are created by mere mind, and are manifested by mere consciousness”.
If a person is mindful in Amitabha-recitation, he will express his will in words, and show it in behavior. If Amitabha-recitation and rebirth are important to him, he will naturally recite Amitabha’s name, except when his mind is busy with other mental work. However, once he finishes the mental work, his mind will naturally return to Amitabha-recitation.

The most fortunate and blessed thing in one’s final life is being a silent to-be-reborn person. To become a silent to-be-reborn person, an Amitabha reciter does not take part in any arguments. What do we mean by “Amitabha-recitation with no argument”? Such a practitioner no longer needs to debate about theories and knowledge. He does not wish to argue with others about the merits or deficiencies of their theories, and the good or poor quality of their knowledge. Therefore, Amitabha-recitation with no argument means, reciting Amitabha’s name honestly and simple-mindedly.
Being an honest and simple-minded Amitabha reciter, one should not argue with others. It doesn’t matter whether it’s within our minds or externally with words. Do not gossip about trivial or interpersonal matters. Do not dispute such issues as happiness and suffering, fortune and misfortune, or honor and disgrace. Do not show off deliberately, or behave in a conceited manner.
They recite “Namo Amituofo” under any circumstances: when praised, recite Namo Amituofo; when treated with disdain, also recite Namo Amituofo. Always bear Namo Amituofo in mind. Apart from Namo Amituofo, they give no thought to any other spiritual issues or practices. This is “Amitabha-recitation with no-argument”, and also truly “Amitabha-recitation in an honest and straightforward manner”.

A silent Amitabha-reciter is an honest and a no-argument Amitabha reciter. “Honest and no argument Amitabha-recitation” means: no theoretical or intellectual concepts, no constant wasted speech, no gossip, not caring about being praised, teased, slandered, happy, sad, fortunate or unfortunate, and not like showing off.
They do not advocate individualism or to be pretentious. They perform their own moral duties and Amitabha-recitation with due diligence, like ignorant ordinary people. They always recite Amitabha’s name, whether they are occupied or at leisure. They do what they ought to do, and help others without being noticed.
These types of Amitabha reciters usually know when they will be reborn in advance, and they can be reborn smoothly and peacefully in the Land of Bliss.

We should consider ourselves uneducated ignorant people, not knowing what is right or wrong. The fact is, we really are like this! For that reason, we don’t argue or dispute. Reciting Amitabha’s name in this way is being honest in Amitabha-recitation.
I am competent at nothing, and inferior to you in all aspects. I am a person with manifold vexations. What I can do is behave humbly and keep reciting Amitabha’s name scrupulously. Reciting Amitabha’s name in this way is being honest in Amitabha-recitation.

In addition to making Amitabha-recitation the way we begin each day, we can also make ourselves available for recitation at other times. (in a seated position, while in motion, while prostrating, and as part of our entire lives)

Among the 84,000 kinds of teachings, invocation to the Buddha by name-recitation is the easiest one to practice, and the most rewarding in terms of merits and virtues. Name-recitation is better than silent invocation within the mind.
This is because Buddha invocation within the mind is not easily practiced by all, while vocal name-recitation can be. At the time near the end of life, it is difficult for one to invoke Amitabha Buddha only within his mind, when he is fearful and his mind may be clouded. Name-recitation with the voice, on the other hand, can eliminate his heavy karmic offenses of the past 8 billion eons that cause his endless birth-and-death. Does this mean that we can only recite the name vocally and cannot invoke Amitabha within the mind? Definitely not. It is because that person belongs to the lowest level and he is close to the end of his life. In our case, we can recite orally in our daily life. When tired, switch to silent recitation within the mind.

No matter whether we recite aloud, in low voice, with moving the lips (known as ‘diamond’ recitation), or within our hearts, Amitabha can definitely hear it. It is because Amitabha is a Buddha, with all six paranormal powers. No matter whether we recite with a focused mind or distracted, with the sincere mind or not, Amitabha Buddha can always hear it. In fact, even when our first intention to recite is formed, Amitabha Buddha already knows.
It is similar to a transmitter. When we have a thought in mind or speak, it will disperse to the entire universe. When we fix our mind and enter a meditative state, we can receive mind waves of any frequency in the universe. Ordinary beings can do it, so why can’t Amitabha Buddha?

It is normal that we have many false miscellaneous thoughts fluttering about in our minds when we try to focus on Amitabha-recitation. As we are ordinary beings, we are full of afflictions. These false and miscellaneous thoughts are actually the substance (noumenon) of the mind of ordinary beings.
This substance exists in our daily mental activities. We are so used to this state of “monkey mind”that we accept it as our norm. Only when we recite Amitabha’s name, particularly in an upright seated position and in a state of relative mental calm, can we then see our original appearance—many false and miscellaneous thoughts jumping endlessly about.
During Amitabha-recitation, if we have false thoughts – thinking of something other than our recitation, don’t worry! We are exactly the kind of sentient beings Amitabha Buddha vows to deliver.

There are three kinds of Amitabha-recitation – Amitabha-recitation by self-power, combined power of oneself and the Buddha, commonly known as Amitabha-recitation by dual-power, and Amitabha-recitation by pristine other-power.
Amitabha-recitation by self-power – treating “Namo Amitabha” same as other virtues, and putting “Namo Amitabha” on an equal footing with other meritorious virtues like pilgrimage, repentance service, giving, holding precepts, forgivingness, vigor, meditation and wisdom, or with filial piety to parents, attending on teachers and seniors, and cultivating virtuous practices. They recite Amitabha’s name with such a kind of mentality and perform other virtuous deeds as well, and then dedicate them for rebirth in the Land of Bliss.
Because they do not understand that the great name represents a myriad of virtues, they underestimate the value of this Buddha’s name, and equate it to values of other meritorious virtues. With this attitude, a person recites Amitabha’s name while performing other virtuous practices. This is called Amitabha-recitation by self-power.
Some other people who have already understood the existence of “self-power” within “other-power” still think that they should recite the Name to a profound level of proficiency, or should be able to subdue all false thought—either achieving one-pointedness in law or one-pointedness in matter; either cutting off the delusion of views and afflictions or reaching a state of non-duality. They believe that only with such abilities they will have the right mindfulness at the time near to the end-of-life, and hence have a better chance for rebirth.
If a person recites the Name with such a concept, he is still having a “self-power” mentality. This is known as “self-power within the other-power”.

Will our rebirth be affected if we sentient beings recite Amitabha’s name with a mixed and confused mind? No, it will not, not even a bit! We are ordinary beings by origin. By definition, the mind of ordinary being is full of greed, hatred, delusion, arrogance and doubt, as well as having false and miscellaneous thoughts. Those are the characteristics of ordinary beings. Otherwise, we would not be reborn in this human realm—the Land of Saha.
If we accomplished the meditative virtues, we would have been reborn in the Form Heaven; if we achieved higher meditative virtues, then reborn in the higher Formless Heaven. Because our greed, hatred, and delusion flourish vibrantly and seriously, we are bound to be reborn in the human realm. There is nothing changed in terms of our greed, hatred, and delusion even though we start cultivating ourselves from one year old to one hundred year old. False and miscellaneous thoughts remain unchanged.
So, we need to understand that we get nothing in the practice of the Three Meritorious Deeds, not even the worldly merits, not to mention the merits of precepts and the merits of bodhisattva practices.
Under such a circumstance, we recite Amitabha’s name in parallel with greed, hatred and delusion, as well as with false and miscellaneous thoughts. Although false and miscellaneous thoughts exist in every recitation, it does not hinder us in our rebirth.
Nevertheless, we can use the method of “counting from one to ten” in order to let us recite Amitabha’s Name in a serene and tranquil manner. By counting the numbers of our recitation, our mind can be more concentrated and focused. When our mind is focused, we will be calmer and quieter. Having said that, tiny false and miscellaneous thoughts may continue popping up. It doesn’t mean that when this method is used, our false and miscellaneous thoughts will totally disappear during Amitabha-recitation.

We should be joyful for receiving Amitabha’s deliverance, and should not be afflicted with the popping up of false and miscellaneous thoughts during Amitabha-recitation. Neither should we deliberately set a high number for Amitabha-recitation that we would be vexed if the target is not reached.
If we find false and miscellaneous thoughts during Amitabha-recitation, we should remind ourselves that exactly we are the prioritized group of Amitabha’s deliverance. In other words, we are the proper target group of Amitabha’s deliverance. Above all, no matter under any circumstance, we should be joyful for the receiving Amitabha’s deliverance. Having said that, we should not be slackened in Amitabha-recitation because of this.

All of us are ordinary beings with heavy karmic obstructions. Although we recite Amitabha’s name, our heart of Amitabha-recitation is tiny, as small as a white path of 4 to 5 inches wide, while our mind of greed, hatred, and false thoughts is vast, just like the boundless sea.
Nevertheless, we should always remind ourselves about this and reflect on our own mind, so that we will naturally feel remorse all the time, and soften our heart. Moreover, we will also grow aware that only by the grace [of the Buddha] we can attain Amitabha’s deliverance in the present life, and be liberated from reincarnations within the Six Paths.

If we can recite every Amitabha's name clearly one after the other, just do it in this manner. However, if we cannot keep [our mind] serene [in reciting] at this moment, we can recite under such a circumstance too. In other words, whether our mind is serene or not, we can still be embraced by Amitabha without forsaking, as long as we recite his name. Hence, we can feel relieved in name-recitation under different states of mind.
Of course, since we have been reciting Amitabha’s name, we should try our best to recite with a serene mind. However, even we cannot reach the state of serenity during recitation, we don’t need to worry, or feel uneasy.
Some people emphasize on Amitabha-recitation with a fixed mind because they do not understand the aforesaid principle. In their mind, they will not feel relieved until they reach the state of a fixed mind during Amitabha-recitation. If they cannot fix their mind, they will feel uneasy. It is a different mindset.

Amitabha-reciters who learn the Pure Land teaching should start everything with Amitabha-recitation. Let’s commence Amitabha-recitation on the New Year Day of each year. Morning is the time for planning our daily work. So, let’s start the day with Amitabha-recitation in the morning, after which we have our breakfast and go to work, dealing with numerous affairs of the day.
As we wish to clear all karmic obstructions and gain more blessings and wisdom during this day and this year, we start with Amitabha-recitation, having Amitabha Buddha with us all the time. At this moment, “I am not myself anymore but Amitabha”. At the same time, “Amitabha ascends and I (my ego) descend”, which means our perception diminishes and even becomes extinct, leaving Amitabha’s perception only.

It is important for us to focus our mind on Amitabha-recitation only and set asides all other matters. Then, why do we talk about the teaching? It is because we need to steer our mind to constant recitation of “Namo Amituofo, Namo Amituofo…”. For ordinary beings like us, it is not easy to do so. Because ordinary beings are habitually distracted, our mind cannot be held in stillness. Instead of wandering around, it is better to read books about the teachings, and listen to words about the teachings.

1. An Amitabha-reciter should recite Amitabha’s name in the course of fulfilling his duties and responsibilities [in his daily life]. Fulfilling his duties and responsibilities does not violate the practice of name-recitation. Practicing name-recitation does not violate the fulfillment of his duties and responsibilities.
In this era of moral degeneration, our practice of the worldly ethics and morality can benefit others, purify the society, and also purify our body and mind. So, it is completely not in conflict with the practice of Amitabha-recitation.

The approach of our teaching is exclusive recitation of Amitabha’s name. So, when we recite Amitabha’s name, we just focus on name-recitation, and do not need to contemplate the Buddha’s image, the lotus flower, or the Buddha’s light, or to perceive the Buddha’s virtues.
If you, during Amitabha-recitation, catch sight of lotus flowers, or bright light, or buddhas and bodhisattvas, let them alone, leave them, and don’t attach to any of them. Don’t think that “how splendid and rare it is, and I wish to see more and longer next time”. Don’t subscribe to such an idea. The more exclusive the better, the more simple and pure the better; otherwise, I am afraid (the practice) will go wrong.

If we are earnest in cessation of reincarnation and serious in renunciation and aspiration, we will spare time away from busy work and take a quiet time from the jungle of noise for recollection of the Buddha and recitation of the Buddha’s name. It is just like worrying about an urgent matter in our mind, we will not forget about it in any given circumstance.

If we realize the greatest matter in our life is rebirth and do not give up our aspiration to be reborn [in the Land of Bliss], we will naturally be mindful of Amitabha-recitation without forsaking. Every individual is different in capacity and aptitude – some diligent, some distracted; but this doesn’t matter.
Although we may not recite many, we have to keep reciting “without forsaking”. Mindful. Those who recite a few may have more false thoughts and more afflictions, and they may suffer more at the time near to end-of-life. Those who recite more may have less obstruction at the time near to end-of-life.
Wherever thoughts arise, weight follows. With the weight of delusive thoughts, we will feel difficult to bear. However, with Amitabha-recitation, we will feel much better and relaxed.

Start a day with Amitabha-recitation in our daily life. If we can do that, we are certainly embraced by Amitabha’s light whatever we do and wherever we are during the day. We must be safe and peaceful. Everything goes on smoothly.
There is no taboo in the Buddhist teachings. We can recite this Name – Namo Amituofo in the Buddhist hall, in living room, or even in washroom. We can recite in an unclean place; it makes this place clean. We can recite in an unlucky place; it brings fortunes to this place. Wherever, whenever and whatever we do, we can and we should recite Amitabha’s name under any circumstance.

Why do we close our eyes when we recite Amitabha’s name in the Buddhist center? When we practice Amitabha-recitation together, there may be people come and go, and closing our eyes is a simple solution for such a situation.
If we feel dizzy when eyes are closed during Amitabha-recitation, we can open our eyes. If we easily have false thoughts come up in mind, keep our eyes closed. If you feel heat arising in your body and the head agitated and itchy, open the eyes slightly, not completely closed. As you have closed your eyes for a long time, our body temperature will increase, and energy goes up. We should pay attention to this.
However, there is no fixed rule that must follow strictly [in Amitabha-recitation practice]. Under certain circumstance, we can make adjustment whenever necessary. If we recite Amitabha’s name alone, we need not close our eyes, but open them in 30% to 50% with face down, then we concentrate in reciting without any other thoughts.

People of all walks of life can practice Amitabha-recitation at any time in any place. There is no rule or taboo in the practice of Amitabha-recitation in terms of recitation places. With respect to the state of mind, when we sit and recite, holding prayer beads is not necessary; instead, we can count ten. Counting ten during recitation has no restriction too; it serves to keep our mind calm. After counting from one to ten, we can start over again. Don’t continue counting further to twenty or thirty. That may become a mental burden.
At work, we can recite with a distracted mind, and don’t need to count the number, and counting is not possible too. While walking, we can also recite by moving lips. At that time, to count or not to count depends on individual preference, and there is no requirement or restriction at all. The way is flexible to suit our aptitude and the environment. If we can understand the principle, recitation of Amitabha’s name is free and easy, lively and joyfully.
Having said that, the practice varies from person to person. If one plans to practice walking-recitation for half an hour, he can count ten instead of holding prayer beads. Don’t bother about the number of recitation, just stop reciting when the time is up, and then move on with other business.
If we wish to motivate ourselves to recite more, and prevent ourselves from being slothful or slackening, we can set a target number for a day, say 20,000, 10,000 or a few thousands, and use the prayer beads as an aid for counting. By doing so, the prayer beads help us to control our slackening mind.

Each of us should discipline and set demand on ourselves according to our identity and capacity, in order to spare time for recitation of Amitabha’s name whenever possible. “Even ten times” as stated in Amitabha’s 18th Vow implies that we should allocate time in our schedule to recite Amitabha’s name. So, we should comply with Amitabha’s vow, and recite his Name when time is available.

Being an Amitabha-reciter, we always exclusively recite Amitabha’s name, just as Master Shandao taught. “Always” and “exclusively” indicates “do not mix with others” – not to engage concurrently in recitation of other buddha’ names, or other dharani for merit-dedication, also not to engage concurrently in other practices and other teachings for rebirth.
We exclusively recite Amitabha’s name in all circumstances, regardless of time, location and condition, or whether we are busy or in leisure, fortunate or unfortunate, happy or sad, facing the matter of birth-and-death. In every step, in every speech, and in every thought, just recite “Namo Amituofo”, “Namo Amituofo…”

As we take refuge to Amitabha, sentient being’s life and Amitabha’s life combine together to form one entity, inseparable, like a bird with two heads as said in the Amitabha Sutra. Hence, it is appropriate to practice Amitabha-recitation in our daily life, and regard Amitaba-recitation to be our true life. We live for Amitabha-recitation.

What is most important for a practitioner? The matter of birth-and-death, because birth and death comes rapidly. As we are ordinary beings, we can do nothing to escape from the cycle of rebirth by ourselves. So, we must have a concept – we rely on Amitabha Buddha in this matter. In that case, we invoke and recite without forsaking – reciting whatever we do.

Start a day in our living with Amitabha-recitation: Namo Amituofo, Namo Amituofo, Namo Amituofo.

Master Huijing

Master Huijing

Master Jingzong

Master Jingzong

Guiding Principles

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