With What Kind of Heart Will an Amitabha-reciter Tread the Path Ahead?
Question: We are now practitioners of Amitabha-recitation, and will leave everything to Amitabha Buddha for the rest of our lives. With what kind of heart will we tread the path ahead?
Answer: Reciting Amitabha’s name is treading the path. What kind of heart we have is simply the scenery along the way. If you practice Amitabha-recitation consistently for a long time, a certain kind of heart will awake and you will realize it naturally. In fact, this realization comes from the name "Namo Amituofo.” It's just that the timing and depth of such realization differ from person to person. It all happens spontaneously, just like the photosynthesis process that leaves apply to sunlight and which nourishes the whole plant, making it grow luxuriously with flowers and ripening fruits.
Here are a few kinds of hearts or minds that may be awakened with Amitabha-recitation. They are like buds signaling the arrival of spring, and the autumn frost heralding the advent of winter. If one day you discover you possess the following hearts or minds while reciting the name of the Buddha, I hope you will recognise them.
- A receptive mind towards this path: You follow only the Buddha's sacred words, observe the teachings of the Masters of the Pure Land School (of the Shandao tradition), and accept the good teachers' advice. You do not abide by teachings which are not genuine transmissions of the Buddhist Dharma as it was not taught by Shakyamuni Buddha, and you pay no attention to the words of teachers who are not adherents of the principles of our tradition.
- A gentle heart of humility: You realize that we are all wicked beings bound in the endless sufferings of samsara. Without Amituofo, we will fall into hell. You accept that your stupidity and evilness are far worse than others. Thus, you are humble, gentle, and never flaunt your superiority. Recognising your inferior capacities, ignorance and foolishness, you keep your head down and just focus on reciting the name of the Buddha.
- Having an unchanging mind: because ordinary beings are by nature iniquitous and that will never change, our reliance on Amituofo should never change; because our fate of falling into hell will never change, our dependence on Amituofo should never change; because Amitabha Buddha’s resolution to save us will never change, our faith in Amituofo should never change.
- A giving heart: Since this is the last round of being a human, I will say goodbye to the six realms forever and cherish those I have met in life. I have nothing to ask for or fight over. I will wholeheartedly devote myself to helping others. And hope that they will have a truly better life forever!
- A heart to repay kindness: Amitabha's immense kindness is impossible to repay, but we should strive to repay it as much as possible. We do that by urging others to have faith in the Buddha now that we have faith in him. We teach others how to gain rebirth in Amituofo’s Land of Bliss now that we are assured of rebirth there. This is the way to genuinely repay Amitabha’s generosity. To carefully guard against unwholesome actions, speeches and thoughts is a true repayment of the Buddha’s kindness.
- A joyful heart: Plagued with evil karmas and a completely iniquitous ordinary being, it is inconceivable that we can actually encounter the Dharma path of Amitabha-recitation and are destined to become a Buddha. This is like a beggar ascending to the throne or a destitute person receiving a great fortune, something worthy of jubilation. As Amitabha-reciters, the days of suffering in the six realms are numbered, and the blissfulness of the Pure Land manifests before our very eyes. Rejoice! Rejoice!
- An ashamed heart: Although we are assured to be reborn in the Land of Bliss as Amitabha-reciters, our three evil karmas of speech, action and thought are still raging, like a sea of fire burning the heart. Despite this, the Buddha doesn’t shun or forsake us. He delivers and protects us nevertheless. We would naturally feel ashamed.
(Translated by the Pure Land School Translation Team;
edited by Householder Fojin)
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