Chanting Buddha’s Name and Changing Your Fate
Q: I have been chanting the Buddha’s name for so long, why hasn’t my fortune changed? Why am I still so hapless?
A: Those who believe in cause and effect should know that fortune is not accidental. It is not possible to change one’s luck fortuitously. After reciting the Buddha-name three times, one expects Amitabha Buddha to act like the gods of other faiths to free them from bad luck and shower them with blessings. There is no such thing.
A person’s destiny depends on the causes and effects created in his previous lives. Causality is pivotal to the human mind. When a thought arises, the cause is planted and eventually leads to its consequence, like a seed with proper conditions leading to a fruit-bearing tree. As we are enduring the effects of past causes, their consequences create new karmic causes which will guide the fate of our future, whether it be a life of good fortune and a worthy endeavor or a life full of misfortune and transgressions, poverty and famine, and illness. The magnitude and the timing of each turn vary according to the strength of the karmic force and the causal mind.
Stronger thoughts and deeds result in stronger causes and consequences. But, they have been planted in previous lives, and few people today possess the kind of power great enough to influence or alter their predetermined fate. Besides, nowadays, people are generally weak in mental strength, scattered and dazed, uncertain of their destiny, like aquatic plants floating on water. Therefore, the general framework and tone of life for the vast majority of people will not change much; it only fluctuates within their predetermined range of pain and pleasure.
After all, the six characters are the source of all blessings. Thus, although people who recite the Buddha’s name aim to be reborn in the Pure Land and do not seek worldly blessings, they are naturally blessed with worldly fortune. The more one wants to be emancipated from the samsara, the more worldly blessings one will attain because the revulsion of the Saha world and aspiration to be born in the Land of Ultimate Bliss match the Buddha’s heart which produces an immediate result. This is the only effective way to change the fate of all sentient beings.
After understanding the above principles, even though you recite the Buddha’s name without realizing the change of fate, you can examine your own mind. 1) Firmly believe that the cycle of cause and effect is the iron law of the entire universe. Is our fate determined by our past actions? Since we believe in cause and effect, we should be at ease and accept the retribution and not expect too much fortune like that of ordinary people. 2) Should we recite the Buddha’s name for worldly blessings or for the rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss? Worldly blessing is not as good as rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. Reciting the Buddha’s name for worldly blessings is like giving up tens of billions of dollars for only a lollipop. Isn’t that a loss? 3) Hasn’t the time we’ve recited the Buddha’s name been too short? Are you performing your daily recitation earnestly or just coping?
You should know that a river forms because of the accumulation of water; merits are made because of good deeds; without merit and virtue, fate can not change. In addition, whether your fate has altered cannot be determined by intuitive feelings. After all, feelings are just emotions, not real or permanent . So, taking a step back, even if, from an objective point of view, it is true that your situation is indeed getting worse, who is to deny categorically that had it not been for reciting the Buddha, your situation would have gotten even worse? Moreover, whether the fate of life has changed or not, will it even change? You don't need to ask people, you can see it for yourself. As the saying goes: “character is destiny,” which is quite true. The mode of one’s mind develops into habit, and the accumulation of habit becomes the character.
Whatever kind of character you have, you will naturally have that kind of destiny. In addition to changing our future reincarnation, reciting Buddha’s name can also change our lives in the present. This real life-change is a change to one's character. Just like pruning a plant, changing one’s current behavior is only a temporary measure, not a long-term method. Only by changing the genes can the essential changes occur. After chanting the Buddha’s name for a long time, the “three karmic offenses (body, speech, and mind) will be self-diminished,” Everything trends towards the middle way; the impetuous become quiet, the acerbic become kind, the selfish become generous, and distracting thoughts become mellowed and the mind becomes cleared, vulgar becomes elegant, shallow becomes deep. All of these happen unconsciously and imperceptibly, exerting a subtle influence on one’s character or thinking, like a child growing up to be an adult without feeling it. When the genes of life change, fate must change.
You can observe whether there is a change in your character before and after reciting the Buddha’s name. If there is, and yet your fate remains the same, I will not believe it!
(Translated by the Pure Land School Translation Team;
edited by Kevin Orro (Fozhu))
- Recitation of Amitabha’s name, relying on his Fundamental Vow (the 18th)
- Rebirth of ordinary beings in the Pure Land’s Realm of Rewards
- Rebirth assured in the present lifetime
- Non-retrogression achieved in this lifetime
The 18th Vow of Amitabha Buddha
If, when I achieve Buddhahood, sentient beings of the ten directions who sincerely and joyfully entrust themselves to me, wish to be reborn in my land and recite my name, even ten times, should fail to be born there, may I not attain perfect enlightenment. Excepted are those who commit the five gravest transgressions or slander the correct Dharma.
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