The Ants Move House
In the spring of 1996, I moved back home to Tainan from Taipei. In order to search for an ideal place to practice and study, I rented a house for the time being.
However, there were a lot of ants in the house. They were in the rice sacks, the garbage bin, the kitchen sink and even on the table. They made their nest in the cracks of the kitchen floor.
Seeing these little ants running around the house all day in search of food, I couldn’t help feeling great compassion for them. I mashed some rice and put that at the entrance of their nest, so they could move the food in their own time. Whenever I took the garbage out, I had to wait until all the ants had left before emptying it. Similarly, I had to be extremely careful when using the sink for fear of drowning the ants.
I still felt somewhat inconvenienced, so I decided to try a method used by Master Yinguang. I said to the ants, “I am an Amitabha-reciting monk who aspires to be reborn in the Pure Land. After my rebirth, you will be the first ones I come back to deliver from samsara. I hope you can move to another place so that I will not accidentally harm you. At the same time, I hope you will join me in reciting Namo Amitabha Buddha; it is my wish that you will be embraced and protected by Amitabha’s compassionate light, be reborn in the Land of Bliss and be rid of reincarnation once and for all.” After I finished speaking, I immediately recited the name of Amitabha Buddha.
The next day, not only did the number of ants not decrease, it actually increased greatly. Thousands of ants, large and small, went in and out of the nest unceasingly. When I took a closer look, they seemed to be moving things, mostly tiny white eggs, along the corner towards the door and then into a hole by the courtyard door. The distance from the kitchen to the courtyard door had to be at least four feet. However, these ants were very persistent and continued to go in and out every day.
At the beginning, I couldn’t be sure that they were moving – until after seven days, when I didn’t see any more ants. I checked the nest, the sink, the garbage bin and the table. There were no signs of ants anywhere in the house. It struck me only then that they were moving. The move lasted seven days.
I looked through the big hole by the door in the courtyard and found a few ants going in and out. So I bought some millet and put a small heap at the entrance of the hole. Soon a lot of ants came out to move the food inside.
After that, they rarely ventured out of the hole; they of course never went back into the house. Once a week I put a pile of millet by the hole and the ants always came out to move the food inside.
- Master Huijing, Records of the Effects of Amitabha Recitation
(English translation by Foyue, edited by Jingtong)
- 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