See also: Buddha Recitation; Buddha Remembrance; Pure LandBuddhism (Summary).
“The word nien-fo [Buddha Recitation] is originally a Chinese translation of the Sanskrit compound Buddhanusmrti, meaning ‘the recollection or the bearing in mind (anusmrti) of the attributes of a Buddha.’
The practice of Buddhanusmrti itself has a long history in India, extending back to well before the rise of Mahayana Buddhism…When the term and its practical lore were introduced to China, they came as a highly developed meditative system, with ties to a diversity of Buddhist scriptures and deities. Amitabha and the Pure Land sutras represented but one among many such systems. The major Indian sources and early Chinese treatises on Buddhanusmrti treat it as a complex practice involving several different approaches to contemplation.
At its most basic level, Buddha-mindfulness begins with visual recollection of the thirty-two major marks and eighty minor excellencies of the Buddha’s glorified ‘body of form’ (Skt /rupa-kaya). Progressing to successively deeper levels of practice, one may dispense with recollection of the Buddha’s physical form and instead contemplate his boundless spiritual powers and omniscience until one ultimately arrivesat the Buddha’s formless essence of enlightenment itself – a practiceknown as mindful recollection of the Buddha’s ‘body of truth or reality’ (Skt /Dharma-kaya).
Thus, although Buddhanusmrti may take a particular Buddha or Bodhisattva (such as Amitabha) as its starting point, it ultimately grounds itself in universal Mahayana truths.
This feature plants Buddhanusmrti firmly within the mainstream of Mahayana Buddhist practice, connecting it with the meditations onemptiness that we more often associate with the Perfection of Wisdom and other less devotional traditions of Buddhist scriptures.”Lopez / 95: 360-361
“An early form of Buddhanusmrti (Buddha Remembrance or BuddhaRecitation) can be found in the Nikayas of the Pali Canon: ‘In the Nikayas, the Buddha … advised his disciples to think of him and his virtues as if they saw his body before his eyes, whereby they would be enabled to accumulate merit and attain Nirvana or be saved from transmigrating in the evil paths.’ ”D. T. Suzuki, The Eastern Buddhist / Vol. 3, No. 4: 317 #2146
We concentrate solely on the sound of the Sutra or of "Amituofo."
As we concentrate on “Amituofo,” all incorrect thoughts are replaced by thoughts of a Buddha—a being who has awakened his perfect compassion and perfect wisdom. Even if we are completely focused for only a moment, in that brief moment we are one with perfection and goodness, one with the Buddha's teaching.
We obtain the same benefit from chanting the Sutra.
Our wandering thoughts are replaced by pure thoughts and seeds for awakening are planted, not those for further suffering in the cycle of rebirth.
http://cttbusa.org/amitabha_session/ami ... ession.asp
We recite constantly without the thought of reciting, and without the thought of reciting and yet reciting to the point that the wind cannot blow through and the rain cannot leak through; rather there is only the thought of reciting the Buddha’s name and nothing else.
Therefore it is said, Recite the Buddha’s name continuously, reciting without a break. The mouth recites Amitabha and makes things of a piece. This happens when one’s recitations continue one after another, without stopping. When extraneous thoughts do not arise, one attains samadhi. If you don’t give rise to false thoughts, there is mindfulness, or proper perception. That is samadhi.
http://web.archive.org/web/200808280840 ... 3.htm#mind
From Scattered Mind to Settled Mind
When the mouth recites Amitabha Buddha's name while the mind is focused on the Buddha or rests on His name, it is called "Settled Mind Buddha Recitation." When the mouth recites the Buddha's name but the mind is not on Amitabha Buddha and is lost in errant thought, it is called "Scattered Mind Buddha Recitation." The effectiveness of "Scattered Mind" is very much weaker than "Settled Mind" Buddha Recitation. For this reason, since ancient times, good spiritual advisors have all exhorted us to recite with a settled mind, and not let our thoughts wander. Therefore, Buddha Recitation with a scattered mind cannot be held up as an example to be emulated.
However, all external activities must reverberate in the Alaya consciousness. If reciting with a scattered mind were entirely ineffective, where would the sacred name of Amitabha come from? The very existence of the sacred name results from two conditions: first, the existing seeds arising from the Alaya consciousness; second, the power of outside action reflecting back inward. Therefore, we cannot say that "Scattered Mind Buddha Recitation" is entirely without effect, albeit its effectiveness is much more limited than recitation with a settled mind. Thus, while reciting the Buddha's name with a scattered mind has never been advocated, its significance and effectiveness cannot be rejected either. For this reason, the ancients have handed down the following gatha:
The sacred name of Amitabha Buddha is the supreme method,
Why bother and fret over scattered thoughts!
Though clouds thousands of miles thick hide the sun's brightness,
All the world still benefits from its "amber" light.
Upon reflection, the above verse is quite accurate. This is because once the seeds of Buddha Recitation ripen in the Alaya consciousness, they trigger the sixth consciousness [i.e., the mind], leading to the development of pure thought and pure action. However, when the seeds of Buddha Recitation pass through the sixth consciousness, deep-seated defiled thoughts encroach upon them. Although these seeds ultimately manage to escape, their power has been greatly weakened. They are like the rays of the sun, which, although radiant, are hidden by many layers of clouds and are seen in the world only as "amber" light. This residual light, however, comes from the sun.
Realizing this, the Pure Land practitioner need not be unduly worried or concerned about sundry thoughts. He should continuously recite, content with whatever number of utterances he manages to produce with right thought. As he recites in such a manner over an extended period of time, the horse-like mind will return to the stable the monkey-like mind will gradually return to the den.
With further recitation, right thought will emerge clearly without any special effort on the practitioner's part. Thus, we should emphasize the continuity of recitation, without worrying whether it is done with a settled mind or not. Like muddy water which, with constant decanting, becomes clear and pure, a person afflicted with many sundry thoughts, through extended recitation, can convert them into right thought. We should know that ancient masters would always recite the Buddha's name, whether walking or standing, asleep or awake or working. If they constantly recited with a settled mind, they would trip and stumble while walking and could not succeed in drafting commentaries or performing other tasks. Therefore, at times they recited with a scattered mind, but they never stopped reciting because even though their minds were scattered, not all benefits were lost.
At this juncture, I would like to recount a story. Once there was a layman who came to inquire of a monk: "I have to confess to you, Master, that I have been reciting the Buddha's name for over ten years, but I still have innumerable deluded thoughts; I do not know how to get rid of them. I have sought guidance in many places, with many teachers. One master would tell me about this technique, another would teach me a different one. There was even a junior monk who advised me to recite the Buddha's name twenty-one times without breathing and then to swallow all the saliva at once. I have tried all available techniques, but only succeed in reining in my mind at the beginning. Afterward, perhaps because I get used to the technique, deluded thoughts reappear as before. I wonder if you have any effective method to teach me?"
The Elder Master replied: "You have failed because you were not persevering, and constantly switched methods. You should know that ordinary people like us have created immeasurable deluded karma, from time immemorial. How can we be pure after a short period of practice? The main thing is for us to persevere over an extended period of time.
"Let me cite a few examples. Suppose you pour clean, fragrant water into a container filled with dirty and foul liquids. The container being already full, the clean water will, naturally, spill out, except for a few drops sticking to the container. If you persevere and continue to pour clean water in, one day the dirty container will turn into a clean one, filled with pure water.
"Similarly, suppose you have a severe stomach ailment that makes you throw up whatever medicine you ingest, but you persist in taking the prescribed medicine. Each time you take it, even though you may vomit, some of the ingredients will be absorbed, gradually curing you of the ailment. The afflictions of sentient beings are the same. It is fitting and proper to treat them with the medicine of Buddha Recitation, but if we constantly change techniques and methods, how can we expect to achieve results?
"Again, suppose someone is purifying water with alum, but, out of impatience, before the chemical has time to react, starts pouring in salt and then powdered lime. If he continually changes in this manner, how can the water ever become clear?
"Therefore, to rid ourselves of deluded thoughts, we should not keep changing from one method to another, but should select an appropriate method and practice it with perseverance until results are achieved." The practitioner, hearing these explanations, nodded in agreement.
As indicated earlier, the key to a settled mind is to practice with perseverance. However, if we dread scattered thoughts and need an expedient to calm the mind, we should use the Decimal Recording method explained earlier (section 30-7). With this method, we use all of our mind-power to record and remember from one to ten utterances, which easily leads to pure concentration.
If the mind is still unsettled and we cannot use the Decimal Recording method, we should, with each utterance, concentrate firmly on the letter "A" in Amitabha Buddha. When the letter "A" is present, all the other letters are also present. If, because of delusion and forgetfulness, the letter "A" is lost, all the other letters are also lost. Moreover, the letter "A" is the key and fundamental letter of the Sanskrit alphabet and is therefore considered the mother of all other letters.
Through concentration on reciting the Buddha's name while simultaneously holding fast to the letter "A," in time, mind and environment both dissolve and amalgamate into one bloc, as great as space itself. Buddha Amitabha and the practitioner will then both disappear. At that time, naturally, the letter "A" will have ceased to exist as well. However, it was lost earlier because the mind was unsettled and scattered, while it no longer exists now precisely because of the harmonious state of "perpetual concentration." This is the manifestation of emptiness of Mind and environment -- the entry point into the Buddha Recitation Samadhi.
Sonrisa wrote:I am not quite the person to sit down and meditate. So I chose reciting mantra or buddha names instead. Last night, I was sooooo angry at someone whom I held dear that has wronged me. I felt the burning of hatred and anger. Trust me, it was not a good feeling. A friend recommended that I recite Amituofo. Having nothing else, I grabbed my 108 mala beads and began reciting Amituofo and visualizing Amitabha Buddha. Afterward, I dedicated the merit.
Is reciting Amitabha a type of meditation? Why does it calm the mind?
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