http://www.ymba.org/books/buddhism-wisd ... ice/buddha29) Four Methods of Buddha Recitation
Buddha Recitation does not consist of oral recitation alone, but also includes contemplation and meditation. Therefore, within the Pure Land School, there are, in addition to Oral Recitation, three other methods, namely: Real Mark, Contemplation by Thought and Contemplation of an Image2. Contemplation by Thought Recitation
This entails meditation on the features of Buddha Amitabha and His Land of Ultimate Bliss, in accordance with the Meditation Sutra.
(The Sutra teaches a total of sixteen contemplations.) If this practice is perfected, the cultivator will always visualize the Pure Land before him. Whether his eyes are open or closed, his mind and thoughts are always coursing through the Pure Land. At the time of death, he is assured of rebirth there.
The virtues obtained through this method are immense and beyond imagination, but since the object of meditation is too profound and subtle, few practitioners can achieve it. This is because, in general, the method presents five difficulties:
i) with dull capacities, one cannot easily succeed;
ii) with a crude mind, one cannot easily succeed;
iii) without knowing how to use expedients skillfully and flexibly during actual practice, one cannot easily succeed;
iv) without the ability to remember images clearly, one cannot easily succeed;
v) with low energy, one cannot easily succeed.
Very few can avoid all five pitfalls. Thus, upon reflection, this method also belongs to the category of difficult Dharma doors.