Continued from issue 52
A Buddhist Sutra says, "Though a great number of beings may cultivate, it is difficult for even one to succeed in the Dharma Ending Age. Only by means of the Dharma door of reciting the Buddha's name is it easy to succeed in cultivation." We are presently in the Dharma Ending Age and this method of cultivation is the most appropriate, the most universal. It covers those with all three kinds of roots: sharp, dull, and ordinary. The three roots are superior, average, and inferior. Those with sharp roots are superior people, those with neither sharp nor dull roots are counted as average, while inferior roots include those who are stupid and doubtful. Not only intelligent people benefit from reciting the Buddha's name, stupid and doubtful folk do as well. If a person is old and nearing death, it is advantageous for him to be mindful of the Buddha; if a person is in his prime with the promise of a long life ahead, it is even more beneficial to recite the Buddha's name. If a person is sick and knows great suffering, it is helpful to recite the Buddha's name; if a person is healthy and peaceful, it is even better to be mindful of the Buddha. So it is said that no matter who you are, you can recite the Buddha's name.
Sakyamuni Buddha spontaneously spoke the Amitabha Sutra as an exhortation to people to recollect the Buddha, and the final chapter of the Avatamsaka, the king of Sutras, is devoted to inspiring people to be mindful of the Buddha. You should not write off this practice as a Dharma door for old ladies!
"What meaning does it have?"
What meaning are you after? To recite the Buddha's name it is essential that your mindfulness be divorced from all false and discursive thinking. When one reaches this point his skill is perfected and ha can be reborn in the Western Land.
At the end of the Dharma Ending, be all the Sutras will spontaneously disappear. The Surangama Sutra will be the first to vanish and so on until eventually the only sutra left in the world will be the Amitabha Sutra. After a hundred years it too will disappear, and only the words "Namo Amitabha Buddha" will remain. After a hundred more years these words will dwindle to just "Amitabha Buddha," a phrase which will take numberless beings across the sea of suffering to enlightenment. When even the syllables "Amitabha Buddha" finally perish, then the whole world will be annihilated, and nothing will remain. From becoming the world pastes through dwelling, decaying, going s and then another world is produced, and so forth in perpetual revolution.
People pass through the same cyclical process of becoming, dwelling, decaying, and going empty. Production occurs for the first 20 years of your life during which you grow up and gain an education. For the next twenty years of your life you go to work and undertake various activities. During the following twenty years you experience decay. "Your eyes grow dimmer and dimmer, your hair becomes flecked with grey, and your teeth keep failing out."
"A person's body is like a house, of which the mouth is the door, the eyes the windows, the four limbs the corner posts, and the hair the thatch of the roof." By the time the house begins to fall apart it is too late to worry about fixing it up. One should have kept up with the repairs all along. When a person's house deteriorates he moves into another; when a person's body decays he also gets another. You should know that neither the house nor the body is yours.
where am I?"
The reason you have to be mindful of the Buddha is because you can't find yourself. While trying to discover "Who am I?" you are simultaneously nourishing your Dharma nature field. 1st us plant the seed, tend the sprout, and reap the fruit. What is the Bodhi seed? It is recitation of Amitabha Buddha. What is the sprout, which comes forth? It is the appearance of a Lotus flower in the Western Land. What is the Bodhi Fruit? It is your rebirth in the Pure Land when, at the end of your life, the flower opens, you see the Buddha, and awaken to the patience of the non-production of dharmas.
During this first seven-day session several people have received benefit. Some people have tasted sweet dew, others' pulses have stopped, some have had their breath stop. Their outer breath ceased and an inner breath was born. Some people experienced the cessation of all thought. These are the initial stages of light ease, which result from a unified application of effort.
"If a person wishes to escape death he must first become a living dead man." Ignore insignificant matters. Constantly return the light of your wisdom to illumine within. Seek it all in yourself. Turn your hearing back to your own self-nature and carefully examine the sound of your own recitation of the Buddha's name. Is it clear? Is it full? Or are there instead the teeming hordes of false thoughts? There's a great difference between the two, you know. Recite well and don't let the time pass in vain.