THE FIRST AMITABHA BUDDHA SESSION 
AT THE CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS

At the beginning of the session the rules were established. For those who kept the rules, quieted their minds and bodies, and single-mindedly recited the Buddha's name, it was an especially intense and fulfilling week.

As Master Hua/pointed out in his commentary to the Sixth Patriarch's Sutra,

...The three evil destinies and the three obstructions exist no longer and their absence is just the Western Paradise. For this reason we do not need to move the Western Paradise to the Saha world and we do not need to consult a travel agent for passports and visas. The Western Paradise is right here. "But if you do not cultivate, how can you go there?" It's so far away. It takes several days just to go to the moon. The Western Paradise is ten billion Buddha-lands away, millions of times farther than the moon. Then how does one go there? Purify the mind.

And one way to tend toward the purity of mind is to exist in an environment, which minimizes false thinking. So for seven days, the participants of the Amitabha Session who existed within the framework of the following rules, had an optimal chance to purify their minds and see their natures, and for them, the Western Paradise was not far away.

Master Hua instructed:

      "This is the first Buddha Recitation Session to be held at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. It is essential that we be particularly intense. No one can be lazy or lax. Everyone must be courageously vigorous. Everyone should be sincere in his recitation of the Buddha's name. You can't look around all the time or go out of the Buddha-hall during this session. No one should talk, but should single-mindedly be mindful of the Buddha. Let's see who can be the first to obtain the Buddha-recitation Samadhi or to see light, flowers, and other magnificent states. But if you don't use a protractor and compass you canít make circles and squares. Itís essential that everyone honor the rules.

 

Participants recite the Buddha Speaks of Amitabha Sutra during evening ceremonies at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas during the Amitabha Buddha Recitation Session.

"In the morning, whoever comes more than three minutes late should take a sign reading "lazy" and hang it around his neck for the rest of the day so everyone can see that he is a lazy person. If you don't put it on and persist in not following the rules you should go before the Buddhas and punish yourself. In the Buddha-hall it's not that other people punish you. If you can't put on the lazy sign even when you come in late, then you should punish yourself by standing for the day or kneeling for the day while you recite.

"After morning recitation, people who eat breakfast can go out between 6 and 6:45. At 6:45 the door to the dining room will be locked. Latecomers will not be served. The best is when you finish eating to return immediately to the Buddha-hall and take up your recitation. Don't finish eating early and then think you get some free time coming to you, so you goof off outside for a while before you return to the hall. That's not permissible.

"Around 10 AM there will be a student lecture. After the meal offering, the lunch period will extend for 45 minutes. Since we eat in the formal style, everyone goes together, eats together, and returns together. No one is allowed to talk in the lunch-hall. It's no problem if you don't want to cultivate and apply your effort, but you can't obstruct others and cause them not to cultivate.

"From 2-3 there will be a Dharma talk. In the evening from 7-9 is the sutra lecture. Everyone must follow the schedule and observe the rules of the session. You should respect yourself, have regard for yourself. You can't come here and be a wild horse that harms the herd. You can't obstruct others' cultivation. There is an entrance for men and an entrance for women. You should come and go in an orderly fashion. You can't casually mix it up.

      "This is to be a vigorous Buddha-recitation session, a Buddha session to end birth and death. If you don't cultivate intensely, you won't obtain any advantages. From limitless kalpas past to the present you haven't become Buddhas because you have not intensely applied your effort. So you are still turning in the six paths. Sometimes you are a person, sometimes an animal, sometimes in the hells, a hungry ghost, or a god. The six paths keep turning back and forth and we still think we are not bad. We still mistake suffering for bliss. Actually we are always doing upside-down things. We take a thief as our son. We take all the false things and look upon them as real. So we don't realize we should quickly apply our skill and return to our original inherent wisdom, end birth and cast off death. We are still here in the world feeling that this is really a good place to play. We don't want to leave it. Wouldnít you say this is really stupid?"