Reciting the Buddha's name once brings infinite blessings
Bowing once to the Buddha eradicates as many offenses as there are sand grains in the Ganges River.
The Recitation Dharma Door is supreme, especially for ignorant living beings in the Dharma-Ending Age. If we can sincerely recite the Buddha's name, eradicate our offenses, and attain single-minded concentration, then at the end of our lives, Amitabha Buddha of the Pure Land will come to welcome us, and we will be reborn in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss. There we will never retreat, and will cultivate until we are certified to the fruition of the Unsurpassed Proper and Equal Enlightenment.
In a Recitation Session, many people gather together to recite the Buddha's name, hoping the strength of the great assembly will help them obtain single-minded concentration and be reborn in the Pure Land. Personally, I think Vigorous Recitation Sessions are designed especially for young people. Young people are healthy and energetic, yet restless and fretful. They lack concentration and do not hold the precepts strictly. In the Recitation Session, the observance of the Eight Lay Precepts, the vow of silence, the daily one thousand bows and so on, are just the right antidote for the problems of young people.
At the end of last year, the Sagely City of Ten Thousand Buddhas held a Vigorous Recitation Session. Because of special conditions, I spared seven days to attend it, and completed the merit and virtue of the Session during the winter vacation. When I first heard the rules of this Session, I felt it might be too "vigorous" and considered withdrawing. But it was really a great challenge, so I decided to participate. The night before the Session, we all received the Eight Precepts and began observing silence. Remaining silent was really exciting for us. To not say a word and only concentrate on chanting "Namo Amitabha Buddha" for seven days was not that difficult. We only had to be careful not to talk as we usually did.
The first morning, I woke up at the sound of the wake-up board. The first recitation period started right after the Morning Recitation. 1 was not used to getting up that early, so during that sitting, I slept soundly and could not keep my body upright. Nevertheless, I was ready to meet the challenges in these seven days. In a Recitation Session, we recite the Buddha's name and bow to the Buddha for seven days. From morning to night, we need not think about anything except single-mindedly reciting the Buddha's name. Both this and circumambulating the Buddha made me very joyful. This joy came from inside and is impossible to express in words.
In those seven days, I did not have to think about school work or playing ball—I could put everything down for the time being, arid have no worries. What is more important than ending birth and death? We recite "Namo Amitabha Buddha," over and over, and whenever there is a break, we bow to the Buddha. Reciting from sunset to sunrise, and from sunrise to sunset, day after day-what in the world could be more blissful than this? Of course, bowing nonstop is very tiring. Some people bowed one thousand bows a day, or even two thousand or three thousand. In the last few days some even bowed four thousand bows in one day. Bowing to the Buddha eradicates limitless offenses, so everyone was very vigorous. Also, bowing is like running a marathon—it takes stamina. I constantly exhorted myself to persist till the very end.
On the sixth day, I woke up to find my body and limbs with no strength at all. (This was the case almost every day of the Session.) I also had a headache. After the Morning Recitation, I had no strength to chant. When I bowed, it felt as if a thorn were piercing my head. My limbs felt paralyzed, and I thought I would collapse on the next bow. I was ill. I worried that I might not complete the Session. All day long, I rested by the side, afraid to leave. Before the Evening Recitation, I knelt before the Buddhas to repent, and prayed for Amitabha Buddha and the Bodhisattvas to aid me to complete the Session successfully. After the Sutra lecture, I suddenly felt a lot more energy in me. During the Great Transference, I could already bow easily. The more I bowed, the more energetic and comfortable I felt. I was tremendously excited and grateful. By ten o'clock that evening, I had bowed seven hundred and seventy times straight in forty minutes, making a total of more than ten thousand bows in the seven days.
I strongly feel I was able to participate in this Session because of good roots and blessings accumulated in my previous lives. My first Buddha Recitation Session has given me many experiences in reciting Buddha's name and bowing to the Buddha. There is no party without an end. Seven days passed in the blink of an eye. Judging from the Dharma bliss in my heart and the smiles of fellow cultivators, I believe everyone had a fulfilling Recitation Session. Amitabha Buddha!