We practice Buddha-recitation because when Amitabha Buddha was cultivating on the causal ground he made forty-eight great vows. In his vows he said, "Every living being in the worlds of the ten directions who recites my name will become a Buddha. If he does not become a Buddha, I vow not to attain proper enlighten ment; I will not become a Buddha, either." Relying on Amitabha Buddha's great, vast vows is like riding a ship to the other shore. Amitabha Buddha's vows are the contract he has signed with the living beings of the ten directions. If we were to recite the Buddha's name and not be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss, Amitabha Buddha would not be qualified to become a Buddha. Because of this relationship, every one of us should practice the Dharma-door of Buddha-recitation with deep faith and sincere vows.
Buddha-recitation is the simplest, most perfect, and most effective Dharma-door. It does not take too much time, nor does one need to spend any money. Old people, young people, people in their prime, sick people, and healthy people can all practice Buddha-recitation. This Dharma-door is one that "covers the three roots and receives both sharp and dull." The three roots refer to superior, medium, and inferior roots, which is to say, wise, ordinary, and stupid people. To receive both sharp and dull means that all living beings, from the most intelligent down to the most stupid, including animals, can obtain rebirth in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss through reciting the Buddha's name. Thus it is said, "With little effort, one achieves much success." The Dharma-door of Buddha-recitation is very easy and convenient.
There are four types of Buddha-recitation: (A) Holding the name Buddha-recitation, (B) Contemplating an image Buddha-recitation, (C) Contemplating and thinking Buddha-recitation, and (D) Real Mark Buddha-recitation.
(A) Holding the name Buddha-recitation: This is to constantly recite the great name of "Namo Amitabha Buddha." There is another method called Vajra Recitation, which is to recite with the mind so that the mind clearly hears the sound of "Namo Amitabha Buddha." The mouth recites clearly, and the ears also hear clearly. There is another very simple kind of recitation, the method of "ten recitations in the morning and evening." After you get up in the morning, go the bathroom, wash up, and rinse your mouth, you can put your palms together, face the west, and recite "Namo Amitabha Buddha." With one breath counting as one recitation, recite as many time as you can in one breath, and recite for ten breaths. Practice this dharma of ten recitations in the morning as well as in the evening.
→To be continued