As it is said,
One pure thought is one thought
When every thought is pure, every thought is of the Buddha.
Beside us runs a small river, and
the flowing water recites the Buddha's name. As you listen to it, it
says, “Namo Amitabha Buddha.” The blowing wind also recites the
Buddha's name, proclaiming the wonderful Mahayana Dharma. This state is
the same as that in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. In the Land of Ultimate
The water flows, the wind blows
Proclaiming the Mahayana;
In the pools of seven treasures
Are flowers of four colors
And waves of solid gold.
The lotuses which bloom in the
pools made of the seven treasures are green-colored of green light,
yellow-colored of yellow light, red-colored of red light, white-colored
of white light. Green, yellow, red, and white, the lights shine
You say, “Dharma Master, you have
been explaining Buddha Recitation for quite a while now, but ultimately
what is this ‘namo, namo' all about? Namo what?”
“Namo” yourself! Don't
“namo” anyone else. Think of it this way, “I have such good roots that
I have learned to recite the Buddha's name!”
“Namo” means “to return one's life
and respectfully submit.” This means to return your body, mind, and
life and respectfully bow before Amitabha Buddha. Say to yourself, “I
take my body, mind, and life and return in refuge to Amitabha Buddha.”
You ask, “Well, if ‘namo' means
‘to return one's life and respectfully submit,' what does 'Amitabha'
mean? Can you explain that?”
Of course I can. Don't be
impatient. I'll tell you in due time. If I don't finish this time, I'll
continue next time. And if I don't finish next time, I'll continue
later on. Don't worry. I am determined to teach you what “Namo Amitahba
Buddha” is all about.
“Namo Amitabha” is Sanskrit.
Yesterday Guo Zhen said it was Chinese, but that's completely wrong.
“Buddha” is also Sanskrit. The Chinese character “Fo” is a partial
transliteration of the word “Buddha.” Amitabha's other name,
“Amitayus,” means “limitless life.” When you recite the Buddha's name,
you obtain a limitless life span. Because you return your life and
respectfully submit to the Buddha of Limitless Life, you may take the
merit and virtue you obtain by reciting and live as long as you please!
If you say, “I want to live to be
ninety-nine years old,” then you will certainly not depart at age
eighty-eight. You will live to be ninety-nine.
You say, “But I want to live to be
You can do that, too. All you need
to do is recite the Buddha's name sincerely. This includes all of us
gathered here today. I will now make a prediction: Those among you who
want to live to a very old age will certainly get to do so. Not
everyone, mind you, but only those who are sincere. Whoever recites
sincerely will obtain that response and get his wish.
“Amitabha” means “limitless
light.” The limitless light is the light of wisdom, the opening of
wisdom. Whoever recites sincerely can develop great wisdom and a
faultless memory. There's no question about it. “Amitayus” means
“limitless life” and “Amitabha” means “limitless light.”
The word “Buddha” is also
Sanskrit. I explain the word “Buddha” using the similar-sounding
Chinese phrase 不大 bu da, which means “not big.” So I have a verse:
Neither great nor small,
Neither come nor gone,
In numberless world systems,
Buddhas shine upon each other's lotus thrones.
The Buddha is not any bigger than
we people are. Rather, he is just the same size. However, he has become
enlightened and returned to his inherent wisdom. We are no smaller than
the Buddha, and the Buddha is no smaller than we are. But, because our
hearts are not pure, because we have not discovered our inherent wisdom
or developed great wisdom, we are still common people.
The Buddha is one who is
enlightened. Living beings are those who are confused.
When enlightened, one is a Buddha.
When confused, one is a living being.
To become enlightened is to become
a Buddha. Before enlightenment, one is just a living being. When you
become enlightened you gain nothing that the living being doesn't have.
When confused, one hasn't anything less than the Buddha has. There is
no increasing and no decreasing; it's a question of whether you are
confused or enlightened. That's where the difference lies.
I will illustrate this with a very
simple analogy. Mind you, this is just an analogy. Don't take it
literally, because it's all hypothetical. The Buddha is like a
university professor—university professors are not Buddhas—you should
be clear about that point—and living beings are like students. Every
student can become a professor. Every professor can become a student.
The Buddha is, however, wiser than professors. He's even higher than a
professor! Remember, this is a mere analogy which demonstrates that the
Buddha and people are the same.
“Then why should I chant the
Buddha's name? Why doesn't the Buddha recite my name?” you wonder. “Why
should I recite 'Namo Amitahba Buddha'? Why doesn't the Buddha recite
me? Why doesn't he recite my name'”
That's a good question. In fact,
it's got me stumped. I don't know how to answer it, but I'll think up
something: Ah! I know! It's because you never made a vow to cause
living beings to recite your name. The Buddha Amitabha on the causal
ground was a Bhikshu named Dharma Treasury, and he made forty-eight
great vows. In every vow he said, “In the future, when my cultivation
succeeds and I have become a Buddha, my country will be one of ultimate
bliss and purity. The murkiness of the five turbidities will not exist
within it. All living beings in the ten directions who recite my name
will be led to rebirth in my land, where they may realize Buddhahood.
As long as one of them has not become a Buddha, I will not accomplish
the right enlightenment.”
Because of the power of the vows
of Amitabha Buddha, we have gathered here to recite—with different
mouths but with the same sound—“Namo Amitabha Buddha.” We are
cultivating by relying on the power of the vows of Amitabha Buddha.
When we recite the Buddha's name, Amitabha Buddha knows about it. “Hey,
I signed a contract with that living being saying that if he kept my
name in mind I would lead him to become a Buddha. If I don't guide him
to Buddhahood now, the contract is nothing but a lie.” And the Buddha
hurries right over to guide you to Buddhahood.
Someone says,“But the Western Land
of Ultimate Bliss is so far away—hundreds of thousands of millions of
Buddhalands—how can I go there? Can I take a plane? How much will the
ticket cost? How much is the train fare? Can I take the bus or
Don't worry about that. You can
arrive in a single thought. You don't have to buy any tickets at all.
In a single thought you can be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss.
Hundreds of thousands of millions of Buddhalands are not beyond that
one single thought.
To be continued