有人說：天天在心裏求，求師父回香港。這個你是錯了！你求師父回香港，沒有什麼好處！這個師父無論到什麼地方，都給人很多麻煩。什麼麻煩呢？就是教人很忙的，沒有閒著的時候、沒有睡覺的時候、沒有吃飯的時候。你看！這個要緊不要緊？在美國金山寺，一天到晚，是忙得不得了；把這一些個西方的人，給弄得手忙腳亂。回到佛教講堂，又要打佛七。你看！我回來這麼多天，這些個人就沒有閒著的時候，令這些個人都有很多工作；那麼這一打七，更沒有閒著的時候了！你看！忙得不得了，又要念佛，特別辛苦。我們這兒打七，我先告訴你們，沒有休息的時候。就是從早晨開始，到吃飯的時候吃飯，上供的時候上供，沒有休息的時候；是走著念半個鐘頭，坐半個鐘頭；坐半個鐘頭，再走半個鐘頭。要這麼沒有休息的時間，要念佛念得不間斷。像其他打佛七的地方，就上午念一個鐘頭，或者兩個鐘頭算了；下午再念一個鐘頭或兩個鐘頭，就可以了。我們這兒從一早起來，做完了早課，就繼續不斷的要念佛的；念到吃飯的時候吃飯，吃完飯，也不休息。為什麼不休息？我告訴你們原因。一休息，你們就 too much talking (講太多話)；就講、講、講，不知講什麼？誰也不講你念佛念得怎麼樣？你得到念佛三昧了沒有？沒有！都是講張家長、李家短，三個蛤蟆六隻眼；都講這個，不講正經話。所以我們就要沒有休息的時間、沒有談話的時間；在這一個禮拜，我們必須要專一念佛，不要盡打旁人的閒岔。你盡講話，令旁人都不能修行了，這是不可以的。我到什麼地方，就給人麻煩，就是教人忙得不得了；所以你們誰也不要在心裡求說「師父回香港」。回香港沒有什麼好處，只是教你們忙得不得了；忙得連飯都沒有時間吃，覺也沒有時間睡，你看這有什麼好處？但是沒有好處，你們已經把我求回來了；我就要用用我這個給你們麻煩的方法，來給大家添多一點麻煩。
Some people are praying that the Venerable Master will return to Hong Kong. That’s useless. Because wherever I go, I give people a lot of trouble. I make them real busy. There is no time for them to eat and to sleep. For instance, at Gold Mountain Monastery I keep my American disciples extremely busy. Now that I am in Hong Kong, I am asking for a one-week Buddha recitation session. Now that I am back, I won’t let you relax. I’ll keep you very busy. When the Buddha recitation session begins, there will be no time to pause. You will be kept busy. You will have no time to rest, because the recitation will begin after the morning recitation and continue until the meal offering ceremony and it will begin again after the meal. We will walk for half an hour and sit for half an hour, and there will be no break in between. We will all recite the Buddha’s name continuously. Unlike other places where they may recite the Buddha’s name for one or two hours in the morning and one or two hours in the afternoon, we will recite the Buddha’s name continuously from the morning ceremony until meal time and then after the meal without rest. Why is that? Because anytime you have a break, you talk too much. No one asks another person how their Buddha recitation is going or whether they have reached the samadhi of reciting the Buddha’s name. Instead, they gossip about this person and that person and talk about how three frogs have six eyes. So during this week, we will not gossip or disturb others so that they cannot cultivate. Wherever I go, like I said, I give people a lot of trouble and keep them busy. So it’s useless for you to ask me to return to Hong Kong, because I will only keep you busy so that you’ll have no time to eat or sleep. What advantage is there in that? In any case, now that I am here, I will keep you busy.
This time we stand and recite for half an hour, then sit and recite for half an hour. If I come back again and have another Buddha recitation session, then you will not have a chance to sit. You have to stand and recite the Buddha’s name—walk and recite for half an hour, then stand and recite for half an hour. You will not quit until you become enlightened. You will not quit until you see Amitabha Buddha. Until then you will not eat. So, you will not stop until you see Amitabha Buddha come rub you on the top of your head and say, “Good man, you’re really vigorous.” So you’d better not to ask me to come back for another Buddha recitation session. This Buddha recitation session will require you to give up your life and you won’t be able to handle it.
When Shakyamuni Buddha was in the world, he had five hundred disciples stand there and not sleep for seven or eight days, upon which many became enlightened. So this is how his disciples cultivated and worked hard while the Buddha was in the world. They didn’t take it easy and relax. They didn’t succeed easily. In this time and age, we are upholding the Proper Dharma; we should be bold and vigorous and fear no suffering or hardship. While we are cultivating, we should forget everything, let go of everything, and have no false thoughts. If you can apply your effort like that, you will surely have a response.
The practice of reciting Buddha’s name is the most perfect dharma door during the Dharma-ending age for everyone. During this age, it’s not easy for anyone to attain the Way despite working hard on cultivation. However, one may gain liberation through the practice of reciting the Buddha’s name. For example, elders don’t have too many days left, so it’s just right for them to recite the Buddha’s name. Young people still have a long way to go, so they should recite the Buddha’s name. Middle-aged people have experienced the things of the world and know them clearly so they should be reciting the Buddha’s name. For the sick, impermanence may arrive at any time, so they ought to recite the Buddha’s name. The healthy should value this time and recite the Buddha’s name. Whether one is wise or dull, the practice of reciting the Buddha’s name is suitable for one. As it is said, “People of various potentials can all find it appropriate for their practice. It just takes in everyone—whether one is wise or dull. Various potentials refer to those with keen potentials, those with average potentials, and those with inferior potentials. Those with keen potentials, upon hearing about the practice of reciting the Buddha’s name, will become enlightened. Those with average potentials waver between doubt and belief when they hear about this practice. Once their doubts subside, they will have faith in this practice. Those with inferior potentials may not understand much, but all they need to know is the phrase: “Namo Amitabha Buddha” and they will gain benefit. Thus this dharma is suitable for those of all three types of potentials. Both smart and dull people can succeed with this method. That’s why the practice of reciting the Buddha’s name is the very best and also the easiest.
All you have to do is recite the Buddha’s name everyday. If you are too busy, you can practice the Ten Breath Recitation method in the morning and in the evening. After you get up, wash your face and rinse your mouth in the morning, face west and recite “Namo Amitabha Buddha, Namo Amitabha Buddha, Namo Amitabha Buddha” for ten breaths. You may recite the Buddha’s name as many times as you are able to during each breath, as long as you do it naturally and don’t hold your breath. It would be wrong to hold your breath and recite. Don’t try to purposely extend or shorten your breath either. It is fine however many times you recite in one breath. That’s the method of Ten Breath Recitation in the Morning and Evening.
Just as you recite for ten breaths in the morning, you should also face west and recite for ten breaths in the evening. Those who practice reciting the Buddha’s name should try to sit facing the west, which is the direction of Amitabha Buddha, and not have their backs to the west. We should contemplate all the time: “Amitabha Buddha is right in front of us! I will not turn my back on Amitabha Buddha because that would mean I am defying Amitabha Buddha.”
It’s been so many years—some of you have been Buddhist for several decades, yet you still don’t know how to recite the Buddha’s name. Isn’t it pathetic?
You say that you know how to bow in repentance. Well, you don’t know the significance of the repentances. Or you say that you know how to recite Sutras, but you are just reading them without understanding them. You have simply let the time slip through your fingers. So what should you do? You should: recite the Sutras and practice according to their principles; bow in repentance and apply the principles of the repentances; recite the Buddha’s name and understand what this dharma is all about.
There are four ways to attain mindfulness of the Buddha: 1) mindfulness through visualization, 2) mindfulness through contemplating the image, 3) mindfulness through reciting the Buddha’s name, 4) mindfulness through investigating the character of reality.
Mindfulness through visualization: You are always mindful of Amitabha Buddha and visualize that “Amitabha’s body is the color of gold.” Amitabha Buddha has 32 fine hallmarks and 80 subsidiary characteristics, and his body shines with light. No Buddha can match up to him. One of Amitabha Buddha’s hallmarks is the fine white hair between his eyebrows, which is the size of five Mount Sumerus. Amitabha Buddha’s eyes are clear and greenish-blue, and as large as the four great seas. His shining light contains infinite transformation Buddhas. At the tip of his every hair are infinite transformation Buddhas. The tip of every hair pours forth light of infinite colors. Within these colors are further infinite rays of light, and those rays manifest infinite transformation Buddhas, and not just Buddhas, but also infinite Bodhisattvas.
Amitabha Buddha, in a past life when he was still cultivating the Way, was the Bhikshu Dharma Treasury (Fa Zang). At that time, he made 48 vows, each of which was directed at guiding living beings to realize Buddhahood. The nine grades of lotuses allow every being to reach the other shore. They are the superior superior grade, the middle superior grade, and the lower superior grade (three superior grades); the superior middle grade, the middle middle grade, and the lower middle grade (three middle grades); and the superior low grade, the middle low grade, and low low grade (three low grades). Even at the low low grade, one can become a Buddha and avoid further transmigration in birth and death. This is the method of attaining mindfulness through visualizing the Buddha.
Mindfulness through contemplating the image: Place an image of Amitabha Buddha before you and gaze at it constantly as you are mindful of the Buddha. By constantly gazing and being mindful of the Buddha, you become concentrated. “Concentration leads to efficaciousness, while scatteredness yields no useful result.” By being focused and free of any false thoughts, you are concentrated. You should be looking at that image single-mindedly while being mindful of Amitabha Buddha. Develop your mindfulness until you can see the image talking, walking, and rubbing the crown of your head and giving you a prediction. This will mean that you have attained the
samadhi of contemplating the image of Amitabha Buddha, for the Buddha has appeared personally to speak the Dharma for you.
Mindfulness through reciting the Buddha’s name: You just recite “Namo Amitabha Buddha” [or “Na-mo A-mi-to-fo” in Chinese]. Recite the Buddha’s name aloud very clearly with your mouth, hear it clearly with your ears, and think about it clearly in your mind. The three karmic vehicles of body, mouth and mind are all pure. Recite until you become one with the name and attain the samadhi of reciting the Buddha’s name.
Mindfulness through investigating the character of reality: True Reality has no appearances or characteristics. You are mindful of the Buddha in the absence of characteristics. How can this be? Investigating Chan is just “being mindful through investigating the character of reality.” You recite, “Namo Amitabha Buddha, Namo Amitabha Buddha” for a while, and then investigate the question: “Who is mindful of the Buddha? Who is the one being mindful of the Buddha?” Look into it! This is called “mindfulness through investigating the character of reality.” If you can concentrate and be sincere to the extreme, you will have responses.
To be continued