Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mahayana Meditations

"Chant Namo Amituofo"

All beings possess the potential of achieving the qualities of a Buddha. However, sentient beings are so greatly blocked by their own karmic obstacles from attaining Buddhahood.

A Buddha's mind, in essence, is equal to that of an ordinary being. However, a Buddha has a clear mind without any greed, anger, and ignorance, whereas, an ordinary being has a deluded one. This makes an ordinary being different from a Buddha.

The Western Pure Land created by Buddha Amitabha provides the best opportunity to become a Buddha, for those with great karmic obstacles.

The teaching given in the Infinite Life Sutra shows us the way to single-mindedly contemplate Buddha Amitabha and to reach the Pure Land.

Amitabha (Skrt) is a Buddha's name, primarily meaning Infinite Life. "Infinite Life" is the most important meaning within "Amitabha." Others include infinite light, boundless wisdom, virtue, talent, etc. * "Amitabha" virtually encompasses every word from the Infinite Life Sutra.

To be enlightened, one first generates the Bodhi mind. Generating a Bodhi mind is vowing to attain Buddhahood so that one can help all sentient beings.

Great Master Ou-I stated that vowing to be born into the Western Pure Land is the supreme Bodhi mind.

Either worldly or spiritual Dharma is not real but illusive. Only the Western Pure Land is real as indicated by infinite life, which is the most important of all infinities. With it, one can enjoy all that is wonderful and magnificent. A truly awakened person will sincerely be mindful of Buddha Amitabha from night to day and day to night.

The Pure Land method is the simplest and easiest without fixed forms. It is up to the practitioner to decide what is most suitable for him or her.

In The Diamond Sutra, Venerable Sariputra had raised two questions. First, where should our minds dwell? Second, how do we overcome our wandering minds?

The answer is simple. In the Pure Land School, dwelling in mindfulness of Buddha Amitabha overcomes our wandering thoughts.

How to chant the Buddha's name? Silently or aloud? Four syllables (Amitabha) or six (Namo Amitabha)?

Chanting the Buddha's name aloud helps to suppress afflictions. When we chant aloud, we can chase away wandering thoughts and drowsiness thus concentrating our mind.

When we are alert, we can chant silently but continuously. We need to know which is most fitting.

There is no fixed form in chanting the Buddha's name, but there is a basic principle, to let our mind become quiet, peaceful and without wandering thoughts. This is one of the purposes in chanting the Buddha's name.

We can do walking meditation while chanting. When we feel tired, we can sit and continue chanting. If we feel stiff when sitting, we may get up to walk or prostrate. In this way, we can adjust our body accordingly.

The more we chant and are mindful of Buddha Amitabha, the less our wandering thoughts will arise and the purer our mind will become, and the more wisdom we will attain. If not so, then something is incorrect in our way of practice. Therefore, we need to know how to harmonize our body and mind to keep our mind peaceful and quiet, and our body active and healthy.

The power of visualization is tremendous. Everything in the universe is derived from one's mind. Constant contemplation of the Buddha leads to becoming a Buddha, whereas a mind constantly harboring ignorance, greed and anger leads one to the three lower realms of animals, hungry ghosts and hells, respectively.

Chanting only one Buddha's name, Amitabha, contributes to the benefits of purifying one's mind and of being born into the Western Pure Land within the shortest period.

The title Infinite Life Sutra clearly explains that one chants the Buddha's name with a pure, non-discriminating and awakened mind.

On the other hand, one uses the chanting method to attain a pure, non-discriminating and awakened mind. The chanting enhances this state of mind, which in turn enhances further the chanting.

Buddha Amitabha is a Buddha within one's self-nature. His world also appears in one's mind. Everything essentially is a reflection of and cannot be separated from one's true nature. In order to attain a pure mind, one must overcome the internal obstacles of worry, delusion and habit accumulated over aeons of lifetimes, and the external obstacles of the enticements of too many adverse conditions which surround us. It is just a matter of thought whether we remain in or transcend the cycle of birth and death.

In order to eradicate the roots of birth and death, the first priority is to sever afflictions and then vow to go to the Western Pure Land. Once we sever our afflictions and attain Buddha Name Mindfulness Samadhi, we are certain to go to the Pure Land. We need to set this as our most important goal in this life.

Buddha Amitabha's unsurpassable forty-eight vows were generated gradually during Dharmakara's hundred billion years of study and five aeons of cultivation. He condensed and perfected all that he learned from his study and cultivation of the Buddhaland in the ten directions to create the ideal land without any negative elements.

When Buddha Amitabha made his selections to create his land, he used a single mind, a true mind without wandering, discriminating, attaching or deluded thoughts. With this true mind, every single choice would be perfect. Good choices are made when one's mind is truly at peace. A true Pure Land cultivator chants the Buddha's name with a sincere and pure mind. It is said in sutras that no bad spirits would dare to come within forty miles of a true cultivator. When one's body and mind are pure, Buddha Amitabha and all other Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will care for and protect this person.

Note : the above texts are extracted from the Commentary on Infinite Life Sutra by Ven. Master Chin Kung.