A Metaphor of A Mother Being Mindful of Her Child
“To be mindful of me.” To be mindful is to recall from memory, which means the same as “to recite.” The Eighteenth Vow says: “To recite my name even if only ten times.” “Me” is Amitabha Buddha.
Therefore, “To be mindful of me,” is “to recite Namo Amitabha Buddha.”
“To be mindful” is “to long for,” like one ceaselessly longing for his lover, day and night.
“To be mindful” is “to attach to”: Sentient beings and the Buddha attach together as one, never separating.
“To be mindful of me” is for reciters to stick to the Buddha’s deliverance inseparably.
“To be mindful” is to remember intently, like how a child always has her mother in mind.
The Chapter of Bodhisattva Mahasthamaprapta Speaks of Enlightenment by Buddha Recitation in The Surangama Sutra reads:
The Tathagatas of the ten directions think of all sentient beings with compassion, just as a mother is always mindful of her child. If the child runs away from home, it doesn’t matter if the mother thinks of him. But, if the child is mindful of his mother, just as she is of him, the two will be inseparable in a lifetime.” It continues: “In the same way, if sentient beings think of the Buddha and recite his name, they are certain to behold the Buddha at present or in the future. They are never far from the Buddha, and they will attain enlightenment without effort.
Therefore, being mindful is to think like a child recalling his mother, though never as earnestly as his mother thinks of him. As the proverb says: “The remembrance of parents to their children is profound like a great river; the memory of the children to their parents is just a slight wind across a tree.” Parents never cease thinking of their children; the farther they are away from home, the deeper their regards, day and night. As we think of Amitabha Buddha and seek his refuge, the deliverance of Amitabha Buddha is like parents remembering their children.
To be mindful is to recite Amitabha Buddha persistently, never quitting. That is, "believe in and accept the deliverance of Amitabha Buddha. Recite his name solely. Aspire rebirth in his land.” We are well-blended with the Buddha in one body, like water and milk, and in complete harmony.
“Being mindful of me” is our faith in the deliverance of Amitabha Buddha. Out of faith and understanding, we recite his name and aspire to be reborn in his land. If we do not recite his name exclusively or do not wish the rebirth, then we do not honestly believe in his deliverance; it becomes no more than a superficial notion, a mere academic exercise.
Those who recite the Buddha’s name, whether they understand it or not, believe it or not, or are sincere or not, will conform with the Buddha’s fundamental vow, the Eighteenth Vow. They will be firmly embraced in and protected by his light and benefit from the inconceivable merits and virtues of the name.
To recite his name is to be intimate with the Buddha. To say our relationship with the Budha is most intimate and dear is not sufficient. It is the closest in definition to one body, like milk and water being blended, homogenous and inseparable. A mixture of water and oil, on the other hand, can never be one; each remains its own entity.
(Translated by the Pure Land School Translation Team,
edited by Kevin Orro (Fozhu))
Faith in, and acceptance of, Amitabha’s deliverance
Single-minded recitation of Amitabha’s name
Aspiration to rebirth in Amitabha’s Pure Land
Comprehensive deliverance of all sentient beings