Reciting Namo Amituofo is Not Difficult
In 1995, I attended a summer monastic retreat (Vassa) in the Kaohsiung Metropolitan Community at Ultimate Bliss Guanyin Temple. At that time, there were seven nuns, including me. Aside from the abbot, all came from different walks of life. Among them, I only knew Master Fa Ci and my senior dharma brother, Master Chang Yi; the others I met for the first time. All of us wanted to practice diligently in the retreat.
Because I spent the entire day reciting the Lotus Sutra and praying the Dharma Flower Samadhi Repentance, I was unable to attend the morning and evening services. To concentrate on my practices, I requested only to be assigned to the breakfast preparation chore so that my daily practices wouldn’t be interrupted. The group graciously accepted my request.
In order to be more diligent and focus on my practice, I started a Twenty-one-day retreat of silent cultivation. During this period, I was in very poor physical condition, and I often collapsed, causing everyone around me to panic, of which I felt very sorry and ashamed and deeply repented.
One day, around noon, I felt that I was going to collapse again. To avoid disturbing other monastics, I wrote a note to my dharma brother asking her to bring my lunch to the second floor as I could not join everyone in the meal room. I saw that her face was a little flustered. To reassure her, I tried to hold on and not collapse; When she went downstairs, I leaned against the wall powerlessly and slowly sat on the ground. At that time, I was cold all over, and my breath was weak. I could not even breathe. It seemed that I was going to die. So, I prayed to Amitabha Buddha in my heart: "Amitabha Buddha, if my time is up, please come to get me. I don't regret that I haven't completed the twenty one-day retreat.” After I finished praying, I recited in my heart, "Namo Amituofo" slowly and clearly, and I felt a wave of energy radiating from above through the roof and covering me. At this time, my hair follicles opened to receive the energy, and then the heat slowly rose from the bottom of my feet, until it filled my whole body, so I lived again.
At the end of last year (2016), our benevolent Master Yuan Chen introduced us to a series of Pure Land School publications authored by Master Huijing, including "The Gist of the Three Pure Land Sutras and the Commentary on the Treatise on Rebirth in the Pure Land”, which explains Master Shandao’s teachings. I was excited that the teachings helped me to understand the essence of Amitabha Buddha and to know that reciting Namo Amituofo is not difficult (in the past, I mistakenly thought it was necessary to get rid of delusions when we recite the Buddha’s name, so every time I recited, I was always defeated by delusions and became frustrated). I originally practiced a bunch of miscellaneous Buddhist sects, but they were not as good as the merit of reciting Namo Amituofo. Reciting the Buddha’s name is the one and only thing needed for rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss.
Looking back on the past, although I worked hard, every time I collapsed, none of the miscellaneous practices could be used. I could only recite Namo Amituofo to seek rebirth in the Pure Land, and I ended up alive again. It turned out that Amitabha Buddha had long been embracing me, but I didn't know it. The energy that came down from above the roof at that time was Buddha’s light, but ordinary people could not see it with their naked eye. Now I understand Amitabha Buddha had never abandoned me, instead I was foolish and couldn’t comprehend. Without the guidance of Master Shandao’s teachings, it is difficult for sentient beings to enter this pristine Pure Land School. Now with the support of the teachings, reciting Namo Amituofo is no longer difficult! I am incredibly grateful to my mentor, the monk Yuan Chen, and to the writings of Master Huijing, which have given me great peace of mind as if I have received the greatest treasure.
Not long after I started to specialize in reciting Namo Amituofo, I had a dream that I was dying, so I started to recite Namo Amituofo and waited for Amituofo to pick me up, but I woke up again. I was disappointed and a little annoyed. It would have been wonderful if I were to have gone to Pure Land at that moment! The special advantage of the people who recite Namo Amituofo is that they are different from ordinary people, and those who do not recite Namo Amituofo in the face of death can only be afraid and uneasy, while people who recite Namo Amituofo are both happy and looking forward to their rebirth. Their hearts are full of light.
Namo Amituofo! I take refuge in Amituofo wholeheartedly.
(Translated by the Pure Land School Translation Team;
edited by Kevin Orro (Fozhu))
- Recitation of Amitabha’s name, relying on his Fundamental Vow (the 18th)
- Rebirth of ordinary beings in the Pure Land’s Realm of Rewards
- Rebirth assured in the present lifetime
- Non-retrogression achieved in this lifetime
The 18th Vow of Amitabha Buddha
If, when I achieve Buddhahood, sentient beings of the ten directions who sincerely and joyfully entrust themselves to me, wish to be reborn in my land and recite my name, even ten times, should fail to be born there, may I not attain perfect enlightenment. Excepted are those who commit the five gravest transgressions or slander the correct Dharma.
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