To have realized the self-nature is by no means the ending of mind-cultivation, on the contrary, it is the high time that one should develop awareness all the more so as to wipe out those long accumulated habits gradually, and also should look upon people and affairs in the daily life as opportunities to intensify their mental and spiritual discipline so as to overcome passions and vexations at last; indeed, it is nowhere but in difficulties and adversities that one may best enhance awareness, as the great Chinese Sages says: “distressed in mind and perplexed in (their) thoughts, and then they arise to vigorous reformation.”
While practicing the method of looking into the mind to wipe out the manifold habits, to empty the mind of subjective views, illusions and ego-attachment and to reduce craving and passions, not only should one develop resolute firmness, courage and self-reliance but also should exercise extraordinary patience to tackle difficulties and to remove obstacles in the way, and the greater difficulty, the greater determination and the greater patience, then and only then, may one achieve good progress in the development of Buddhahood.
Again, when awareness is at the advanced stage of development, more often than not, the mind is be-set with confusion, vexation and frustration, but such phenomenon shows that because of the remarkable development of awareness, all the remaining habits, one and all, cannot help emerging from the Eighth Consciousness, where they are stored.
Considering that they are illusory and devoid of self-nature, one should neither grasp them nor reject them, but look into them calmly and objectively. The more they emerge, the more they are removed, and once they have been thoroughly cleaned up in this manner, the mind will be spontaneously and completely tranquil, as the Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment says: “One who can perceive that (Ignorance is illusory like) a flower in the sky, will not be turned by the Samsara’s wheel.”
The Name-Reciting Method – Another miraculous, efficacious method
Though the Buddhist Dharma of mind-cultivation are various and numerous, yet none of them may be said to be superior or inferior to the others since the adoption of every method is largely determined by the question of whether it is adaptable to the learners or not. To a good many people, who may think that those Dharma, which depend on self-effort entirely, may be too difficult for them to overcome their deep-seated habits, the Name-reciting Method – very simple yet highly efficacious and universally adaptable to learners of Buddhism at all levels – is therefore presented here for their attention.
Genuine faith and firm resolution are the two important elements for carrying out the Reciting Method successfully and should be fostered by the reciter who holds on to “Nam-Mo-Amita-Buddha” earnestly and consistently with all attention, whether in walking, standing, sitting, lying down in daily life. Whether one is happy or sad, at leisure or doing something of non-mental work, one should carry on the repetition without break.
At the beginning of the practice likely one may experience a lot of interruptions, but as soon as one is aware of them, they should carry on his their recitation with single-minded devotion and undivided attention. The most fundamental thing of recitation is to keep one’s mind free from conceptual thought, and then the recitation can be sincerely held on.
In due course of time when the mind is clarified in this manner, at once a tranquil mind would be realized.
Unfortunately, the Reciting Method is generally misunderstood to be a superstition, but how one may overcome greed, hatred and stupidity by every repetition of the holy name is but little realized. Again, how this profound and miraculous Dharma works out under the principle that the moment the mind is free from illusion, at once it is self-illuminating with wisdom, is utterly incomprehensible to outsiders.
Some Buddhists may think that the practice is too simple to produce such far-reaching results, but there should be no doubt about it if they understand the truth that just because it is in the chores of everyday life, Buddhism is fundamentally universal, perfect and all embracing, and should they aspire to something higher. This simply shows that they are still not free from concepts.
In reality, the Name-reciting Method brings all the Six Paramita into operation simultaneously at one stroke; to recite without greed and hatred is Discipline; to recite without making distinctions of “I” and “others” is Forbearance; to recite with all attention and single-minded devotion is energy; to recite with an unperturbed mind is Meditation and to recite with complete intense awareness is Wisdom. While from the Reciting Method only adepts may know how to cultivate the Six Paramita at one stroke. However, those of inferior intellect and dull mentality who practice it persistently and diligently, may also enjoy at the time of their accomplishment its benefits to the full extent.
The Mahasamghata-Sutra says: “To recite the Holy Name of Amita Buddha may be said to be tantamount to cultivating the profound and supreme Ch’an (Zen). The Ch’an (Zen) meditation practice, relying solely on self-effort, however, is no easy accomplishment, for according to Dharma, if one is to liberate oneself from rebirth into the sixfold states of transmigration, it is necessary for one to remove subjective views, perceptions and conceptions totally and completely; moreover, as a great variety of illusory phenomena, elusive and unpredictable like the hidden sun behind dark clouds, may emerge and disappear once and again during the meditation. Unless the meditator has the power of insight to perceive them clearly, most likely one would be deceived by them and thereby obstructed from making progress towards Enlightenment.
The Name-reciting Method, however, involves both self-effort and other-effort. If repetition is piously, vigorously and persistently practiced and held one, positively, the mind would be completely free of illusion. Meanwhile, with one’s genuine faith and firm resolution, added to the Blessing of the Buddha’s Great Vow, the reciter, once they have squared up all their retributions in this life, would be karma-free and then would transcend beyond the Three Realms to put up in the Pure Land.
The fact is noteworthy that all sutras and sastras speak with one voice to commend the Reciting Method, because of its inconceivable profound functioning.