A Talk by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua During an Amitabha Session
Now we are holding a Buddha Recitation Session. For seven days, we gather together to recite "Namo Amitabha Buddha." This is a rare opportunity. Those who believe in the Buddha should take time out of their busy schedule to come join the recitation. When you recite the Buddha's name on your own, sometimes you have to pause in your recitation and you can't keep it going. When everyone recites together, the recitation can continue without interruption.
There is a verse that goes,
you recite the Buddha's name, reciting without cease,
The mouth recites "Amita" and makes things of a piece.
Scattered thoughts do not arise; samadhi you attain.
For rebirth in the Pure Land, your hope is not in vain.
If all day you detest the suffering of Saha 's pain,
Cut off the red dust thoughts within your mind.
Make rebirth in Ultimate Bliss your mind's essential aim.
Put down impure reflections, and pure thoughts you will find.
Your mouth recites "Namo Amitabha Buddha" and you enter the Buddha Recitation Samadhi. Your hope of being reborn in the Pure Land will certainly be realized.
If all day long you feel that the Saha world is full of suffering and vexation, you will let go of everything in this mundane "red dust" world.
You make the vow to seek rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss the top priority. When you cast aside defiled thoughts, then you perfect pure mindfulness.
During these seven days, we must be determined to attain the Buddha Recitation Samadhi, for then we will not have wasted our efforts. The more suffering it is, the more you must recite. The more difficult it is, the more you have to recite.
Don't be afraid of suffering or difficulty. Don't think so highly of your stinking skin-bag. You sit for awhile, and your back starts to ache. You walk a little, and your feet hurt. After reciting for a long time, your throat gets dry and your voice grows hoarse. You decide you can't take it anymore.
Who is it that can't take it? Why do you place so much importance on your stinking skin-bag?
We should forget our bodies for the Dharma! For the sake of the Buddhadharma, we should not place so much importance on our false shell of a body. You may cherish and pamper your body right now, taking care not to let it get sick, get cold, get hungry, or get thirsty. You help it and protect it and lavish lots of attention upon it.
But after you have done this for a long time, it will no longer help you out. Bit by bit, it will quit on you. The eyes will quit on you, and then you won't be able to see clearly. The ears will quit and grow deaf, saying, "You've used us for such a long time; now it's time to give us our freedom."
Your arms and legs will become feeble and unable to move, also resigning from their jobs. At that time, no matter how much importance you place on your body, it won't take orders from you anymore.
Now when you are still healthy, it's the perfect time to recite the Buddha's name. You can still "borrow what's false to cultivate what's true." Each of you should pay attention to this. You should not say, "Last year I attended the recitation but didn't get anything out of it, so I don't feel like attending this year."
That's the wrong way to look at it. If you didn't gain any advantages last year, you should work even harder this year and be determined to gain some benefit. In cultivation, you should vigorously go forward rather than retreat. It shouldn't be that, "When you have studied Buddhism for one year, the Buddha is right in front of you. When you studied Buddhism for ten years, the Buddha is far away on the horizon."
You ought to be more vigorous and more sincere with each passing day. Only then will you have some accomplishment.
Vajra Bodhi Sea, No. 347