Questions & Answers on Recitation of the Buddha’s Name


A Talk from the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua’s Visit to
Washington, D.C. on March 3-4, 1989

When we speak one sentence more, it follows that we will recite the Buddha’s name one time less.  When we speak one sentence less, it also follows that we will recite the Buddha’s name one time more. If we understand this principle, then “Walking, Amitabha; sitting, also Amitabha.” That is, when we are walking, we are mindful of Amitabha; when seated, we are also mindful of Amitabha.  When standing, we are mindful of Amitabha, and when reclining, we are also mindful of Amitabha.

We recite constantly without the thought of reciting, and without the thought of reciting and yet reciting to the point that the wind cannot blow through and the rain cannot leak through; rather there is only the thought of reciting the Buddha’s name and nothing else.

Therefore it is said,

Recite the Buddha’s name continuously, reciting without a break. 

The mouth recites Amitabha and makes things of a piece.  This happens when one’s recitations continue one after another, without stopping.

When extraneous thoughts do not arise, one attains samadhi. If you don’t give rise to false thoughts, there is proper mindfulness, or proper perception. That is samadhi.

For rebirth in the Pure Land, your hope is not in vain. You will definitely be reborn there. All you have to do is recite without the thought of reciting, not reciting yet reciting, reciting Amitabha’s name through the storms until even the sounding of the bell is reciting, “Amitabha Buddha!” When the waters flow and the wind blows, they proclaim the Mahayana. They are reciting “Homage to Amitabha Buddha.”

If you can recite like this, I guarantee that you will be reborn in the Pure Land as if not being reborn, not being reborn and yet being reborn there. You will even forget about what grade of lotus you will be reborn in.

Since you do not remember, you certainly will attain what you deserve. What you do not deserve, you cannot attain even if you wish to. Thus, everything is made from the mind alone.

However, this does not mean everything you think will come true. You must have adequate skill. If your skill is sufficient and you recite the Buddha’s name, you let go of absolutely everything.

If all day you detest the sufferings of the Saha world. Everyday we experience the “evil age of the five turbidities.” That is, the kalpa turbidity, the view turbidity, the affliction turbidity, the living beings turbidity, and the life turbidity. These are turbid things. We are vexed by these sufferings in the Saha World.

One cuts off thoughts of mundane defilements. Mundane defilements refer to lust between men and women. Once we cut off lust, we can say that we have given up mundane defilements.

Make rebirth in Ultimate Bliss your mind’s essential aim. You must regard the wish to be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss as extremely important.

Renounce defiled thoughts and pure thoughts you will find. The absence of defiled thoughts is pure thought. That’s the Pure Land practice.

Questions and Answers on Recitation of the Buddha’s name [pdf]