The Practice of Chanting Amituofo
- This is part of a series introducing the book "In One Lifetime, Pure Land Buddhism" by Venerable Wuling through selected excerpts. Read the first chapter on Amitabha Blog titled "What is Pure Land Buddhism?" here.
The simplest way to practice Pure Land is by chanting “Amituofo,” which is Amitabha Buddha in Chinese. It does not matter whether we chant in Chinese or any other language as long as we do it properly. When we chant, the sound of “Amituofo” arises in our minds. And as we utter “Amituofo,” our minds concentrate on and embrace that sound. While chanting, do so sincerely and continuously.
As one keeps chanting and the mind focuses on the sound of “Amituofo,” errant thoughts are replaced with pure thoughts. In this way, we also create less negative karma. After Amitabha has been in our mind continuously for a long time, our true nature—our Buddha-nature—will gradually be uncovered.
It is similar to a child remembering a dearly loved one: a mother, father, or someone equally close. The dearly loved one is always with him, always in his heart. Likewise, he is always in the dearly loved one’s heart—and never forgotten. In a similar way, Amitabha is always thinking of us, waiting for us to reach out to him so that he may respond to us.
Amitabha Buddha is the wise and compassionate teacher who understands everything, and who is always thinking of us, lifetime after lifetime after lifetime. We are the students who are trying to learn and to practice. Just as a good teacher listens to the calls for help from a student looking for the right answers, if we have unwavering belief, vow to be reborn in the Pure Land, and sincerely practice, Amitabha will respond. All we have to do is chant his name mindfully.
When we chant to the point of single-mindedness with the sole thought of “Amituofo,” we successfully form a connection with him—in fact, we become one with him. In that instant we are in the Pure Land—far to the west and deep within us.
As we breathe our last breath in this world, if we can form this connection, form this oneness with“Amituofo,” we will attain our next rebirth in the Western Pure Land and leave suffering behind. And once there, we will have all the time we need to continue our practice and learning, for we will be in the company of Amitabha Buddha and all the bodhisattvas. They will help us learn all the ways to wisely and compassionately help other beings.