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Miscellaneous Uses of Pure Land Practice

Due to the ease of its practice, mindfulness of the name of Amitabha Buddha (Namo Amituofo) has many miscellaneous uses indeed. Take for instance, the case of a schizophrenic friend, who occasionally hears a voice hurling abuse at him. Obstructed by unpredictable hallucinations, it is difficult for him to engage in basic mind-training practices such as Anapanasati meditation. The worst-case scenario would be to hear the disturbing voices amplified while he attempts to ‘silent’ his mind in meditation.

Though the mind can entertain many successive thoughts within a very short span of time, it can only entertain one thought at any one moment. As such, mindfulness of the name might prove to be a skilful means for him to train his mind – for when his mind is occupied by the physical or mental sound (if chanting is done silently) of the name, his mind in that moment cannot simultaneously generate an imaginary voice to distract him.

While sutra or mantra-chanting might have the same effect, Buddha mindfulness secures rebirth in Pure Land too, where his ailment would become absent (as it is a world of ‘ultimate bliss’). In the mean time, the practice might even lessen the voices in everyday life (if he switches to mindfulness of Amitabha Buddha the very instance he hears voices) – and help cure his illness perhaps? It is difficult to imagine any other means just as effective in helping him (or those with similar mental illnesses) to train his mind – via the increase of concentration, and the eventual attainment of insight.

Buddha mindfulness is also widely taught to be a simple but efficient way of abating general supernatural disturbances due to its protective qualities. The chanting of ‘Amituofo’ when fear of the supernatural arises is common practice among many Chinese Buddhists. In fact, it has become part and parcel of popular Chinese culture. This is helpful for faithful schizophrenics too, should they suspect the voices they hear, be it during spiritual practice or not, to be of supernatural nature.

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Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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