I usually exercise a few times a week by the riverside near my house. One morning, as usual, I chanted Amituofo as I walked the first lap. On the return lap, I did the same while doing a slow jog. After about 200 metres, three ferocious dogs started chasing me while barking madly. I immediately froze with fear, not knowing what to do in such a dangerous situation. What’s more, I have always been fearful of dogs. I did not know if the dogs would attack to have me for breakfast!!!
With such uncertainty, while being filled with terror and anxiety,I continued to chant. So strong was my faith in Amituofo (Amitabha Buddha), that suddenly, I felt no fear. Within a split-second, quietness enveloped me. With such stillness and peace around me, there was no fear, even while the dogs continued barking and sniffing at me. After a short while, the dogs stopped baking and slowly left, one by one. I felt so glad, light and at peace, as I continued my jog-chanting. The next day, I wanted to re-experience that wonderful feeling. However hard I tried, I could not relive it. I guess I was trying too hard to have that feeling, thus neglecting the basic principle of chanting with single-mindedness.
Shi’an, I would not have such faith in my chanting if I have not attended your Amitabha Sutra class. In the past, I would just chant Amituofo or Amituojing (Amitabha Sutra) as I walked. I guess it was lacking faith and conviction, just chanting for chanting’s sake, going through the motion, hoping it will lead me to Pure Land or a good rebirth. Such was my naivety and ignorance. You have changed my perspective. (Was it fear that ignited my faith in Amituofo, or was it faith that dispelled my fear?)
Thank you. Amituofo, Paula (Name altered for privacy)
Hi Paula, thank you for sharing your interesting experience! As your phobia of dogs have been lifelong, the shield of peace and protection you felt is surely a result of the blessings of Amituofo! To answer your question, it is probably a case of a loop. That is, fear ignited faith, which dispelled fear! It’s really a wonderful experience – that showed you how you have learnt to trust Amituofo even with your life. And this is very important because we do indeed have to trust Amituofo with our (next) life, when we relinquish this life for birth in Pure Land.
This experience might be less easy to repeat in everyday life because our faith might not be as intensely focused all the time. However, if, say, on the deathbed, when we realise we are relatively helpless, and are able to muster such mindful faith in the Other-power of Amituofo, which is possible due to some natural fear of death and the unknown beyond, we can definitely reach Pure Land! Due to your experience above, you now know it is possible to muster such faith! Do carry on with your Dharma study and practice to fortify all Three Provisions of Faith, Aspiration and Practice. With the Three Provisions strong, rebirth in Pure Land is definite!