Question: Can Nianfo (practice of mindfulness of the name of Amitabha Buddha – ‘Amituofo’) increase my loving-kindness (metta)? If so, I would not have to practise loving-kindness meditation separately.
Answer: Nianfo connects to our Buddha-nature, and unleashes its potential for growth of all Four Immeasurable States Of Mind (the Four Brahma Viharas of Loving-kindness, Compassion, Rejoice and Equanimity). What more, Nianfo also connects us to an actual Buddha’s (Amituofo) blessings offered through his perfect Four Immeasurable States Of Mind. As such, Nianfo surely helps us to nurture the same virtues.
This is an excellent example of how Nianfo practice is a comprehensive and thus complete Dharma practice. The sincere practice of connecting our unrealised Buddha-nature with the Buddha’s realised Buddha-nature aids the nurturing of all virtues. Beyond nurturing pure emotive virtues, rational virtues such as wisdom is also nurtured via Nianfo. As compassion used to represent all four Immeasurable States Of Mind, this verse, which can be used as a reminder to motivate Nianfo practice sums up the above concepts:
Verse On Mindfulness Of Buddha
Cultivating Compassion & Wisdom
Mindfulness of Amituofo grows (loving-kindness and) compassion,
for transforming all sentient beings.
Mindfulness of Amituofo opens (our capacity for) wisdom,
for seeking the path to Buddhahood.–
How Does Nianfo Eradicate Our Five Poisons? 念佛如何灭五毒？