How To Practise Nianfo? 如何修习念佛?


‘[Of the] Pure Land Dharma door, [all sentient beings of the] three [spiritual] roots [i.e. high, middle and low], the sharp and dull, [can be] completely received. Thus is it [Sakya(muni)] Tathagata’s great Dharma [door], to universally, for all superior sages and inferior ordinary beings, to enable them to, within this life, immediately be liberated from [the cycle of] birth and death. Of this, not having Faith and not cultivating [thus], is this not pitiable?


This Dharma door, is with Faith, Aspiration and Practice, as the three teachings [to cultivate, for the] principal aim [of reaching Amitabha Buddha’s Pure Land].


On Faith, thus is it [1] Faith that I in this [Saha] World am [enduring] suffering. [2] Faith that the [Pure] Land Of Ultimate Bliss is bliss. [3] Faith that I am an ordinary being [affected by much] power [of negative] karma, who is definitely not able to rely on self-power [only], to sever confusions and realise the truth, to be liberated from [the cycle of] birth and death. [4] Faith that Amita[bha] Buddha has great vows [to receive and guide], that if there are sentient beings, who are mindful of the Buddha’s name [Amituofo], to seek birth in his Buddha Land, when they approach the end of life, the Buddha will definitely approach with loving-kindness to receive and guide, to enable birth in his Western [Pure Land].


On Aspiration, thus is it Aspiration to swiftly depart from this world of suffering, aspiring to swiftly be reborn in that Land Of Ultimate Bliss.


On Practice, thus is it to, with utmost sincerity and earnestness, always recite “Namo Amituofo”, at all times [from moment to moment], not causing it to be temporarily forgotten. At dawn and dusk before the Buddha prostrating [reverently] and reciting, according to oneself’s leisure and busyness, setting a course [for sincere regular practice]. Besides this, then walking, standing, sitting or lying down, and when doing matters that do not need an attentive mind, these are all good [times] for recitation. When [about to] sleep, there should be silent recitation, as it is not appropriate for [reciting] aloud. It is appropriate to only recite the four words of “Amituofo”, to avoid words being [too] many, which makes it difficult to recite.’


– 净土宗十三祖印光大师

If dressing is not orderly, or if bathing, toileting, or when reaching unclean places, there should all be silent recitation. Silent recitation’s meritorious virtues are the same, [while] reciting aloud ceremoniously [or formally then is] not suitable. Regardless of loud recitation, soft recitation, vajra recitation [which is only audible to oneself] or silent recitation, all must be with the mind within reciting clearly, the mouth within reciting clearly, and the ears within listening clearly. In this way, thus will the mind not to the external run, [stray] false thoughts gradually cease, and Buddha mindfulness gradually become pure, which [creates the] greatest meritorious virtues.’

– Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yinguang
(One Letter As A Common Reply)

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