Wonderful Method To Gather Mind
If perhaps, still [with] rising [of] false [i.e. stray] thoughts [like] waves, then use [the Method Of] Ten Recitations [With] Counting. Thus [with the] entire mind’s power, given to [this] one recitation [of] Buddha’s name, although desiring [to] give rise [to] false [thoughts, the mind’s] power [will be] fully occupied, without time to attend to [them].
This ultimately wonderful method of gathering [in the] mind [to] recite Buddha[‘s name], in [the] past, [by] those [who] propagate [the] Pure Land [teachings, has] not yet [been] talked about.
With [those] persons’ roots fairly sharp, [they do] not need this, [to] then [be] able [to] thus unify [their minds as] one.
Yìnguāng, with [his] mind difficult [to] subdue [and control], then recognised [the] wonder [of] this method.
Why not repeatedly try [and] repeatedly examine [this, and] not hastily rely only upon [my] statement?
May [I], with those [of the] whole world’s later generations [with] dull roots share this, [to] enable, [of] ten thousand cultivators, ten thousand persons [to] go [to Pure Land].
Method Of Ten Recitations With Counting
That so-called [Method Of] Ten Recitations [With] Counting [is], when reciting Buddha[‘s name], from one line reaching ten lines, [there] must [be] reciting [that is] distinct [and] clear, [and there] must still [be] counting [that is] distinct [and] clear.
[Note 1: This is reciting in this repeated sequence of, ‘(In each breath): ‘Āmítuófó-1, Āmítuófó-2, Āmítuófó-3, Āmítuófó-4, Āmítuófó-5, Āmítuófó-6, Āmítuófó-7, Āmítuófó-8, Āmítuófó-9, Āmítuófó-10.’
This counting is used as a structure for the Buddha’s name to hang on to, to prevent straying off. Ten recitations is used in the structure following Āmítuófó’s 18th Vow which mentioned connecting to him within ten mindful thoughts with (profound) Faith and (sincere) Aspiration. When there is no more straying off, the structure can be dropped. For those able to recite sincerely and continually already, this structure is not needed. In pure recitation, there is just sincere recitation, with no need to count at all.]
Reaching ten lines already, [there] again must [be] from one line reaching ten lines reciting. [There] must not [be to] twenty [or] thirty [counted].
According [to that] reciting, accordingly counting, [there] must not [be] clutching [of] beads, only relying [on the] mind [to] count.
If [of] ten lines directly counting [in one breath is] difficult, perhaps divide as two breaths, thus from one reaching five [lines, then] from six reaching ten [lines].
[Note 2: This is reciting in the repeated sequence of, ‘(In the first breath): Āmítuófó-1, Āmítuófó-2, Āmítuófó-3, Āmítuófó-4, Āmítuófó-5. (In the second breath): Āmítuófó-6, Āmítuófó-7, Āmítuófó-8, Āmítuófó-9, Āmítuófó-10.’]
If [this] also expends great effort, [there] should [be], from one reaching three [lines, then] from four reaching six [lines, then] from seven reaching ten [lines], taking three breaths [when] reciting.
[Note 3: This is reciting in the repeated sequence of, ‘(In the first breath): Āmítuófó-1, Āmítuófó-2, Āmítuófó-3. (In the second breath): Āmítuófó-4, Āmítuófó-5, Āmítuófó-6. (In the third breath): Āmítuófó-7, Āmítuófó-8, Āmítuófó-9, Āmítuófó-10.’]
[With] reciting clear, counting clear, [and] listening clear, false thoughts [are] without places [to] rest [their] ‘feet’. Wholeheartedness without [being] scattered, over time, will naturally [be] attained.
[It] must [be] known [that] of these ten recitations, with [the Method Of] Early Morning’s Ten Recitations, [for] gathering [in] false [thoughts, is] thus [the] same [in effect, but in] making [of] effort [with] great difference.
Method Of Early Morning’s Ten Recitations
[In the Method Of] Early Morning’s Ten Recitations, exhausting one breath [is] as one recitation.
Regardless [of the] Buddha[‘s name’s] number [being] many [or] few, this [is] with one line [of the] Buddha[‘s name] as one recitation.
That [practised] only [in] early morning [for] ten recitations, [is] thus suitable. If [for] twenty [or] thirty [recitations, this] thus harms [the] vitality [i.e. qì] [to] become sickness.
This thus [is with] reciting one line [of the] Buddha[‘s name, with the] mind knowing [it as] one line.
Reciting ten lines [of the] Buddha[‘s name, with the] mind knowing [them as] ten lines.
From one reaching ten [lines], from one reaching ten [lines again], even if [in one] day reciting several tens [of] thousands [of lines], all like this counting.
Not only ridding false [thoughts, this is] most able [to] rest [the] mind.
Accordingly fast [and] accordingly slow, without obstruction.
From dawn till dusk, [this is] without [when] not suitable.
Comparing that [with] those clutching beads [to] count, [the] benefits [are as] different [as the earth from the] sky.
That thus, [is with the] body toiling and [the] mind moving. This thus, [is with the] body leisurely and [the] mind peaceful.
However, when doing matters, perhaps difficult [to] count [then], then sincerely [and] directly recite.
[With] doing [of] matters then finished, yet again gather [in the] mind [with] counting.
Thus, [of] those continuously going [and] coming, friends [can] accompany one another with focused attention upon [the] one realm of [the] Buddha’s name within.
Gather In Six roots With Pure Mindfulness In Continuous Succession
Great Power Arrived [Bodhisattva] spoke [that to] ‘gather [in the] six roots, [with] pure mindfulness [of the Buddha’s name in] continuous succession, [to] attain Samādhi,this [is] as [the] foremost [method].’
[Of those with] sharp roots, [this does] not need discussion.
If [for] us of dull roots, abandoning this Method Of Ten Recitations [With] Counting, [but] desiring [to] ‘gather [in the] six roots, [with] pure mindfulness [of the Buddha’s name in] continuous succession’, [this is the] great difficulty [of] great difficulties.
[It] also must [be] known [that] this method of gathering [the] mind [to] recite Buddha[‘s name, is] indeed at once shallow, at once deep, at once little, at once great, of [an] inconceivable method.
[You] should only rely [upon] faith [in the] Buddha’s words, [and] must not with [your] own views not up to par, then give rise [to] doubt [and] confusion, leading to many kalpas’ good roots, due [to] this within die, not able [to], in the end, personally obtain true benefits, [which is] as [that] pitiable.
Clutching Of Beads
Clutching beads [when] reciting Buddha[‘s name, is] only suitable [for] walking [and] standing, [these] two times.
If quietly sitting [and] resting [the] mind, due [to the] hand moving thus, [the] mind [will be] not able [to be at] peace, over time thus receiving sickness.
Postures & Volume
[On] this [Method Of] Ten Recitations [With] Counting, [when in postures of] walking, standing, sitting [and] lying down, all [are] without [that] not suitable.
When lying down, [this is] only suitable [for] silent recitation, [as there] must not [be] verbal [recitation].
If [with] verbal [recitation], first thus, [is it] not reverent, second thus, [does it] harm vitality.
Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng
Fourth Reply Letter To Layperson Gāo Shàolín
Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an
[Preceding Section]: How To Cut Stray Thoughts During Niànfó?