With the restrictions enforced during COVID-19, I became more easily affected by external factors. This created some moodiness during Niànfó (念佛) practice. Stray thoughts arose more frequently too. I tried various ways to focus but without much avail. I also prayed for peace and purity of mind.
One day, in front of Guānyīn Bodhisattva’s (观音菩萨) image at home, while going through the same experience, I suddenly remembered the phrase ‘老实念佛’, which means to ‘earnestly recite Āmítuófó’, as taught by the Pure Land Patriarchs. I started saying it aloud, to remind and reprimand myself, before resuming with Niànfó.
As a result, I became more focused. Also, I did not crave for any blessings, for this and that from the Buddha. In an instant, I understood that such craving is redundant. The Buddha, when connected to with sincere chanting will bless those chanting, with his blessings encapsulated in each recitation. I did not need to specially pray for anything. Niànfó is already the prayer of all prayers, while it is craving that distracted me from earnest recitation. Earnest Niànfó is the very path to peace and purity of mind.
Námó Āmítuófó : Vio