The Pure Land Tradition’s Ninth Patriarch Great Master Ǒuyì had a Dharma friend, who was a high monastic. After he left the household life, he built a thatched hut on a mountain, for focused cultivation of mindfulness of Buddha.
When the Great Master asked why he had such great Faith in the Dharma Door of Mindfulness of Buddha, he recounted the causes and conditions below, on how he left the household life, (as recorded in the ‘Spirit Peak Tradition’s Treatise: Third Part Of Sixth Scroll’).
[In] Tóngchéng [City] were two persons, [who] formed companionship as visiting [travellers to do trading. When] one died [due to sickness, the] companion buried him, [and] brought along [his] money [to] return [to] the wife.
[As the] wife [had] doubt [about him, (perhaps thinking he might have killed her husband for more money), the] companion [felt] extremely indignant, [and] went [to] where [the] body [was], explaining [while] making offerings, tearfully lamenting [on what happened].
[The] ghost, for [the] companion’s questions, answered [them], like while alive before, then together returning [to] testify [on what happened].
Midway, [when] encountering [the] matter [of coming across a tiger, as he could not help it, the companion habitually and] ‘accidentally’ recited ‘Āmítuófó’.
[Note 1: With this, the tiger left. Even the most ferocious of beasts, when hearing the name of Āmítuófó, will see and/or feel the Buddha’s protective light of blessings shining via the heart of the person faithfully reciting, as below, which touches and transforms them to have suppleness and gentleness (i.e. peace and bliss) of body and mind (身心柔软), to no longer be ferocious.]
[The] ghost called [out], ‘[For what reason [did you] emit light [to] scare me?’
[The companion] then quickly turned [around with a] few [more] recitations [to check].
[The] ghost fearfully said, ‘[When] you once recited [the] Buddha[‘s name, from your] chest, suddenly extended five-coloured [i.e. varicoloured] light, [that radiated for] more [than] ten zhàngs [i.e 3.33 metres times 10 equals 33.3 metres], [that] dazzled my mind [and] eyes, [to] not [be] able [to] again [come] near you! Return [to] speak [of this to] my wife, [and] lead [her to] personally come, [and I] will for you wipe away [your] grievances.’
[Note 2: The Buddha’s immeasurable light is already shining everywhere all the time. However, due to insufficient purity, affinity and profound mindfulness of Buddha, his blessings are usually neither readily seen nor felt. However, when one is mindful of Buddha, the light from one’s Buddha-nature does resonate and merge with the Buddha’s golden light to receive and radiate blessings. Enlightened beings, gods and ghosts are especially aware of this. Gods and ghosts can see the light due to their minds being more sensitive.
Knowing the instant and great range of protection from even mindfulness of Buddha once should increase Faith in the efficacy of the practice. Thus, with mindfulness of Buddha, there is no need to fear any kind of karmic creditors, when alive, dying and deceased. In cases of mindfulness of Buddha seemingly not having protective effects, they are due to lack of Faith, thus not connecting to the Buddha.
Ghosts are able to quickly go to where they think about in this world, including their homes. However, as many have the deluded attachment that they are supposed to ‘enter the earth for peace’ (入土为安), the ghost might be attached to his grave, while not really having a sense of direction, on how he should seek the best rebirth for true peace.]
[The] companion therefore awakened [to the power of mindfulness of Buddha, and] left [the] household [life, thereafter] becoming [a] high monastic. [With] great praises!
[When] beginning [to] raise one recitation [or thought, the] light halo [is] then extended. Thus [did] Great Master Shòuchāng say, ‘Mindfulness [of] Buddha’s mind, is the same as [the] Buddha. How [can one in] this moment [be] mindful [of] Buddha, [yet in] another time become [one with the] Buddha?’
[Note 3: To the extent that the mind is sincerely mindful of Buddha, to that extent does it become aligned, one with the Buddha. This is the principle of ‘This mind becomes Buddha, and this mind is Buddha’ (是心作佛，是心是佛), as taught by the Buddha in the Contemplation Sūtra《观经》. However, for beginners lacking sincere practice, strong connection might not immediately arise and sustain long.]
[It was a] pity [that the] ghost [did] not plant good roots, not [having] heard [the] Buddha’s name [before], thus [becoming] surprised [and] fearful.
[Note 4: As the ghost did not understand mindfulness of Buddha and its effects, the light scared him. However, as he was not an evil spirit, he had no reason to be afraid. He could have seen it as proof of the efficacy of mindfulness of Buddha, and also practised it sincerely, to connect to the Buddha for reaching his Pure Land. Unfortunately, the companion probably did not have understanding of this to offer him guidance to do so then.]
If oneself [is a] person mindful [of] Buddha, relying [on] this good condition, how [can one] not suddenly transcend, [to reach the Pure] Land [Of] Ultimate Bliss?
[Note 5: Just as there is immediate connection to the Buddha with mindfulness of Buddha, thus emitting light of blessings, there can be immediate connection to the Buddha for rebirth in his Pure Land, when the Three Provisions (三资粮) of Faith, Aspiration and Practice (信愿行) are adequate.]
Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an
Record Of How Mindfulness Of Buddha Saved A Child From Rākṣasas
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The Meaning Of ‘This Mind Becomes Buddha & This Mind Is Buddha’