(Great Master Yìnguāng’s) Answers To Learner Huànxiū’s Questions (On Mindfulness Of Buddha)《答幻修学人问》

Great Master Yìnguāng’s Answers [For] Six Questions [On] Mindfulness [Of] Buddha

[1] How [To] Attain Samādhi [From] Mindfulness [Of] Buddha?


Question: [On] focused cultivation [of] upholding [the] name [of Āmítuófó (阿弥陀佛)], aspiring [to] attain ‘Samādhi [From] Mindfulness [Of] Buddha’, hoping [to be] born [in] Pure Land, how [should I be] diligent?


Answer: With profound Faith [and] Aspiration [be] mindful [of the] Buddha. ‘Samādhi [From] Mindfulness [Of] Buddha’, [is] also not easy [to] attain. However, [there] must [be] frequent giving rise [to] this mind [to do so. This is] so-called, [to] comply with [that] higher, [to] only attain that [in the] middle.

[2] Can [There Be] Focused Upholding [Of] One Method [To Be] Mindful [Of] Buddha?


Question: [There] is speak [of] verbal recitation [with loud or soft recitation, with] chasing peak upholding [i.e. quick recitation without gaps], [there] is speak [of] vajra upholding [i.e. semi-verbal and semi-silent recitation], [there] is speak [of] silent upholding [i.e. only mental recitation], [there] is speak [of] noting [of] number [i.e. counting of recitations], [there] is speak [of] following breathing [i.e. for pacing of recitation] [and] others. [If] desiring [to] attain ‘wholeheartedness without [being] scattered’, can [there] be focused cultivation [of] one method or not?

Answer: Chasing peak [upholding] easily receives sickness [as it is exhausting if practised long]. [Of] loud, soft, vajra [or] silent recitation, [this is] according [to] oneself’s vitality, [with] arbitrating then used. How can [there be] inflexible attachment [to] one method, such that [there is] receiving [of] sickness? Following breathing [is] not as good as silent listening [as this conserves energy and further focuses the mind]. With following [that is] not well [practised, this] also can receive sickness. [With] silent listening, [this] will not receive sickness.

[3] Will Changing Methods [Of] Mindfulness [Of] Buddha Have Obstacles?


Question: Sometimes [with] vajra [recitation], sometimes [with] silent upholding, sometimes [with] noting [of] number, sometimes [with] following [of] breathing [and] others, not knowing [if this], for wholeheartedness, has obstacles or not?


Answer: [With] wholeheartedness in recitation, [this is] not in [the] sound [or volume] of recitation. How can [this be] said [to have] obstacles? [On] noting [of] number, [there] likewise can only [be with the] moving [of] time noting. [i.e. To use duration instead of number to measure quantity of practice.] When quietly sitting, [there] can only [be] silent recitation [to further still the body and focus the mind.] [It] cannot [be with] clutching [of] beads. [With] clutching [of] beads, [there] definitely [will be] receiving [of] harm [as it depletes energy and distracts].

[4] What [Is An] Extremely Good Method [To Be] Mindful [Of] Buddha?


Question: Learner now, when sitting quietly, verbally upholds [the] four-worded great name [of Āmítuófó], gathering [in the] mind [with] sincere recitation, with [the] mind [and] mouth distinct [and] clear, [with] clear [and] firm upholding, using [the] method of [having the] ears attentively listening. Slightly feeling tranquility, desiring [to] cultivate ‘wholeheartedness without [being] scattered’, [if] focusing [on] practising this method, can [this be] able [to] reach [it] or not?


Answer: This method [is] extremely good. Silent sitting [is] suitable [for] silent upholding. Verbal [upholding is] likewise possible. ‘Wholeheartedness without [being] scattered’, [is] in [the] mind’s focused attention with earnest sincerity.

[5] How [To] Follow Breathing [To Be] Mindful [Of] Buddha?


Question: [Of] following breathing, [this] one method, [your] honoured Collected Writings《文钞》[are with] rather utmost promoting [of it], however yet [to] speak clearly [on] how [to] recite [with this] method. [The] Treasure King [Of Samādhi] Treatise《宝王三昧论》says, this method ‘has great reliability’, likewise only saying ‘reciting [the] Buddha’s name, following it with breathing’, still yet [to] detail how [to] recite [with this] method. Only Bridge [With] Admonitions [For The] End says, ‘Following breathing [to be] mindful [of] Buddha, use [the] exhaling [breath, and] not use [the] inhaling [breath. In] one exhaling [breath], perhaps [with] one line [of Āmítuófó], perhaps [with] two words, [this is] also possible.’


Learner doubts [that with the] inhaling [breath, there should] not [be] recitation, [for] how [can this] not [have] interruption? Often trying [to] practise [with] one exhaling [breath with] one line, [this] feels rather strenuous, moreover [with] recitation [that is] not extremely clear. Only when having following [of the] inhaling [breath], reciting Āmí, [and] when following [the] exhaling [breath], reciting Tuófó, since uninterrupted, moreover able [to be] clear, also not strenuous. Not knowing [if] like this, [with this] recitation method, can [it be done] or not? Could it be [that] when [with the] inhaling [breath, it is] not able [to be] used, or not?


Answer: [With the] inhaling breath not reciting, [in] this within, how can [it be] said [to have] interruption? [With] one exhaling [breath] recite one line, [and with the] inhaling [breath] not recite. [With the] exhaling [and] inhaling [breaths] together reciting, [this] definitely [will] harm vitality. If only reciting two words, then [with] one exhaling breath [and] one inhaling breath reciting one line [of the] Buddha’s [name, this is] then without obstacles.

[6] How [To] Gather [In The] Six Roots, [For] Pure Mindfulness [In] Continuous Succession?


Question: ‘[To] gather [in the] six roots, [for] pure mindfulness [in] continuous succession’, how [is this] cultivated?


Answer: [The] main purpose of mindfulness [of] Buddha, is [to] give rise [to] true Faith ([which] is Faith], [and] give rise [to] sincere Aspiration ([which] is Aspiration), [to have] focused upholding [of the] Buddha’s name ([which] is Practice). [To have] Faith, Aspiration [and] Practice, [these] three, [this is] for [the] main purpose [of] mindfulness [of] Buddha. [For] diligent mindfulness [of] Buddha, [the] most wonderful method, is [to] ‘gather [in the] six roots, [with] pure mindfulness [in] continuous succession’.


That [on] ‘gather [in the] six roots’, is the same as [the] mind [of] mindfulness of [the] Buddha. [To be] focused on [the] Buddha’s name, is gathering [of the] mind root. [With the] mouth [that] must recite clearly, is gathering [of the] tongue root. [With the] ears [that] must hear clearly, is gathering [of the] ear root. [With] these three roots gathered by [the] Buddha’s name, then [will the] eyes definitely not randomly look.


When mindful [of the] Buddha, [the] eyes should [be like] drooping curtains, [that] is [to] let down [the] eyelids, [that] should not [be] opened wide. [With the] eyes since gathered, then [is the] nose also not randomly smelling, then [is the] nose likewise gathered. [With the] body [that] must [be] reverent [by being unmoving], then [is the] body likewise gathered. [With the] six roots gathered and not scattered, then [with the] mind without false thoughts, only [with the] Buddha as thought, then [is this] as pure mindfulness.


[If the] six roots [are] not gathered, although then [with] mindfulness [of] Buddha, [with the] mind within still [having] false thoughts fluttering about, [it is] difficult [to] attain true benefits. If able [to] ‘gather [in the] six roots’ and [be] mindful, [this] is named ‘pure mindfulness [in] continuous succession’. [If] able [to] frequently [be with] ‘pure mindfulness [in] continuous succession’, then [are] ‘wholeheartedness without [being] scattered’, and ‘Samādhi [From] Mindfulness [Of] Buddha’, also possible [to be] gradually attained.


[I] implore [you to] pay attention [to this]. Only imploring ‘[to] gather [in the] six roots, [for] pure mindfulness [in] continuous succession’. Then [will negative] karma [be] eliminated [and] wisdom [be] bright, [with the] mind’s ground open [and] clear. Why worry [about] not understanding [the] sūtras’ meanings [then]? [I] implore [you to] strive [to] do [your] best.

Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng
(Answers [To] Learner Huànxiū’s Questions)

Namo Amituofo : Translation by Shen Shi’an

Related Sūtra:

The Great Buddha Crown’s Śūraṅgama Sūtra’s Section On Great Power Arrived Bodhisattva’s Perfect Penetration With Mindfulness Of Buddha

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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