General

[1] Top Ten Personal Niànfó Practice Obstacles 十大个人念佛障碍

[1] Top Ten Personal Niànfó Practice Obstacles
十大个人念佛障碍

The following is not in order of occurrence, frequency or severity.

[01] Lack Of Faith And Aspiration: 
Immediately ask Buddhist teachers with relevant knowledge to clarify doubts and increase Aspiration. With proper courses and books, keep learning and practising Niànfó (念佛), as sincerely as possible, as sincere learning and practice can increase Faith and Aspiration (信愿).

Study ancient and contemporary examples of those who have reached Pure Land (净土) too: https://purelanders.com/testimonies. Remember that with utmost sincerity mindful of Buddha’s name (Āmítuófó: 阿弥陀佛), he will definitely come to receive one to his Pure Land, where there is no more suffering from rebirth, ageing, sickness and death; with bliss and immeasurable life instead. These are immeasurably surely worth aspiring for.

[02] Boredom (Tiresomeness): There is boredom or feeling that Niànfó is tiresome only when there is lack of Dharma bliss (法喜) from Niànfó, in terms of peace and bliss (安乐), thus not looking forward to practice with enthusiasm. The more sincere practice there is, with sincere learning, the more Dharma bliss there will be.

[03] Stray (Distracting Or Wandering) Thoughts: Once there are stray thoughts detected, return to the Buddha’s name immediately, reciting it (verbally or mentally) sincerely and listening to it just as sincerely. This will retain focus, thus with stray thoughts staying away. The more stray thoughts are thought about and fretted over, the more stray thoughts there will be.

[04] Drowsiness (Tiredness): First ensure that one is not really physically exhausted, perhaps by practising when reasonably fresh, such as right after washing one’s face and/or bathing. If still dozing off, prostrate thrice before the Buddha’s image to express repentance and sincerity, before resuming practice. Recite verbally and louder too, using this extra exerting of energy to be more wakeful.

[05] Discipline (Regularity): Make a sincere vow before the Buddha to practise daily, at a fixed time for a fixed duration (e.g. after showering nightly, for 15 minutes). If unsure of whether one can maintain the practice, vow to do so for a week first, before extending it to be a month and every day. More sessions can be committed too, such as having another one in the morning.

[06] Pain (Discomfort): Once there is pain or discomfort detected, return to the Buddha’s name immediately, reciting it (verbally or mentally) sincerely and listening to it just as sincerely. With connection to the Buddha’s blessings, pain or discomfort will disappear, and be replaced by peace and bliss. The more pain or discomfort is thought about and fretted over, the more pain or discomfort there will be, which are also stray thoughts.

[07] Tension (Excitement): Once there is tension or excitement detected in the body or mind, return to the Buddha’s name immediately, reciting it (verbally or mentally) sincerely and listening to it just as sincerely. If difficult to do this immediately, take one to three deep breaths to release any tension or excitement, before returning to the Buddha’s name. The more tension or excitement is thought about and fretted over, the more tension or excitement there will be, which are also stray thoughts.

[08] Busyness: 
Remember this – If one is busy all the time with something else, when it is time to depart from this life, one might have no more time to practise Niànfó sincerely. Also, since death can come at any time, that most urgent, with the highest priority to do is Niànfó practice. Thus, time should be set aside for it, before other less pressing matters.

[09] Lack Of Progress (Results): There can be substantial progress or results only when there is substantial practice, that is not interrupted or given up due to the challenges listed here. It is also natural that progress is not steady but gradual, also with occasional ups and downs too, reflecting the state of mind in the moment. With substantial progress, there will be substantial stability and more fruitful results.

[10] Lack Of Sincerity (Motivation): Remind oneself that practice can (and should) be for the benefit of all beings, not just oneself. With sincere practice, there will be meritorious virtues (功德) created, that can be dedicated to everyone, including loved ones, for their welfare, and to support their births in Pure Land. Practising with this attitude is to practise with the Bodhi Mind (菩提心). This is the greatest spiritual motivation possible. It is with sincere practice that the Pure Land can be personally reached for further guiding all other beings to the Pure Land too.

Solution: For steps on how to start Niànfó practice, see https://purelanders.com/2016/02/17/how-do-i-start-nianfo-practice. With sincere practice, there will be connection to the Buddha’s blessings via the twelve aspects of his light: https://purelanders.com/2022/10/30/the-twelve-lights-thus-come-one.

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