Why Be Mindful Of Āmítuófó Instead Of Our Fundamental Teacher? 为何念阿弥陀佛而不念本师?

[Why Be Mindful Of Āmítuófó Instead Of Our Fundamental Teacher?]

Why Not Be Mindful Of Our Fundamental Teacher Śākyamuni Buddha?


Question: Why not be mindful of our fundamental teacher Śākyamuni Buddha’s [name for our Main Practice (正行), beyond expressing homage and refuge]?


[Dōnglín Monastery’s Abbot] Dharma Master Dà’ān’s Answer: Our fundamental teacher Śākyamuni Buddha, in thousands of sūtras, and in ten thousand commentaries within, all encouraged us to be mindful of ‘Námó Āmítuófó’ (Homage to and refuge for life in Amitā[bha] Buddha), and did not encourage us to be mindful of ‘Námó Běnshī Shìjiāmóunífó’ (Homage to and refuge for life in our fundamental teacher Śākyamuni Buddha) [as our Main Practice]. Therefore, learning Buddhism, we must listen to his words. What Śākyamuni Buddha asked us to be mindful of, is what we should be mindful of.


Śākyamuni Buddha personally witnessed that the Dharma realm (i.e. universe) within has the honoured Āmítuófó, who is ‘With utmost honoured light within, the King of Buddhas’. He represents the ten directions’ and three periods’ all Buddhas’ great compassionate minds, great majestic and glorious vows’ power, great wisdom and skilful means, and is able, to the greatest limit and capacity, benefit the nine Dharma realms’ sentient beings [who are not (fully) enlightened].


Therefore, all Buddhas also, all with non-self’s empty nature, ‘push’ Āmítuófó to the foreground, with themselves concealed behind, encouraging all sentient beings to be mindful of Āmítuófó, to be reborn in his Western Pure Land Of Ultimate Bliss. [This means his name should be used for support-chanting (助念) of oneself and others too.] This one matter for delivering and transforming sentient beings, is aligned with the Dharma and thus natural.

所以释迦牟尼佛让我们念阿弥陀佛,我们就听话。甚至还有一种荒谬的见解说, ‘念“南无[本师]释迦牟尼佛”这个法更高,中下根机的人才念“南无阿弥陀佛”。’ 这就更荒唐了。难道他能超过佛吗?我们都要有辨别的眼光,不要去听世间一些凡夫的知见。

Therefore, Śākyamuni Buddha asked us to be mindful of Āmítuófó, and we should listen to his words. There is even also a kind of ridiculous view saying that, ‘With mindfulness of Námó [Běnshī] Shìjiāmóunífó’ Śākyamuni Buddha”, this Dharma is even “higher”, while people of middle and low roots and capacities are only mindful of “Āmítuófó”.’ This is immediately even more absurd [as mindfulness of Āmítuófó is with ‘the three roots universally covered’ (三根普被)]. How can it be that these people [saying so] are able to surpass the Buddha [in understanding and teaching]? We all must have the vision to differentiate [the true from the false], and must not just listen to some of the world’s ordinary beings’ ‘knowledge and views’.


Question: Mindfulness of the Buddha is mindfulness of what about the Buddha?


Answer: As the Buddha has immeasurable meritorious virtues, we can be mindful of the Buddha’s bright light, mindful of the Buddha’s supernormal powers, mindful of the Buddha’s wisdom, mindful of the Buddha’s blessed virtues, mindful of the Buddha’s skilful means, mindful of the Buddha’s forms’ excellences and so on, with much more. Yet, what the Pure Land Tradition specially emphasises is mindfulness of the Buddha’s name. This name, as a truly definitive form with sounds and symbols, it stores within, Āmítuófó’s metaphysical and formless Dharma Body’s and Reward Body’s meritorious virtues, storing the Buddha’s forty-eight great vows’ power and bright light for saving and delivering all sentient beings.


Āmítuófó is also the Dharma Realm’s Treasury Body [i.e. Dharmakāya, that pervades all space and time], with this one Buddha equal to all Buddhas. Therefore, ‘(Námó) Āmítuófó’s name stores Āmítuófó’s meritorious virtues, and is also equal to that storing the ten directions’ and three periods’ all Buddhas’ meritorious virtues. Therefore, being mindful of this line of his name is equal to being mindful of all Buddhas’ all virtues. Therefore, it is called the ‘Great Name Of Ten Thousand Virtues’.


The ‘Great Name Of Ten Thousand Virtues’ is precisely the name that condenses and collects (i.e. concentrates) immeasurable meritorious virtues. This name, with our minds interact, and is with spiritual brightness that is never dark. When we are mindful of this name, the name’s meritorious virtues manifests in the present. This is called, with the name summoning ten thousand virtues. This name with us sentient beings, is of the same body, with summoned meritorious virtues right away able to be transformed as our ordinary beings’ meritorious virtues, completely gathering the Buddhas’ meritorious virtues as personal meritorious virtues.


Therefore, this line of his name is for communicating between ordinary beings and Buddhas, as an intermediary, a medium. It is a bridge for leading us towards the ocean of true form’s (i.e. reality’s) wisdom. Therefore, this is very inconceivable. His name’s bright light’s meritorious virtues connect ordinary beings’ dharma realm with the Buddhas’ Dharma realm. Therefore, we must be mindful of this line of his name well.

Related Teachings:

[6] Top Ten Reasons For Using Āmítuófó’s Name When Support-Chanting

The Three Provisions

King Of Buddhas Within, With Utmost Honoured Light Within

为何专念 一佛?
Why Focus Upon Mindfulness Of One Buddha?

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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