This is an English translation of several excerpts of Nan Huai Jin teaching the Buddha-Name Dharma Door in various books and lectures. Please note that my translations are amateur and you need to do your own research, do not believe what I write here and please test it out for yourselves. This is important so that his genuine teachings are preserved. I welcome any corrections if you spot any.
What I will discuss today is not the Pure Land Sect’s “Dharma Door of Buddha Chanting”, but referring to the general way of chanting the names of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Perhaps you are chanting “Namo Guan-shi-yin Pusa” (Translated as Refuge to Listening-to-Worldly-Sounds Bodhisattva) or “Namo Di Zang Wang Pusa” (Translated as Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva). Hinayana Buddhism does not chant, so this Dharma door is only in Mahayana Buddhism. Hinayana Buddhism relies on self-power for cultivation without relying on the power of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, without seeking merit. Hinayana Buddhism seeks to break up all worldly merit, so they do not seek health, wealth, children – these are all thought to be unimportant. Its distinctive feature is about cutting off all desires. However, Chanting The Buddha’s Name is different – it is unique to the Mahayana Bodhisattva paths, with an special emphasis on receiving all kinds of merit. Apart from merit, this Dharma Door is extremely important in the process of cultivation. Once you have cultivated to a certain level, you will know its importance.
In the past, an old monk Guang Qin always wanted everyone to sincerely recite the Buddha’s Name. Initially when I was learning Buddhism I did not approve of it because I felt that intellectuals should cultivate the Chan sect. In the past, in the Chinese Academy of Sciences, I had a friend who started cultivating when he was over 10 years old and thought that his roots were good. He went to consult the old monk Guang Qin, but he did not say anything much, just asking him to sincerely recite the Buddha’s name. I waited for him to come back for a long time and asked him what Guang Qin said. He sadly replied, “He didn’t say anything, only asked me to sincerely recite the Buddha’s name.” Therefore, he did not approve of it and went to become a scholar in America, where he follows Master Sheng Yen. He is now at Dharma Drum mountain, responsible for raising money. A while ago, I bumped into him again and I asked, “How are you cultivating?” He said, “Just the same! When I sit in meditation it is all an expanse of whiteness, just like this.” I said, “No progress? It has always been like this?” He replied yes. I then said, “That time the monk Guang Qin told you to recite the Buddha’s name, but you still don’t understand his meaning.” Eventually, he wanted to find me again but he never found the chance to because I was mostly in the East.
He asked me a question, “When chanting the Buddha’s name, we need to catch our breath. By chanting and chanting and chanting, we need to inhale, in such a situation, how can we enter samadhi? It seems like there is no way to enter samadhi by chanting the Buddha’s name.” I replied, “You do not know how to chant the Buddha’s name. People who genuinely know how to will find that catching the breath will not be a problem. At thought to thought there is not a single thought of wanting to catch your breath.” This is because he had not deeply contemplated the Dharma Door of Chanting the Buddha’s Name. He did not understand its importance and that is why he rejected the Dharma Door. The monk Guang Qin had initially cultivated Chan and his Dhyana attainments are extremely good, like he had already reached awakening as a Bodhisattva. But why did he later on teach people to sincerely chant the Buddha’s name? I know why. Because he had already realized that without chanting the Buddha’s name, there will be no way to improve. This means that he used the Chan samadhi method to cultivate but after a certain level, you need to eliminate the Eighth Consciousness’ subtle hindrances. Without sincerely chanting the Buddha’s name, there is no power from the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to help you, and it will be impossible.
Therefore, I believe that he taught people to sincerely chant the Buddha’s name and had a deeper meaning to it. The first meaning was problems in initial cultivation and the second meaning was the need for sincere chanting of the Buddha’s name in advanced cultivation stages. So what is the key to success in this Dharma Door?
There are four types of methods for mindfulness of the Buddha. The first is holding the name of the Buddha, secondly the contemplation of the Buddha, thirdly the contemplation of the image of the Buddha, and fourthly the Real Appearance Buddha Mindfulness. I will teach everyone what is Real Appearance Buddha Mindfulness. Even though you may not reach the genuine Real Appearance Buddha Mindfulness, but you will know how to do it. Then I will introduce to you the karmic sicknesses that can appear during chanting of the Buddha’s name. Because many people do not know about this, that is why many karmic hindrance sicknesses appear in those who chant Buddha’s name. When they appear and you do not know how to fix them, then it may stop your cultivation progress because there are some people who do not dare to cultivate further. I will introduce what this karmic sickness is and why you get it. Eventually I will introduce what you should take notice of.
Why must we chant the Buddha’s name? We mentioned earlier that it is the exclusive in Mahayana Buddhism. We can find much basis in the Mahayana sutras. Everyone may be most familiar with the Lotus Sutra. In the Lotus Sutra there is a section called “The Universal Door of the Bodhisattva Who Listens to the Worldly Sounds of the World”. It explains clearly: One wholehearted chant of the name of Guan-shi-yin Bodhisattva, and the Bodhisattva will seek your sound to solve your disasters like floods, fires, boat problems, robbery, or other catastrophes. It will be solved with just one wholehearted chant of the name. The Universal Door chapter also says that if you can wholehearted recite “Namo Guan-shi-yin pusa”, lustful people can eliminate lust, eliminating lustful, desirous, or anger karma. With just chanting her name, it will eliminate disasters and also allow merit. It can eliminate our cultivation’s hindrances like Greed, Ill-will, Doubt, Pride, Stupidity, and other karmic hindrances. The main reason is to rely on Guan-shi-yin Bodhisattva’s original vows. Bodhisattvas all invoke great vows when cultivating, hoping to realize their vows when they become a Buddha. Guan-shi-yin Bodhisattva’s vow is to follow the sound to rescue beings from suffering. As long as you chant the name of Guan-shi-yin-pu-sa, she will follow your sound to save you.
Apart from the Universal Door chapter, other Mahayana sutras also speak a lot about it, such as in the Medicine Buddha’s sutra. The 12 Great Vows state very clearly, that if you hear or chant his name, then you will attain the fruition of his 12 great vows, such as being under his protection and solving your difficulties. He can eliminate the pains of your flesh-body and your mara-hindrances during cultivation.
The Ksitigarbha sutra also states very clearly, that if you chant his name, you will not fall into the evil realms, and other benefits.
The Manjushri Prajna Sutra also states that chanting his name will allow you to attain numerous merit and virtue. The Amitabha sutra states yet even more clearly. I hope everyone has seen what Shakyamuni Buddha told Sariputra, that Amitabha Buddha said, if you wholeheartedly chant the Buddha’s name, for seven days, if you do not go to the Western Pureland, then he would not become a Buddha. Amitabha Buddha had such a vow, as long as you concentrately chant his name, you will in the future take birth in the Western Pureland. This is the foundation of today’s Pureland Dharma Door. They rely on the name of Amitabha Buddha, hoping that they will go to the Western Pureland.
We can also look at the Shurangama Sutra’s chapter on Mahasthamaprapta (Great Strength) Bodhisattva’s enlightenment from chanting the Buddha’s name. Great Strength Bodhisattva’s chapter is probably the most important instruction in the dharma door of chanting the Buddha’s name. He said: Chanting the Buddha’s name is like how a mother reminisces her son, or how a son reminisces his mother. The Buddha is the mother, and we sentient beings are like the son. This mother continuously thinks of her son, but her son is always busy with things, running here and there without ever thinking of his mother. If you can now turn your mind back, back to thinking of your mother, then this is where mother and son mutually reminisces of each other, and there will be a mutual response. Great Strength Bodhisattva’s description is probably the clearest.
In addition, the Shurangama Sutra also discusses even more deeply. It says that from the First Bhumi to the Tenth Bhumi of Bodhisattvas, if there were no blessings by the Buddhas, then they may enter external paths and receive the interference of internal and external Maras. Internal maras are demons of the mind; External maras are demonic hindrances from the outside.
From the above Mahayana sutras, we can see that chanting the Buddha’s name is extremely, extremely important. Also, we can also get the response of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
We can sum up the function of chanting the Buddha’s name into a few: Firstly its function can eliminate all kinds of disasters of sicknesses. In the past, I often chanted Guan-shi-yin-pu-sa, and had numerous mysterious experiences, solving a lot of problems.
Everyone should not think that the Universal Door Chapter is describing a fantasy story. The main problem is whether you have wholeheartedly held the name. When you are wholehearted, you cannot have any false-thoughts! If you do not concentratedly or sincerely believe in the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, then you cannot attain the fruition as spoken about in the chapter.
The second function is that it can eliminate karmic and demonic hindrances.
The third benefit of chanting the Buddha’s name is that you can take birth in the Pureland, going to the Western Pureland of Sukhavati or the Eastern Lapis Lazuli Pureland. There are others like Maitreya’s Tushita Pureland. Everyone knows that now is the Dharma-Ending Age. If you have no way of awakening to your self nature in this life, then going to the Pureland is very good because once you enter the Pureland you will never regress. It is extremely easy to cultivate there. There is another problem that arises: Many people emphasize the cultivation of “emptiness”, because the Buddhist sutras or externalists all teach people to cultivate emptiness, awakening to self-nature. However there is a very big problem. Even though you awaken to self-nature today, what will happen when you die? The answer is: You may immediately enter the “Silent Light Land”. When people die, the Pure Light of Death appears. Self-awakened people will quickly enter this Pure Light of Death, entering the “Silent Light Land”. They will possibly not able to enter into the world, abiding in emptiness. They will not have any ability to follow the path of Bodhisattvas, and there is no chance of coming out of it. This kind of situation is not good for cultivators who follow the Bodhisattva path, because there is no way for you to return to the world to do worldly matters.
Cultivating the Pureland dharma door has a benefit: By cultivating the pureland dharma door after awakening to self, you can seek rebirth in the Pureland. By already seeing the self-nature, once you enter the Pureland you can use your own ability to come to the world to do things such as save other beings. This is much better for Bodhisattva path people. It has this benefit, that is why I am also very diligently chanting the Buddha’s name. If you can chant the Buddha’s name well, you can also enter Non-arising-and-non-production-of-Dharmas (anutpattika-dharma-kṣānti). This means that you can peacefully dwell in no-birth, in a realm-world without birth or death. Bodhisattvas in anutpattika-dharma-kṣānti can transform, producing many transformation-bodies in a moment. They can simultaneously produce millions of bodies that enter the world to liberate sentient beings. Only this type of Bodhisattva is called “anutpattika-dharma-kṣānti“. The smaller Bodhisattvas do not have such an ability, with no way to transform. Only the Bodhisattvas with higher fruition stages, that chant the Buddha’s name well, can cultivate to this realm. This is what the Great Strength Bodhisattva chapter said, “By chanting the Buddha’s name, my mind entered anutpattika-dharma-kṣānti.” This mind of chanting the Buddha’s name is the Real Mind, not any typical mind.
Another important point of chanting the Buddha’s name is: You can have a response with Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. This is the unique success of this dharma door. Chanting the Buddha’s name can naturally cultivate samadhi power. By continuously chanting Buddha’s name, your samadhi power increases without question. The methods of cultivating samadhi power are numerous, typically using the method of counting breaths or watching thoughts. They are actually all the same. The first step of counting breaths is to count your own breathing, because breathing is within the Sixth Consciousness’ boundary, meaning that the Sixth Consciousness is operating. Once you count the breath, you must definitely drop this idea of counting breath, then observing emptiness. All the Dharma Doors are the same. For chanting the Buddha’s name: Firstly, there is the phenomenon of chanting the Buddha’s name, chanting either Amitabha or Guan-shi-yin-pusa. After chanting, you must enter chanting the Buddha’s name without any form. In the future you drop this name and appearance, exactly the same as dropping the breathing in counting-breaths. However, the difference is that counting-breaths does not have the helping-force of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Chanting the Buddha’s name has the helping force of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Very early on when I was learning Buddhism, I used the counting-breaths method. After a while, I dropped many other methods. But eventually, I chose chanting the Buddha’s name. Actually, all cultivation methods start with “10,000 thoughts returning to 1 thought”. People’s false-thoughts are numerous. Your mind right now is definitely very chaotic, you can close your eyes and see how many false-thoughts you have. All of these false-thoughts need to return to one thought, one simple-thought. Either the counting of breath or chanting of the Buddha’s name. Later on, you let this one-thought return to no-thoughts. Once you return to no-thoughts, this is still in the formless realm only. After that, you still need to go through the process of wisdom-observation, before you can breakthrough into the Eighth Consciousness.
The special feature of chanting the Buddha’s name is what I just mentioned. It can produce response, get helping-force from the Buddha’s and Bodhisattva’s vows, it can eliminate all kinds of hindrances – these are all very important. I personally believe that hindrances are the biggest problem in cultivation. If everyone did not have karmic hindrances and ignorance, then in a moment they can cultivate very well, within a moment they can reach the realm of Bodhisattvas without a problem. People are always taking rebirth in the world is because they are stuck in this karmic hindrance. In a short time of cultivation, you will quickly discover layer by layer of hindrances. From outside to inside, there are extremely many. These hindrances can also appear outside and you can feel it. As an example, your fear. When you see something, why do you get terrified? If you see a dead person, seeing its appearance, you may feel terrified. Where does this terror come from? It comes from a type of situation in the Eighth Consciousness. There is another type of fear, which is the fear of birth and death. You may be afraid of dying, and it is something everyone has, regardless of how brave you are. At the very last moment you will definitely be scared. When you are meditating and entering into Dhyanas, sometimes you will discover these situations of being afraid of death. When you are going to escape the three realms (desire, form and formless realms), you will feel that your life ends there, and you will have an extremely fearful phenomenon, feeling like you really want to continue living. This is the Eighth Consciousness, in an extremely deep part of consciousness. If everyone cultivates into samadhi, and inwardly introspect, you will see these and know exactly where they come from. This is the meaning of “When cultivating, one needs to observe one’s inner mind”. If you have a lot of karmic hindrances, these hindrances in consciousness will become extremely numerous. The fear that I just talked about is one type, you still have karmic hindrances of greed, lust, doubt and many others. It is likened to extremely numerous pieces of rubbish. The most important part of cultivation is to eliminate these karmic hindrances. If you can completely eliminate these, then this is the level of a Buddha. Only a Buddha has completely eliminated all karmic hindrances, Bodhisattvas still have a few karmic hindrances. Chanting the Buddha’s Name can be said to be an important dharma door for eliminating karmic hindrances, this is a very important point. In conclusion, the function of chanting the Buddha’s name is: The common person attains merit and eliminates disasters. The cultivator strengthens oneself’s samadhi power and eliminates karmic hindrances.
The Essence of Chanting the Buddha’s Name
What is the trick to chanting the Buddha’s Name? This is extremely important, and it can be explained by several points as below:
Whe you chant the Buddha’s name, whether or not you chant “Namo Amitabha” or “Namo Guan-shi-yin-pusa”, the first important point is: “Completely withdraw the Six Sense-roots, Continuously follow purity, and enter Samadhi.” This is also what is instructed in the Great Strength Bodhisattva’s Buddha Chanting chapter: Your six sense-roots must be withdrawn, this means not releasing the six senses outwards.
“Roots” mean the organs. So what does it mean by withdrawing all the six sense-roots? In Hinayana Buddhist teachings, during cultivation, they use the method of shutting-away the six sense-roots. This means not looking at what is not supposed to be looked at, in order to let the eye-root be pure. The ears do not listen to any sounds, and the best is not listening to any sounds. The tongue does not contact anything, the nose does not smell fragrances. So if a person burns incenses during meditation, this is incorrect because the nose-root will grasp onto the smell. As for the body, it sits comfortably, not caring whether the air is hot or cold, whether the seat is hard or soft – grasping onto none of these things. Shutting-away the thought-root means not giving rise to false-thoughts. There are two levels of this thought-root: The first type comes from the subconscious mind, where you have no way of controlling; The second type come from the conscious mind, which you can control. The reason why you know how to chant the Buddha’s name is because there was someone who taught you, that is why you understand how to, and these are recorded in the cortex of the brain. The Sixth Consciousness will look at the things in the cortex of the brain, so when you chant the Buddha’s name, it is the function of the Sixth Consciousness. It is also the same for distracting thoughts. Suppose you are letting your thoughts go wild, thinking that you have not studied what you should have studied today, not doing your homework, then you have stirred up your own thoughts. These must definitely be dropped.
“Continuously following purity” means that you only pay attention to solely the “purity thought”. Pure thoughts mean the chanting of the Buddha. If you chant the Buddha’s name well, this is is. Continuously following means going “Amitabha, Amitabha, …” You continue this pure thought repeatedly, until you enter Samadhi.
Entering Samadhi means entering “Steadiness”, using this “Withdrawing the six sense-roots, continuously following purity”, until you reach “Buddha Chanting Samadhi”. So what is it like entering Samadhi? There are many types of deep and shallow Samadhis, at the beginning you enter a shallow samadhi and are still able to know things outside, such as sounds. Even though there are sounds, but you will not grasp onto it, because it seems as if they are unrelated to you, and you do not discriminate about what the sound is. Even if distracting thoughts arise, they have nothing to do with you. You only continue chanting your Buddha’s name, forgetting about the body, not feeling the body, not feeling any aches or pain. Actually, you are aching, but because you have already entered Samadhi, you forget about it completely. After a while when you get up from your sitting, you will ache. However, during sitting meditation, you can have several hours of not feeling any aches, because you have forgotten about your body. Your mind only has the Buddha’s name, meaning “Amitabha, Amitabha…”. Just this thought and nothing else. Once you reach this realm-state (alambana), it is counted as entering Samadhi. This is the initial attainment of chanting the Buddha’s name, only the first step, so it is nothing extraordinary. The very first trick is to “Withdraw the six sense-roots, continuously following purity.”
The second trick is “Not grasping to mind, Body following what is calm, Not following or controlling when false-thoughts arise”. This is the instruction from Great Master Padmasambhava (Lotus-Born). Everyone knows that Padmasambhava is the founder of the Red Hat Sect of Vajrayana. Master Padmasambhava instructed this method to turn the current body into Buddha. “Not grasping to mind” means that when the body is chanting the Buddha’s name, the mind does not grasp onto anything, not caring about every situation that appears externally. Once you grasp, you are ruined. When starting to chant the Buddha’s name, many people will feel their chi (energy) move, feeling heat in the stomach or back, or movements in the body. These are all phenomena from chi, so you must definitely not grasp onto them. If your mind grasps onto it, it will cause problems. Your eyes may also see many things, but all these things that are seen are from within the subconscious mind, just hallucinations, as if you were having a dream. There are also disturbances from outside, such as Mara hindrances or Ghost hindrances. Everybody is different so the realms that appear are different. You may also hear sounds. Your six sense-roots will have these phenomena because you have quietened down. Because your attention is concentrated, you will feel that it is more clear and sharp, therefore your six sense-organs will sense things that they do not normally sense. At this moment, your mind must not grasp, because these things are mostly hallucinations or Mara (demon) appearances. Even if you see Buddhas or Bodhisattvas, you must not also pay attention to them, because you have no ability of determining this at the moment. Therefore, when you begin cultivating, all of these types of phenomena should be ignored, and this is called “Not grasping to mind”. This is extremely, extremely important, especially not arising the thought of being greedy for superpowers.
I realize that many cultivators, during sitting meditation, start having greedy thoughts of wanting superpowers (siddhis), or wanting to have a response from Bodhisattvas. People who arise these type of thoughts, will definitely have a problem. I will absolutely guarantee that they will have a problem. You absolutely cannot say that you want to meditate and have a response with Bodhisattvas. This thought cannot be there. The response of Bodhisattvas will obviously be there, but you must not give rise to such a thought. The reason is because when you enter Samadhi, or sit for meditation, your thoughts are pure and your thought-power is extremely strong. In a normal situation, when you are thinking of something, you may have many distracting thoughts and your thought-power is very weak. However, the deeper you enter Samadhi, the stronger your mental force, and therefore when you have any thought in Samadhi, many supernatural beings can see and know what you are thinking of. If you have any wild fantasies or evil thoughts, or wanting to have a response with Bodhisattvas, then you will immediately get into a lot of problems. So your mind absolutely cannot grasp onto any of the six sense organs.
“Body following what is calm” means tat when you are sitting, do not determine that you can only meditate in a specific place. Genuine cultivators can sit anywhere, and anywhere is the meditation hall. You don’t have to sit in front of the Bodhisattva statues in order to meditate. These thoughts must be dropped. If you do not let go of them, they will become hindrances. Also, “Not following or controlling when false-thoughts arise”. False-thoughts refer to the thoughts that arise from the subconscious mind, not your consciously-generated thoughts. You do not have any ability to control them. When you sit to chant the Buddha’s name, many false-thoughts will arise. When they arise, you do not follow or control them. For example, when you have a thought of “not studying well”, then you quickly want to return to studying, following this thought, and then your thought of chanting the Buddha’s name cannot hold up anymore. Therefore, you must never “follow”. Chant your Buddha’s name as usual, not caring about false-thoughts. “Not controlling” means that you do not try to control the mind, because false-thoughts cannot be controlled as they come from the subconscious mind. If you try to suppress them, you have added another thought of “suppressing”. Therefore, you do not have to bother about them. They can arise if they want to, and you just chant your Buddha’s name. You are treating the false-thoughts as something separate, as if they have nothing to do with you. You are only focusedly grasping to the chanting of the Buddha’s name. If everyone can grasp onto this key trick, your chanting will be very good.
Another is regarding entering Samadhi. If everyone tries to chant the Buddha’s name fast, you may feel that you cannot do so, as if there is some kind of pulling-force that restrains you. Genuinely reaching fast recitation means that your subconscious mind is chanting, without any effort. You will feel that your chanting of the Buddha’s name will not have any resistance, continuously chanting without stopping, not stopping for many days and nights. This is the realm of entering the Samadhi of Buddha-Chanting. Venerable Guang-Qin once instructed about this Samadhi, saying that he had once entered this Samadhi, continuing for one or two days without stopping.
The third trick of chanting the Buddha’s name is that when you are chanting, seeing any demonic appearances appear that make you terrified, or hearing strange sounds, then consciously hold the thought of “All appearances are fabricated”. By arising this thought, you can break these demonic appearances without feeling terrified. If not you may enter this terrifying realm, being captured, unable to get out. The reason why you cannot get out sometimes is because your samadhi power is insufficient. To have sufficient samadhi power means to continuously chant the Buddha’s name and not bother about anything else. If you are beginning and do not have enough samadhi power, then you can arise this thought of “All appearances are fabricated”, stopping momentarily your chanting of the Buddha’s name in order to remove this appearance. Then continue chanting the Buddha’s name, and this will be much safer.
Method of Chanting the Buddha’s Name
I want to introduce everyone to the method of being mindful of the Buddha. Because everyone’s roots are different, there are four types of mindfulness of the Buddha.
The first is called “Real Appearance Mindfulness of Buddha”. Everyone can practice this a little. Everyone knows that normal chanting of the Buddha’s name comes from the conscious mind. The Conscious Mind is where all Eight Consciousnesses have their functions combined. Real Appearance Buddha Chanting means that you are chanting the Buddha’s name, coming from the self-nature, coming from the origin of the mind. When you are chanting “Amitabha”, before the “Ah” syllable arises, force yourself to introspect and see – Who is chanting? Try and introspect “who”! You can introspect very quickly. After that, start to chant, coming from this origin of the mind. If you often introspect inwards like this, cultivating this observation-illumination, then you can easily cultivate the “Real Appearance Buddha Chanting”. You can chant from the origin. If you have already awakened to self-nature, you can chant from the self-nature, bypassing the Eighth and Seventh consciousness to chant.
The origin of all things, including thoughts, is in the “original body” (self-nature). However because of karmic hindrances, what comes from the self-nature has already been messed up. Many chaotic things in the Eighth and Sixth Consciousness disturb you, and therefore you have no way of letting the self-nature directly produce a pure “Amitabha” chant. Since “Real Appearance Buddha Chanting” comes from the self-nature, this mind-power of the Buddha’s name is especially immense. If a person wants to dedicate merits to others or help others, then he will have an especially immense power to do so – this is the capability of “Real Appearance Buddha Chanting”. During chanting of the Buddha’s Name, everyone can firstly introspect inwards. For weak cultivators, typically when starting, they cannot introspect extremely deeply, and introspect on the surface. You can still try your best in practicing, asking “who is chanting the Buddha’s name?” – A very quick question of “who”! I often say, when you are introspecting, the volume is very, very little – you cannot let this “who” become extended, because the moment there is a “who”, it is already the trail/tail of the thought. Therefore, when you introspect during “Real Appearance Buddha Chanting”, you must definitely make it very quick. “Who!” One moment, one thought, the faster the better. Internally introspect, introspect inside and outside. This mind has inside and outside, you must go and feel this aspect. It is not the inside and outside of the sense organs. When your mind moves with thoughts, you will feel that there is an inside and outside. It cannot be described properly, so you need to understand for yourself. When introspection is done correctly, in one moment, you see the origin. Those that can really do this “Real Appearance Buddha Chanting” is possibly a very few number of people.
The second method is called “Observing the Appearance of Buddha”. It is saying that when you are chanting the Buddha’s name, you look at a Buddha statue. Your eyes look at the Buddha statue, and it is only the mouth that is chanting the Buddha’s name. This means that the conscious mind arises first, then the mouth chants the Buddha’s name. This uses the Sixth Consciousness, whereas the sound of chanting the Buddha’s name is using the Tongue sense-root. In other words, both the Sixth Consciousness and Tongue Root are functioning. When you observe the appearance of the Buddha, you add the eyes to see the Buddha statue. Therefore, there are three or four things that are simultaneously functioning: Your eyes are looking at the Buddha statue, your mind is thinking, and your mouth is chanting. A trick of this “Observation of the Buddha’s appearance” is necessarily observing the Buddha statue as if it was shining with golden light. If all observation of appearances or visualizations of Buddha do not have golden light, then this visualization will not succeed. It will be just a visualization of wood, therefore when you are visualizing, you must definitely visualize the Buddha statue as extremely bright with golden light. When you observe the Buddha statue’s nose and eyes, they must be extremely clear. Then you arise the mind to respectfully chant the Buddha’s name. For example, when you chant Amitabha, you must be observing an Amitabha Buddha statue. This is one type.
The third method is “Visualization of Buddha”. “Visualization of Buddha” means that you do not see an actual Buddha statue but you are visualizing in your mind the Buddha’s appearance. You can visualize a Buddha’s statue that you are familiar with. Everyone must know that a person with good samadhi-power can chant the entire long Great Compassion Mantra within one single thought. One thought is actually many thoughts assembled together, and this is very clearly explained in the Yogachara doctrine. The doctrine says, “Your one thought is actually assembled from numerous things, one at a time, but because our samadhi-power is insufficient, we are unable to distinguish the thoughts within a single ksana moment.” If our samadhi-power is cultivated well, you will be able to see every moment’s little thoughts very clearly. When one thought passes, actualy many ksana moments have passed by. Of course you can chant an entire Great Compassion Mantra, it is just that the typical person is unable to perceive it. Visualization of the appearance of the Buddha is exactly the same. Even though the Amitabha Buddha’s appearance is very sophisticated, as if we cannot visualize it, people with good samadhi-power are able to in one moment’s time visualize the eyes and nose of the Buddha and so on. Within a very short moment, they can visualize the entire sophistication of the Buddha statue. This is the attainment of good samadhi-power.
The fourth is called the “Holding of the Name of the Buddha”. For example, chanting “Namo Amitabha” or “Namo Guan-shi-yin-pusa” and more. Everyone’s roots are different, and the method that they select are different. The most commonly used is this method.
Following this, we can compare the effectiveness of the four methods of being mindful of the Buddha, according to samadhi-power cultivation. The best is the “Real Appearance Buddha Chanting”, reaching the highest samadhi-power. The second is the “Visualization of the Buddha”, the third is the “Observation of the Buddha” and the last is the “Holding of the Name of the Buddha”. Next, comparing according to dedication of merits, the best is still the “Real Appearance Buddha Chanting”, followed by “Holding the Name of the Buddha”, “Observing the Buddha” and “Visualization of the Buddha”. Comparing according to the elimination of karmic hindrances, these four methods do not differ too much.
Nowadays, many people typically learn “Holding the Name of the Buddha”. It is much easier and suitable for typical people, therefore I will introduce ten types of methods of doing this. Actually there are not just ten types, but I will just talk about ten types of methods:
The first type is called “Chanting Buddha’s Name With A Straight Body”. As long as you sit, in whatever way you wish, it must be straight and proper. Lotus pose or sitting in a chair does not matter, you just need to focus your attention and chant.
The second type is called “Chanting Buddha’s Name With Prayer Beads”. You hold the prayer beads and you count one bead for every chant fo the Buddha’s name. It utilizes these beads to constraint the mind and prevent it from being chaotic.
The third type is called “Vajra Chanting of the Buddha’s Name”. I personally use the Vajra method of chanting the Buddha’s name.
The fourth type is “Loud Chanting of the Buddha’s Name”. Loud chanting cannot be maintained for very long, however for beginners, they can use loud chanting because their distracting thoughts are too numerous. By chanting loudly, you become very tensed up, and all your energy leaves. You can chant for a while, then immediately you change to soft chanting. If you always use loud chanting, you will not be able to tolerate it. However, if there are too many thoughts, then you can use it for a while. Following this is a soft chanting of the Buddha’s name. (fifth type)
The sixth type is “Chanting of the Buddha’s Name by Adjusting the Breath”. Adjusting the breath means that you chant each time you breath. Inhaling once, you chant the Buddha’s name. This is used on people with many distracting thoughts. For some people, just chanting the name does not work, so they need to use the breathing to stop the distracting thoughts. Both counting the breaths and chanting the Buddha’s name is used simultaneously.
The seventh type is “Chanting of the Buddha’s Name by Prostration”. This is doing prostrations to Bodhisattvas, then chanting once, prostrating once and chanting once. This can be very efficacious for some people, because when you are paying respects to the Bodhisattvas, your mind is completely focused on prostrating to the Bodhisattvas and distracting thoughts can easily be eliminated. On one hand you can physically train your body. People with weaker bodies are unable to sit for long periods of time, getting aches in their waist and pains in their back. Therefore they can use this prostration method to chant the Buddha’s name and at the same time do exercises. I believe that this is good for people with many distracting thoughts and unhealthy bodies. Both the mind and body’s energy will slowly become better, so this is a good method. When you prostrate to the Bodhisattvas and Buddhas, you are doing repentance. Many use prostrations, up to tens of thousands of prostrations, in order to repent for the grave karmic hindrances of their previous lives.
The eighth type is “Chanting the Buddha’s Name With a Deadline”. This is referring to what is referred to as doing isolated retreats with Buddha chanting. There is a period of time determined and it is an extremely big efficacy.
The ninth type is “Chanting the Buddha’s Name while Sick”. This is useful for many patients in the hospital as they do not usually chant the Buddha’s name. After getting a heavy sickness, there is no harm in teaching the patient how to chant the Buddha’s name while sick. At this time, it is seeking Amitabha Buddha’s help. Especially for those who have contracted a fatal illness, you must definitely ask them to chant the Amitabha Buddha’s name. Their chanting of the Buddha’s name is not like how we use it to typically build samadhi-power – it is entirely seeking the protection of Amitabha Buddha, since their time is limited. For faster success, they can only seek Amitabha to help and protect them, to let them take rebirth in the Pure Lands. They must really arise the mind of deeply requesting the Buddha for his helping-force. For patients with limited time, or patients in extreme suffering, this is extremely efficacious.
The tenth type is “Chanting the Buddha’s Name In Ten Breaths”. This is invented by the Japanese people. Since the Japanese people are very busy, therefore they only practice chanting ten breaths. One breath is one exhalation and inhalation. Within one breath, you chant ten times of the Buddha’s name. In total you must chant for ten breaths, and it only takes a few minutes. They believe that this way of chanting has the same effect as chanting for long periods of time. What is the support for this? They say that Amitabha Buddha had said that people who say his name ten times will go to the Pure Land, otherwise he would not become a Buddha. The Japanese people interpreted these ten thoughts as ten breaths. In honesty, I beg to differ, these ten thoughts do not refer to such a meaning. However, it is very strange because at a moment of time, it was very popular with the Japanese people. All their Pureland sects use this method. There are other methods but I am not familiar with them. Therefore I just wanted to tell you people about these ten types of methods.
Karmic Hindrance Sicknesses That Appear When Chanting the Buddha’s Name
Below we will discuss the problem of karmic hindrance sicknesses related to the chanting of the Buddha’s name. When you chant the Buddha’s name, it is absolutely true that karmic hindrance sicknesses will appear. It is also very obvious that in these 2 to 3 years, many people who learn Buddhism or chant the Buddha’s name who have succumbed to karmic hindrance sicknesses.
In Taipei, there is a friend who used to be a Catholic. When he first chanted the Buddha’s name he would manifest karmic greed. The way he manifested karmic greed was very strange, because he would go to the supermarket to buy things, whereas he would not usually do so! It was solved after eliminating it, with just one or two prostrations. Another type is karmic foolishness. When it appears, you suddenly become unable to find your direction around, even being unable to find a telephone booth. This is absolutely obvious, and recently there are people who completely forget everything, even their own homes. This is an extremely severe form of karmic foolishness. People with good samadhi power tend to have faster symptoms but they are more severe. People with weaker samadhi power will have more gradually appearing symptoms of lesser severity, forgetting a bit of things, forgetting a little today, forgetting a little tomorrow, being unable to study well, memory decreasing. Some people who have normally healthy bodies start to fall into deep sleep when meditating with their mouths wide open – there are often these types of karmic foolishness. Many people have this after just a while, this is absolutely accurate. Therefore, people with good samadhi-power will manifest these very severely, forgetting everything. However, the period where this happens is very short, for only about two hours. For people without good samadhi-power, their karmic foolishness will appear for very long, lasting for a few days of being in a daze, liking to sleep, and not being able to keep their eyelids up while walking. They even forget who they are, what school they are studying in, who their parents are, what their names are. Today, they meet you, and tomorrow they completely forget who you are. This is an extremely severe karmic foolishness.
There are also numerous karma of greed, ill-will, foolishness, arrogance, doubt and lust. These are all the karmic hindrance sicknesses that appear when you chant the Buddha’s name. Actually, it is not only when chanting the Buddha’s name, when you chant sutras or mantras, these will happen. But what is the reason for this? Everyone must know, that when you chant the Buddha’s or Bodhisattva’s names – The karmic hindrances eliminated by Guan-shi-yin-pusa (Avalokiteshvara) is the Sixth Consciousness’ many types of ignorances. There was a writing of the Medicine Buddha Mountain that said very clearly about the different types of ignorances, Zhi-Wei Ignorances are karmic hindrances in the Sixth consciousness, belonging to the coarser type of karmic hindrances of name-and-form. For example, if you chant Amitabha today, he is eliminating the Eighth Consciousness’ impure karmic hindrances. What does it mean by “impure”? It means the three types – greed, ill-will and desire. If you chant the Medicine Buddha’s name, it is to eliminate karmic greed, to very effectively eliminate the karmic hindrance of greed in the Eighth Consciousness. Once all your karmic greed is purified, your body will become transparent like Lapis Lazuli. There are still many other Buddhas and Bodhisattvas who eliminate different types of karmic hindrances. I will explain clearly on the night on the Medicine Buddha’s mountain because the content is too much and I have no ability to explain it here – all the Buddha’s names are different and the karmic hindrances removed are all different. What I mean here is that they will give rise to these karmic hindrance sicknesses. If a person has a lot of lustful karma, then there is a lot of karmic lust in his subconsciousness. Therefore this type of person should chant Amitabha. If the person who teaches this person to chant does not know and asks him to chant the Medicine Buddha sutra, then it is wrong. Because his lustfulness is so excessive, and yet his karmic greed is being worked on instead, what appears will all be karmic lustfulness, and this person will manifest this karmic hindrance sickness of lustfulness. Therefore, you must definitely chant the correct name. There are two reasons for someone to chant a particular Buddha’s name. The first is that you have a stronger affinity with this Buddha or Bodhisattva in the past, the second is that you have a particular karmic hindrance which is much heavier. If not, when you chant a different name, you will manifest the fundamental karma.
Chanting a particular Buddha’s name will eliminate several types of karmic hindrances, however, it will also accompany other types of karmic hindrance seeds. If you do not eliminate these seeds, they will come into effect. This means that the seeds from the Eighth Consciousness appears, going through the Seventh Consciousness, then forms into name-and-form in the Sixth Consciousness, hence manifesting as karmic retribution, which is what we call the karmic hindrance sickness. If karmic hindrance sicknesses appear, it will affect the progress of learning Buddhism. Just like what I mentioned previously, when your karmic foolishness appears, you will feel drowsy everyday with no ability to cultivate. This is not severe yet, I believe the most severe is karmic doubt. When karmic doubt appears, you will doubt all the Buddhist sutras you have read, even doubting that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are real. In the past, I often had karmic doubt – while sitting in meditation I would think that the Bodhisattvas were problematic.
When karmic doubt hinders your cultivation, many people reach a period where they give up on learning. This is because karmic doubt has arisen and they do not even know that, therefore they think that whatever they have learnt is unreal, and that the Buddhist sutras are a scam. They think that chanting the Buddha’s name is fake and useless. When the karmic doubt arises, they do not learn Buddhism anymore and they do not even know. They will say that they have awakened and find no need to study Buddhism. They start believing that they are correct, and this is an extremely severe problem, and the most problematic karmic hindrance is this. When everyone has any kind of karmic problem, you must quickly tell your Wise Knowing Advisor, so that he can help you solve this problem, otherwise you will cut off your path to learning Buddhism. What else do we need to take note of when chanting the Buddha’s name? This is what all people who study Buddhism need to know. Firstly, you must know which Buddha you must chant. If you chant wrongly, you may possibly leak all your root karmic hindrances. If this is the case then you will be in big suffering – You chant and chant, but your karmic hindrances are start to appear. No matter how you chant, your distracting thoughts are one big heap, and you have no way to chant the Buddha’s name. After you have determined what is the correct name, you should specialize in chanting this one Buddha’s name. This means that people should not chant numerous Buddha names, wanting to chant all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, wanting Vajrasattva or Dharma Protector Bodhisattvas. You have to focusedly chant one Buddha’s name, and it is good. Do not be greedy, and you can cultivate very well at home by focusedly chanting one Buddha’s name. I often see many people running on the meditation hall, running here and running there, one person tells him to chant this Buddha, the other person asks him to chant a different Buddha, and he himself has no idea what to chant. As a result, he sends his time on a meaningless matter. Manjushri Bodhisattva once said that chanting one Buddha’s name has the same merit as chanting all Buddha’s names.
Some people are even more strange. They believe in chanting the name of a higher grade Buddha like Vairocana Buddha. Buddhas do have different fruition positions, because some of them are Bodhisattvas! Some people then think that chanting the Buddha’s name is better than chanting the names of Bodhisattvas. They do not want to chant the Bodhisattva’s name and want to chant the Buddha’s name. Some people recommend him to chant the Vajrasattva or Dharma-Protector’s names, but he does not want to! This is all wrong. Actually, you must think about what level you are at. You must first understand yourself. Have you reached the level of Vajrasattva or the Dharma Protectors? It is still too early! Those Diamond Bodhisattvas who stand in the Buddhist monasteries are bodhisattvas with bhumi grounds, you are only in the fruit of a human being, so how can you not respect them? Therefore, you cannot have such a thinking, because your roots are not the same! It is wrong to say that you only want to chant a higher Buddha. If you continue in this type of thinking, you will definitely meet a hindrance, and there will be numerous karmic hindrance sicknesses. You need to be able to use any kind of method to transcend, and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will naturally manifest whatever to save you. Many people do not even have the worthiness of honouring the Buddha. I know some people like this, and therefore they can only honour gods (devas). Maybe they can only honour their own ancestors. Do not think these are incorrect, because it is their own problem. Their levels can only reach this level – so in other words this is the most suitable to teach them. Only at that level can they receive the teaching of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Within the country folk, people use mediums, gaining the help from gods through mediums, and these people can also get help for diseases. Therefore, this is to say that according to your qualifications, different beings come to your aid. Even though Bodhisattvas may not come to save them, many gods will come to save them. Therefore, you need to see what level you are at. Don’t think that you want to pick higher grades, do not always have this kind of thinking because it is wrong. If you choose a Buddha to chant the name of, then you need to pick the correct one.
The second point is that when karmic hindrance sicknesses arise, you must have awareness of it. At any moment when they arise, you need to be aware of it, and realize that something is amiss. Normally how am I? Why do I suddenly get so doubtful? Why do I suddenly get so drowsy? Why does my body become so tired? Why does it become so murky? You need to have this awareness. As far as I know, there are not many people with such awareness and when these karmic hindrance sicknesses arise, they get dragged away. They do not even have the capability of perceiving that these are karmic hindrance sicknesses. As a result, they will cause long suffering to themselves. They may even think it is their own cause and effect. Worse, they may think of other perspectives, doing wrong treatment and making them worse.
Sometimes, when karmic hindrance sicknesses arise, it can be accompanied with sicknesses of the flesh-body. Sometimes there is waist sicknesses, all types. If you do not have awareness, you do not know. You may be treated by the doctor for an entire day, suffering for not reason. Awareness is definitely important for these karmic hindrance sicknesses. One method is that you have self-awareness. Another method is that people around you should realize that you are behaving weirdly, completely different from how you are normally. Cultivators, whether you are chanting the Buddha’s name or mantras, must have this awareness. When you know of a karmic hindrance sickness, you must quickly say it. The third point is that when all types of appearances appear during sitting meditation, such as chi (energy), forms, or responses. Forms mean what your eyes see, such as the seven colours of sunlight, or seeing Buddhas or Bodhisattvas. You should not pay attention to any of these appearances. As long as you treat all of these as fabricated, which was mentioned earlier, then you will not have any problems. This means that your mind should not grasp onto any appearances.
Another point we should know is that the speed of chanting the Buddha’s name must be steady. The breath should not be hurried. The speed, whether fast or slow, depends on every person because everyone has different karmic hindrances and different samadhi powers. Therefore, your chanting speed will be different. You can try your best to be fast, using speed as the principle, however if you are too fast until your breath becomes hurried, feeling effortful and anxious, then your fire of anxiousness will grow. Your entire mouth will be dried up and your eyes will be red. If you see people who chant with red eyes, then it is definitely because he chants too hurriedly and impatiently. Do not hurry your breath, you must be relaxed. You have to recommend to remind yourself to relax every time you chant the Buddha’s name. Wait until you are the most relaxed, then chant the Buddha’s name, it is extremely, extremely important to not be anxious. Also, you must know how to dedicate the merits after chanting the Buddha’s name. When you chant the Buddha’s name well, there will be a lot of people around you but you cannot see them – your friends that have died, your suffering relatives, and even beings from the ghost realm will find you, begging you to help. This is not a good situation, so when you finish chanting the Buddha’s name, invite the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to dedicate your merit, to help them relieve some difficulties. Like this, you will not be obstructed by hindrances – you cannot be obstinate about this. When you chant the Buddha’s name, you must take note to use the merit from chanting the Buddha’s name to the beings that come to seek help in your surroundings. You must say the dedication of merit very clearly, inviting the Amitabha Buddha to help you dedicate your merit to help these beings. You must definitely invite Amitabha Buddha to help you dedicate, do not dedicate merit by yourself, because you have no ability to do such a thing. You definitely must invite Amitabha Buddha to help you dedicate merit to help these sentient beings. You cannot say that you are doing it yourself because you still do not have such an ability. Another point is regarding cause and effect. People who can chant the Buddha’s name well can counteract some cause and effect with the merit. What everyone should know is that, we have rebirthed in so many worlds, there will definitely be a lot of karmic problems, and it is impossible to unravel from beings from all worlds. Hence, it is inevitable to mutually owe beings.
Cause and effect (karma) has several types. There is karma of the human world, such as husband-wife relations, sons and daughters, or in-laws. Human karma is quite troublesome and hard to handle. Human karma can only be solved with chanting the Buddha’s name, requesting the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to help dedicate these merits. For example, if your relationship with your in-laws is not good, and there is no way to make it better between you two, then of course you need to be diligent to change your own attitude and adapt. If there is still no improvement, then you can use this method of dedication, dedicating merits to your in-laws, it is very efficacious because it can improve relationships in the human world. My sister had already done this before and it is very effective. She did not have good relationships with her in-law. My sister was vegetarian but her in-law refused to let her eat vegetarian food, always ignoring her. My sister then always chanted Amitabha, dedicating the merit to her. In a while, it became much better. This is extremely important. Those who do not cultivate have no other way of solving such a problem and have to fight with their lives.
If you cultivate very well, then the karma of the ghost world will be very easy to solve – perhaps you only need to prostrate once or twice while chanting the Buddha’s name, and the problem is solved. Another type is the karma of Maras (demons). Demonic hindrances can be eliminated through chanting the Buddha’s name as well, to pay back these hindrances. When you chant the Buddha’s name, you must clearly request the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to help you dedicate the merits. If you do not have karmic debt yet, then you can just chant the normal dedications. You can just dedicate to the beings who request help. Another point is, if you want to meditate and chant the Buddha’s name, do not chant one hour before or after eating food, because it can affect your digestion. It is okay if you scatteredly chant, but if you concentratedly focus, then it is not good. This is because I have suffered severely from this. After two to three hours of chanting, I immediately ate food, and my stomach became ill. The best is to wait for an hour after eating before you meditate. Also do not meditate in the afternoon, approximately between 12 to 2pm, due to certain problems in chi (energy).
Chanting the Buddha’s name uses the function of the Sixth Consciousness. Its main function is to have a response with the Buddhas’ and Bodhisattvas’ original vows, getting their blessings (helping-force). In terms of levels of chanting the Buddha’s name, one relies on the Sixth Consciousness to chant the Buddha’s name, which is what I earlier talked about relying on the cortex of the brain to chant the Buddha’s name. The other Buddha-chanting relies on the name-and-form, where the subconscious mind is chanting the Buddha’s name. These all belong to the levels with appearances. Subconscious chanting of the Buddha’s name at the level of name-and-form, in an unending stream of chanting, continuously without effort, as if it will not stop. It is as if you enter a feeling of samadhi, but this is still not the best yet, you need to take another step to reach the appearance-less Buddha-chanting. Then you can break through name-and-form, entering the empty nature, ending birth and death. These are the levels of Buddha-chanting. Another point is that this chanting of the Buddhas’ or Bodhisattvas’ names is the most important method for cultivators who want to cultivate on the Bodhisattva path.
Everyone must know that as a cultivator on the Bodhisattva path, if you awaken to self-nature and enter samadhi in this life, you will possibly enter the Silent Light Land. Once you enter it, you will not be able to get out, and you will not be able to help save beings. A cultivator of the Bodhisattva path will vow to save beings, coming back to the world to save beings. If you want to save beings in the world, there are all kinds of layers of hindrances, so what do you rely on? You rely on the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will be your guiding light. In the next life you become a human again, and get forgetfulness due to this shift from space-to-space. Bodhisattvas are also susceptible to this type of forgetfulness. Our teacher the Buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha, took birth as a human being, but he had to wait for 10 to 20 years before he could manifest. He was a Great Bodhisattva from the start, waiting to become a Buddha. However, he had space-to-space forgetfulness and was confused for along time. Therefore, space-to-space confusion is a hindrance of entering a flesh-body. As a Bodhisattva cultivator, in this life you cultivate until the first few bhumi-grounds, and then in the next space-to-space confusion, you cannot even remember yourself, so how do you find yourself? You need to rely on your Buddha and Bodhisattvas that you chant. They are the guiding lights. If there were no guiding lights, it will be impossible to walk on the Bodhisattva path. Therefore, we should quickly cultivate to enter the Purelands, not remaining in this world. If you want to walk the Bodhisattva path in the world, you must properly honour a Buddha’s name, taking the Buddha as your guiding light. That way, when you take rebirth, you will still have another chance. No matter what kind of rebirth you take, you will naturally have a guiding light to help you find your original path. Therefore, this is how important chanting the Buddha’s name is.
For the Vajrayana or Shingon Buddhism, holding a mantra is an important method to enter samadhi and open one’s wisdom. Continuously chanting a mantra, not letting it leak for a moment, is entering samadhi. Mantras have an inconceivable spiritual power which cannot be explained by normal people. Today, there are people who call it the language of the cosmos. Mantras are the heart-seals of all Buddhas. Chanting a mantra can connect you to all Buddhas quickly, like a fast horse, and it is the fastest to enter the Dao. Master Tsong-khapa said that there must be a certain standard of chanting and visualization before cultivating the ch channels and bright drops. Reciting means reciting mantras, true-words (mantras) mean the message of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, allowing people to connect mutually with Buddhas, to help them enter the realms of samadhi. Some people say, that mantras are a type of sound wave frequency and that Buddhas are the energy of the cosmos. The two beings mutually produce the sound, and this causes a resonance. This kind of resonance will cause the body’s chi (energy) to enter the central channel, flowing unimpeded through the three channels and seven chakras, opening up every channel, transforming into a realm (alambana) of radiant purity.
In reality, mantra encompasses all methods, inseparate from all Buddhas. For example, the Pureland Sect takes the main as chanting the Buddha’s name, but in order to guarantee a rebirth in the Western Pureland, they need the blessings from the Great Compassion Mantra, Rebirth Mantra, Shurangama Mantra and the Ten Small Mantras. Master Han-shan said, “People who cannot competently chant the Buddha’s name, can hold the mantra, using the Buddha’s heart-seal power, in order to get more efficacy in half the work.” Chanting the Buddha’s name and mantras lead to the same result. For example, “Om Ah Hung” is the fundamental three-word mantra of Sanskrit consonants, forming the fundamental sound of the numerous lives in the Universe. It shakes away the blockages in the body’s channels, cleansing it of ailments. “Ah” is also the first word of “Amitabha”. The Avatamsaka sutra said: “When the ‘ah’ sound is said, the Prajna-paramita door is entered, and with the formidable power of every Bodhisattva, the realm without distinction is entered.” (Note that the “ah” cannot be pronounced as “ou”) We should treat each Buddha’s name as a mantra, there is a secret message within each. For example, the 6-word mantra “om mani padme hung” is Master Padmasambhava’s mantra for entering the Western Pureland. All mantras can also be used as a Buddha’s name to chant. Even the Chan sect which calls itself a dharma-door of own-power, when karmic seeds start to rage, being in a dilemma situation, they will need to use the mantras and the power of Buddhas, if not they will not be able to pass through. Master Han-shan said, “Successive generations of meritorious Chan Sect, all hold the mantras, borrowing the power of Buddhas, but they do not reveal it.”
It is best to not eat the five pungent vegetables. If you eat them, do not eat garlic or scallions, if not the mantras will be not effective. Only the Zhunti mantra does not have prohibitions. All other mantras have prohibitions.
Translated from: http://wap.kaoder.com/?m=thread&a=view&fid=55&tid=180368