Our formal method of cultivation is the primary practice is nianfo, mindful Buddha-name
chanting. This chanting of “Amituofo ” is done while doing walking, prostrating,
or seated meditation. When we chant, the sound of “Amituofo” arises in our minds.
And as we utter “Amituofo,” our minds concentrate on and embrace that sound. While
chanting, do so sincerely and continuously.
As one keeps chanting and the mind focuses on the sound of “Amituofo,” errant thoughts
are replaced with pure thoughts. In this way, we also create less negative karma.
After Amitabha has been in our mind continuously for a long time, our true nature—our
Buddha-nature—will gradually be uncovered.
It is similar to a child remembering a dearly loved one: a mother, father, or someone
equally close. The dearly loved one is always with him, always in his heart. Likewise,
he is always in the dearly loved one's heart—and never forgotten. In a similar way,
Amitabha is always thinking of us, waiting for us to reach out to him so that he
may respond to us.
Amitabha Buddha is the wise and compassionate teacher who understands everything
and who is always thinking of us, lifetime after lifetime. We are the students who
are trying to learn and to practice. Just as a good teacher listens to the calls
for help from a student looking for the right answers, if we have unwavering belief,
vow to be reborn in the Pure Land, and sincerely practice, Amitabha Buddha will respond.
All we have to do is chant his name mindfully.
When we chant to the point of single-mindedness with the sole thought of “Amituofo,”
we successfully form a connection with him—in fact, we become one with him. In that
instant we are in the Pure Land—far to the west and deep within us.
As we breathe our last breath in this world, if we can form this connection, form
this oneness with “Amituofo,” we will attain our next rebirth in the Western Pure
Land and leave suffering behind. And once there, we will have all the time we need
to continue our practice and learning, for we will be in the company of Amitabha
Buddha and all the bodhisattvas who dwell there. They will help us learn all the
ways to wisely and compassionately help other beings.