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Listen to Yourself: Think Everything Over

Volume 2

Instructions to Participants
in the Buddha Recitation


The Dharma-door of Reciting the Buddha’s name works very directly. You need only to concentrate your mind, and naturally you will attain the Buddha Recitation Samadhi. There is no need to further investigate its meaning, or pile a head on top of a head, looking for business when there’s nothing to do. Reciting to the point of single-mindedness, when the water flows and the wind blows, all are proclaiming the wonderful Dharma of the Mahayana.


Of the mountains, rivers and great earth, none are not our self-nature of True Suchness. The Buddha and I have become one; the Buddha and I were originally not two. When the point is reached of not reciting and yet reciting, reciting and yet not reciting, then inside there is no body or mind and outside there is no world. Empty space is smashed to pieces, the tracks of false thoughts have vanished. In lucid stillness, the pure original source appears. Then one attains great ease and comfort, great liberation, and great calm. One can certify to limitless life and fulfill one’s vows of Bodhi. A verse says,  

     Concentrate on reciting the Buddha’s name,
       in the country of calm dwelling;
     With Amitabha’s great vows one goes to the West.
     The three levels and nine grades of lotuses manifest;
     The six paramitas and the myriad
       conducts are perfected in a kshana.
     Kuan Yin and Great Strength Bodhisattvas are our companions.
     With Manjushri and Universal Worthy,
       we sail on the same Dharma boat.
     Our compassionate father brings us back to our old village:
     Originally, the world of Ultimate Bliss was our homeland.


December 31, 1979  

   People of the Saha World all like happiness and dislike suffering; hell beings like suffering and dislike being happy; hungry ghosts like hatred and dislike compassion; animals like stupidity and dislike wisdom, which is why they are reborn in the path of the animals.  

   Although we people claim to like being happy and to dislike suffering, we do not know how to get rid of suffering. Heavenly beings also like happiness and dislike suffering.  

   In the state of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas there is no suffering and no happiness. Both suffering and bliss are forgotten. Living beings are upside down: they take what is right as wrong and what is wrong as right; they mistake black for white and white for black. Do they know that they are upside down? Yes, they do, but although they know it, they still go right ahead and do wrong. Although they know what is illegal, they deliberately set out to do it. And although they know what is right, they won’t do it.  

   Take for instance taking tea breaks during the Buddha Recitation Session. Now there are special times to drink tea; you just don’t drink tea any time you feel like it. People grow tired after reciting for a while so they go and drink some tea to take a little rest and be lazy. If you are sincerely reciting the Buddha’s name, how can you possibly think of drinking tea? You would have long forgotten about tea, not to mention milk. You would have forgotten everything—even about whether you’ve eaten or not, so how much more would you have forgotten about drinking tea?  

   Someone says, “Reciting the Buddha’s name is too dangerous; you may even forget whether you’ve eaten or not!” But that’s right where the kung fu (skill) lies! People who really use effort won’t know whether they’ve eaten, whether they’ve been clothed, or whether they’ve slept. They will have forgotten everything. Above, they are not aware of heaven; below, they are not aware of the earth; and, in between they are not aware of people. Everything has become empty. If everything has become empty, how can you possibly think of taking a tea break or drinking milk?!  

   Some of my disciples dare not drink milk. If they do, their desire thoughts escalate to the point that they cannot control them. Therefore, they go off milk. We eat only in order to support our lives. We take food as medicine. If we do not eat, we will perish, that’s why we must eat a bit of food. We sustain our bodies and keep them from wasting away so that we can use them to cultivate with. You need not concern yourselves with any special kind of nutrition or diet. Once you ingest more nutritious food than you need, you’re in trouble—your thoughts of sexual desire will not stop.

   How can those who truly use effort find time to drink tea or milk? They don’t even find time to eat, to sleep, or to put on clothes. In every moment they are concentrating on the Buddha’s name, “NamoAmitabha,” without stopping. You recite when you’re asleep, you recite when you are awake, to the point that this phrase of the six magical syllables, “Namo Amitabha,” becomes indestructible. Stretch it out, you can’t snap it; chop at it, you can’t cut through it; even if you use a sword or knife, you still won’t be able to break it. Its strength is more solid than that of diamonds. There is no way you can destroy this “Namo Amitabha.” That is what’s called the Buddha Recitation Samadhi.  

   You should recite the Buddha’s name in this way, and you should recite the Sutras in the same way; you should hold mantras in this way, too. In doing so, there is no way you will be able to strike up any false thoughts. Cultivation is not easy. Take a look at Kuo Chen (D.M. Heng Sure of Three Steps One Bow): why has he vowed to not drink milk? Because he knows that milk is something fierce. Once you drink milk, that streak of bull-like nature in you manifests. That bull-like nature which arises is fiercer than a tiger!  

   Whenever you encounter food that is particularly nutritious, if your body does not need it, if your body is not weak, then you shouldn’t take it. Once you take it, you’ll have a lot of trouble. So it says, “Too much is equal to not enough”; “having too much of something is as bad as not having enough. It is not the Middle Way.  

   Every word, act, and deed on the part of living beings is not outside of greed, anger and stupidity. They use greed, anger, and stupidity to cultivate worldly dharmas, and they use greed, anger and stupidity to cultivate transcendental Dharmas as well. So when cultivating they are greedy for enlightenment. They sit in Ch’an meditation for two-and-a-half-days, and they want to become enlightened; they cultivate a Dharma for two-and-a-half days, and they want to attain spiritual penetrations; they recite the Buddha’s name for two-and-a-half days and they want to obtain the Buddha Recitation Samadhi! Take a look at that gigantic greed mind. It is no less than the manifestation of the greedy ghosts.  

   You should consider cultivation your duty; it’s something that you should do. There is no need for you to be greedy; you need only cultivate. And after a while, when your merit and virtue is perfected, you will naturally accomplish Bodhi. There is no need to be greedy. Originally, you were meant to have success, but if you’re too greedy, then you won’t be able to chew well or digest well. For instance, when you’re eating food, you have to eat mouthful by mouthful; you can’t stuff an entire bowl of rice into your mouth at once, to the point that there is no space at all left inside your mouth! Then how will you be able to chew or swallow? Eating is the simplest analogy for this situation. If you are too greedy, you won’t be able to chew your food, much less swallow or digest it.

   In cultivating, you should act like nothing is going on. Do not be greedy; don’t be obsessed with the things you wish for—you want to become enlightened, you want attain psychic powers, and on and on. How can things happen so fast? When you plant seeds, they must germinate, and then grow slowly; and even if they sprout and grow, you cannot help the sprouts grow by yanking them out of the earth. When the time comes, naturally they will mature, and your work will be accomplished. The ancients have a saying,  

     When grinding an iron pillar into a fine sewing needle.
     In due time it will be completed.  

You can do it, but you shouldn’t be afraid of the time it will take. In cultivation, you need to get rid of your faults. What faults? If you like to drink tea, that is your fault; if you like to drink milk, that is your fault; if you like to false think, that is your fault. If you are greedy for comfort and leisure, then there will be no response from your efforts. In applying effort, you cannot be afraid of suffering, afraid of difficulty, or afraid of getting tired. Then you may have some success.  

   If you keep on drinking tea and drinking milk, you stuff that stinking skin-bag of yours full, so that it becomes big, fat and robust. What use is there in that? No matter how fat you get, people won’t eat human flesh—you can’t sell it—so why do you want to be so plump?  

   Now I have to apologize to the people here. Why? Because I like to joke. All of the fat people here upon hearing what I just said, shouldn’t immediately go on a crash diet. If you do so, then it is just piling a head on top of a head and looking for more trouble.

AMITABHA TALKS January 3, 1980  

   The entire world is filled with natural disasters and calamities; it is covered in blackness and there is no light. This is a sign that the human race is in danger of extinction. The noxious vapors that come from killing are something we’ve never experienced before to such an extent. We are familiar with the atom bomb, the nitrogen bomb, all nuclear weaponry, and now there is the laser, as well. If any of those weapons are used on a grand scale, the entire human race will be wiped out. So the only think we can do now, is to cultivate according to the Buddha’s teaching and invisibly dispel these calamities and disasters.  

   The world is filled with black energy; black karma envelops us. In any place where there are true cultivators, the disasters in that place will be lessened. If many people come together to cultivate, their collective strength can dispel these disasters and counteract the plunders, and invisibility eradicate this noxious, evil energy and transform it into harmonious and auspicious energy. But first, both feet must be firmly planted on the ground, and then you must realistically cultivate according to the Buddha’s teaching.  

   Everyone should bring forth his or her true heart in reciting the Buddha’s name. For every time you recite the Buddha’s name a ray of light shines through empty space. If you recite very sincerely, then this light fills up the trichiliochosm, so that the energy of the three-thousand-great-thousand worlds will be auspicious and harmonious and the atmosphere of violence, defilement and disaster will be dispelled and transformed.  

   The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas is the brightest place on earth, because the ten thousand Buddhas all emit light that pervades the world. Here at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, even if you strike up false thoughts, it has more merit and virtue than doing the most meritorious things in the world outside. Why is this? Because all those who live at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas are tending towards the Way of goodness. Even if they have false thinking at times, those false thoughts are all good false thoughts; very rarely are they evil false thoughts. That is why you can say that the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas is the sun of the world and the moon of the world—it causes all living beings to become cool and refreshed.  

   People who live here at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas have all planted many good roots and made vows in the past. They wish to change the world for the better, to dispel and eradicate disasters and difficulties. Therefore, those of you who live at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas must go towards the proper in every thought, word and deed; do not flow with the dirt, do not be cheap and common. The people who live here at the City are all good-hearted; evil-natured living being cannot stay here for long. Sooner or later they will bring about their own expulsion.  

   The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas has welled up from the earth; eventually it will become the center of World Buddhism, where Buddhist from every country can come and cultivate together to investigate the Buddhadharma and to glorify the Buddha’s teaching. Since you are able to leave the home-life here at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, it’s certain that in the future you can become Buddhas. Why? There is a saying,  

     Pavilions that are closest to the water
     Catch the reflection of the moonlight first.  

Since you have come here early, you will obtain a lot of merit; those who come later…well, they will have to wait a bit longer.  

   When some people come to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, they find it very difficult to stay put. They feel there is not much going on at the City, that we are pretty uptight and that there isn’t much entertainment. But you should know, if you seek outside for entertainment, you will forfeit the genuine bliss within. In this world, if you want the false, then you will lose the real; if you want the real, you have to first put down the false. You cannot on the one hand wish to cultivate a transcendental Dharma, and on the other hand be unwilling to let go of worldly dharmas; with your feet straddling two boats—one foot wants to go north while the other wants to go south—it isn’t possible.  

   Right now we are having a Buddha Recitation Session. You should enter deeply through one door. Use your sincere mind, your true mind, your devout mind to cultivate this Dharma-door; don’t waste a moment. You should know that “every inch of time is an inch of life.” If you do not apply effort, you increase your offenses; if you use effort, you can increase your good roots. You should honestly recite the Buddha’s name; then you will not have wasted your time and your life will not have been worthless.

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