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Blog » Sweet Dews Of Dharma Talks » 2020 » Take up the Buddha’s Name and Let Go of False Thoughts

Take up the Buddha’s Name and Let Go of False Thoughts2020-08-06


A Dharma Talk Given By DM Yi at GSM in January, 2020
Translated by Michael Lu

We recite the Buddha’s name with the wish to be reborn in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss. Why? In the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss, the trickling water is reciting Amitabha Buddha, the rustling breeze is reciting Amitabha Buddha, and the chirping birds are reciting Amitabha Buddha. Everything that you encounter there is a transformation by Amitabha Buddha, a manifestation of Buddhadharma.

The same principle applies to the monastery. At the monastery, people have prepared food, kept the environment tidy, and organized Dharma assemblies in the Buddha Hall. All that is left for you to do is follow the schedule. You have the opportunity here to cultivate in every moment. There are many things that you would not do here: slacking off, casually scolding others, taking a nap whenever and wherever, or snacking at will. At all times and places at the monastery, there are conditions protecting the Dharma in place, prompting you to constantly remind yourselves to be vigorous and not slack off. It is as if we are at the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss—what we see, hear, and think, as well as our every action, is Buddhadharma.

However, although we are at the monastery, sometimes we find that despite our efforts in cultivation, we are unable to attain significant results. Why? We can neither pick up nor let go. What can’t we pick up? We cannot pick up the Buddha’s name when we recite. What can’t we let go? We cannot let go of emotions, false thoughts, and afflictions that come about in our daily lives.

We all know that as we age, our body shape trends toward two extremes. Either we become more and more fat or more and more thin. To maintain the figure of your youth, you need to be in good health and exercise regularly.

Just as our body shape trends toward two extremes as we age, our state of mind also trends toward two extremes. What are the two? The first is slowly letting go. You can ask yourself whether you have slowly let go after becoming a Buddhist. To some degree, yes. The other extreme is clinging to more and more. Have you seen it? Yes. As some grow older, they cling to more and more and cannot let go. We are all like this, no? As we grow older, either we let go bit by bit or cling to more and more. Since their remaining days are few, they seize the final moments to cling to more. These are the two extremes of our state of mind.

That is why I previously said that although the monastery provides an excellent environment for cultivation, sometimes it is still difficult to fully apply effort. One reason is that we cannot take up the Buddha’s name. Another reason is that we cannot let go of our attachments, false thoughts, and afflictions. Someone asked one Bhikshuni who had already left home for over fifty years, “Dharma Master, you have been cultivating for so long. What have you been working on?” What do you think this Bhikshuni said? She said that she had been spending all fifty years learning how to let go. She did not say that she wanted to attain a certain fruition. Instead, she said that she had spent her entire life learning how to let go.

Lastly, I would like to share some instructions given by Great Master Ouyi in his Explication of the Amitabha Sutra, a commentary he wrote on the Amitabha Sutra. Here is what he has to say about faith. The three prerequisites of being reborn in the Pure Land are faith, vows, and practice, right? Great Master Ouyi has an engaging explanation on faith. He says that we must first have faith in ourselves. What does this mean? We must believe in that present thought in our minds: “The worlds of the ten directions all appear from a single thought in my mind. I should turn that one thought within, sincerely being mindful of Amitabha’s name and letting go of all other thoughts.” By turning our minds inward and concentrating on being mindful of the Buddha’s name, we can return to the Land of Ultimate Bliss in our minds, since our single thought perfects the Land of Ultimate Bliss. Therefore, the Land of Ultimate Bliss exists in our minds. We must believe that our inherent-natures is perfect with the Land of Ultimate Bliss, as long as we can let go of all other thoughts, turn the single thought within, and concentrate on the Buddha’s name. The Land of Ultimate Bliss will appear when we are mindful. This is the first aspect of faith.

The second aspect is faith in others. Amitabha Buddha made forty-eight great vows to guide living beings to the Land of Ultimate Bliss, as long as they are mindful of his name. Amitabha Buddha does not lie, so we must believe in him. Buddhas in the six directions are proclaiming this Dharma method of mindfulness of the Buddha in worlds throughout the ten directions. We should have faith that Amitabha Buddha has such power derived from his vows to bring us to his Land of Ultimate Bliss. This is faith in others.

The third aspect is faith in causes. This needs to be explained in conjunction with the fourth aspect, faith in effect. As it is said, “Plant melons, reap melons; plant beans, harvest beans.” Mindfulness of the Buddha plants the cause for becoming a Buddha, and mindfulness of the Buddha can lead to the accomplishment of Buddhahood. Great Master Ouyi said that even if someone recited the Buddha’s name with a scattered mind, as long as they had deep faith, they would still plant the seeds for Buddhahood.

The fifth aspect is faith in phenomena, which needs to be explained with faith in principle. What is faith in phenomena? We must have deep faith that the Land of Ultimate Bliss is real. Faith in principle is having faith that the Western Pure Land appears from the present thought in our minds. Therefore, the Saha World originates from the impurities in our minds, and the Pure Land originates from the purity in our minds. Thus it is said, “When the mind is pure, the world is pure.”

Let us review the instructions that Great Master Ouyi gave regarding the faith prerequisite of the three prerequisites to be reborn in the Pure Land: faith, vows, and practice. He separated the different types of faith into three pairs: self and others, cause and effect, and phenomena and principle. This is the Dharma insight that I would like to share with everyone today.