How to Chant?

Some people misunderstand the Pure Land method, believing it to be entirely focused on practice and devoid of philosophical teaching. That is, in the Pure Land sutras, Sakyamuni Buddha simply describes and explains the Western Pure Land and exhorts everyone to recite the Buddha’s name, seeking rebirth in that Land — without reference to theoretical issues. In truth, however, theory leads to practice, within practice is hidden the element of theory.

Moreover, although the Buddha’s teachings are classified under different headings, such as the
Door of Emptiness [Zen, etc.], the Door of Existence [Pure Land, etc.], the “Open” Teaching, the “Secret” [Tantric, etc.] Teaching, they all lean toward, rely on and clarify one another. Thus, there is the Zen School, in which a single meditation riddle (kung an) contains innumerable Dharma teachings.

The same is true of Pure Land: the words “Amitabha Buddha” encompass the teachings of Zen, the Sutra Studies School, the Discipline School and the Esoteric School. Therefore, the ancients have determined that the Pure Land method is a “Sudden Teaching.”

Thích Thiền Tâm

A single recitation of the Buddha’s name, if done correctly, contains the three thousand auspicious bearings and the eighty thousand subtle conducts. All the various Zen riddles and the most expeditious principles of the Sutra Studies method, are also included.

Elder Master Ou I

The simplest way to practice Pure Land is by chanting “Amituofo.” Amituofo is the name of Amitabha Buddha in Chinese. In Sanskrit it is Amitabha Buddhaya. It does not matter whether we chant in Chinese, Sanskrit, or any other language as long as we do it properly. 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. In our chanting, we pronounce each syllable clearly and distinctly so that we hear the chant whether it is voiced or silent. Regardless of whether we chant when walking, sitting, or bowing, our focusing on the Buddha’s name will decrease our everyday worries. Eventually, they will be eliminated.

Amitabha Pureland (click to view more)

Master Hsuan Hua explained the four methods of being mindful of the Buddha:

  1. Mindfulness of the Buddha through reciting his name.
  2. Mindfulness of the Buddha through contemplating his image.
  3. Mindfulness of the Buddha through contemplation.
  4. Mindfulness of the Buddha’s real appearance.
City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (click to view more)