Amitabha Buddha’s name chanting is an easy method of cultivation in which beliefs are difficult to have, especially in this age of information technology when people care more about material comfort than the spiritual life. However, as in the Buddha’s teachings: Buddhahood is a nature of mind and it’s the mind that possesses the Buddhahood, ringing about enlightenment. Therefore, as Buddhists, we have to believe in Buddha’s teachings. The Flower Adornment Sutra stated: “Beliefs are the mother of all the good merits.”. No other merits are greater than making a vow to be reborn in the PureLand and to become a Buddha. On the occasion of this year’s retreat, we would like to briefly tell you about an old lady having a belief in Amitabha Buddha’s name chanting. Nothing special but it’s a rare example of Amitabha Buddha’s name chanting that’s worth the appreciation by any religious persons.
On an early day in May, 2008 during our Buddhism promotion trip to America and Canada, I followed Senior Venerable Thich Nhu Dien, Abbott of Vien Giac Temple, to visit the house of the old lady Dieu Bich who is 90 years old, in Montreal in the South of Canada. On the way, Senior Venerable Thich Nhu Dien briefly told me about this special lady. Upon arrival, it’s surprising to know that she used to be the owner of BIC Pen Company. But the thing I’ve noticed most was that she was doing Amitabha Buddha’s name chanting assiduously which she’s been doing without any day missing for many years.
This Mrs Duong Xuan Dao, called Hoang Hoa with Dharma name Dieu Bich who was born in a rich family in My Le Quarter, ChoTramVillage, Long An Province in 1919. She had studied in Hong Kong, and came back to Saigon when she was 23 and married Mr. Huynh Hong Giao with Dharma name Minh Chau. They have 3 children (2 son and 1 daughter) living in France, America and Canada. They used to be famous in Saigon in 1975 for BIC pen production.
In Spring 1975 when the war ended, they left Vietnam with their son Mr. Huynh Phuoc Bang (an engineer, 67 years old) to settle down in Montreal, Canada. Since then, they often came to see their daughter in Paris, France. In 1978, during such a visit, Mr. Huynh Hong Giao suddenly died of heart disease. Until then, they did not know anything about Buddhism. However, Mrs Dieu Bich and her family believed in Buddhism by tradition so she came to KhanhAnhTemple to respectfully invite Senior Venerable Thich Minh Tam to help with her husband’s funeral. On the first visit to KhanhAnhTemple, the family could only see Senior Venerable Thich Nhu Dien who was looking after the Temple on behalf of Senior Venerable Khanh Anh as he was taking care of another Buddhist mission in another continent. Senior Venerable Thich Nhu Dien at that time had settled down in Germany but came to France sometimes to assist Senior Venerable Khanh Anh with lot of work at the temple and in the Buddhist association. They kindly asked Senior Venerable Thich Nhu Dien to run the praying sessions for the man. After that, they kept coming to KhanhAnhTemple to help with the weekly ceremonies. Especially, Senior Venerables Thich Nhu Dien and Thich Minh Tam had conducted a solemn Yearly Ceremony for him in Montreal, Canada.
On her husband’s very first week’s anniversary, Mrs. Hong Hoa took the refuge in the Triple Gem and was given Dharma name Dieu Bich. From then, she wholeheartedly prayed for her husband, wishing him to be reborn into a safe realm.
Luckily that during that time she was blessed to read the book Pure Land Great Letters that she borrowed from KhanhAnhTemple. Thanks to reading this valuable book, she made a vow to chant the Amitabha Buddha’s name on November 17th 1980 (December by Lunar Calendar, Year of Monkey), right on the occasion of Amitabha Buddha’s Anniversary. Mrs Dieu Bich has kept record from her first day of Amitabha Buddha’s name chanting up to now by writing in two students’ notebooks. I took photos of these notebooks to keep as souvenir to share with anyone who are related to this school of practice. They are live evidence for 29 years of practice by Mrs Dieu Bich. Every day she has noted down the date and number of rosary by which she knew how many times she had chanted Amitabha Buddha’s name. (Please see the photos). She revealed that at first she vowed to chant Amitabha Buddha’s name and counted 5 rosary (108 beads/each) day per. The number then gradually increased and up to now (2009) she could count 102 rosary per day. Good thing is she did not miss a day in the past 9 years.
Assiduous Amitabha Buddha’s Name Chanting is a popular method of PureLandSchool. The requirements are: chanting Amitabha Buddha’s Name clearly and firmly; with single mind and wholeheartedness; count the roseryto know exactly the times of chanting (one bead one time); keeping the record after each time of practice; being honest to yourself imaging that you are under the supervision of the Triple Gems andDefenders of Dharma; showing the record to a Monk to be certified on the occasion of Repentance or Bodhisattvas Practice Day. The certification is just the encouragement for the practitioners so that they would be more devoted to the practice. Amitabha Buddha’s Name Chanting can be supported, reminded and supervised by the Buddhas, Maha Bodhisattvas and especially the Monks. Senior Venerable Thich Nhu Dien had provided the certification for Mrs Dieu Bich when he visited Canada. Senior Venerable Thich Nhu Dien is one of the famous overseas PureLand practitioner for his Amitabha Buddha’s Name Chanting and Prostration Doing. He did prostrations for to each word of Lotus Sutra (about 700,000 prostrations) and he is currently performing prostrations for Mahaparinirvana Sutra (approximately 1,500,000 prostrations). On our visit, Senior Venerable Thich Nhu Dien HT certified her record of Amitabha Buddha’s Name Chanting.
Most Venerable Thich Nhu Dien HT was certifying the record of Amitabha Buddha’s Name Chantingfor Mrs Dieu Bich (taken on May 8th 2008)
To be honest, this is the first time in my life I’ve seen such an example of Assiduous Amitabha Buddha’s Name Chanting. Many others have made vow to do this but because of adversity or sickness, they stopped. Only Mrs Dieu Bich has been persistently doing it and been determined to do it until the end of her life. She is 91 now (2009) but her appearance is great. She is fit. She can walk with deliberate steps and speak clearly. She’s got a good memory. All thanks to her assiduous Amitabha Buddha’s Name Chanting.
Her favourite work is to make rosaries to give to Amitabha Buddha’s Name Chanters. She also advised people to practice Amitabha Buddha’s Name Chanting and contributed to the reprinting of PureLand books so more people know about this school of practice. She and her son Huynh Phuoc Bang (Senior Venerable Thich Nhu Dien disciple by Dharma name) were two of the 23 founding members for Quan Am Temple in Montreal, Canada (Venerable Truong Phuoc being the Abott)
Mrs Dieu Bich has a firm and deep belief in Amitabha Buddha’s Name Chanting, that is to be reborn into the PureLand. This is the first condition of this method. She said: “Belief, Practice and Vow Making is the three key factors that should be enhanced by the PureLand practitioners. We must develop our beliefs in the Buddhas’ teachings, the law of cause and effect and the existence of the UltimateBlissLand established by Amitabha Buddha. And then keep practicing Amitabha Buddha’s Name Chanting until the mind is unmoved by anything else. And we have to make vows to be reborn into such PureLand”. She added that without a firm belief, she would not be dedicated to this method until now. She asked that starters should read Pure Land Great Letters (translated by Senior Venerable Hanh Tru); Ten key factors for Amitabha Buddha’s Name Chanting (translated by Senior Venerable Thien Tam) and PureLandSchool by Senior Venerable Tri Thu. These three valuable books will help them to have a strong belief in this method of practice before starting Amitabha Buddha’s Name Chanting.
The author and Mrs Dieu Bich (taken on May 7th 2008)
Mrs Dieu Bich has made the offering of 200 Canadian dollars to buy rosaries to give to Buddhists at our Quang Duc Monastery in Australia to advise them to do Amitabha Buddha’s Name Chanting. Hope that Buddhists at Quang Duc Monastery and any other Dharma fellows, upon reading this story of a good example for Amitabha Buddha’s Name Chanting, will practice assiduously so they can have peaceful and happy lives and be reborn into the Pure Land, as expressed from the bottom of the heart of Monk Linh Nhu who was ordained at the age of 70 and has being practicing Pure Land School:
From the bottom of my heart
Chanting Amitbha Buddha
On the Jewel pond Lotus throne
Being an incoming home
To the dust and the earth sand
Leaving behind such remains
On the eternally tranquil Land
Returning to the original man. (translated by Tam Tinh)
Một lòng niệm Phật Di Đà Đài sen ao báu là nhà tương lai Huyễn thân trả lại trần ai Cõi thường tìm lại hình hài năm xưa.
Homage to Amitabha Written at PhapBaoTemple during the yearly retreat, 2009 Thich Nguyen Tang (Vietnamese version)
In this chapter we will look at the steps of the Noble Eightfold Path that fall into the group known as mental development. We have already noted the interdependent nature of the steps of the path, and in this context it is particularly important to understand the position of mental development. Placed as it is between good conduct and wisdom, mental development is relevant and important to both. You may ask why this should be so. Indeed, people sometimes think simply following the precepts of morality is sufficient for leading a good life.
Recently, in speaking before a luncheon audience, I mentioned that I try to meditate for about 10 minutes every morning and 10 minutes before bedtime.
"How do you meditate?'' a woman asked.
I felt so ill equipped to answer, because I'm new to it, too, as many Westerners are.
The following pages were originally intended as new sections to be added to the second edition of my introductory book on the Dhamma, What is Buddhism?. However, as many people are greatly interested in the practice of meditation, and as many are also separated from the sources of a living tradition, it is hoped that the following may be of value even apart from the sections of the book which they supplement.
There are lots of people who are ashamed to talk about their own defilements but who feel no shame at talking about the defilements of others. Those who are willing to report their own diseases -- their own defilements -- in a straightforward manner are few and far between. As a result, the disease of defilement is hushed up and kept secret, so that we don't realize how serious and widespread it is. We all suffer from it, and yet no one is open about it. No one is really interested in diagnosing his or her own defilements....
When you hear something about Buddhism in the daily news you usually think of it having a background of huge idols and yellow-robed monks, with a thick atmosphere of incense fumes. You never feel that there is anything in it for you, except, maybe, an exotic spectacle.
I want to talk in depth today about the nature of Buddhism. Very often I read in newspapers and books some strange things that are presented as Buddhism. So here, I will point out the heart of the real Buddhist teaching, not as a theory but as an experience.
At our meditation retreats, yogis practice mindfulness in four different postures. They practice mindfulness when walking, when standing, when sitting, and when lying down. They must sustain mindfulness at all times in whatever position they are in. The primary posture for mindfulness meditation is sitting with legs crossed, but because the human body cannot tolerate this position for many hours without changing, we alternate periods of sitting meditation with periods of walking meditation. Since walking meditation is very important, I would like to discuss its nature, its significance, and the benefits derived from its practice.
The object of Ch'an training is to realize the mind for the perception of (self-) nature, that is to wipe out the impurities which soil the mind so that the fundamental face of self-nature can really be perceived. Impurities are our false thinking and clinging (to things as real). Self-nature is the meritorious characteristic of the Tathagata wisdom which is the same in both Buddhas and living beings.
Nguyện đem công đức này, trang nghiêm Phật Tịnh Độ, trên đền bốn ơn nặng, dưới cứu khổ ba đường, nếu có người thấy nghe, đều phát lòng Bồ Đề, hết một báo thân này, sinh qua cõi Cực Lạc.
May the Merit and virtue,accrued from this work, adorn the Buddhas pureland, Repay the four great kindnesses above, andrelieve the suffering of those on the three paths below, may those who see or hear of these efforts generates Bodhi Mind, spend their lives devoted to the Buddha Dharma, the Land of Ultimate Bliss.