Archive | December 2020

Degrees of Mantra Efficacy

The blessings and mantras of all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are absolutely efficacious.  But whether one can produce these powers depends on one’s capability.

The more mantras you recite, the more merits and results you gain.  This is certain.  Like when it is mentioned in the Buddhist scriptures that reciting a certain number of Amitabha’s names will create a karmic connection with Amitabha, and prevent one from taking rebirth in the hell realms, these are perfectly true.  However, to achieve these results is not that easy, the mantra itself is sublime but there are three varying degrees of result that one can achieve:

The best result depends on one’s meditative ability.  If one’s meditative ability is sufficient, then reciting 7 times will yield the results. This is definite.

Secondly, the power of observance of precepts.  If one’s samaya is pure, then one is assured of receiving the mantra’s blessings.

Thirdly, if meditative ability is insufficient, and one’s observance of precepts are weak (i.e., one is only able to abide by the main precepts but breaks the subsidiary precepts), but one’s faith is great,  then one can nonetheless generate the power of mantra.

In consequence of this, no matter which practice one does, whether it is reciting texts, prostrations, recitation of mantras, the most important factor is faith.  For beginners, it is challenging to have meditative ability, there is a long way to go before one achieves this, therefore the power of faith is especially critical.

~ Kathok Rigzin Chenpo Rinpoche

How to pray to Amitabha

In response to a question by a student about whether to recite Buddha Amitabha’s name in Chinese or Tibetan, Pema Trinley Rinpoche replied:

Whether you recite in Tibetan or Chinese, it is both okay.  You can recite “I prostrate, make offerings and take refuge in the Bhagavan, Tathagatha, Arhat, Perfectly Enlightened Buddha Protector Amitabha” in Chinese.  It is the same.   Whether you are reciting it in Tibetan or Chinese, what is really important is to visualize clearly, to pray to Guru Amitabha and to make aspirations.  Supplicate Guru Amitabha to bless you to attain rebirth in Amitabha’s pureland at the point of death.  If one does not visualize, does not pray properly to Amitabha, does not make aspirations to be reborn in Sukhavati, then merely reciting Amitabha’s name–  whether it is a million or two million times, regardless of how many times one recites— is not effective.  What is really vital is to be undistracted during the recitation, visualizing Amitabha inseparable from one’s Guru clearly above one’s crown.   At the same time, think of the qualities and blessings of Amitabha’s three kayas, think of the qualities of Amitabha’s pureland, think of the qualities of the Guru who is inseparable from Amitabha.  Then follow that with supplicating Guru Amitabha.   Visualize Guru Amitabha in front of you while making aspirations, prayers, prostrations, offerings, confessions, dedications etc.  In this way, you can take rebirth in the pureland.  If one is merely mouthing the prayers while having all kinds of thoughts, with no sincere aspirations, with no Bodhichitta, with no proper supplication or dedication etc, the seven limb prayers– then even if one recites millions of Amitabha’s names, it does not produce its function.

Thus, one must make aspirations and pray to Amitabha inseparable from the Guru to bless you to be reborn in Amitabha’s pureland at the moment of death.  If you can do it in the way mentioned above, reciting two or three million mantras is okay.  The most important thing is to dream of Amitabha at night.  This is a sign of accomplishment.  This was taught by Lama Achuk Rinpoche.  If during one’s dreams at night, one does not dream of the Guru, one does not dream of Amitabha, then however you recite, it has not borne fruit.  In addition to that, wherever we go, if we suddenly encounter a shock, one should recall Amitabha instinctively and instantly.   If this is the case, one can go to Amitabha’s pureland.  If one is unable to do this, then no matter how you recite, you are not able to reach Amitabha’s pureland.  Similarly, when you recite Chenrezig or any other Buddha or Bodhisattva’s names or mantras, you must do the visualization and pray to them.  Therefore, it is said, the mind is of paramount importance.  Visualizing in the mind and praying is very necessary.  For example, if the Chinese lay-practitioners need to work, and there are many people around them, reciting Amitabha’s mantra becomes inconvenient, then they should visualize and pray with their minds in such a situation.  By doing so, you obtain the same merits.  So the mind is key and most important!  Otherwise, if one goes everywhere and, with a distracted mind thinking of all kinds of things, recite Amitabha’s name with your mouth, it is no different from playing a loudspeaker.  Concerning the number of recitations of Amitabha’s name, there may be varying requirements from different teachers, but here, based on our lineage, there was no explanation given by Lama Achuk Rinpoche as to how many recitations of Amitabha’s name in Chinese is equivalent to a certain number in Tibetan, so we are not capable of calculating these things.  Nonetheless, the quantity of recitations is not crucial.  The critical point to observe is to perform the practice in the manner I just described.