The Merit of Buddha Recitation

Homage to Fundamental Teacher Buddha Sakyamuni!

Homage to the wisdom warrior Manjushri!

Homage to all the lineage masters of great goodness!

The unsurpassed, deep, profound, subtle, wonderful Dharma

In hundreds of thousands of millions of eons, is difficult to encounter,

I now see and hear it, receive and uphold it,

And I vow to fathom the Tathagata’s true and actual meaning.

In order to liberate all sentient beings, please generate the unsurpassable supreme Bodhicitta!

After having generated the supreme Bodhicitta, please listen attentively with the correct conduct of listening to the Dharma. Today, I will give a teaching on the merit of the names of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Mipam Rinpoche[1] expounded these merits with much clarity in the books that he had compiled, therefore I will not reiterate here. However, the reason that I am addressing this topic today is due to a recent causation — the completion of the translation of A Collection of Buddha and Bodhisattva Names. After the completion of the translation, I requested that secular and non-secular practitioners from all over the country to carry out Buddha Recitation Festival in order to recite the names of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas together.

There are many reasons for my request. First of all, the worldly gatherings of various kinds have very little meaning and value for the most part, and are nothing more than mere wastes of time and money. As for certain Buddhist practitioners who are gathered just to perform Tsok-offerings, fire pujas, and burnt-food offering even though these are wholesome acts, and deserve to be rejoiced at, however, there are still some problems that need to be scrutinized.

You should know that the practices and rituals of Tantric Buddhism are extraordinary practices, but there are extremely rigorous requirements for the Guru Acharya—the one who confers oral transmission—and his disciples. After accepting someone as our spiritual mentor, the practitioner cannot practice the Dharma in a random manner. To practice Tantric Buddhism, one must receive a Mantrayana empowerment first, then start the preliminary practice, recite the mantras, and, having reached a certain level of cultivation, one must practice the generation stage and the completion stage before commencing the main practice. There are many requirements on how to perform a Tsok-offering according to the canons of Tantric Buddhism. It is not as simple as a get together of several fellow practitioners supplied with biscuits and liquor, eating and drinking as they chat loudly. There must be an actual significance to performing a burnt-food offering. Of course, the practice of Esoteric Buddhism is very good for certain practitioners with superior natural capacities who have received unbroken lineage transmission and empowerment. There is no doubt in this regard. But to require all practitioners—the Chinese practitioners in particular—to reach such a state is perhaps an unrealistic demand.

Therefore, for quite a while, I have been giving thoughts to a practice that is suitable for old and young practitioners so that everyone can benefit from it. When I later saw the tremendous benefits mentioned in Mipam Ripoche’s Name Collection of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, I decided to promote the practice of Buddha Recitation. Ever since 2008, I have demanded the fourfold assembly of the Bodhi Association, including lay practitioners, monks and nuns in all places, to participate in this Buddha Recitation Festival.

The power of group practice is enormous, just as Patrul Rinpoche[2] said, group practice is like raging fire, whereas solitary practice is like a spark. Therefore, during the auspicious days of each year such as the month when Buddha Sakyamuni performed miracles, the day Buddha started to turn the wheel of Dharma, the day he descended from the godly realm of Tushita[3] to Jambudvipa[4], the birthday of the Buddha, the day of Nirvana, everybody in each class or study group should gather in recitation of these Buddhas’ names.  Such a group practice is bound to be extremely beneficial.

Of course, as a person who has shallow wisdom and limited knowledge, I do not dare to talk about how meritorious such practice of chanting is without any reference. However, Mipam Rinpoche cited various Mahayana canons as doctrinal evidences, introducing the merit of each Buddha’s name. After reading this, you will immediately understand the tremendous merit of Buddha Recitation and resolve to participate in this group chanting practice.

Fellow practitioners of the Institute, if you have time, you should attend group practice during the holy days of every month. As for the fourfold assembly in China and abroad, including the practitioners of Vajra Bodhimandas, monasteries, Buddhist centers and each group of the Bodhi Association, we must attach importance to this. For each one of you, in your rare and precious human life, this is an extremely important matter. It appears that gathering together to chant the names of the Buddhas for one hour is not too difficult, but actually the benefit and merit accumulated from this act is unfathomable. This is why I am here talking about the causal origination, so that everyone should regard highly of this practice. From now on, all local groups should organize a group chanting practice as a part of our collective chanting festival.

Then how do we apprehend the multitude of merits of chanting these Buddhas’ names? I will make a brief introduction to everybody based on the sutras and sastras of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas。

The Nirvana Sutra said that “Even if one were open the great treasury,/ And give alms to the people during one month,/ The merit gained is inferior to/ That of a person reciting the Buddha’s name once;/ Its merit surpasses the former/ By immeasurable amount”. This means that Buddha told the great king that if he opened the treasury of his country and gave away all his gold, silver and other treasures to all sentient beings, the merit is unfathomable. But it is far inferior to the merit of a single Buddha Recitation.

Some people might think that making financial offering to the lama or purchasing several bags of powdered milk for alms-giving generates great merit. But in fact, the merit of reciting the Buddha’s name single-mindedly far surpasses the previous actions. Nowadays, there are some successful businessmen and great alms-givers who seem to think that donating tens of thousands of Yuan generates immeasurable merit. Although there are merits in such actions as stated very clearly in sutras, however the merit of reciting the Buddhas’ names surpasses far beyond that of donation.

As a Buddhist practitioner, we must choose a practice that brings great merit. Great Master Shandao (the 2nd Patriarch of the Lotus Sect) of Chinese Buddhism has once said, “All the other good actions,/ Though virtuous,/ When compared to Buddha Recitation,/ Are not comparable at all.” Other practices such as alms-giving and keeping vows are very virtuous as well, but far less meritorious compared to reciting the Buddhas’ names. This can be compared to lighting a candle in a dark room, although it brings light, it can be hardly compared to the light emanated from the sun.

Maybe you have read Sutra of Lauding All the Buddhas’ Merits and Virtues. In this sutra, Buddha Sakyamuni said that he had heard of the name of Vajra-Pramardin Tathagataya from Buddha Dipamkara. With the merit of the name of this Buddha, the sins of life and death accumulated through over ten gillions of nayuta kalpas[5] had been overcome and Buddhahood had been attained sooner. Had he not heard of this name, he would still not have attained the Buddhahood of Tathagata by now.

Therefore, to have heard of the name of the Lord Buddha in this life means that we have accumulated tremendous positive karma.Previously, while I was translating A Collection of Buddha and Bodhisattva Names, I kept thinking that my current levels of self-awareness and cultivation are quite low, and I am not very adept in many aspects of cultivation, sometimes I feel ashamed thinking about it (These are words of truth and not mere words of phony humbleness). But having encountered these Buddhas’ names, whether it is by reading them with my eyes or reciting them with my mouth, or listening to others reciting them, these are all results of good karma. If I had been reborn in a land of darkness where Buddha Dharma does not thrive, I wouldn’t have encountered this text; if I had been reborn in a world where one cannot hear the name of the Buddha, I could not have learned such extraordinary names of the Buddhas. Therefore, I feel from the bottom of my heart that I did not come to this world as a human being in vain, that there is still a great significance. Then I am filled with more conviction in myself.

I guess the fellow practitioners here present today must have such feelings too. A few days ago, I asked you to finish reading the text. But today, by show of hands, it appears that only about two thirds of you have read it, with still some who haven’t finished reading. The reasons for not finishing your readings are still under investigation (the audience laughs). But you should really read attentively. First, read about these merits taught by Mipam Rinpoche. The teachings about these merits are based on various sutras, and are not irresponsible and casual words.

Whether it is reciting the Buddha’s name, chanting mantras or holding prayer festival, how the merits of such practices are like should be based on sufficient evidence. A while ago, there were rumors going around saying that chanting a certain number of times of The Great Cloud of Prayers and Blessings is equivalent to all the merit of “Vidyadharas Prayer Festival” currently held by the Institute; reciting 108 times of the Heart Sutra can eliminate such and such disasters of this year; reciting 100,000 times the mantra of Padmasambhava can bring the Olympic Games of 2008 to a successful close…… Many lamas have sent various kinds of text messages around, and so have the secular devotees. A while ago, I asked some people, “What are the sources of this kind of information?” Because when H.H. Jigme Phuntsok was around, many people did not dare to misbehave, and His Holiness himself paid much attention to these merits. Without trustworthy reference, he wouldn’t have said chanting which mantra can prevent which calamity from happening in 2008. There can’t possibly be anything written in the sutras about disasters of 2008, or how the 2008 Olympic Games would proceed., but it is possibly for the personal purpose of some lamas and devotees. I don’t agree with some of their behaviors, and criticized some people a while ago.

Of course, if you do have extra-sensory abilities, or some clairvoyance, and are omniscient of everything in the future, the present and the past, I wouldn’t deny what you said. But if people without such clairvoyance just speak as one pleases, then the merits mentioned in the sutras lose their true meanings.

So we must be careful! Even the great Buddhist scholar and enlightened master such as Mipam Rinpoche cited records from sutras throughout his Name Collection of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and not just saying that “I think you should chant such and such names, and by doing so you will receive such and such merits.” So both fellow practitioners seated here and the devotees outside of the Institute should be careful of what they say. Nowadays, information technology is rather developed, if a good thing is sent out, the whole world will know, but if a bad thing is spread out, also many people will know. Especially some Buddhist practitioners are very easily fooled, maybe because they are particularly devoted, so as soon as the words “Lama” or “Rinpoche” is brought up, they will regard them as fallen from the heaven and are absolutely worthy of acceptance. In fact, sometimes, the realities are not necessary as they appear. I think of it this way: when you send text messages in the future, if you think that it’s very reliable, that it is beneficial to Buddhism, and that it is based on evidential references, then you can send it. Reciting mantras and names of Buddhas generates tremendous merits, but to say that these particular merits can avoid a particular disaster from happening, you need to check whether it has any referential support. The lamas who teach Buddhism should pay attention in this respect as well. They should not say whatever they want and mislead the practitioners. As a Buddhist, we should act responsibly towards Buddhism.

In general, reciting the names of the Buddhas in an assembly accrues profound merits. Such merits are expounded by great masters of Buddhism such as Mipam Rinpoche based on scriptural authority and cannot be rebutted by anyone. Therefore, we should have absolute faith and must recite the names of the Buddhas.

Some people may think that historically, the doctrine of chanting the Buddha’s name has been prevalent in the Han region of China, and that it is sufficient to just invoke the name of Amitabha. What’s the use of invoking the names of so many Buddhas? Such a way of thinking is mistaken. Like I’ve said before, reciting only one Buddha’s name and reading one sutra is extremely beneficial for people of certain innate capacity (for example, some illiterate elderly people do not know how to practice Buddhism, but are very devoted anyhow). For these people, a “Namo Amitabha Buddha” is very extraordinary, and it is being popularized at the moment by many eminent monks in China and abroad. Still, we should not repudiate other Buddhas’ names in order to adhere to one invariable practice. Because sentient beings that Buddha Sakyamuni tried to subdue have different natural capacities and volitions, some sentient beings benefit from reciting the name of Amitabha Buddha, some others need to rely on reciting another Buddha’s name, and yet some need to recite the names of many Buddhas…there are various kinds of situations. Therefore, different names of the Buddhas have different merits and virtues.

The Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha Vow Sutra mentioned: “Even reciting the name of one Buddha brings immeasurable merits, let alone the names of many Buddhas?” This tells us that the doctrine of Buddha name recitation is not limited by just the name of Amitabha Buddha. It was immediately written in the text that, whether the person is alive or dead, if people can recite the names of multiple Buddhas, it can avert them from disasters and sufferings, preventing them from falling into evil realms. When a family member dies or falls ill, even if there is only one person reciting the name of the Buddha once, all negative karmic conditions can be purified with the exception of the five cardinal sins. Therefore, when a family member is sick or has passed away, if there is a person who can do supportive recitation for him, it is bound to be helpful, as said in the Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha Vow Sutra. Not only will it benefit others, its benefits to oneself are beyond measure, as it is written in the Sutra, “Those who recite or mind Buddhas’ names can attain limitless merits and eradicate countless offenses”.

In the Jeweled Repentance with Ten Thousand Buddhas’ Names of the Chinese tradition, there are ten thousand names of Buddhas. In this text, there is no mention that one should only recite the name of Amitabha Buddha. In Chinese Lineage, sutras such as The Sutra of the Names of the Thousand Buddhas of the Past Kalpa of Glory, The Sutra of the Names of the Thousand Buddhas of the Present Kalpa of Virtue or The Sutra of the Names of the Thousand Buddhas of the Future Kalpa of Constellations have documented numerous names of Buddhas of the Three Times. Recorded in many sutras such as the Sutra of the Increase Towards Great Liberation and the Sutra of the Jewel Mound are the names of many Buddhas of the ten directions. Therefore, some great masters disseminate the Pure Land Doctrine which is very suitable for certain people and deserves our appreciation. However, if they do not allow people, young or old, to recite other Buddhas’ names except for the name of Amitabha Buddha, this kind of attitude is not very reasonable. After all, sentient beings differ in their natural capacity, volitions, vows, and karmic conditions. Also, chanting different Buddha names generates different benefits. Therefore, when people recite Buddhas’ names, they should get rid of the mistaken idea of “only reciting one Buddha’s name and none of the others”. This is problematic.

Another point that needs to be mentioned here is that there are ten epithets of the Buddha such as the Tathagata, Arhat, the Perfectly Enlightened, etc. Usually, only the name “Tathagata” appears in most Buddhist scriptures, the others rarely appear. However, if you can recite all ten names, the merit is colossal. The Questions of Manjusri Sutra of the Chinese Buddhist lineage says: “If we recite single-mindedly the ten epithets of the Buddha, the Buddha will often accompany us; we will be able to listen to the Buddha’s teachings in the future, and meet the fourfold assembly of Buddha.” Such practice can also “prolong our lifespan, and avert us from diseases”, etc. The Sutra recorded a multitude of merits. Therefore, it is very necessary to pray to the Buddha in this manner.

As documented in classical texts as well as in the Questions of Manjusri Sutra, during the recitation, it is best to put “I prostrate to, take refuge in and make offerings to” before the name of each Buddha. I hope you can read it at your own convenience. If you really cannot recite in this manner, you may also directly recite the names of Buddhas, such as  “Prostration to the Immeasurable Light Buddha”, “Prostration to the Treasure Bun Buddha” or the like. There’s nothing wrong about that. Especially for some old people, or your relatives and friends at home who are elderly and oblivious, it is difficult for them to remember so many names, so you can just teach him one name at a time. For example, you can teach him to recite ‘Namo Amitabha’ first. Once he has learned that, you can teach them to recite ‘Namo Original Teacher Buddha Sakyamuni’, then ‘Namo Treasure Bun Buddha’…Teaching a simple name of the Buddha thus can bring wondrous merits.

Teaching others to recite the Buddha’s name brings incredible merits that won’t be exhausted until the attainment of Bodhi-fruit, while the merit of visualizing the Buddha or to recite the name of the Buddha while contemplating the image of the Buddha is also inconceivable, and will not be exhausted until the attainment of nirvana. The Great Compassion Sutra says: “Reciting Buddha’s name once,/ Creates good roots that,/ Until entering the realm of Nirvana,/ Will never be exhausted.” Therefore, whether you read or listen to the name of Buddha with good intention or absentmindedness, this kind of merit will not be exhausted until the attainment of Bodhi-fruit, just as the money that you deposit in the bank that will not be exhausted until you withdraw all. Such merit is tremendous.

There is no need for too many pointless and mundane words. We should put our minds into Buddha Recitation, reciting as diligently as our time allows. At present, Pure Land Buddhism has done very well in this regard – many masters of Dharma advocate practitioners to recite the Buddha’s name single-mindedly without distracting themselves by various types of practices. Of course, to recite multiple Buddhas’ names is not a distracting practice of lesser importance, neither are meditation and other wholesome deeds. You should not have any doubts in this regard. The so-called distracting practice is to teach various practices to a person of lesser capacity, who should practice nothing but recitation of the name of Amitabha Buddha. However, most other Buddhists should learn from the great masters of Tibetan Buddhism such as Chagmey Rinpoche[6] or some noted monks of Chinese Buddhism, who not only practiced meditation, but also recited the Buddha’s name and thoroughly studied the sutras and sastras. From their biographies or their endeavors of spreading the Dharma and benefiting sentient beings, we can tell that true distracting practice that affect us are stray and unwholesome thoughts, and they are bound to be harmful to the attainment of enlightenment.

Therefore, we should put aside all irrelevant activities and concentrate in Buddha Recitation. There is a lyric that goes like this: ‘Say one less sentence, recite once more Buddha’s name, you will not be lost in the vast ocean of desires.’ Whether you are a monk or a lay practitioner, life is very short and human being’s body is difficult to obtain. Thus you shouldn’t idle your life away in seeking mundane pleasures and gossiping all day. Many of the lay practitioners enjoy talking about the same topic everyday—Have you bought a house? Have you bought a car? Have you got married? Have you got a child? Have your children attended school? If he is in school, what grade is he in…? Discussing these things does not have much significance. What is truly meaningful is to recite more Buddhas’ names in daily life.

Reciting the Buddha’s name is not only tremendously helpful to the attainment of Buddhahood, but is also of great help to our temporary well-beings. People who fear earthquakes, blizzards, tsunamis and so on can recite the name of “Nagaraja Tathagata”. By reciting his name, all kinds of diseases, disasters, epidemics and so on can be eliminated. If you recite the name of ‘Sun Moon Lamp Tathagata’, you will not be afflicted with the evil spirits and heretic doctrines. Some people particularly fear the evil spirits and dare not go to latrines at night alone. Then you can recite ‘Namo Sun Moon Lamp Tathagata’. When you have the sun, the moon and lamps, no evil spirits will be able to harm you. Moreover, the merit of this Buddha’s name so immense that it is worth obtaining by offering enough pearls and treasures to fill the entire million-fold worlds. If you recite the name of ‘Moon Lamp Tathagata’, the person who recites it or hears it will be the object of offering from humans and gods, and there will be no difference between your body and a stupa. If someone prostrates to you, you can recite ‘Namo Sun Moon Lamp Tathagata, Namo Sun Moon Lamp Tathagata—OK. You can start prostrating to me. I can accept it.” There are some people who are partial to appearing beautiful, and wish to have elegant appearances. These people can recite ‘Namo Lotus Steps Tathagata’. In short, there are manifold merits of Buddhas’ names in terms of temporary benefits.

In fact, nowadays quite a lot of people merely seek temporary benefits. Certain Dharma teachers and practitioners seem to be only after worldly merits, their practice became the practice of Vehicle for Gods and Men (Deva-manu-sya-yana). The vehicles in Buddhism begin with Deva-manu-sya-yana, then it’s Hinayana Buddhism, then Mahayana Buddhism. In the Vehicle for Gods and Men, practitioners seek well-beings in this life, beautiful appearance and good business, and it is for this reason that many people practice Buddhism. If your goal is to obtain worldly or godly merits, then it is enough to just recite these Buddha names. If you want to obtain eternal benefits, you should make extraordinary vows, like the great vows made by the Seven Medicine Buddhas, i.e. eight great vows made by Buddha Suparakirtita Namashri, or the four great vows of Buddha Suvarnabhadra Vimala, or the twelve great vows of Buddha with Lapis Light. Buddha Sakyamuni also made five hundred great vows, and attained enlightenment eventually with the power of these vows. Furthermore, after having read these vows, we can know that having encountered these Buddhas’ names shows the fact that we have accumulated incredible merits. Mipam Rinpoche quoted the textual reference from The Sutra of the Seal of Entering into Certainty and Uncertainty that if one fills the entire billion-fold universe with gold and jewelry and worldly treasures to offer to the Solitary Realizer, such an action accrues inconceivable merits, but if one utters the words “Buddha”, “the Omniscient One” or “the Protector of the World”, or merely perceives these names by sound, the merits accumulated from the latter surpass far beyond that of the former. Besides mute people, anyone can say the word “Buddha”, and even little children can. Since its merit is so great, we should all regard the practice of Buddha Recitation highly from this moment on.

The method of Buddha Recitation that I am advocating is slightly different from the method of the Pure Land Doctrine. In the Pure Land Doctrine, the practitioners are taught to recite only the name of Buddha Amitabha without much emphasis on other Buddhas’ names. Here, I require everyone to recite the name of various Buddhas’ names. If we can persevere in this practice, the direct and indirect merits are tremendous.

The Lotus Sutra says, “If with scattered mind,/ A person enters a stupa or a temple,/ Or recites ‘Namo Buddha’ once,/ He has already entered Buddhahood.” This means that one can eventually attain Buddhahood by even chanting “Namo Buddha” once with scattered mind. This means that one can eventually attain Buddhahood by even chanting “Namo Buddha” once with scattered mind. There is a story related to this: at the time of Buddha Sakyamuni, an old man saw that the group of Bhiksus had dignified manners, and that their comportment were pure and unrestrained, which he admired so much that he begged to become a Buddhist monk (There are some old lay practitioners here who are the same, when they see that monks are living rather comfortably, they are also determined to have their heads shaved). At that time, many Arahats observed with their clairvoyance that this man had not performed any wholesome deed in 80,000 kalpas[7] (unlike us, after observing a person for three or four months, our administrative monk signs a piece of paper and this person can be ordained a monk), therefore he was in no karmic conditions to receive ordination. This man was so sad that he kept on sobbing. Later, with the power of his clairvoyance that surpasses that of the Arahats, Buddha himself perceived that this man used to be a woodsman at a time even earlier than 80,000 kalpas ago, and one time when he was hunting in the forest, he ran into a tiger. When the tiger was about to devour him, he hurried up a tree and accidentally cried: ‘Namo Buddha’. Thanks to this cry, his positive karmic root ripened that day, and Buddha granted him to take the monastic vows, after which, he attained Arhatship.

When we are in monasteries or at home, it is a very simple practice to recite Namo Buddha Amitabha or “I prostrate to, take refuge in and make offerings to the Tathagata, the Perfectly Enlightened Buddha Sakyamuni”, but its merit is unfathomable. In the White Lotus Sutra, it is said, “Buddha is unfathomable, Dharma is unfathomable, faith is unfathomable, its karmic maturation is unfathomable.” We must have accumulated tremendous merits to have encountered Buddha and Dharma, and if we bestow faith in, make offerings to, prostrate to and take refuge in Buddha and Dharma, the karmic result of such actions is also unfathomable. In this regard, no philosopher, writer or theoretician can obtain such merit, no matter how much they ponder upon it and try to observe through their judgment.

Without articulating the word “Buddha”, the mere utterance of the word “Namo” alone brings merit. As documented in Agama Sutra, due to his hostility against Buddha Sakyamuni, Devadatta committed three cardinal sins which causes rebirth in the Hell of Uniterrupted Suffering, and was extremely scared when his life was coming to an end and he was about to fall into hell. At that time, many of his kinsmen persuaded him to take refuge in the Buddha. But due to his intense jealousy towards the Buddha, he would not say the word “Buddha”. But he did manage to utter “Namo”. With this merit, Buddha predicted that he would become Namo Pratyekabuddha Buddha. This is documented slightly differently in Mula-sarvastivada-vinaa, however the contents are generally the same.

Therefore, reciting the Buddha’s name brings great merits indeed, but I have only made a brief introduction today. And after this lecture I hope everyone could consult relevant texts. Mipam Rinpoche had once cited The Sutra of the Jeweled Mound, in which it is said, “’Prostration to all Buddhas’ is like a great gleaming torch which is bound to destroy all mental afflictions”. He also cited textual reference from Avatamsaka Sutra, which said that reciting the Buddhas’ names is like “having consumed Vajra-Dhatu[8], even in small quantity, the Vajra-Dhatu cannot be dissolved”. Therefore, it is very rare to encounter Buddha Dharma in this present life. Such merit that is associated with the Buddha can never be exhausted throughout future rebirths.

Mipam Rinpoche made clarifications in the small prints at the end of the text that, because of Dharma Cinta Mani[9], we can hear of such precious and honorable names of Buddha. Were it not for Buddha Dharma, we would not have been able to encounter it in thousands of millions of Kalpas. So we must cherish this opportunity we have now. The wise ones should try to recite the names of Buddhas. When we see someone dying or suffering, we should teach them this practice by their ears. Some of the Buddhas’ names are commonly used, such as Treasure Bun Buddha, Medicine Buddha, and Precious Fire Tathagata etc.. H.H. Jigme Phuntsok used to say that if we offer the treasures of the entire world to the Buddhas, the merit acquired is tremendous. However, we will gain much more merits if we recite the name of ‘Namo Precious Fire Tathagata’. His Holiness also imparted its oral transmission to us. He used to emphasize often the merits of Buddha Recitation.

You should carefully read Mipam Rinpoche’s words at the end of the text. It is also written that it is very difficult to repay the kindness of your parents, relatives and friends. But if you can guide them to recite the names of the Buddhas, even if they don’t recite it often, the occasional recitation will benefit them greatly, and this is also a way to return their kindness.

Therefore, I have a requirement for all members of the Bodhi Association: if you were to persuade their family members to participate in Dharma studies and practice, they are perhaps in no karmic condition for this. However, they might agree to participate in an occasional group chanting practice that lasts for a little longer than an hour, which they should attend as a favor to you. If they are really unwilling to attend, force them to, even if it resorts to dragging them by the hair. Voluntarily or not, it will benefit them tremendously in all future rebirths only by listening to the names of so many Tathagatas. Therefore, at the end of the text, Mipam Rinpoche joined his palms together with earnest intention and advised us with motivating words to chant the names of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. We should not be lazy in this practice. If we don’t attach importance to what a great achiever like Mipam Rinpoche had seriously requested with joined palms, then we are heartless creatures.

Reciting these Buddhas’ names will benefit people whether they are old, young, powerful, rich, yellow or white. Anybody can benefit. Even for animals that are agonizing before dying, if you read the Buddha’s name by their ears, it can be tremendously helpful to them as well. In the future, if there is a Vajra brother or sister who has left this world or is about to, several fellow practitioners should gather and perform supportive Buddha recitation to him or her. From today on, the Institute will require everyone to practice in this way. For people from outside of the Bodhi Institute, when you see a dying person, giving him or her 100 Yuan does not help. You should rather chant some names of the Buddhas to this person. After all, when one enters the state of Bardo[10], money is useless. Chinese Yuan is useless even in America, let alone in Bardo.

A while ago, my mother’s sister was diagnosed of cancer, and was going to die soon. My mother gave her 1000 Yuan, so I said, what’s the use of giving her 1000 Yuan? You’d much better recite some Buddhas’ names to her. Therefore, when family members or friends die, do not give them money; it is useless to give them money. If you are really generous, you should give them money when he’s not sick or dying. When he’s dying, you should read him Buddhas’ names, this is a truly beneficial action for him.

In the future, we should popularize this chanting festival, everyone should at least persuade ten people to recite the Buddha’s name. We will print as many of A Collection of Buddha and Bodhisattva Names as possible, and give a copy to whomever promises to read it more than ten times. We will continue the supply of this book, so you should also try to be of help.

Of course, if some people are particularly slow-witted, or when some people are too old to read so many Buddhas’ names, Mipam Rinpoche said that it is alright to read just one, two or three Buddhas’ names. One should do his best. Some people have particularly strong karmic hindrances as a result of taking the lives of many sentient beings. If those people cry in front of you and ask for forgiveness and want to repent their wrong-doings, then ask them to recite these Buddhas’ names. If they can recite well, they will absolutely go to the Pure Realm. You should use the expression “absolutely”. Why? Because many scriptures were very clear about the fact that reciting the Buddhas’ names will guide you away from evil rebirths and lead you to the Pure Land, so you would not be lying if you tell this to them. Of course, if there isn’t enough basis and doctrinal evidence, you can’t just speak lightly.

I am personally very happy that many people created an auspicious bond with this practice. Mipam Rinpoche’s aspirations and virtues are quite faultless, so if people recite these Buddhas’ names, it is definitely beneficial to sentient beings. Also, knowing the merits of these Buddhas’ names is quite convenient. For example, when we are releasing lives, we need to recite the names of the Seven Medicine Buddhas, in which we should be fluent by now. Anybody should be delighted when he or she sees the merit of this practice, and a sentiment of joy will grow within. Maybe today I have been quite garrulous. In brief, we should all recite these Buddhas’ names as much as we can with devout faith.

Of course, as to the method of recitation, I have mentioned it at the beginning of A Collection of Buddha and Bodhisattva Names. When you are gathered together, you should first clean the venue, and then place a Buddha’s statue, some Buddhist scriptures and a Buddhist stupa on the altar so that people attending the prayer festival can prostrate to it. You can prostrate 21 times, 7 times or 3 times. After the prostration, perform the Seven Limb offering first, and then start reciting the Buddhas’ names. After the recitation, dedicate the merit by reading the Vows of Bodhisattva Samanthabhadra. If you can practice in the ways indicated above, it can truly accrue inconceivable merits.

Nowadays, people are very busy with professional and personal lives, and their mental states are often chaotic. So if you ask them to spare one hour, they might be intimidated by the idea and flinch. But if they can give the merits of such a practice a thought, all these worries and concerns will be dispelled. After all, if the grave problem of life and death can be solved in one hour, who wouldn’t do it? Who wouldn’t desire it?

Therefore, you should first read the merits that Mipam Rinpoche had talked about, and then do your best to attend this Buddha Recitation Festival. People of any kind of natural capacities can attend it, and it is easy to promulgate, so I hope you can try your best to promulgate it extensively!



[1] Mipam Rinpoche(1846-1912), one of the most extraordinary figures of the Nyingma tradition and one of the greatest scholars of his time.

[2] Patrul Rinpoche(1808-1889), spiritual teacher of Mipam Rinpoche, is considered as one of the most eminent lineage masters of the Nyingma tradition. His works include the famous Words of my Perfect Teacher.

[3] A celestial realm in which Bodhisattva Maitreya is believed to reside

[4] Jambudvipa is a continent where humans live. In Buddhist cosmology, it is believed to be located south of Mount Sumeru,

[5] A nayuta is equal to a hundred thousand millions.

[6] Born in the 17th century, Chagmey Rinpoche is a prolific master and lineage holder of both the Kagyu and the Nyingma lineage.

[7] The period of time between creation and recreation of a world or universe

[8] An indestructible substance

[9] A wish-fulfilling jewel

[10] An intermediate state of being that occurs between the death of a person and his next rebirth.