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05:27 _ 06-12-2019

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The methods of meditating on buddha

A. Observation method:

I. Purpose: To better present circumstance; eliminate the unrealistic ambitions; purify the body and mind.

II. The Practice:

1. Prior to the Meditation:

a. Regulate the diet: Only eat foods which digest easily, and should not eat too much nor too little. One's awareness is lessened when eating foods that are hard to digest. Hunger causes one to suffer and can not sit still. And fullness causes one to feel uncomportable, breathing becomes loud and fast.

b. Regulate the sleep: Practice to sleep less to keep the mind bright. During the practice if there is a need to sleep then do so, but always try not to fall asleep.

c. Regulate the body: Keep the body clean. It is better to shower prior to the observation.

d. The seat and place: Soft seat helps prolong the sitting period without numbing the legs. It is better to sit in the large and quiet room with dim light.

e. The sitting styles: Sit half-fold (half lotus) or full-fold (full lotus) style. Sitting a half-fold style by crossing one leg on top the other. Pull the legs in until the toes are aligned with the knees. Whereas, sitting a full-fold style by crossing the right calf on top the left leg and left calf on top the right leg, or vice versa. Using this style helps one sits longer, straightens the back but hard to practice. Place right hand on top the other, sit straight, the nose must line up with the navel, look straight and keep both eyes slightly opened.

f. Regulate the breathing: At the beginning, slowly and deeply breathe in with the nose and breathe out with the mouth for several time, then partly closed both eyes. During the practice, one must follow every breath - do not breathe strongly, rapidly or loudly; breathe softly and lightly, do not be frustrated.

2. During the Observation:

a. Moment of silence: At the beginning, silently reciting the mentra "Án lam tóa ha" for three times to purify the environment, and then continuing "An ta phạ thuật đà ta phạ, đạt ma ta phạ, bà phạ thuật độ hàm" for three times to purify three major karma.

b. Contemplating on Buddha's virtues: After the recitation of mantras, one process with the contemplating of Buddha's virtue. Buddha has innumerable merits and one can not

contemplate all at once; therefore, he/she can contemplate one by one depending on his/her karma. For example, if one has a hot temper then he/she can contemplate Buddha's compassion and forgiveness, or Buddha's courage if he/she is in fear, etc.

c. Meditation on the Buddha's Body: In addition to contemplation on Buddha's virtues, one can meditate on the Buddha's body to overcome bad karma. To practice this method, one observes one of Buddha's 32 physiognomies and 80 beauty marks. For example, he/she can observe a white hair between the Buddha's eye brows. This long hair represents the Buddha's mindfulness. When that physiognomy has been deeply absorbed in one's mind, one has completed a step of this observation. One then continues meditating on other physiognomies or beauty marks. When all of physiognomies and beauty of the Buddha have clearly appeared as real, one has fully completed this method.

d. Meditation on the Buddha's statue: Place a picture or a statue of Shakyamuni or Amita (A-DiĐà) Buddha in a quiet room with a dim light. In the front of Buddha's statue, one sits silently, keeps both eyes partly opened, reveres the statue and observe every feature of it; concentrates on the observation to avoid the disturbance of impure thoughts. When the statue has clearly appeared, even with eyes closed, one has successfully accomplished this method.

e. Meditation on Breathing: Besides above three methods, the meditation on breathing is a method which is easy to practice and has major effect on controlling the impure thoughts. Meditation on breathing is a method that one can practice by counting one's breaths. Count one for every breath up to a selected number then back to one. If the count is messed up, then start over the cycle. Repeat this routine as desire. The important thing is that one needs to concentrate on following the breaths to avoid having disturbance by impure thoughts. When one's mind is peaceful and purified with this method one can practice on others.

Note: The purpose of the meditation methods mentioned is to eliminate the ambitions, and to purify one's mind. There are many other different methods from which one can choose to practice depending upon on one's ability and suitability.

f. Controlling method: During the meditation if the mind is being darkened, and the head is bending down, one needs to focus at a middle point between both eyes; if the mind is being stampeded, the body can not be sit still then one need to focus on the navel. When feeling pressure on the chest, one needs to relax one's mind, and reduces the concentration. On the other hand, when feeling lazy, and the body is stooped, one needs to concentrate hard to overcome these weaknesses. During the meditation if something strange appears such as a lighting flash, apparitions... do not be so pleased or afraid, but see them as projections of desirous thoughts.

3. Points to remember: To be successful in meditation, one needs to remember the following:

a. Perseverance: Practice daily at determined hour

b. Diligence: Practice 15 minutes daily on first week, 30 minutes on second to fourth week and then 45 minutes on 5th and so on. It can go as long as 1 to 2 hours or more.

c. Best time to practice is at 4 or 5 o'clock in the morning, after waking up, or at night before going to sleep. Practicing in the morning is always better than at night.

d. Do not boast about your practice

e. After each session, if one has obtained a peaceful feeling then one has practiced the right way.

f. During the session if the mind or body feels uneasy, one needs to seek advice from his/her master or an experienced person.

B. Pondering method:

I. Purpose: To change impure thoughts to right mindfulness, a bad circumstance to good one, to eliminate all unrealistic thoughts, and to attain the truth of all forms.

II. The Practice:

1. Prior to Meditation: Regulate the diet, sleep and breathing as previous stated.

2. Continuously Reciting the name of Buddha: This is a simple and suitable method for human beings in this degrading period of the world, as Di-Đà Sớ Sao sutra stated: "Reciting the Buddha's name is a shortest path of all short paths to enlightenment". To practice this method, one must continuously recite, either loudly or silently, the name of Amita Buddha with undivided attention. By virtue of the undivided attention, one obtains pure thought. The following are several ways to practice this method.

a. Ten-count Recitation: For every breath, in or out, one silently recites the name of Amita Buddha 10 time, or 10 times for both in and out (time for practicing is the same as in the meditation method). If the condition does not allow one to practice long each time, one should silently recite the name of Buddha at least 10 times in 10 breaths before going to sleep each night and in the morning after waking up. Regularly practice this way one gets a lot of spiritual benefit.

b. Continuation: Reciting the Buddha's name continuously. This method emphasizes the continuation; therefore, in every breath, one needs to concentrate on reciting the Buddha's name until the set time is expired.

c. Reciting with the Bodhi Beads: Counting a bead for each recitation. Concentrate on the counting and praying to avoid the disturbance of impure thoughts. The number of recitation depends on one's vow. If one vows to recite the Buddha's name by counting twice the string of 108 Bodhi beads, one needs to be consistent on each day unless one becomes ill.

d. Sound listening Recitation: Pay attention to every word one recites, do not leave out any word, even when reciting silently. The purpose of this method is to listen the sound of every wording in order to prevent the invasion of any other sounds or thoughts.

e. Walking Recitation: Reciting while walking in the praying hall or under the tree shadows around the temple.

f. Frequent Recitation: The above five recitation methods are used to practice under scheduled time and at selected places. Whereas, the frequent recitation method is used at any time, any place. One can recite while walking, standing, lying or sitting; or one can recite while having a meal, sleeping etc. Whenever one's mind is being invaded by the impurities one needs to recite the name of Buddha. It will not be fully successful until one establishes oneself in mindful stage.

3. Method of Chanting: The following chanting methods can be applied depending on one's situation and ability:

a. Loud chanting: Chant loudly along with the sound of the wooden drum. Keep up the schedule daily, do not be lazy or late. Be solemn and respectful in front of the altar, and concentrate on the Buddha. One can practice this method with other people.

a. Soft chanting: Do not chant too loud, just enough for oneself to hear. This method is used for an individual to practice meditation or make a ceremony in front of the altar. Observing and reciting the Buddha at the same time, do not let the mind be interfered with impure thoughts.

b. Silent chanting: Unlike the above two, this method requires one to silently chant with one's mind and thought only. Concentrate on Buddha's statue and silently recite his name. This method is applied during walking or working, or at a place where there is no shrine available.

4. Recitation by reflecting on the true Nature of reality: The methods of chanting and continuously reciting the name of Buddha above are the basic steps to this method. This method is used to search for the truth and to realize the reality of nature. The reality of nature is interdependent impermanent and non-substantial, which the Buddha already attained. To attain the true nature of reality or a life of liberation, one needs to eliminate the concept of self. When the truth of reality is attained, one has no distintion between oneself and Buddha. Buddha and beings are not different when the mind is purified; therefore, reciting the Buddha's name is to reflect on the Buddha nature of oneself. There is no enlightenment that can be searched outside. In short, by realizing the true nature of reality as non-self, one attains Buddha nature or enlightenment.

III. Points to remember:

1. Select a suitable method. Buddha teaches the different types of practicing methods based upon the capacity of beings. When choosing a method, one should choose the type that is suitable to one's capability. Practice an easier method first before moving on to the harder one.

2. Spend about a half or one hour for reciting every night before going to sleep or in the morning after waking up. Both the silently reciting method and the reflecting on Buddha nature can be practiced at any time.

3. Remember, during the practice one may experience some adversities. Besides the inconvenient conditions, there are internal and external challenges; therefore, one needs to be courageous and diligent to overcome them.

4. Imagination can manifest in different strange forms to trick and threaten the person who tries to lead a religious life; therefore one needs to be calm and knowledge to distinguish right from wrong.

5. During the practice if something strange appears, do not be so pleased or afraid, but only concentrate on reciting Buddha's name and realize that all forms are illusions.

C. Conclusion:

The methods of reciting the Buddha's name are simple, yet suitables for eveyone. As a Buddha follower, one needs to practice Buddha's teachings. A Buddhist should not neglect practicing the methods above. The practice requires one to be constantly diligent and determined. At the beginning, in order to prevent tiredness, one should not work so hard. One should begin practicing lightly to assure more effective results. Practicing the above two methods is to practice the Five Conducts: Diligence, Forgiveness, Compassion, Purity and Wisdom.

Chánh Thiện

  1. Ngài Ma Ha Ca Diếp - Ma-Ha Ca-Diep
  2. Ngài A Nan Ðà - A Nan Da
  3. Ngài Nguyên Thiều - NguyenThieu
  4. Ngài Liễu Quán - LieuQuan
  5. Bốn Sự Thật Cao Thượng(Tứ Diệu Ðế) - The Four Noble Truths
  6. Mười Hai Nhân Duyên (Thập nhị nhân duyên) - The Principle of The Dependent Origination (Paticca samuppada)
  7. Tám Chánh Ðạo - The Eight-Fold Noble Path
  8. Kinh Mười Ðiều Thiện - The Sutra of The Ten good deeds
  9. Thiện Ác Nghiệp Báo  - Karma
  10. Sáu Ðộ - The Six Perfections
  11. Phép Quán Tưởng và Niệm Phật - The Methods of Meditating on Buddha
  12. Bát Quan Trai - The Eight Retreat Precepts
  13. Phật Giáo Việt Nam Từ Ðời Trần đến Cận Ðại - Buddhism in Vietnam from The Tran Dynasty to Present
  14. Tình Thần Không Chấp Thủ, Tinh Thần Tùy Duyên Bất Biến
  15. Phật Giáo Là Triết Học Hay là Một Tôn Giáo?
  16. Quan Ðiểm Của Phật Giáo Về Con Người - Vấn Ðề Tâm Vật Trong Ðạo Phật -  Buddhist viewpoint On Human Beings. About Spirit and Matter In The Buddhism
  17. Quan Ðiểm Của Phật Giáo Về Vũ Trụ - Vấn Ðề Nguyên Nhân Ðầu Tiên - Buddhism's Viewpoint ON The Universe The First Cause