Dry Or ‘Wet Season’, Always In Season To Say ‘Āmítuófó’!

In ‘Wet Season’ (热带雨), there is a scene of a Chinese class teacher, who returned to teach after recently being bereaved of her father-in-law. A student says, ‘Hey, teacher, did someone in your family die?’ (嘿,老师,妳家里有人死掉啊?) The class jeers at him for his rudeness and insensitivity, ‘Hello, hello!’ (喂,喂!) The student puts his palms together, half-bows and says ‘Āmítuófó’! (阿弥陀佛: Amitā[bha] Buddha) Because of his cheeky smiling throughout, this was surely a bad joke. As a Buddhist, this being scripted felt somewhat disrespectful to Buddhism, till the thoughts below arose.

Interestingly, according to the Pure Land (净土) teachings, having uttered the Buddha’s name is better than not at all, even if mentioned with some jest. According to the Pure Land Tradition’s 9th Patriarch Great Master Ǒuyì (净土宗九祖蕅益大师) in his Essential Explanation On The Amitā(bha) Sūtra As Spoken By The Buddha’《佛说阿弥陀经要解》are the following truths.

‘Of those with After All Non-Retrogression, regardless of with the sincere mind or scattered mind, with intention or without intention, with understanding or without understanding, only with Āmítuófó’s name… once passing through their ears, even if ten million kalpas (i.e. world cycles of about 1.3 trillion years each) later, ultimately due to this, they will be delivered for liberation… Like swallowing a little vajra seed, it definitely will not be digested (to be eliminated)… Calling the name thus becomes the seed for accomplishing Buddhahood, which like vajra, in the end cannot be destroyed’ (毕竟不退,不论至心散心,有心无心,或解不解,但弥陀名号… 一经于耳,假使千万劫后,毕竟因斯度脱。… 食少金刚,决定不消也。… 称名便为成佛种子,如金刚终不可坏。)

He also taught that, ‘because that name of Āmítuófó upheld, is truly inconceivable, the Mind-Nature (i.e. Buddha-nature) that is able to uphold the name of Āmítuófó, is likewise truly inconceivable. Upholding for one recitation, thus has one recitation’s inconceivability. Upholding for ten, hundred, thousand, ten thousand, immeasurable, innumerable recitations, from recitation to recitation is inconceivability.’ (盖所持之名号,真实不可思议。能持之心性,亦真实不可思议。持一声,则一声不可思议。持十百千万无量无数声,声声皆不可思议也。)

In other words, even if Āmítuófó’s name is mentioned callously once. and without actual comprehension of its spiritual profundity, in the minds of those saying it and those hearing it, an auspicious indestructible cause for Buddhahood would have been created, that will surely ripen in due time, sooner or later, depending on the availability of further supportive conditions (助缘) and personal diligence (精进) in learning and practice (修学). The more the upholding, the better, the ‘merrier’, as this will further plant and nurture the seed well, that will grow into the Buddha fruit.

The recitation of Āmítuófó’s name due to departure from life is already quite well known, for guiding the deceased to be sincerely mindful of his name, for connecting and reaching his Pure Land, where the swiftest progress to Buddhahood is guaranteed. Looks like the scriptwriter, be it purposely or accidentally, helped to perpetuate Āmítuófó’s fame, using it to form good (or pure) affinities (结善缘). The scene helped to plant the Ultimately Non-Retrogressive Vajra Seed (毕竟不退之金刚种子) for the cast and audience, and now for you, the reader too, who kept hearing Āmítuófó’s name in your mind, when you see it repeated here!

Related Teachings:

Āmítuófó’s Name As The Ultimately Non-Retrogressive Vajra Seed

Why Do Buddhists Say ‘Āmítuófó’ So Much?

Please Be Mindful Of Your Speech, Namo Amituofo!

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