Special Topics

Q3: Is reciting the Buddha's name a practice exclusively for the sick and the elderly?

A: Many people constantly think that practicing Buddhism or reciting the Buddha's name is a practice intended only for the sick and the elderly. They assume that because they are old, sick, or even on their deathbed, the sick and elderly need to recite the Buddha's name to pray for rebirth in the Western Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss. In fact, the purpose of Buddha-name recitation is not only to pray for rebirth in the Western Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss, but also to recollect the virtues of the Buddha. Through reciting the Buddha's name, we can immerse ourselves in the compassion and wisdom of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas, learn to see  sentient beings through the eyes of the Buddha, and introduce these beings to Buddhism. Hence, Buddha-name recitation should not be practiced in haste or as a last resort, but wholeheartedly and without reservation. This is akin to child diving into the parent's embrace: swaddled with the compassionate love and tolerance of Buddha and the Bodhisattvas with every chant of the Buddha's name; warming up every living cell and relaxing the mind and body; and naturally giving rise to a peaceful and reverent heart, filled with gratitude and happiness. This is exemplified in the chapter of "Mahastamaprapta Bodhisattva's Preachment on Being Mindful of the Buddha" in the Shurangama Sutra: "If the child yearns for the mother in the same way that she yearns for the child, then life after life they will not be far apart.

Anxiety and restlessness are everywhere in our modern society, so forbearance and tolerance are particularly needed, especially for  young people who face pressure from work and family responsibilities, etc. When reciting the Buddha's name, we can try to visualize his peaceful and amiable smile, and gradually our facial expressions will soften too. A short chant can make us feel calm and relaxed, elevate our spiritual well-being and even influence our society. Thus, reciting the Buddha's name is not an exclusive practice for the elderly, but a necessity to everyone.

Extended Reading:

Let's Recite the Buddha's Name

Q1: Why do Buddhists always greet each other with "Buddha Amitabha (Amituofo, in Chinese)"?

Q2 : To perform Buddha-name recitation, should we limit ourselves to only reciting Amitabha Buddha"? Or would reciting several Buddhas'names afford additional blessings and protection?

Q3: Is reciting the Buddha's name a practice exclusively for the sick and the elderly?

Q4: Are prayer beads or counters necessary when reciting the Buddha's name?

Q5: What is the difference between reciting the Buddha's name and chanting a dharani?

Q6: Is it proper to recite the Buddha chant while having a shower or using the toilet?

Q7: When ill, is it more effective to recite the name of Medicine Buddha or Guanyin Bodhisattva?

Resource: Issue 392 of Life Magazine, Dharma Drum Publishing Corporation
Photos: Shu-ting Zhong (鍾淑婷)
Translation: Bright Su 
Editing: Cheng-yu Chang (張振郁), Keith Brown