Letter 24 – The Bodhi Mind

 

I have just received your letter and am glad to learn that you have finally recovered from your long illness! The great issue of Birth and Death, the swiftness with which the ghost of impermanence can strike—these are things which we have all heard of and fear, but only when we have actually had a near-death experience, do these realities truly hit home.

You should, therefore, develop the great Bodhi Mind and refer to your own circumstances to counsel your family, friends and all who have the right conditions. Only  in this manner can the benefits spread far and wide.

You write that you suffered from overexertion as a result of reciting the Buddha’s name too rapidly and hurriedly. That is, of course, because you were not skillful. Buddha Recitation should be practiced according to one’s strength; it can be done silently or audible, softly or loudly. Why did you insist on reciting in such a loud voice that you become exhausted and fell ill?

Although the immediate cause of your grave illness was shortness of breath, if you look deeper, the underlying cause must really have been the force of evil karma accumulated from time immemorial. Your diligent Buddha Recitation must have transformed future karma, heavy karma into light karma. You should not grow discouraged or develop doubts. Who knows how many eons of transgressions along the three Evil Paths have been erased by this single illness! The Buddha’s Power is difficult to imagine, their compassion is difficult to repay! You should rejoice, feel great remorse and develop stronger faith.

From now on you should cultivate diligently and counsel others to practice Buddha Recitation, so that those near and far may achieve rebirth in the Western Pure Land. This precisely the way to avoid ingratitude toward the Buddha’s, who, through your illness, have awakened you.

There is no need to come to P’u T’o Mountain, considering the travel expenses involved. Reciting the Buddha’s name at home will bring progress and results just as easily, while saving money and preserving your health. Is it not better that way?

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