Universal Encouragement to Buddha-Remembrance
Studying Buddhism is not a matter of adornments and formalistic practices: the only thing that is important is genuine cultivation of practice. Buddhist laypeople who live at home do not need to dress like monks and nuns. People who keep their hair can make a constant practice of buddha-remembrance: they do not need to abide by the daily schedules of monks and nuns.
People who like quiet can practice buddha-remembrance [alone] in silence: they do not have to form groups and create associations [for the purpose].
People who fear untoward events can practice buddha-remembrance [at home] behind closed doors: they do not have to go to temples to hear the scriptures.
People who know how to read can practice buddha-remembrance according to the scriptural teachings.
Burning incense [in temples] far and wide is not as good as sitting peacefully in a hall at home practicing buddha-remembrance.
Serving misguided teachers is not as good as being obedient and filial to one’s parents and practicing buddha-remembrance.
Making widespread connections with deluded friends is not as good as preserving one’s purity alone and practicing buddha-remembrance.
Storing up merit for future lives is not as good as creating merit in the present by practicing buddha-remembrance.
Making vows and promising expiation [of wrongdoings] is not as good as repenting past faults, undergoing self-renewal and practicing buddha-remembrance.
Studying non-Buddhist books and texts is not as good as being totally illiterate and practicing buddha-remembrance.
Engaging in false talk about the principles of Zen without knowledge is not as good as genuinely main-taining discipline and practicing buddha-remembrance.
Seeking demonic spiritual powers is not as good as having correct faith in cause and effect and practicing buddha-remembrance.
To express the essential point, an upright mind annihilates evil. If you practice buddha-remembrance like this, you are called a good person. If you practice buddha-remembrance while reining in the mind and eliminating scattering, you are called a worthy person. If you practice buddha-remembrance while enlightening your mind and cutting off delusion, you are called a sage.
I urge people who are completely at leisure to practice buddha-remembrance. You have finished arranging marriages for your daughters. Your sons and grandsons are taking care of family business. You are secure and at leisure with no concerns. You should practice buddha-remembrance with your whole mind and your whole strength. Every day recite the buddha-name several thousand times, or even several tens of thousands of times.
I urge people who are half at leisure and half busy to practice buddha-remembrance. You are half through, half not through: sometimes you are busy, sometimes you are at leisure. Though you are not totally at leisure, when you are busy you should take care of business, and when you have free time, you should practice buddha-remembrance. Every day recite the buddha-name several hundred times, or several thousand times.
I urge people who are completely busy to practice buddha-remembrance. You are working on government affairs, or else running around taking care of family business. Though you have no free time, you still must steal a bit of free time amidst your busy life and practice buddha-remembrance. Every day recite the buddha-name ten times in the morning, and several hundred times during the day.