Disclaimer: I am being metaphorical here. 🙂
Anyhow, recently I was fortunate to receive a large shipment of Buddhist books from a friend overseas whom I’ve been exchanging books with over the years. The books are a mix of Theravada and Mahayana books, and this week I started to cherry-pick various books and reading them. One such book is Pure-Land Zen, Zen Pure-Land which contains letters from Ven. Yin-Kuang, a Chinese Buddhist master with a background in both Pure-Land and Zen (Chan) Buddhism. The book is also available online as well if you’d like to read it. 🙂
Anyhow, one part, letter 17, really caught my eye. He writes:
Heavy karmic obstructions, excessive greed and anger, a weak and ailing body, a fearful, apprehensive mind — these symptoms will, in time, disappear naturally if you singlemindedly recite the Buddha’s [Amitabha] name.
He then quotes from the Kannon Sutra, which is the 25th chapter of the Lotus Sutra:
If … living beings much given to carnal passion keep in mind and revere the Bodhisattva Regarder of the Cries of the World [a.k.a Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva], they will be set free from their passion. If [those] much given to irascibility [hatred and anger] keep in mind and revere the Bodhisattva Regarder of the Cries of the World, they will be set free from their delusion.
— Translation by B. Kato, et al, The Threefold Lotus Sutra, p. 320
Somehow, this reminded me of the idea of “antibiotics” in the medical field. Antibiotics are supposed to be taken as a series of pills over many days. At first, you don’t feel any different; the disease is still there. But if you stick to the routine, eventually the symptoms will lessen and lessen. However, like a real antibiotic, you have to keep taking it all the way to the end until you’re fully cured. Even if you think you’re cured, you have to keep taking it regularly Otherwise, the problems may return later. Devotional Buddhism, like any Buddhism, is a very slow process.
P.S. Special thanks to “A” for the excellent reading material.