The Thrice Attentive Chanting Service is a surpassing way of cultivation in the Pure Land School. This liturgy was composed and promoted by National Grand Master (advisor to the emperor) Chung Fung of the Yuan Dynasty with the aim to benefit both the living and the deceased. It admonishes the living to practice the Pure Land way of reciting the Buddha’s name in order to be liberated from this world, and at the same time follow Amitabha Buddha’s vows to exhort the deceased to be reborn in the Western World of Ultimate Bliss by delivering them from the vast ocean of karma and the sufferings of transmigration eternally.
There are two interpretations as to the meaning of “thrice”:
- the three divisions of the day, which are dawn, midday, and sunset.
- The three periods of Buddha’s teachings, which are the period where the reality of substances and elements is confirmed, the period where the reality of things was negated, and the period where only the reality of the mind is advocated.
“Attentiveness” refers to the study of the Amitabha Sutra with the body, mouth and mind in order to fix one’s thought on being reborn in Amitabha Buddha’s Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss.
The Thrice Attentive liturgy is used either as a rule of self-cultivation in assembly or prayer service for liberating the deceased. Although it is mainly used for delivering the deceased, it further benefits the living. If all living beings can sincerely recite the sutra, listen to the teachings, and vow to act accordingly, every one will be born into the Lotus Womb, which enables rebirth in Amitabha’s world and attainment of perfect enlightenment. Moreover, the chanting service and each of its three parts is composed of seven components: reciting the sutra, chanting the Buddha’s name, lecturing the Buddha’s teachings, procession around the Buddha, repenting one’s past deeds, pledging Amitabha’s vows, and praising the Buddha.
The Gist of Part One:
To enlighten both the living and the deceased of the following:
- The World of Ultimate Bliss is devoid of worldly miseries and defilement.
- Desire and ignorance have hindered living beings from recognizing the fact that each one of them possesses the pure Buddha nature, which caused all beings to commit bad karma. If one can realize his or her mind is no different from that of Amitabha Buddha, Pure Land will manifest itself immediately.
- Anyone who wishes to be reborn in the realm of Amitabha Buddha must fully possess faith, vows and deeds. At one’s deathbed, he or she must hold the Buddha’s name in memory until the mind is devoid of any distractions in order to be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss.
The Gist of Part Two:
- Encourages all practitioners to set out for perfect enlightenment as soon as possible by diligently repeating the Buddha’s name. If one does not have a firm resolve to be reborn in the Western Pure Land, he or she will forever be reborn in the six realms of transmigration with no end in sight.
- In order for the deceased to be promptly reborn in the Pure Land, all practitioners must transfer the surpassing merit of the Thrice Attentive Chanting Service to them, thereby rid the deceased of karma defilement and advance the growth of their virtuous qualities.
- Urges all practitioners to repent sincerely all their past bad deeds, and vow to deliver all beings including themselves to the path of Buddhahood.
The Gist of Part Three:
- Explains to the practitioners that one recitation of Amitabha Buddha’s name can eradicate eight billion aeon (one aeon is represented by 336,000,000 human years) of sufferings from birth and death, eliminate all delusive thoughts, and illuminate the pure Buddha nature within all living beings.
- If one can attentively repeat the Buddha’s name, he or she can be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. (Source: IBPS Vancouver)