Sunday, September 19, 2010

Om Namo Amida Buddha Hreeh

I wanted to write a more informal sharing about my favorite mantra: "Om Namo Amida Buddha Hreeh". I first encountered the chant to Amida Buddha when I was in college, over 30 years ago from today. There was a book called THE LIGHT OF A THOUSAND SUNS which touched upon many religions and mainly looked at their devotional side. There were two pages about the Pure Land sect and about Amida Buddha. The mantra struck a chord in me. I was transitioning, at the time, out of Christianity. Part of why this was happening was because of an experience in contemplative prayer where I went very deep into the heart of life and felt unconditional love at its core. When I felt this conditional love, for me and for everyone, I knew without any doubt that this energy could not even prick someone with a pin or cause them even mild hurt, and therefore could not throw nonbelievers into eternal infinite daily torture in a hell realm. I also had an experience where Jesus appeared in a vision and told me to become a Buddhist. The experience happened in a charismatic Christianity church where everyone was speaking/chanting in the tongues of angels. It felt very sweet and I saw Jesus descend upon the minister and shine healing light upon him. The minister then said that he felt a healing presence. After Jesus had established that he was more real than just an internal vision, that he was felt by another, and by all who were present in a general way (the congregation saying a gentle "amen"), he came directly to me and said for me to become a Buddhist. I was puzzled by this and only found out later, about 5 years later, why he had done so. I was then in Florida and was walking to the beach, contemplating a Sufi "koan" about alleviating the sorrow of the Divine. My ordinary mind could not solve it and yet I was determined to solve it, and something reached deeper than my ordinary mind, into my depths. A memory surfaced of my past lifetime with Guatama Buddha, in the memory was him chanting the Heart Sutra in Sanskrit. The memory was so deep and so vivid, that I was temporarily thinking in Sanskrit, could hear and feel the intonations of the syllables, the duration of each syllable, and even the mudra that Buddha was in (third eye lock in padmasana). The memory had the solution to the Sufi koan and also the answer to why Jesus had gently commanded me to become a Buddhist. He saw with his own spiritual inner eye that I was one of the original monks following the Buddha and needed to complete my journey with the Buddha, all the way to enlightenment, and even beyond this. I saw that there was no competition between all the religions, that a higher being like Jesus wants what is best for everyone, and guided me back to my original teacher. In a general sense, all the religions teach the same truths. Sometimes they also teach different things, but the lessons are compatible with the same growth, our evolution into a higher being who is more compassionate, more creative, happier, and wiser than we are now. I also got that some versions of Christianity and some of its teachings had become narrow, rigid, and dogmatic, and were not part of this more universal vision. Some branches of Buddhism also have this kind of flavor as well, but are less intense about themselves. It seems that the dogma of eternal damnation for nonbelievers has a lot of ill effects on consciousness when it is believed. It is the exact opposite of unconditional love, and confuses love and violence together. I do not think that Jesus believed this idea, but talked of a Divine Presence that caused the sun to shine and the rain to fall on believer and nonbeliever alike, upon everyone equally, that this loving energy forgave instantly whatever anyone had done, and that we are meant to emulate this energy as part of entering into a living oneness with this energy ("Be you merciful as your heavenly parent is merciful."). Many Christian saints have, in their own way, saw through the dogma of eternal damnation and saw that it could not be true about unconditional divine love.

In any case, the chant to Amida Buddha in the book mentioned was "Namo Amida Buddha". This represented to me an unconditionally loving divine energy, completely gracious, completely forgiving, that was free from the dogma of eternal damnation. I found that when I chanted the mantra, in a kind of gregorian plainsong fashion, while walking around the college campus late at night before going to sleep, that I felt better. I did not chant with any conscious idea of getting inner peace. I just chanted like Shinran had said, in gratitude for the energy blessing me without anything required in return and healing me, day by day, in its own time and in its own way, as I was able to receive. I just noticed that I would always feel better after I had done so. My chanting was not "scientific". It did not have any special subtle chord structure to it, no particular meter, and no particular intonation. It was just a devotional act in plainsong. I found that the shortest sutra in the Patanjali yoga sutras is only two words long, "Devotion frees". There is simplicity to devotion that links to the mysteries of unconditional love. Chanting allowed me to open up to and link with the blessing energy of Amida Buddha. It did not matter about the number of repetitions. The recited of the mantra so many times is just an excuse to stay immersed in the energy. The power of the mantra is in the being behind it who empowers its use. The mantra itself does make some difference, because it is the link.

I found in another experience, when I was doing a fair amount of lucid dreaming, that a wolf in dreamtime had leaped for my throat. As the wolf was coming to me, I found that I spontaneously chanted one just repetition of "Namo Amida Buddha" and the wolf dissolved. Although I did not understand mantras as well as I do now, this was a significant event. When a mantra penetrates into the subconscious mind and starts to operate there, then a deeper healing happens. Until this is reached, the mantric reflex is superficial and only produces a certain level of change. When we spontaneously chant it in dream time, then a certain deep letting go into the energy of love has become second nature, has transformed us and will continue to transform us.

Somewhere after this, the mantra started to shift even the outer world. It did not merely make me feel good inside. I would often chant with homemade mala beads. I found that after many repetitions that the mala would get charged with energy. I would often give them to people in sorrow and depression. The mood of depression would at least temporarily lift when they wear the beads. I kept chanting and charging the beads in meditation, and would end up giving them away. At present I do not have any more malas, but may get another one. It seems that love wants to share itself with others and healing them. I am quite certain it generates good karma to do this too, but it seems natural to give away love charged mala beads as part of how Amida Buddha wants to convert Earth into a Pure Land, how the very matter of the Earth is meant to be infused with loving energy.

During one transition, I was feeling a bit down when I was living in Seattle and delivering pizzas for Dominos. I started to chant to Amida Buddha and I got three times the amount of tips that I usually got. My brother was also working there and started chanting some when I mentioned this. It was not that I really needed the money. I had enough coming in and have always been frugal with money. But the money was a symbol that Amida Buddha could reach into our Earthly lives and touch it in tangible ways, raise our life condition through synchronicities, and more. A person could rationalize that I may have been in a better mood when chanting the mantra and people felt inspired to tip me more than usual as a result. But I was in good moods often and never noticed a triple increase in tips. Regardless of how the event is analyzed, some shift happened in feeling first and then manifested as a higher life condition with actual material changes happening too. I also saw that Amida Buddha did not care if you started chanting from greed, as long as you opened up and let yourself get transformed. The motivation would naturally purify if you continued.

Another event happened where a friend got a negative entity inside his heart. It was due to karma, to something unresolved with his mother, to something to do with misusing drugs, and with lying to and manipulating females in order to have sex. Much as I would prefer otherwise, there are demonic like entities that can enter into human life when certain karmaic thresholds are crossed. This entity was so fierce that it lifted out of my friend and tried to attack me. I chanted to Amida Buddha and this powerful light appeared in the room. The entity left the heart of my friend and my friend felt a dark cloud lift from his heart. He did not notice the radiant light in the subtle world, but did notice the effect of the light gently causing the entity to leave. It reminded me of Saint Catherine of Genoa, a Christian contemplative mystic, who said that God does not throw anyone into hell ever, but that some beings will run away from love into hell. Although love does not condemn, it illuminates the situation in truth, sees things exactly as they are, and forgives them. In self judgment, we may run away from that loving light, rather than be healed by that light. Negative entities project their own fears on this light and run away (or they let themselves get purified by this light and become free).

During the next phase, Amida Buddha appeared in dreamtime. I saw Sukhavati, the homeworld of Amida Buddha, with its radiant trees with luminous microspheres of light, with beautiful pools of water surrounded by rainbow colored rocks, with meditators in spheres floating in the sky, meditators on giant lotus blossoms floating on the pools, and meditators on the ground peacefully meditating. The weather is not harsh at all, so there are no buildings and no roofs. This world is said to have arisen, karma free, from the meditation of Amida Buddha. It was, in short, visualized into existence. Some Buddhists are horrified at the literalism of Sukhavati, of how birds will chant dharma verses from Sutras, of how many teachings become symbolically materialized into the landscape. But what I learned from this is that Earth is also strangely literally too, but in another way. Knifes, swords, and weopons are symbols of anger and fear. Buildings and walls are symbols of a harsh world where sorrow still reigns. In some way, even this world arises from a contemplation, but it is still under karma, carried from the past, held in the subconscious mind, and projected into our present experience. Sukhavati is meant to be visualized with Amida Buddha to transform our minds and raise it beyond karma. When something is a pure creation of mind, then it does not come from the causation of the past and therefore ends the chain reaction of sorrow that emanates from the past.

During this phase, Amida Buddha taught a lot of things directly, one of them being to add "Om" to the beginning of the mantra. He said this because he wanted the mantra to be for nonbuddhists as well. He wanted the mantra to be universal. He did not want the people who used the mantra to have to abandon whatever sacred path that they were on, but only to "add this advantage" if they wanted it. I remember meeting up with someone who was an open minded Christian and who still had a conditioned aversion to "Eastern Religions". Many branches of Christianity still actively condemn all other religions and do instill a sense of subtle fear about learning anything from them. But I asked this Christian to tune into and feel Jesus and he did feel something warm inside him. I then asked him to chant to Amida Buddha just ten times and then tune into Jesus again. He found that the strength of the contact grew manyfold. Amida Buddha had gently burned away some obscuring karma and helped deepen the connection to his own path. It was a kind of signal boost.

Amida Buddha taught about "meeting people in agreement". He said to focus on what people agree with, to notice where people already agree, and to expand from there. In this world, people often focus on what is disagreed upon and conflict with each other. If you listen sometimes, a vast amount of communication is about disagreeing with others. There is a kind of tension energy that appears when we do so. These disagreements are still part of what is, part of what happens here. We do not have to disagree with disagreement. But we can focus on the harmony already created and expand upon this. When there is disagreement, there is something like a logical contradiction. All thoughts are interconnected. If a person agrees with us on one point, they actually agree with all the other points by a kind of logical consistency. This means that they are holding a contradiction inside when they are disagreeing with us. We can either reinforce the place of conflict or link to the place where we agree and indirectly challenge the disagreement from within them, from the place of agreement. The second way is more peaceful.

In another dreamtime communication, about a year and a half later, Amida Buddha instructed me to add "hreeh" to the end of the mantra, the fire syllable. This addition symbolized that behind the chant is an experience of tingling energy in the body, a sign of karma being literally burned away, and that the action of the mantra is beyond mental theories and religious beliefs. Since then the mantra has taken its "final" form, stabilized, with no additions. But later on a visualization was added to the mantra where the seed syllables are placed as such "om" in white in the head at the third eye, "ah" in silvery blue at the heart chakra in the center of the chest, and "hreeh" in fiery neon red at the sacrum. The Tumo yoga mixing of bindu exercise is done similarly from this base. When this visualization is done, it accelerates the healing action within the subconscious mind and also empowers the mantra to go deeper when it is merely chanted.

Over the years, the mantra has worked faster and faster. Before it would take about 1,000 repetitions to notice a change. Now only 100 repetitions and I am in bliss. I find I am lifted into a deep space where I can send energy telepathically to friends. Sometimes only one repetition is needed to shift me. I usually head my emails with this mantra to remind me to keep operating from a raised life condition and not to fall into a certain kind of conflict with others. I notice that people, even thinking the mantra clearly and intentionally just once will have their auras slightly brighten. I can see how even one repetition always has its scientific result, but that humans need to repeat the mantra so that "brightness builds on brightness" until we feel it. One repetition usually has too subtle an effect for us to notice. This is not the fault of the mantra. Humans have dulled their energetic and emotional sensitivity so as to not feel so much pain. Their sensory threshold dulled so that they can live in a world which bombards them with a lot of intense messages from the media, from all kinds of pamphlets, fliers, books, videos, door to door preachers, from church pulpits, and even political rallies. All this information has desensitized humans to a very large extent. This is why it is good to go out in nature and be renewed. If we hang out too long in nature, meditating serenely and deeply, however, we do find the ordinary human world to be harsh and intense. It takes us some time to adjust. If we stay in the loving energy we tuned into when in nature, then we can slowly sustain this raised sensitivity and not be overwhelmed by a world which is driven by addictive craving, condemning negativity, and obscuring delusion.

The Pure Land sect focuses on having faith and reliance on Amida Buddha to cause you to be reborn in the Pure Land of Sukhavati when you die. But the Amitayus sutras focus on the other aspect of Amida Buddha which will cause us to experience health and long life on Earth. I call it the double insurance plan or "Amida Life Insurance". I do get that Amida Buddha wishes for the Earth to be a Pure Land where aging, disease, death, poverty, earthquakes, tidal waves, and harsh storms all come to end. There is a vision of physical immortality behind Buddhism that is not so well known. Padmasambhava, once broken from the cycle of death and rebirth, now lives in a light body that is not subject to aging and death. There is a realism, too, about all this, that if we do not pull it off, then we can be reborn in Sukhavati and continue our inner work. And if Earth is too harsh and difficult for us, then we can also leave and go to Sukhavati. It is wiser to hang out here, work through the karmas that are presented to us here, and continue to grow. We can serve and help others at the same time. The Divine Grace or Blessing Energy of Amida Buddha is such that, even if we die, we can continue to heal. We do not have to fear death at all and it may not even happen. We might "gently lay down our bodies" if we want to go further in our growth beyond the Earth or transform it into a light body and take it with us. The latter is the most ideal, but it may take some time to master this. Life continues.


  1. Very interesting read. I chant "Namo A Di Da Phat" in vietnamese which is the same as Namo Amidha Buddha before bed time every night. At first i find that my mind is filled with random thoughts very busy, now it's slowly calming down with less interfering thoughts. I'd like to think that by chanting that I create some sort of positive energy (universal love) and that since the earth is spinning and rotating around the sun i like to think that it leaves some sort of trail behind so that other people sleeping might subconciously pick it up over helping to transform earth. I don't know if it's true but it's one of the ways that encourages me to continue chanting.

  2. Blessings, thank you for sharing your experience. I do consider mantras to be the safest thoughts that we can think and which create no adverse karma for ourselves and which also lead us back to enlightenment because they came from enlightened mind. The chant to Amida Buddha, too, I feel gives permission for the vows of Amida Buddha to bless us with healing energy and peace. It looks like it is working for you and I am very happy. I would encourage you to keep chanting and wish that you have the "siddhi" of having a lucid dream of Sukhavati, the homeworld of Amida Buddha. The dream is a special one. It is a sign that you have established yourself in the healing energy and that the promise is real. It is not necessary to have this dream to trust the vows, but it is a sign that the chant has cut through enough of our karma to establish us in grace. Also, I can validate that you are helping others, too, through this chant. In the Surangama Sutra, this is mentioned that the chant allows us to carry each other into healing and peace. The metaphor is like a fragrance that comes from the chant that all who smell it benefit from it. I am very happy for you. When I chant I will remember that another person, you, is also doing it and finding peace, and that both of us are putting these wonderful thoughts into the noosphere (thought sphere) to uplift everyone at least a little. Blessings.

  3. How does one get these kind of experiences? How does one acquire the positive outlook you have, Mr Bagley? I see life jut the opposite of you.

  4. Dear NightFlight (that is a beautiful name to choose), There are many things that can be done to get a positive outlook on life and to open up to spiritual or transcendental experiences. One of the simplest is to chant "Om Namo Amida Buddha Hreeh," 100,000x times. This takes about 3 months at 1,000 repetitions a day. When you do the chant, one way is to mentally chant "Om" while inhaling and to mentally chant "Namo Amida Buddha Hreeh" while exhale. While inhaling, you imagine you are receiving blessing energy, breathing it in, from the air that surrounds you. While exhaling, you imagine you are letting the energy penetrate your mind, heart, and body, and letting it transform you. While chanting it is important to let go of extraneous thinking and gently concentrating only on each repetition, making each repetition as if for the first time, innocent, sincere, and willing. You let go of "trying to make it work", "checking to see if it is working", or "even hoping it works", but just immerse yourself in the practice and stay present centered in the practice, letting go of all attachment to results. If you motivation feels impure and not quite as ideal as I am sharing, you trust that each repetition will be purer than the previous repetition, as if the blessing energy itself is purifying your chant, and that if you persist, there will be a threshold that you cross where it will be truly sincere and then the experiences will happen. Paradoxically, sometimes the threshold is to move through the energy of "why bother?", the feeling of futility, and just continue a little longer. It feels like moving through a thick cloud. There is a subtle purification going on when this happens, if you hang in there, then you will have flashes of vision, feel energies, feel inner peace and joy, and even at one point see Sukhavati. The chant burns away karma until the "obscuring karma" is burned away enough to reveal these things.

  5. If you need some help, you are always free to check in with me, here. I have also done a video on youtube:

  6. The video can be a support for your own chanting. Part of the teaching about this mantra in the Surangama Sutra is called "mutual carrying". We can carry each other into the Pure Land of Peace, you never have to go alone.

    Many Blessings on Your Path, Will