What is the primary purpose of Dharma practice? It is to be free from cyclic existence. The three realms are the projection of our mind. As we are deluded by this world, we are lost by the surroundings. With all sorts of appearances, our minds are veiled. That’s why we kept wandering in the six realms of existence. If we could “realize our mind”, the three realms or the six realms would vanish. How do we realize our minds? We can recite the name of Amitabha, mantras, circumambulation, study sutras, meditate, and so forth. Through these methods, we can realize our minds and set them free from delusion.
The most expedient way to realize the mind is sitting meditation. Without sitting meditation, realization seems unattainable. Through Chan practice, we can see our origin or our nature of clarity. Then, what should we do after seeing our minds to attain enlightenment? Just by seeing the mind doesn't mean you're accomplished. Furthermore, one must realize “non-abidance, such mind comes forth” for the ultimate liberation.
We engage in Dharma practice to attain Buddhahood. What is it like to be a Buddha? One would acquire the perfect wisdom and the accumulation of merit. With wisdom, no more afflictions would arise. Consequently, one would refrain from nonvirtuous conduct. That’s why wisdom and merit are essential so we could carry on virtuous activities and emulate the Buddha. We should strive to perfect our merit and wisdom to become the supreme bipeds like the Buddha. Eventually, we’ll attain Buddhahood at last.
The term, “Dharma practice” seems very broad and vague. How do we “practice”? There are three key points: Firstly, we should emulate the Buddha to uncover our original face that is unarising and unceasing. While everything is impermanent and that human life is mortal, what is the one thing that is “unchanging”? In fact, every being has it. It is the problem of not uncovering it yet. If we follow what the Buddha taught, we’ll surely find it.
Secondly, we should learn to uncover our original face that is unarising and unceasing. How though? We must cultivate the prajna wisdom that is free from obscurations. What is “prajna paramita"? It is a thorough insight into everything. I'd encourage you to study the Diamond Sutra or the Heart Sutra which explains the prajnaparamita.
Thirdly, we can recite the name of Amitabha or the Great Compassion Mantra (Long Dharani). The effect would be like the GPS navigator. It is mentioned in the Great Compassion Dharani Sutra that if one upholds the Great Compassion Mantra, the fruition would be the four stages of attainment for arhatship. In days where we're troubled by so many disasters, it is particularly important to practice the dharani. We can dedicate the merit for world peace and the pacification of disasters. For sentient beings to be free from suffering for the ultimate happiness. Every year, Ling Jiou Mountain holds the Great Compassion Mantra (Long Dharani) Retreat. The merit is immense to fulfill the two benefits.