Amitofu and Answering the Telephone

I have had a rare day of being in one place, sitting behind the computer here at the city temple, answering email and writing for this Blogger. Now and then the phone rings in the office and Dur Ann usually is here to answer it. Having heard her answer the phone I dared to do it myself when she was not here…”Way”, “Amitofu”… and that is far as I got!

Amitofu is the Chinese name for Amitabha Buddha (Amida Buddha in Japan) the Buddha of Infinate Light, also known as the Buddha of the Western paradise in the Pure Land Tradition. Amitofu is the universal greeting when Buddhist do absolutely anything in China and Taiwan, Amitofu crosses language barriers, fills in pauses in conversations, covers confusions while making interminable arrangements (which change constantly by the way) and any rifts that come as a result of social interactions. (here comes dinner with Dur Ann, she is chanting Amitofu, of course!) I have witnessed Dur Ann repeat Amitofu, Amitofu to animals and even fish in one temple garden! She just keeps on repeating Amitofu, Amitofu. I did once wonder if she thought it might stop a dog going for her although probably not! At the monastery where we stayed the night before last I had the opportunity to join in the evening chanting. I was so glad I had listened to the Amitofu, Amitofu etc. etc. etc. chant before. Having heard it, and sang along with it too in the past, repeated over and over (there is a tune) made it possible for me to join in with confidence as we walked around and around in procession in the main hall at this small nuns temple and university. The master of this temple teaches the nuns English there.

Dur Ann does her chanting on her own two, perhaps three, times a day for about one hour. She plays a tape and practices using the musical instruments. She just showed me the small shrine room where she does that. Rising for her is at 5.00 am and I am not sure if she does seated meditation and chanting or just chanting. We have grown close during this week together.

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