Some people say that reciting the Holy Name when one’s mind is serene, without any stray thoughts, is the recitation of definitive aspiration for birth in the Pure Land, and is in accord with the essential vow of Amideva Buddha. They say that reciting the Holy Name with distracting thoughts is an empty exercise of merely mouthing the name of Amideva. How, then could these two forms of recitation both lead to birth in the Pure Land?
These doubts come from improper understanding of the essential vow. Amideva launched the compassionate ship —the universal vow— on the great ocean of transmigration in order to save sentient beings with unwholesome karma. It is like a ship transporting weighty rocks along with pieces of linen to the other shore.
The supremacy of the essential vow is that there is no need for interpretation: all sentient beings are able to attain birth in the Pure Land through the mere recitation of the Holy Name of Amideva, without regard for the gravity of their negative karma.
om amideva hrih
namo amitabhaya buddhaya
namo amituo fo
namu amida butsu