A wonderful explanation of how to chant from Venerable Wuling
The simplest way to practice Pure Land is by chanting “Amituofo.” Amituofo is the name of Amitabha Buddha in Chinese. In Sanskrit it is Amitabha Buddhaya. It does not matter whether we chant in Chinese, Sanskrit, or any other language as long as we do it properly. When we chant, the sound of “Amituofo” arises in our minds. And as we utter “Amituofo,” our minds concentrate on and embrace that sound.
While chanting, do so sincerely and continuously. In our chanting, we pronounce each syllable clearly and distinctly so that we hear the chant whether it is voiced or silent. Regardless of whether we chant when walking, sitting, or bowing, our focusing on the Buddha’s name will decrease our everyday worries. Eventually, they will be eliminated.
As one keeps chanting and the mind focuses on the sound of “Amituofo,” errant thoughts are replaced with pure thoughts. In this way, we also create less negative karma. After Amitabha has been in our mind continuously for a long time, our true nature—our Buddha-nature—will gradually be uncovered.
Amitabha Buddha is the wise and compassionate teacher who understands everything, and who is always thinking of us, lifetime after lifetime after lifetime.
We are the students who are trying to learn and practice. Just as a good teacher listens to the calls for help from a student looking for the right answers, if we have unwavering belief, vow to be reborn in the Pure Land, and behave morally and sincerely practice, Amitabha will respond. He is like the mother who always thinks of her child. If the child does not in turn think of his mother, her thoughts will not help. But if he also thinks of her, they will eventually be reunited. In such a way, Amitabha is always thinking of us, waiting for our thoughts to turn to him, so that we may come together.
When we chant to the point of single-mindedness with the sole thought of Amituofo, we successfully form a connection with him, in fact, we become one with him. In that instant we are in the Pure Land—far to the west and deep within us. As we breathe our last breath in this world, if we can form this connection—this oneness with Amituofo—we will attain our next rebirth in the Western Pure Land and leave suffering behind. And once there, we will have all the time we need to continue our practice and learning, for we will be in the company of Amitabha Buddha and all the bodhisattvas. They will help us learn all the ways to wisely and compassionately help other beings.
This and other Pure Land teachings from Ven. Wuling can be found here http://www.buddhistsocietyelkhart.org/styled/styled-8/index.html