E-mail: bdea@buddhanet.net
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Buddha Dharma Education Association Inc.
by Patriach Chih I and Master T'ien Ju
translated by Master Thich Thien Tam
Tis book is a translation ol two Chincsc commcntarics lrom
thc Tripitaka, a compilation ol all major tcxts ol thc 8uddhist
Canon. Tc Chincsc titlcs arc (hing-t’u 'hih-i-Iun and (hing-t’u
(uo-.en. Tc \ictnamcsc vcrsion, which includcs both tcxts, is
cntitlcd Ti

nh Đô

p -´ghi Iuâ

Tird 8dition: zoo:
Su+va TvaNsia+:oN Coxx:++vv ov +nv
UN:+vo S+a+vs a CaNaoa
Jharma ´aster Iok To, Jirecor
:6ss Ð~vibsox Avv.
8voxx, N.Y. sc¡6· (USA)
Tvi. (:s:) .·¡c6:s
Rcprintcd and donatcd by:
Tnv Covvova+v Boov ov +nv Buoona
Iouca+:oNai IouNoa+:oN
ss)n Fioov, .. H~xc Cnow S. Ro~b Svc. s
T~ivvi, T~iw~x R.Ò.C. Tvi.: ··6:.os¡s··
Òthcr books in thc Purc Land scrics:
Juddhism of 7isdom and Taith:
(ure Iand (rinciples and (racice
Jure-Iand 2en, 2en Jure-Iand:
Ietters of a (ure Iand (atriarch
Su+va TvaNsia+:oN Coxx:++vv ov +nv
UN:+vo S+a+vs a CaNaoa
8ibbnis) Associ~)iox ov C~x~b~
Cn~: Sn~x Tv:viv
·:¡. 8~yvivw Avvxiv
Tnovxniii, Òx)~vio, C~x~b~ L.T :R6
8ibbnis) Associ~)iox ov S~x Fv~xcisco
.:.c Fii)ox S)vvv)
S~x Fv~xcisco, C~iivovxi~ o¡s:s
Yoixc Mvx’s 8ibbnis) Associ~)iox ov A:vvic~
:6ss Ð~vibsox Avvxiv
8voxx, Nvw Yovx sc¡6·
Te supreme and end/ess b/essings
of 'amantabhadra’s deeds,
I no. uni+ersa//y transfer.
´ay e+ery /i+ing being,
dro.ning and adrift,
'oon return to the Iand of Iimit/ess Iight!
“Te .o.s of 'amantabhadra”
:+atamsaka 'utra. (hap. ¡c
iv v
Anou+ +nv Au+novs
Cn:n I (Pa+v:avcn) Also known as T’icn T’ai, Chih K’ai or
Chih Chc. Tc Patriarch Chih ! (..·–.o·) was onc ol China’s
grcatcst 8uddhist thinkcrs and thc loundcr ol thc T’icn T’ai
or Lotus Sutra School. Tc Mastcr’s namc and titlc arc takcn
lrom Mount T’icn T’ai (Chc Chiang Provincc), whcrc hc livcd
and prcachcd. His lilc coincidcd with thc bcginning ol what is
known as thc Goldcn Agc ol Purc Land doctrinal dcvclopmcnt
(6th to oth ccnturics).
Chih ! has bccn dcscribcd by Ð.T. Suzuki as onc ol thc
grcatcst 8uddhist philosophcrs ol all timcs, on a par with thc
Sixth Patriarch ol Zcn: “HuiNcng’s accomplishmcnt in thc way
ol Zcn intuition cquals, indccd, in its cultural valuc that ol Chih
i and Fatsang |Tird Patriarch ol thc Avatamsaka School|, in
ol whom arc minds ol thc highcst ordcr, not only in China but
in thc wholc world.”
!n addition to his commcntarics on thc T’icn T’ai doctrinc,
Mastcr Chih ! authorcd at lcast lour trcatiscs on Purc Land, as
rccordcd in thc Tripitaka, thc bcst known ol which is translatcd
hcrcwith undcr thc titlc Ten Joubts about (ure Iand. Tus, thc
closc parallcls and lundamcntal idcntity bctwccn T’icn T’ai
and Purc Land wcrc nrmly cstablishcd — broadcning thc
philosophical basc ol Purc Land in ¡ast Asia.
T’:vN !u A wcllknown Zcn Mastcr ol thc s¡th ccntury. Hc
was a disciplc ol National Mastcr Chung Fcng (thc highcst
iv v
ranking Zcn Mastcr ol his day) and livcd and prcachcd in thc
lcrtilc Yangtzc \allcy ol Ccntral China. Mastcr T’icn ]u was
thc author ol a commcntary on thc 'urangama 'utra, a kcy tcxt
lollowcd by monks and nuns, cspccially Zcn practitioncrs. Tc
Mastcr had many lollowcrs during thc Yuan and Ming dynastics.
His trcatisc Joubts and ¹uestions about (ure Iand, translatcd
hcrcwith, undcrscorcs thc similaritics and basic unity ol Purc
Land and Zcn.
Tnícn Tn:
v`N TXx. Also known as Licn Ðu. Ðharma Mastcr
Tích Ti
cˆn Tâm (contcmporary) spccializcs in both thc Purc
Land and ¡sotcric traditions. His bcst known trcatisc, ´iê


t Tâ

p 1ê

u, is availablc in ¡nglish undcr thc titlc Juddhism
of 7isdom and Taith.

u Phu

Minh Tanh, :~, :n~
P.Ð. Lcigh, n~, :s
vi vii
iv :bout the :uthors
vii :ckno.ledgements (Tird ¡dition)
viii Prclacc to thc Tird ¡dition
xii !ntroduction: Pivv L~xb Scnooi
xvii Notc on thc Tcxt
ro Part !: T’:vN T’a: Pa+v:avcn Cn:n I
Ten Joubts about (ure Iand
.a Part !!: Iiovv ZvN Mas+vv T’:vN !u
Joubts and ¹uestions about (ure Iand
r,o Part !!!. Appcndix: Mas+vv Tnícn Tn:
v`N TXx
Juddhism of 7isdom and Taith (cxccrpts)
— Ðoubts on Misrcading thc Sutras r¡o
— Cavcats: Ðcmons ol thc Mind r..
r86 ¡ditors’ Notcs
aa6 ¡ditors’ Glossary
a¡o 8ibliography
vi vii
(Tnivb ¡bi)iox)
Vc acknowlcdgc our dcbts to numcrous good spiritual advisors
without whom this book could not havc bccn complctcd. Hcading thc
list arc Ðharma Mastcr Lok To ol thc Sutra Translation Committcc
ol thc Unitcd Statcs and Canada (8ronx, N.Y.) and Ðharma Mastcr
Tích Đúc Nic

m ol thc !ntcrnational 8uddhist Monastic !nstitutc
(Scpulvcda, Calilornia). Tcir cncouragcmcnt, cxhortations, rcvicw ol
thc tcxt and clarincation ol important points ol doctrinc wcrc crucial
to this translation. Upasaka Larscn Ralcigh, Ðuo

ng Đinh Hy˜, Ðimitri,
Lc Òuang Tông and Upasika Licn Smith wcnt through all or part ol
thc tcxt and providcd salicnt commcnts and lccdback.
Òur thanks also go to Upasaka Lcc Tsuku, whosc chccrlul
assistancc in thc rcprinting ol thc nrst work in this scrics cncouragcd us
to complctc this sccond book swiltly. Tc latc Mrs. Fongying Chcung,
too, is rcmcmbcrcd lor hcr moral support. Finally, Upasaka 8rucc Kou
and ]oscph Lcvinc, along with Upasika 8arbara Lcvinc, took timc out
to hclp at a crucial stagc in thc production ol this book. Tc assistancc
thcy lrccly gavc to a strangcr adds particular signincancc to thc word
“kalyanamitra” — virtuous lricnds!
For this sccond cdition, wc gratclully acknowlcdgc thc hclp ol
Upasaka Ðuo

ng Đinh Hy˜ lor comparing thc translatcd tcxt against
thc Chincsc original, Ðr. Fang Vong and thc artist C.S. Lcung lor
providing thc calligraphy, as wcll as thc assistancc, in alphabctical ordcr,
ol Chcng Chicn 8hikshu, Upasaka Collin Clarkc, Upasaka Tomas
Lcung and Rcv. Kcnryu T. Tsuji. To all ol thcm wc say Tank you…
Òn thcir path to 8uddhahood, “within” and “bcyond” this wastcland
ol birth and dcath, may thcy, togcthcr with all scnticnt bcings, bc rcborn
in Sukhavati — in that lar land bcyond, in thcir own purc Minds…
viii ix
Pvvvacv +o +nv Tn:vo Io:+:oN
8uddhism, as a major rcligion and a way ol lilc, is thc subjcct
ol numcrous books and commcntarics. Yct thc kcrncl ol its
tcachings can bc cxprcsscd in two major conccpts: purity of
´ind and pracice.
Traditional Purc Land tcachings cmphasizc thc thrcc
clcmcnts ol Faith, \ows and Practicc (8uddha Rccitation) as thc
csscntial conditions lor rcbirth in thc Purc Land — in thc (ure
´ind. Tis approach is prcscntcd as thc casicst, most cxpcdicnt
path lor thc majority ol pcoplc in this day and agc.
Tcsc tcachings arc in harmony with othcr Purc Land
traditions, such as ]odo Shinshu, in which shinjin, Faith, is
ultimatcly dcnncd as Mind — thc True ´ind, cncompassing
\ows and Practicc ('anshin Isshin).
Purc Land is also in linc with Zcn, which sccs all tcachings
as cxpcdicnts, “nngcrs pointing to thc moon” — thc moon bcing
thc True ´ind, thc Mind ol Tusncss, always bright, purc and
!n thc samc vcin, thc Jhammapada 'utra, a kcy tcxt ol thc
Tcravada School, summarizcs thc tcachings ol thc 8uddha
with thc words: “Ðo not what is cvil. Ðo what is good. Keep
your ´ind pure.
Yct, purity ol Mind cannot bc achicvcd by study and vcrbal
ization alonc. !t can bc attaincd only through dctcrmincd pracice.
viii ix
Tcrc is a story conccrning thc lamous Chincsc omcial
and poct Po Chui which illustratcs this point. Ònc day, thc
omcial, passing along thc road, saw a Zcn monk scatcd on thc
branch ol a trcc prcaching thc Ðharma. Tc lollowing dia
loguc cnsucd:
Òmcial: “Òld man, what arc you doing in that trcc, in such
a prccarious position: Ònc misstcp, and you will lall to your
Monk: “! darc say, Your Lordship, that your own position is
cvcn morc prccarious. !l makc a misstcp, ! alonc may bc killcd,
il you makc a misstcp, it can cost thc livcs ol thousands.”
Òmcial: “Not a bad rcply. !’ll tcll you what. !l you can
cxplain thc csscncc ol 8uddhism to mc in onc scntcncc, !’ll
bccomc your disciplc. Òthcrwisc, wc will go our scparatc ways,
ncvcr to mcct again.”
Monk: “Vhat an casy qucstion! Listcn! Tc csscncc ol
8uddhism is to do no cvil, do what is good, and kccp your Mind
Òmcial: “!s that all thcrc is to it: ¡vcn a child ol cight
rcalizcs that!”
Monk: “Truc, a child ol cight may rcalizc it, but, cvcn a man
ol cighty cannot practicc it!”
8uddhism is ´ind, 8uddhism is pracice — it is praxis.
x xi
For Frcc Ðistribution Ònly
Si)v~ Tv~xsi~)iox Co::i))vv ov
Tnv Uxi)vb S)~)vs a C~x~b~
Nvw Yovx — soo:
x xi
Ð:aiocs w:+n ANc:vN+ Mas+vvs
Patriarch Chih ! & Mastcr T’icn ]u
translatcd with annotations by
Mastcr Tích Ti
cˆn Tâm
Si)v~ Tv~xsi~)iox Co::i))vv ov
Tnv Uxi)vb S)~)vs a C~x~b~
Nvw Yovx — soo:
xii xiii
Te Jure Iand 'choo/
Zcn, T’icn Tai and Purc Land arc among thc bcst known
schools ol 8uddhism in ¡ast Asia. Purc Land, in particular, has
thc widcst appcal.
Howcvcr, unlikc Zcn and thc Tantric School,
which havc many cxponcnts in thc Vcst, Purc Land is littlc
known to Vcstcrncrs, cxccpt, pcrhaps, in scholarly circlcs.
Tis book prcscnts thc tcachings and major tcncts ol Purc
Land, as sccn lrom thc pcrspcctivc ol two major sistcr schools:
Zcn and T’icn T’ai (Lotus School ).
Furthcr insights, lrom thc
vicwpoint ol a contcmporary Purc Land Mastcr, arc includcd in
thc Appcndix. Tc principal tcachings ol thc Purc Land School
arc summarizcd bclow, lor thc bcncnt ol rcadcrs.
Tc goal cspouscd by all 8uddhist schools is lor thc practi
tioncr to achicvc 8uddhahood, i.c., to bccomc an ¡nlightcncd
8cing.” Tus, to practicc 8uddhism is to cultivatc cnlightcn
mcnt, to attain Visdom.
Although thcrc arc many paths to rcach this goal, thcy all
involvc scvcring grccd, angcr and dclusion, thus pcrlccting thc
qualitics ol thc Mind (“paramitas”). Traditionally, 8uddhist
sutras cnumcratc six or tcn paramitas, but thcy may bc rcduccd
to thrcc: Jiscipline, (oncentration and 7isdom (thc sccond, nlth
and sixth paramitas, rcspcctivcly).
Purc Land, or 8uddha Rccitation, is a Mahayana approach
that cmploys, inter alia, thc tcchniqucs ol mcditation/visualization
xii xiii
(ol thc Purc Land, Amitabha 8uddha…) and ol oral rccitation
ol thc 8uddha’s namc, to rcalizc thcsc paramitas.
Tat is, whcn a practitioncr is busy visualizing thc 8uddha

or rcciting thc 8uddha’s namc, hc cannot commit transgrcssions
or violatc thc 8uddhist prcccpts. Tcrclorc, hc has cßcctivcly
lulnllcd thc paramita ol Ðisciplinc. Likcwisc, rcciting thc 8ud
dha’s namc with a complctcly locusscd Mind is nothing lcss than
lulnlling thc paramita ol Conccntration. Òncc Conccntration is
achicvcd, thc practitioncr’s Mind bccomcs cmpty and still, lcad
ing to thc cmcrgcncc ol his innatc wisdom — thc Visdom ol
thc 8uddhas.
Tus, a 8uddha Rccitation practitioncr, by dint ol his own
cßort, cßcctivcly attains 8uddhahood. Tis is a simplc, straight
lorward altcrnativc
to strict monastic ascctism (Tcravada
dccp and cxtcnsivc study ol thc 8uddhist Canon
(Sutra Studics School), csotcric yogic practiccs, ccrcmonics and
scrviccs (Tantric School)
or intcnsivc mcditation undcr thc pcr
sonal instruction ol highly compctcnt mcntors (Zcn).
According to Purc Land doctrinc, howcvcr, most practition
crs in this Ðcgcncratc Agc
nnd thc “scllpowcr,” scllhclp
approach too dimcult and arduous, thcrclorc, in thcir Purc Land
tcachings, thc 8uddhas and Sagcs compassionatcly cmphasizcd
thc additional clcmcnt ol “othcrpowcr.”
Tis involvcs rcliancc
on thc \ows ol Amitabha 8uddha, madc countlcss æons ago, to
wclcomc and cscort all scnticnt bcings to his Land ol Ultimatc
— an idcal training ground, an idcal cnvironmcnt.
this “Land” is rcachcd and training complctcd, thc practitioncr
xiv xv
will naturally discovcr that “training is no training” and that thc
training ground, thc Purc Land, is MindÒnly. Rcbirth at thc
timc ol dcath is rcbirth within our own Mind.
Tus, to thc Purc Land advocatc, this approach, groundcd
in wisdom and laith, is prolound yct simplc, and can bc
practiccd at any timc, anywhcrc, undcr any circumstanccs,
with no spccial training or guidancc. !t is, thcrclorc, innnitcly
adaptablc to practitioncrs at all lcvcls ol intcllcctual and spiritual
Vhcn carlicr dralts ol this manuscript wcrc circulatcd lor
commcnts, thc cditor was askcd a numbcr ol pointcd qucstions.
Tc answcrs glcancd lrom thc book arc summarizcd bclow.
i) !s not Purc Land tcaching too closc to traditional Vcstcrn
bclicls in a pcrsonal God, saints, sinncrs and Paradisc:
:ns.er. A pcrson aslccp and drcaming nnds thc sccncs in
his drcams vcry rcal, thcsc sccncs cxist lor him. Likcwisc,
thc Purc Land, saints, sinncrs, cvcrything “cxists” at thc
mundanc lcvcl, albcit in an illusory, dream-like way.
thc absolutc lcvcl, howcvcr, cvcrything, including thc Purc
Land and Amitabha 8uddha, is MindÒnly, a product ol
our Mind.
Tis kcy Mahayana tcaching is rcßcctcd in thc
paradox “Truc ¡mptincss Vondcrlul ¡xistcncc!”
ii) !s not Purc Land tcaching contrary to thc lundamcntal
principlc ol 8uddhism, thc Law ol Karma:
xiv xv
:ns.er. Tc Law ol Causc and ¡ßcct undcrlics all ol our
actions and thoughts. Howcvcr, in Mahayana thinking,
causc, cßcct, karma…, all phcnomcna arc intrinsically
cmpty and dcvoid ol truc naturc:
Tcrclorc, thcy arc innnitcly subjcct to changc. ]ust as a small
ßamc can dcstroy a pilc ol wood as high as a mountain, a
pcrlcct thought ol 8uddha Rccitation can dcstroy æons ol
bad karma, rcsulting in thc practitioncr’s rcbirth in thc Purc
iii) Purc Land is practiccd with a grasping Mind, unlikc Zcn or
cultivation ol thc paramitas.
:ns.er. Vhcn 8uddha Rccitation is practiccd with onc
pointcdncss ol Mind, at that moment, thcrc is “no practitioncr,
no 8uddha, no practicc.”
!t is thcrclorc idcntical to Zcn or
thc practicc ol thc paramitas.
iv) Purc Land is so boring!
:ns.er. Tc 8uddha taught ·¡,ccc Ðharma Ðoors.
¡ach ol
thcm is a mcdicinc lor a givcn sickncss at a givcn timc, and
cach, as a nrst signpost ol succcss, providcs thc practitioncr
with a scnsc ol wcllbcing and joy…
Purc Land is
obviously not lor you. You might try Tcravada or Zcn!
Trough thc tcachings ol Purc Land, thc words ol thc 8uddha
may bccomc morc rclcvant to an cvcn widcr spcctrum ol Vcstcrn
xvi xvii
socicty, particularly thc avcragc man in thc strcct.
Tc lattcr,
whilc not avcrsc to thc intcllcctualscllpowcr dimcnsion
Zcn and othcr mcditational approachcs, may also long lor thc
comlort ol such “quasicstablishmcnt” bclicls as Amitabha
8uddha — not as crcator God, but as bcncvolcnt tcachcr,

or thc Purc Land — not as Paradisc, but as a stcpping stonc
toward Ultimatc ¡nlightcnmcnt. Tus, in thc words ol ¡ldcr
Zcn Mastcr T’icn ]u, “Tcrc arc no dharmas outsidc Mind, no
Mind outsidc ol dharmas. You should makc no mistakc about
xvi xvii
No+v oN +nv Tvx+
Somc pcoplc misundcrstand thc Purc Land mcthod, bclicving
it to bc cntircly locusscd on practicc and dcvoid ol philosophical
tcaching. Tat is, in thc Purc Land sutras, Sakyamuni 8uddha
simply dcscribcs and cxplains thc Vcstcrn Purc Land and
cxhorts cvcryonc to rccitc thc 8uddha’s namc, sccking rcbirth
in that Land — without rclcrcncc to thcorctical issucs.
!n truth, howcvcr, thcory lcads to practicc, within practicc is
hiddcn thc clcmcnt ol thcory. Morcovcr, although thc 8uddha’s
tcachings arc classincd undcr dißcrcnt hcadings, such as thc
Ðoor ol ¡mptincss |Zcn, ctc.|, thc Ðoor ol ¡xistcncc |Purc
Land, ctc.| , thc “Òpcn” Tcaching, thc “Sccrct” |Tantric, ctc.|
Tcaching, thcy all lcan toward, rcly on and clarily onc anothcr.
Tus, thcrc is thc Zcn School, in which a singlc mcditation
riddlc (kung an) contains innumcrablc Ðharma tcachings. Tc
samc is truc ol Purc Land: thc words “Amitabha 8uddha”
cncompass thc tcachings ol Zcn, thc Sutra Studics School,
thc Ðisciplinc School and thc ¡sotcric School. Tcrclorc,
thc ancicnts havc dctcrmincd that thc Purc Land mcthod is a
“Suddcn Tcaching.” ¡ldcr Mastcr Òu !, a T’icn T’ai Mastcr in
thc dircct lincagc ol thc Patriarchs, has said in this rcgard:
“A singlc rccitation ol thc 8uddha’s namc, il donc corrcctly,
contains thc thrcc thousand auspicious bcarings and thc cighty
thousand subtlc conducts. All thc various Zcn riddlcs and thc
most cxpcditious principlcs ol thc Sutra Studics mcthod, arc
also includcd.”
To dcmonstratc that 8uddha Rccitation docs indccd cncom
pass wondcrlul, subtlc principlcs and to clcar up thc doubts ol
thosc who scck to undcrstand and lollow Purc Land, this writcr
is taking thc libcrty to translatc two ancicnt commcntarics, by
thc Patriarch Chih ! and Zcn Mastcr T’icn ]u, undcr thc titlc
(ure Iand Juddhism: Jialogues .ith :ncient ´asters.
Tis combincd tcxt dcals, in gcncral, with qucstions and doubts
ol a rathcr subtlc naturc. Tus, this writcr should havc addcd somc
morc gcncral qucstions. Howcvcr, bccausc ol ill hcalth and othcr
commitmcnts, hc must try to do so at a latcr datc.
Tc contcnts ol this book, cxccpt lor somc clcarly indicatcd
additional commcnts, arc thc vcry thoughts and rcasoning ol
rcnowncd ancicnt Mastcrs. Studcnts ol 8uddhism can placc
thcir laith in thcsc tcachings and opcn up thc Purc Land
Mystcrious Gatc. ''
Tích Ti
cˆn Tâm, \csak :.co
´ Tc statcmcnt that thc Zcn or Purc Land School, ctc. cncompasscs all othcr
tcachings should not bc construcd as mcrc hypcrbolc, or at bcst, an cxprcssion ol
skilllul mcans. Rathcr, it rcprcscnts thc corc tcaching ol Mahayana 8uddhism
(cvcry Ðharma Ðoor is pcrlcct and complctc). Tis is cpitomizcd in thc Avatamsaka
School lormula ol “onc in onc, onc in all, all in onc, all in all,” or thc mctaphor ol
thc ]cwcl Nct ol !ndra:
“Fa Tsang says, ‘thc jcwcls rcßcct onc anothcr, so that in a singlc jcwcl thcrc
appcar thc imagcs ol all thc rcst… Tus thcy arc multiplicd to innnity, and thc
wholc innnity… appcars with vivid clarity in this onc jcwcl.’ …Tc jcwcls hcrc
symbolizc all thc various phcnomcna ol thc univcrsc, and thc implication is that
cvcry phcnomcnon, cvcry singlc thing, in somc scnsc, cmbodics thc totality ol
phcnomcna, and so contains thc wholc ol rcality.” (A.]. Princc, “Tc Vorld ol
Huaycn 8uddhism.”)
´´ Tis is a rclcrcncc to thc Tcn Mystcrious Gatcs (scc Glossary).
TvN Ðoun+s anou+ Puvv IaNo
((hing-t’u 'hih-i-/un)
T.¡·, No. so6s
T’:vN T’a: Pa+v:avcn Cn:n I
Òn 8uddha Rccitation and attachmcnt to lorm:
It is like lighting a nre on top of ice. :s the nre intensines, the ice melts.
7hen the ice melts, the nre is extinguished. 'o it is .ith Juddha
(ecitation…. In the end, the pracitioner .ill attain the realm of
´o-Jirth and see the nre of rebirth spontaneously disappear.
Pivv L~xb P~)vi~vcn
M~s)vv T’~o Cn’o
:c :s
Ouvs+:oN r
Grcat Compassion is thc lilc calling ol 8uddhas and
8odhisattvas. Tus, thosc who havc dcvclopcd thc 8odhi Mind,
wishing to rcscuc and lcrry othcr scnticnt bcings across, should
simply vow to bc rcborn in thc Triplc Rcalm,
among thc nvc
turbiditics and thc thrcc cvil paths. Vhy should wc abandon
scnticnt bcings to lcad a sclnsh lilc ol tranquillity: !s this not a
lack ol compassion, a prcoccupation with cgoistic nccds, contrary
to thc path ol cnlightcnmcnt:
Tcrc arc two typcs ol 8odhisattvas. Tc nrst typc arc thosc who
havc lollowcd thc 8odhisattva path lor a long timc and attaincd
thc Tolcrancc ol Non8irth
(insight into thc nonorigination
ol phcnomcna). Tis rcproach applics to thcm.
Tc sccond typc arc 8odhisattvas who havc not attaincd thc
Tolcrancc ol Non8irth, as wcll as ordinary bcings who havc
just dcvclopcd thc 8odhi Mind.
!l thcy aspirc to pcrlcct that
Tolcrancc and cntcr thc cvil lilc
ol thc Triplc Rcalm to savc
scnticnt bcings, thcy should rcmain in constant proximity to thc
8uddhas. As statcd in thc Pcrlcction ol Visdom Trcatisc:
“!t is unwisc lor human bcings who arc still bound by all kinds
ol amictions, cvcn il thcy posscss a grcat compassionatc Mind,
:c :s
to scck a prcmaturc rcbirth in this cvil rcalm to rcscuc scnticnt
“Vhy is this so: !t is bccausc in this cvil, dcnlcd world,
amictions arc powcrlul and widcsprcad. Tosc who lack thc
powcr ol Tolcrancc |ol Non8irth| arc bound to bc swaycd by
cxtcrnal circumstanccs. Tcy thcn bccomc slavcs to lorm and
sound, lamc and lortunc, with thc rcsulting karma ol grccd,
angcr and dclusion. Òncc this occurs, thcy cannot cvcn savc
thcmsclvcs, much lcss othcrs!
“!l, lor cxamplc, thcy arc born in thc human rcalm, in this
cvil cnvironmcnt lull ol nonbclicvcrs and cxtcrnalists, it is
dimcult to cncountcr gcnuinc sagcs. Tcrclorc, it is not casy to
hcar thc 8uddha Ðharma nor achicvc thc goals ol thc sagcs.
“Òl thosc who plantcd thc sccds ol gcncrosity, morality and
blcssings in prcvious livcs and arc thus now cnjoying powcr and
lamc, how many arc not inlatuatcd with a lilc ol wcalth and
honor, wallowing in cndlcss grccd and lust:
“Tcrclorc, cvcn whcn thcy arc counscllcd by cnlightcncd
tcachcrs, thcy do not bclicvc thcm nor act accordingly. Morcovcr,
to satisly thcir passions, thcy takc advantagc ol thcir cxisting
powcr and inßucncc, crcating a grcat dcal ol bad karma. Tus,
whcn thcir prcscnt lilc comcs to an cnd, thcy dcsccnd upon
thc thrcc cvil paths lor countlcss æons. Altcr that, thcy arc
rcborn as humans ol low social and cconomic status. !l thcy
do not thcn mcct good spiritual advisors, thcy will continuc
to bc dcludcd, crcating morc bad karma and dcsccnding oncc
again into thc lowcr rcalms. From timc immcmorial, scnticnt
bcings caught in thc cyclc ol 8irth and Ðcath havc bccn in this
prcdicamcnt. Tis is callcd thc ‘Ðimcult Path ol Practicc.’”
:: :.
Tc .imalakirti 'utra also statcs,
“!l you cannot cvcn curc your own illncss, how can you curc thc
illncsscs ol othcrs:”
Tc (erfecion of 7isdom Treatise lurthcr statcs:
“Takc thc casc ol two pcrsons, cach ol whom watchcs a rclativc
drowning in thc rivcr. Tc nrst pcrson, acting on impulsc, hast
ily jumps into thc watcr. Howcvcr, bccausc hc lacks thc ncccs
sary skills, in thc cnd, both ol thcm drown. Tc sccond pcrson,
morc intclligcnt and rcsourcclul, hurrics oß to lctch a boat and
sails to thc rcscuc. Tus, both pcrsons cscapc drowning.
“Ncwly aspiring 8odhisattvas arc likc thc nrst individual,
who still lacks thc powcr ol Tolcrancc |ol Non8irth| and
cannot savc scnticnt bcings. Ònly thosc 8odhisattvas who
rcmain closc to thc 8uddhas and attain that Tolcrancc can
substitutc lor thc 8uddhas and lcrry countlcss scnticnt bcings
across, just likc thc pcrson who has thc boat.”
Tc (erfecion of 7isdom Treatise gocs on to statc:
“Tis is not unlikc a young child who should not lcavc his
mothcr, lcst hc lall into a wcll, drown in thc rivcr or dic ol
starvation, or a young bird whosc wings arc not lully dcvclopcd.
!t must bidc its timc, hopping lrom branch to branch, until it
can ßy alar, lcisurcly and unimpcdcd.
“Òrdinary pcrsons who lack thc Tolcrancc ol Non8irth
should limit thcmsclvcs to 8uddha Rccitation, to achicvc onc
pointcdncss ol Mind. Òncc that goal is rcachcd, at thc timc ol
dcath, thcy will ccrtainly bc rcborn in thc Purc Land. Having
:: :.
sccn Amitabha 8uddha and rcachcd thc Tolcrancc ol Non
8irth, thcy can stccr thc boat ol that Tolcrancc into thc sca ol
8irth and Ðcath, to lcrry scnticnt bcings across and accomplish
countlcss 8uddha dccds at will.”
For thcsc rcasons, compassionatc practitioncrs who wish to tcach
and convcrt scnticnt bcings in hcll, or cntcr thc sca ol 8irth and
Ðcath, should bcar in mind thc causcs and conditions lor rcbirth
in thc Purc Land. Tis is rclcrrcd to as thc “¡asy Path ol Practicc”
in thc (ommentary on the Ten 'tages of the Jodhisatt.as.
Ouvs+:oN a
All phcnomcna arc by naturc cmpty, always unborn |Non8irth|,
cqual and still. Arc wc not going against this truth whcn wc
abandon this world, sccking rcbirth in thc Land ol Ultimatc
8liss: Tc |.imalakirti| 'utra tcachcs that “to bc rcborn in thc
Purc Land, you should nrst purily your own Mind, only whcn
thc Mind is purc, will thc 8uddha lands bc purc.” Arc not Purc
Land lollowcrs going against this truth:
Tis qucstion involvcs two principlcs and can bc answcrcd on
two lcvcls.
:¡ :.
A) Òn thc lcvcl ol generality, il you think that sccking rcbirth
in thc Purc Land mcans “lcaving hcrc and sccking thcrc,” and
is thcrclorc incompatiblc with thc Truth ol ¡qual Tusncss, arc
you not committing thc samc mistakc by grasping at this Saha
Vorld and not sccking rcbirth in thc Purc Land, i.c., “lcaving
thcrc and grasping hcrc”: !l, on thc othcr hand, you say, “! am
ncithcr sccking rcbirth thcrc, nor do ! wish to rcmain hcrc,” you
lall into thc crror ol nihilism.
Tc Jiamond 'utra statcs in this conncction:
“Subhuti, …do not havc such a thought. Vhy: 8ccausc onc who
dcvclops thc Suprcmc ¡nlightcncd Mind docs not advocatc thc
|total| annihilation |ol thc marks ol thc dharmas.|” (Jilingual
Juddhist 'eries, .ol. I. Taipci: 8uddhist Cultural Scrvicc, so6:,
8) Òn thc lcvcl ol 'pecincs, sincc you havc brought up thc
truth ol Non8irth
and thc Purc Mind, ! would likc to givc
thc lollowing cxplanation.
Non8irth is prcciscly thc truth ol No8irth and NoÐcath.
No8irth mcans that all dharmas arc lalsc aggrcgatcs, born ol
causcs and conditions, with no ScllNaturc. Tcrclorc, thcy havc
no rcal “birth naturc” or “timc ol birth.” Upon analysis, thcy do
not rcally comc lrom anywhcrc. Tcrclorc, thcy arc said to havc
NoÐcath mcans that, sincc phcnomcna havc no Scll
Naturc, whcn thcy arc cxtinguishcd, thcy cannot bc considcrcd
:¡ :.
dcad. 8ccausc thcy havc no rcal placc to rcturn to, thcy arc said
to bc not cxtinct (NoÐcath).
For this rcason, thc truth ol Non8irth (or No8irth No
Ðcath) cannot cxist outsidc ol ordinary phcnomcna, which arc
subjcct to birth and dcath. Tcrclorc, Non8irth docs not mcan
not sccking rcbirth in thc Purc Land.
Tc Treatise on the ´iddle 7ay statcs:
“Ðharmas (phcnomcna) arc born ol causcs and conditions. ! say
thcy arc thus cmpty. Tcy arc also callcd lalsc and nctitious,
and that is also thc truth ol thc Middlc Vay.”
!t also statcs:
“Ðharmas arc ncithcr born spontancously nor do thcy arisc
lrom othcrs. Tcy arc born ncithcr togcthcr with nor apart
lrom causcs and conditions. Tcy arc thcrclorc said to havc
Tc .imalakirti 'utra statcs:
“Although hc knows that 8uddha lands / Arc void likc living
bcings / Hc gocs on practicing thc Purc Land (Ðharma) / to
tcach and convcrt mcn.” (Charlcs Luk, Te .imalakirti ´irdesa
'utra, p.··.)
!t also statcs:
“Vc can build mansions at will on cmpty land, but it is
impossiblc to build in thc middlc ol cmpty spacc.”
:6 :·
Vhcn thc 8uddhas prcach, thcy usually rcly on thc Two
|ultimatc and convcntional|. Tcy do not dcstroy thc
nctitious, provisional idcntitics ol phcnomcna whilc rcvcaling
thcir truc charactcristics.
Tat is why thc wisc, whilc carncstly striving lor rcbirth
in thc Purc Land, also undcrstand that thc naturc ol rcbirth
is intrinsically cmpty. Tis is truc Non8irth, and also thc
mcaning ol “only whcn thc Mind is purc, will thc 8uddha lands
bc purc.”
Tc dull and ignorant, on thc othcr hand, arc caught up
in thc conccpt ol birth. Upon hcaring thc tcrm “8irth,” thcy
undcrstand it as actual birth, hcaring ol “Non8irth,” thcy
|cling to its litcral mcaning| and think that thcrc is no rcbirth
Littlc do thcy rcalizc that “8irth is prcciscly Non
8irth, and Non8irth docs not hindcr 8irth.”
8ccausc thcy do not undcrstand this principlc, thcy provokc
argumcnts, slandcring and dcprccating thosc who scck rcbirth in
thc Vcstcrn Purc Land. Vhat a grcat mistakc! Tcy arc guilty
ol vililying thc Ðharma and bclong to thc ranks ol dcludcd
cxtcrnalists (non8uddhists).
Ouvs+:oN ,
All thc purc lands ol thc 8uddhas ol thc tcn dircctions havc
cqual qualitics and virtucs. Tcir Ðharma Naturc is also thc
:6 :·
samc. Tcrclorc, thc practitioncr should mcditatc on all thc
virtucs ol thc 8uddhas and scck rcbirth in thc various purc lands
ol thc tcn dircctions. Vhy should hc spccincally scck rcbirth in
thc Purc Land ol onc particular 8uddha (i.c., Amitabha): !s this
not contrary to thc truth ol “cquality in sccking rcbirth”:
All thc purc lands ol thc 8uddhas arc, in truth, cqual.
Ncvcrthclcss, sincc thc majority ol scnticnt bcings in our world
gcncrally havc dull lacultics and dcnlcd, scattcrcd minds, it will
bc dimcult lor thcm to achicvc samadhi, unlcss thcy conccntratc
cxclusivcly on onc rcalm.
Tc practicc ol constantly locussing on Amitabha 8uddha
is thc “Singlc Mark Samadhi.” 8ccausc thc Mind is cxclusivcly
dcvotcd to onc thing, thc practitioncr achicvcs rcbirth in thc
Purc Land. !n thc Sutra (ebirth :ccording to One’ s .o.s,
8uddha Sakyamuni was askcd by a 8odhisattva, “Honorcd
Ònc! Tcrc arc purc lands in all tcn dircctions. Vhy do you
cspccially cxtol thc Vcstcrn Purc Land and urgc scnticnt bcings
to locus continuously on Amitabha 8uddha, sccking rcbirth in
His Land:”
Tc 8uddha rcplicd, “Scnticnt bcings in this Saha Vorld
gcncrally havc pollutcd, scattcrcd minds. Tcrclorc, ! only cxtol
onc purc land in thc Vcst, locussing thcir Minds on a singlc
:· :o
rcalm. !l thcy mcditatc on all 8uddhas, thc scopc ol attcntion
will bc too broad, thcir Minds will bc lost and scattcrcd and
thcy will nnd samadhi dimcult to attain. Tus, thcy will lail to
achicvc rcbirth in thc Purc Land.
“Furthcrmorc, sccking thc virtucs ol one 8uddha is thc samc
as sccking thc virtucs ol all 8uddhas — as all 8uddhas havc onc
common Ðharma Naturc. Tat is why to locus on Amitabha
8uddha is to locus on all 8uddhas, to bc born in thc Vcstcrn
Purc Land is to bc born in all purc lands.”
Tus, thc :.atamsaka 'utra statcs:
“Tc bodics ol all thc 8uddhas / are thc body ol any onc
8uddha. / Tcy havc thc samc Mind and thc samc wisdom. / Tcy
arc also cqual in po.er and fearlessness.”
Tc :.atamsaka 'utra lurthcr statcs:
“!t is likc thc lull moon, round and bright, its imagc rcßcctcd
in all rivcrs and ponds. Although thc rcßcction is cvcrywhcrc,
thcrc is but a singlc moon. So it is with… |thc 8uddhas|.
Although thcy appcar in all rcalms, thcir bodics arc non
!n summary, bascd on thcsc cxamplcs, thc wisc will undcrstand
thc truth that “onc is all, all is onc.”
Vhcn this truth is graspcd,
conccntrating on onc 8uddha is prcciscly conccntrating on all
:· :o
Ouvs+:oN ¡
Tcrc arc many 8uddhas and purc lands in all thc tcn dircctions.
¡vcn il scnticnt bcings in this world havc pollutcd, scattcrcd
minds and dispositions, so that locussing on many 8uddhas
makcs it dimcult lor thcm to attain samadhi, why should thcy
not rccitc thc namc ol any 8uddha, as thcy wish, and scck
rcbirth in any purc land, in accordancc with thcir vows: Vhy
conccntratc spccincally on Amitabha 8uddha and scck rcbirth
in thc Land ol Ultimatc 8liss:
Common pcoplc lacking in wisdom should lollow thc tcaching
ol thc 8uddha rathcr than acting arbitrarily on thcir own. Tis
is why, lrom timc immcmorial, Purc Land practitioncrs havc all
diligcntly rccitcd Amitabha 8uddha’s namc.
Vhat docs it mcan to lollow thc 8uddha’s tcaching:
Ðuring his cntirc prcaching carccr, 8uddha Sakyamuni con
stantly cnjoincd scnticnt bcings to locus on Amitabha 8uddha
and scck rcbirth in thc Land ol Ultimatc 8liss. Tis is mcntioncd
in such sutras as thc Ionger :mitabha 'utra, thc ´editation
'utra, thc :mitabha 'utra, thc Iotus 'utra, thc :.atamsaka
'utra…. !n numcrous sutras, thc 8uddha constantly urgcd us
to scck rcbirth in thc Vcstcrn Land. Tis is not only truc ol thc
sutras, in thcir commcntarics, thc 8odhisattvas and Patriarchs
.c .s
unanimously advisc us to scck rcbirth in thc Land ol Ultimatc
Morcovcr, Amitabha 8uddha posscsscs thc powcr ol His
lortycight compassionatc vows to rcscuc scnticnt bcings.
´editation 'utra statcs:
“Amitabha 8uddha posscsscs ·¡,ccc signs ol pcrlcction, cach
sign has ·¡,ccc minor marks ol cxccllcncc and lrom cach minor
mark ·¡,ccc rays ol light shinc lorth, illuminating thc cntirc
Ðharma Rcalm |cosmos| to gathcr in, without cxccption, all
scnticnt bcings who practicc 8uddha Rccitation. !l any scnticnt
bcing rccitcs His namc, thcrc will bc corrcspondcncc bctwccn
causc and rcsponsc, and hc will surcly bc rcborn.”
Furthcrmorc, thc :mitabha 'utra, thc Ionger :mitabha 'utra,
ctc., tcach that whcn Sakyamuni 8uddha prcachcd thcsc sutras,
thc 8uddhas ol thc tcn dircctions, numcrous as thc grains ol
sand in thc Rivcr Gangcs, all “cxtcndcd thcir tongucs to covcr
thc cntirc univcrsc,” bcaring witncss to thc truth that any
scnticnt bcing who rccitcs Amitabha 8uddha’s namc shall bc
assurcd ol rcbirth in thc Land ol Ultimatc 8liss, thanks to thc
grcat, compassionatc vowpowcr ol thc 8uddha.
Vc should know that Amitabha 8uddha has grcat amnitics
(causcs and conditions) with this world. As thc Ionger :mitabha
'utra statcs:
“!n thc Ðharma¡nding Agc, whcn all othcr sutras havc disap
pcarcd, only this sutra will rcmain lor anothcr hundrcd ycars to
rcscuc scnticnt bcings and lcad thcm to thc Vcstcrn Purc Land.”
.c .s
Tis dcmonstratcs that Amitabha 8uddha has strong amnitics
with scnticnt bcings in this dcnlcd world.
Although onc or two sutras havc, in a gcncral way, urgcd
rcbirth in othcr purc lands, this cannot bc comparcd to thc lact
that numcrous sutras and commcntarics havc carncstly pointcd
to thc Land ol Ultimatc 8liss as thc locus ol rcbirth.
Ouvs+:oN .
Òrdinary pcoplc arc cntircly cnmcshcd in hcavy cvil karma
and arc lull ol all kinds ol amictions. ¡vcn though thcy may
havc somc virtucs as a rcsult ol cultivation, thcy nnd it dimcult
to scvcr cvcn a lraction ol thcir dcnlcmcnts and hindranccs.
Tc Land ol Ultimatc 8liss, on thc othcr hand, is cxtrcmcly
purcly adorncd, transccnding thc Triplc Rcalm. How can such
dcpravcd common mortals hopc to bc rcborn thcrc:
Tcrc arc two conditions lor rcbirth: “scllpowcr” and “othcr
powcr.” As lar as scllpowcr is conccrncd, whilc thc ordinary
bcings ol this world, totally bound |by thcir attachmcnts and
amictions|, may havc somc lcvcl ol cultivation, in rcality, thcy
still cannot bc rcborn in thc Purc Land nor dcscrvc to rcsidc
Tc (eace and Jliss (ollecion statcs:
.: ..
“Tosc who nrst dcvclop thc 8odhi Mind — starting lrom thc
lcvcl ol complctcly lcttcrcd ordinary bcings ignorant ol thc
Trcc Trcasurcs and thc Law ol Causc and ¡ßcct — should
basc thcmsclvcs initially on faith. Ncxt, whcn thcy havc cm
barkcd upon thc 8odhi path, thc precepts should scrvc as thcir
loundation. !l thcsc ordinary bcings acccpt thc 8odhisattva
prcccpts and continuc to uphold thcm unlailingly and without
intcrruption lor thrcc kalpas, thcy will rcach thc First Abodc
ol 8odhisattvahood.
“!l thcy pursuc thcir cultivation in this manncr through…
thc Tcn Paramitas as wcll as countlcss vows and practiccs, onc
altcr anothcr without intcrruption, at thc cnd ol tcn thousand
kalpas thcy will rcach thc Sixth Abodc ol 8odhisattvahood.
Should thcy continuc still lurthcr, thcy will rcach thc Scvcnth
Abodc (NonRctrogrcssion). Tcy will thcn havc cntcrcd thc
stagc ol thc ‘Sccd ol 8uddhahood,’ |i.c., thcy arc assurcd ol
cvcntual 8uddhahood|. Howcvcr, cvcn thcn, thcy still cannot
achicvc rcbirth in thc Purc Land” — that is, il thcy rcly on scll
powcr alonc.
Vith rcgard to “othcrpowcr,” il anyonc bclicvcs in thc powcr
ol Amitabha 8uddha’s compassionatc vow to rcscuc scnticnt
bcings and thcn dcvclops thc 8odhi Mind, cultivatcs thc
8uddha Rcmcmbrancc |Rccitation| Samadhi, grows wcary
ol his tcmporal, impurc body in thc Triplc Rcalm, practiccs
charity, upholds thc prcccpts and pcrlorms othcr mcritorious
dccds — dcdicating all thc mcrits and virtucs to rcbirth in thc
Vcstcrn Land — his aspirations and thc 8uddha’s rcsponsc
.: ..
will bc in accord. Rclying thus on thc 8uddha’s powcr, hc will
immcdiatcly achicvc rcbirth.
Tus, it is statcd in thc (ommentary on the Ten 'tages of
“Tcrc arc two paths ol cultivation, thc Ðimcult Path and thc
¡asy Path. Tc Ðimcult Path rclcrs to thc practiccs ol scnticnt
bcings in thc world ol thc nvc turbiditics, who, through
countlcss 8uddha cras, aspirc to rcach thc stagc ol Non
Rctrogrcssion. Tc dimcultics arc truly countlcss, as numcrous
as spccks ol dust or grains ol sand, too numcrous to imaginc.
! will summarizc thc nvc major oncs bclow:
a) ¡xtcrnalists arc lcgion, crcating conlusion with rcspcct to thc
8odhisattva Ðharma,
b) ¡vil bcings dcstroy thc practitioncr’s good, wholcsomc virtucs,
c) Vorldly mcrits and blcssings can casily lcad thc practitioncr
astray, so that hc ccascs to cngagc in virtuous practiccs,
d) !t is casy to stray onto thc Arhat’s path ol scllbcncnt, which
obstructs thc Mind ol grcat compassion,
c) Rclying cxclusivcly on scllpowcr, without thc aid ol thc
8uddha’s powcr, makcs cultivation vcry dimcult and arduous. !t
is not unlikc thc casc ol a lccblc, handicappcd pcrson, walking
alonc, who can only go so lar cach day rcgardlcss ol how much
cßort hc cxpcnds.
“Tc ¡asy Path ol cultivation mcans that, il scnticnt bcings
in this world bclicvc in thc 8uddha’s words, practicc 8uddha
Rccitation and vow to bc rcborn in thc Purc Land, thcy arc
.¡ ..
assistcd by thc 8uddha’s vowpowcr and assurcd ol rcbirth.
Tis is analagous to a pcrson who ßoats downstrcam in a boat,
although thc distancc may bc many thousands ol milcs, his
dcstination will bc rcachcd in no timc. Similarly, a common
bcing, rclying on thc powcr ol a ‘univcrsal monarch’ |a kind
ol dcity|, can travcrsc thc ‘lour grcat univcrscs in a day and a
night — this is not duc to his own powcr, but, rathcr, to thc
powcr ol thc monarch.”
Somc pcoplc, rcasoning according to “noumcnon,” (principlc)
may say that common bcings, bcing “conditioncd,” |scc Glossary|
cannot bc rcborn in thc Purc Land or scc thc 8uddha’s body.
Tc answcr is that thc virtucs ol 8uddha Rccitation arc
“unconditioncd” good roots. Òrdinary, impurc pcrsons who
dcvclop thc 8odhi Mind, scck rcbirth and constantly practicc
8uddha Rccitation can subduc and dcstroy amictions, achicvc
rcbirth and, dcpcnding on thcir lcvcl ol cultivation, obtain vision
ol thc rudimcntary aspccts ol thc 8uddha |thc thirtytwo marks
ol grcatncss, lor cxamplc|. 8odhisattvas, naturally, can achicvc
rcbirth and scc thc subtlc, lolticr aspccts ol thc 8uddha |i.c., thc
Ðharma body|. Tcrc can bc no doubt about this.
Tus, thc Avatamsaka Sutra statcs:
“All thc various 8uddha lands arc cqually purcly adorncd.
8ccausc thc karmic practiccs ol scnticnt bcings dißcr, thcir
pcrccptions ol thcsc lands arc dißcrcnt.”
Tis is thc mcaning ol what was said carlicr.
.¡ ..
Ouvs+:oN 6
Although scnticnt bcings, complctcly cnmcshcd in amictions and
cvil vicws, may achicvc rcbirth in thc Purc Land, thcy arc bound
to dcvclop amictions and pcrvcrsc vicws constantly. Undcr thcsc
circumstanccs, how can thcy bc said to havc “transccndcd thc
Triplc Rcalm and attaincd thc stagc ol NonRctrogrcssion”:
Tosc who arc rcborn in thc Purc Land, though thcy may bc
ordinary bcings totally cnmcshcd in cvil karma, cannot cvcr
dcvclop amictions or pcrvcrsc vicws, nor can thcy lail to achicvc
nonrctrogrcssion. Tis is duc to nvc lactors:
a) Tc powcr ol thc 8uddha’s grcat, compassionatc vow
cmbraccs and protccts thcm,
b) Tc 8uddha’s light |wisdom| always shincs upon thcm
and, thcrclorc, thc 8odhi Mind ol thcsc supcrior pcrsons
will always progrcss,
c) !n thc Vcstcrn Purc Land, thc birds, watcr, lorcsts, trccs,
wind and music all prcach thc Ðharma ol “sußcring,
cmptincss, impcrmancncc and noscll.” Upon hcaring
this, practitioncrs bcgin to locus on thc 8uddha, thc
Ðharma and thc Sangha,
d) Tosc who arc rcborn in thc Purc Land havc thc highcst
lcvcl 8odhisattvas as thcir companions and arc lrcc lrom
.6 .·
all obstaclcs, calamitics and cvil conditions. Morcovcr
thcrc arc no cxtcrnalists or cvil dcmons, so thcir Minds
arc always calm and still,
c) Òncc thcy arc rcborn in thc Purc Land, thcir lilc span
is incxhaustiblc, cqual to that ol thc 8uddhas and 8odhi
sattvas. Tus, thcy can pcacclully cultivatc lor countlcss
As a rcsult ol thcsc nvc causcs and conditions, scnticnt bcings
who arc rcborn in thc Purc Land will ccrtainly achicvc non
rctrogrcssion and will ncvcr dcvclop amictions or pcrvcrsc vicws.
Scnticnt bcings in this world ol thc nvc turbiditics, on thc othcr
hand, havc short lilc spans and lacc a host ol pcrvcrsc conditions
and obstructions. Tcrclorc, thcy havc grcat dimculty achicving
nonrctrogrcssion. Tis truth is scllcvidcnt and bcyond doubt.
Ouvs+:oN y
Tc 8odhisattva Maitrcya is a ÒncLilc 8odhisattva who is
now in thc Tusita Hcavcn. Hc will succccd 8uddha Sakyamuni
and bccomc a 8uddha in thc luturc. ! vcnturc to think that
wc should cultivatc thc lolticr aspccts ol thc Tcn \irtucs and
scck to bc rcborn in thc Tusita Hcavcn, to scc Him in pcrson.
Vhcn thc timc comcs lor Him to dcsccnd to carth and bccomc
a 8uddha, wc will lollow Him and ccrtainly achicvc Sagchood
in thc coursc ol His thrcc tcaching asscmblics. Tcrclorc, whcrc
is thc nccd to scck rcbirth in thc Vcstcrn Purc Land:
.6 .·
Sccking rcbirth in thc Tusita Hcavcn could bc considcrcd
cquivalcnt to hcaring thc Ðharma and sccing thc 8uddha. !t
sccms vcry similar to sccking rcbirth in thc Vcstcrn Purc
Land. Howcvcr, upon closc scrutiny, thcrc arc many grcat
dißcrcnccs bctwccn thc two. Lct us citc two points lor thc sakc
ol discussion.
A) ¡vcn though wc may cultivatc thc Tcn \irtucs, it is not
ccrtain that wc will achicvc rcbirth in thc Tusita Hcavcn. As
statcd in thc sutras:
“Tc practitioncr must cultivatc thc various samadhi and cntcr
dccply into right conccntration to obtain rcbirth in thc !nncr
Court ol thc Tusita Hcavcn.”
From that wc can dcducc that thc 8odhisattva Maitrcya lacks
thc cxpcdicnt ol “wclcoming and cscorting.” Tis cannot bc
comparcd to thc powcr ol Amitabha 8uddha’s Òriginal \ow
and His powcr ol light, which can gathcr in and rcscuc all
scnticnt bcings who conccntratc on Him.
Morcovcr, whcn 8uddha Sakyamuni cxplaincd thc mcaning
ol thc “wclcoming and cscorting” cxpcdicnt in his cxposition ol
thc ninc gradcs ol rcbirth, hc carncstly cnjoincd scnticnt bcings
to scck rcbirth in thc Vcstcrn Purc Land. Tis cxpcdicnt is vcry
simplc. Tc practitioncr nccd only rccitc thc namc ol Amitabha
.· .o
8uddha and, thanks to thc congrucncc ol scntimcnt and rcsponsc,
hc will immcdiatcly achicvc rcbirth. Tis is analogous to an
cnlistmcnt campaign: thosc who wish to join thc army may do
so immcdiatcly, as thcir dcsirc parallcls thc goal ol thc statc.
8) Sccondly, thc Tusita Hcavcn is, altcr all, still within
thc Rcalm ol Ðcsirc |to which our Saha Vorld also bclongs|.
Tcrclorc, thosc who rctrogrcss arc lcgion. !n that Hcavcn, thc
birds, rivcrs, lorcsts, trccs, wind… do not prcach thc Ðharma
and thus cannot hclp scnticnt bcings dcstroy amictions, locus
on thc Triplc ]cwcl nor dcvclop thc 8odhi Mind. Morcovcr, in
that rcalm, thcrc arc goddcsscs who kindlc thc nvc dcsircs in thc
Minds ol cclcstial bcings, to thc point whcrc lcw ol thcm cscapc
distraction and inlatuation.
How can this bc comparcd to thc Vcstcrn Purc Land,

whcrc thc trccs and birds proclaim thc wondcrlul Ðharma
and thc wind sings ol cnlightcnmcnt, dcstroying thc
amictions ol scnticnt bcings and rcinlorcing thc 8odhi Mind
ol practitioncrs:
Morcovcr, in thc Purc Land ol Amitabha
8uddha, thcrc arc no scductivc bcings
or bcings conccrncd
with scllcnlightcnmcnt alonc. Tcrc arc only purc vcsscls ol
thc Mahayana way. Tcrclorc, amictions and cvil karma cannot
arisc. Undcr thcsc circumstanccs, how can cultivators lail to
achicvc thc stagc ol nonrctrogrcssion swiltly:
Vc havc only
drawn a lcw points ol comparison, yct thc dißcrcnccs bctwccn
thc Purc Land and thc Tusita Hcavcn arc alrcady obvious. How
can thcrc bc any lurthcr doubt or hcsitation:
.· .o
Morcovcr, sccing thc 8odhisattva Maitrcya and achicving
thc lruits ol Arhatship is not ncccssarily a surc thing! Ðuring
thc lilctimc ol 8uddha Sakyamuni, thcrc wcrc many who saw
thc 8uddha but did not achicvc sagchood. !n thc luturc, whcn
thc 8odhisattva Maitrcya appcars in thc world, thc samc will
bc truc: countlcss scnticnt bcings will scc Him and listcn to
thc Ðharma but not attain Arhatship. Such is not thc casc in
thc Purc Land ol Amitabha 8uddha: to bc rcborn thcrc is to
bc assurcd ol attaining thc Tolcrancc ol Non8irth, with no
possiblc rctrogrcssion to thc Triplc Vorld nor bondagc to thc
karma ol 8irth and Ðcath.
!n thc Accounts ol the 7estern Iand |i.e., India|, thcrc is
thc story ol thrcc 8odhisattvas, Asanga, \asubandhu and
Simhabhadra, all ol whom practiccd mcditation, dctcrmincd
to scck rcbirth in thc Tusita Hcavcn. Tcy all vowcd that il thc
nrst onc ol thcm to dic wcrc rcborn in thc !nncr Court ol thc
Tusita Hcavcn and saw thc 8odhisattva Maitrcya, hc would
rcturn and inlorm thc othcrs. Simhabhadra dicd nrst, but a
long timc clapscd and hc still had not rcturncd. Latcr, whcn
\asabandhu was ncaring dcath, Asanga said to him, “Altcr
paying your rcspccts to Maitrcya, comc back and lct mc know
right away.” \asabandhu dicd, but did not rcturn lor thrcc ycars.
Asanga inquircd, “Vhy did it takc you so long:” \asabandhu
answcrcd, “Altcr paying my rcspccts to thc 8odhisattva
Maitrcya, listcning to His scrmon and cxhortations, and
rcspcctlully circumambulating Him thrcc timcs, ! camc back
immcdiatcly. ! could not rcturn sooncr bccausc a day and night
¡c ¡s
in thc Tusita hcavcn is cquivalcnt to lour hundrcd ycars on
Asanga thcn askcd, “Vhcrc is Simhabhadra now:” \asu
bhandu rcplicd, “Hc has straycd into thc Òutcr Court ol thc
Tusita Hcavcn, and is now cntanglcd in thc nvc plcasurcs.
From thc timc ol his dcath to now, hc has bccn unablc to scc
Vc can dcducc lrom this anccdotc that cvcn lcsscr
8odhisattvas who arc rcborn in thc Tusita Hcavcn arc subjcct
to dclusion, not to mcntion common mortals. Tcrclorc,
practitioncrs who wish to bc assurcd ol nonrctrogrcssion should
scck rcbirth in thc Vcstcrn Purc Land rathcr than thc Tusita
Ouvs+:oN 8
From timc immcmorial, scnticnt bcings havc committcd
countlcss transgrcssions. Morcovcr, in this lilc, lrom inlancy to
old agc, thcy crcatc additional cvil karma bccausc thcy do not
havc thc opportunity to cncountcr good spiritual advisors. Undcr
thcsc circumstanccs, how can it bc said that “At thc timc ol
dcath, thcy will achicvc rcbirth with only tcn pcrlcct uttcranccs
ol thc 8uddha’s namc”: Furthcrmorc, how do you satislactorily
cxplain thc tcaching that such practitioncrs “transccnd thc
binding karma ol thc Triplc Rcalm”:
¡c ¡s
!n truth, it is dimcult to asscss thc numbcr or thc strcngth ol
thc good and cvil karmic sccds that scnticnt bcings havc crcatcd
lrom timc immcmorial. Howcvcr, thosc who, at thc timc
ol dcath, cncountcr a good spiritual advisor and accomplish
tcn uttcranccs, must havc crcatcd good karma in thc past.
Òthcrwisc, thcy could not cvcn mcct a good spiritual advisor,
lct alonc accomplish tcn purc rccitations.
Now, lcst you think that thc cvil karma lrom bcginninglcss
timc is hcavy whilc tcn uttcranccs at thc timc ol dcath arc light,
! shall citc thrcc rcasons why rcbirth in thc Purc Land docs not
ncccssarily dcpcnd on thc wcight ol bad karma, thc amount ol
practicc or thc duration ol cultivation. Tc thrcc rcasons conccrn
a) thc Mind, b) thc conditions and c) thc issuc ol ccrtainty.
a) Mind
Tc transgrcssions committcd by scnticnt bcings spring lrom
dcludcd, pcrvcrsc thought. Rccitation ol thc 8uddha’s namc, on
thc othcr hand, ariscs lrom right thought, that is, hcaring ol
Amitabha 8uddha’s namc and truc virtucs. Ònc is lalsc and thc
othcr is truc. Tcrc is no possiblc comparison bctwccn thcm!
Tis is similar to a housc which has bccn boardcd up lor
tcn thousand ycars. !l thc windows arc suddcnly opcncd to lct
thc sunlight in, all darkncss immcdiatcly dissipatcs. Howcvcr
long thc pcriod ol darkncss may havc bccn, how can it lail to
disappcar: !t is likcwisc lor scnticnt bcings who havc committcd
¡: ¡.
transgrcssions lor many æons but achicvc rcbirth at thc timc ol
dcath through tcn purc rccitations.
b) Conditions
Transgrcssions grow out ol dark, invcrtcd thoughts, combincd
with illusory circumstanccs and cnvironmcnts. 8uddha
Rccitation, on thc contrary, ariscs lrom hcaring ol Amitabha
8uddha’s namc and purc virtucs, combincd with thc aspiration
lor cnlightcnmcnt. Ònc is lalsc and thc othcr is truc. Tcrc is no
possiblc comparison bctwccn thcm!
Tis is analagous to a pcrson struck by a poisoncd arrow.
Tc arrow has pcnctratcd dccp insidc his body and thc poison
is strong, dccply wounding his ßcsh and boncs. Still, il at that
momcnt hc hcars thc “cclcstial drum,”
thc arrow will “shoot
out” ol his ßcsh by itscll and thc poison will bc ncutralizcd. Tc
arrow has not pcnctratcd so dccp nor is thc poison so strong that
hc cannot rccovcr! !t is likcwisc lor scnticnt bcings who havc
committcd transgrcssions lor many æons but achicvc rcbirth at
thc timc ol dcath through tcn purc rccitations.
c) Ccrtainty ol Salvation
Vhcn scnticnt bcings commit transgrcssions, thcy do so cithcr
lrom thc “intcrvcning mcntal statc” or thc “postmcntal statc.”
Tcsc two mcntal statcs do not apply, howcvcr, at thc timc ol
dcath: thcrc is only onc cxtrcmcly powcrlul, uttcrly intcnsc
thought ol rccitation, lctting go ol cvcrything bclorc dying.
¡: ¡.
Tcrclorc, rcbirth is achicvcd.
Tis is analogous to a vcry largc, strong cablc which cvcn
thousands ol pcoplc cannot brcak. Yct, a child wiclding a
“cclcstial sword” can cut it in scvcral picccs without dimculty. !t
is also similar to a hugc pilc ol wood, accumulatcd lor thousands
ol ycars, which, whcn sct on nrc by a small ßamc, is complctcly
consumcd within a short timc. Tc samc is truc ol somconc
who has practiccd thc Tcn \irtucs throughout his lilc, sccking
rcbirth in thc Hcavcns. !l, at thc timc ol dcath, hc dcvclops an
intcnsc pcrvcrsc thought, hc will immcdiatcly dcsccnd, instcad,
into thc Avici (Ncvcr¡nding) Hcll.
Although bad karma is intrinsically lalsc and illusory, thc
ovcrpowcring strcngth ol Mind and thought can still upsct a
lilctimc ol good karma and causc thc individual to dcsccnd onto
cvil paths. How, thcn, can 8uddha Rccitation, which is truc,
wholcsomc karma, gcncratcd intcnscly at thc timc ol dcath, lail
to upsct his bad karma, cvcn though that karma may havc bccn
accumulatcd lrom timc immcmorial: Tcrclorc, somconc who
has committcd transgrcssions lor many æons, but, at thc timc ol
dcath accomplishcs tcn rccitations with a totally carncst Mind,
will ccrtainly bc rcborn in thc Purc Land. Not to achicvc rcbirth
undcr such circumstanccs would indccd bc inconccivablc!
Tc sutras tcach:
“A singlc uttcrly sinccrc rccitation ol Amitabha 8uddha’s namc
oblitcratcs thc gravc wrongdoings ol cight million æons ol
8irth and Ðcath.”
¡¡ ¡.
Tis is possiblc bccausc thc practitioncr rccitcs thc 8uddha’s
namc with a Mind ol utmost sinccrity and thcrclorc can
annihilatc cvil karma. As long as, on his dcathbcd, hc uttcrs thc
8uddha’s namc in such a lramc ol Mind, hc will bc assurcd ol
rcbirth. Tcrc can bc no lurthcr doubt about it!
Traditionally, it has bccn cxplaincd that thc dying pcrson’s
ability to rccitc tcn uttcranccs is duc cntircly to prcvious good
karma. Tis cxplanation is not, howcvcr, corrcct. Vhy is this
so: !t is bccausc, as a commcntary statcs, “il it wcrc mcrcly a
qucstion ol prcvious karma, only thc vow lor rcbirth would bc
ncccssary, and thcrc would bc no placc at all lor practicc….”
Tc practitioncr who, on his dcathbcd, accomplishcs
tcn rccitations, is ablc to do so bccausc ol his prcvious good
conditions (cnabling him to mcct a good spiritual advisor) and
bccausc ol his own wholchcartcd rccitation. To attributc rcbirth
in such circumstanccs cxclusivcly to prcvious good karma would
bc a grcat mistakc! ! hopc that practitioncrs will pondcr this
truth dccply, dcvclop a nrm Mind, and not bc lcd astray by
crroncous vicws.
Ouvs+:oN o
Tc Vcstcrn Purc Land is tcn billion 8uddha lands away lrom
hcrc. Common, ordinary pcoplc arc wcak and lrail. How can
thcy rcach it:
¡¡ ¡.
Tc Vcstcrn Purc Land is dcscribcd as bcing tcn billion 8uddha
lands away lrom hcrc only with rcspcct to thc limitcd conccpts
ol ordinary pcoplc with cycs ol ßcsh and blood, mircd in birth
and dcath.
For thosc who havc attaincd thc purc karma ol rcbirth in thc
Purc Land, thc Mind in samadhi at thc timc ol dcath is prcciscly
thc Mind rcborn in thc Purc Land. As soon as thc thought |ol
rcbirth| ariscs, rcbirth is achicvcd. Tus, thc Mcditation Sutra
statcs that “thc Land ol Amitabha 8uddha is not lar lrom hcrc!”
Morcovcr, thc powcr ol karma is inconccivablc. !n thc spacc ol
onc thought, rcbirth in thc Purc Land is achicvcd. Tcrc is no
nccd to worry about distancc.
Tis is analogous to a pcrson aslccp and drcaming. Although
his body is on thc bcd, his Mind is travclling all ovcr, to all
worlds, as though hc wcrc awakc. Rcbirth in thc Purc Land is,
gcncrally spcaking, similar to this cxamplc…
Ouvs+:oN ro
! havc now rcsolvcd to scck rcbirth in thc Vcstcrn Purc Land.
Howcvcr, ! do not know which practiccs to cultivatc, nor what
thc sccds ol rcbirth in thc Vcstcrn Purc Land arc. Morcovcr, or
dinary pcoplc all havc lamilics and havc not rid thcmsclvcs ol lust
and attachmcnt. Tis bcing thc casc, can thcy achicvc rcbirth:
¡6 ¡·
!l a cultivator wishcs to bc assurcd ol rcbirth, hc should pcrlcct
two practiccs: thc practicc ol “disgust” |at thc nvc dcsircs| and
thc practicc ol “joylulncss sn vows.”
A) Tc practicc ol “disgust” rclcrs to thc lact that common
pcoplc havc bccn bound by thc nvc dcsircs lrom timc immcmorial.
Tus, thcy wandcr along thc six paths, cnduring untold sußcring!
!n that quagmirc, unlcss thcy bccomc disgustcd with thc nvc
dcsircs, how can thcy cscapc thc cyclc ol birth and dcath:
Tcrclorc, thc Purc Land cultivator should constantly visual
izc this body as a mass ol ßcsh and boncs, blood and pus, a
skinbag containing phlcgm, pus, urinc, læccs and othcr loul
smclling substanccs. Tc (arinir.ana 'utra statcs:
“Tis lortrcss ol a body — only cvil, dcludcd dcmons could
tolcratc living in it. Vho with any wisdom would cvcr cling to
to or dclight in such a skinbag!”
Anothcr scripturc statcs:
“Tis body is thc conßucncc ol all kinds ol sußcring, it is a jail,
a prison, a mass ol ulccrs, cvcrything is impurc. !n truth, it is
not worth clinging to — cvcn thc cclcstial bodics ol dcitics arc
no dißcrcnt.”
¡6 ¡·
Tcrclorc, whcthcr walking, standing, sitting or rcclining,
whcthcr aslccp or awakc, cultivators should always visualizc this
body as nothing but a sourcc ol sußcring, without any plcasurc,
and dcvclop a dccp scnsc ol disgust… |thus gradually bccoming
lrcc lrom lustlul thoughts|.
Morcovcr, thc cultivator should also cngagc in thc Scvcn
Typcs ol Mcditation on !mpurity (c.g., as a lœtus, in thc impurc,
dirty arca ol thc womb, drinking thc mothcr’s blood, cmcrging
lrom thc womb with pus and blood gushing lorth and loul odors
in prolusion… altcr dcath, thc body swclling up and rotting
away, with ßcsh and boncs in disarray…).
Òur own bodics bcing thus, thc bodics ol othcrs arc likcwisc.
!l wc constantly mcditatc on thcsc scvcn impuritics, wc will
dcvclop disgust toward thosc malc and lcmalc lorms which
ordinary pcoplc judgc handsomc and bcautilul. Tc ßamcs ol
lust will thus gradually diminish.
!l, in addition, wc can practicc thc mcditations on thc Ninc
Kinds Òl Foulncss, (c.g., mcditation on thc lrcsh corpsc, thc
bloatcd corpsc, thc blccding and oozing corpsc, thc skclcton…
and othcr progrcssivc stagcs ol dccay ol thc human body altcr
dcath), so much thc bcttcr.
Vc should also vow to bc lorcvcr lrcc lrom rcbirth in a dc
ludcd, impurc malc or lcmalc body in thc Triplc Rcalm, cating
a hodgcpodgc ol loods, and aspirc instcad to bc cndowcd with a
Purc Land Ðharma Naturc body.
Tis constitutcs a gcncral discussion ol thc practicc ol
¡· ¡o
8) Tcrc arc, in gcncral, two aspccts to making thc joyous vow
ol “rcscuing oncscll and othcrs.”
s) Tc practitioncr should clcarly rcalizc thc goal ol
rcbirth — which is to scck cscapc lrom sußcring lor himscll and
all scnticnt bcings. Hc should think thus: “My own strcngth is
limitcd, ! am still bound by karma, morcovcr, in this cvil, dcnlcd
lilc, thc circumstanccs and conditions lcading to amictions arc
ovcrpowcring. Tat is why othcr scnticnt bcings and myscll arc
drowning in thc rivcr ol dclusion, wandcring along thc cvil
paths lrom timc immcmorial. Tc whccl ol birth and dcath is
spinning without cnd, how can ! nnd a way to rcscuc myscll and
othcrs in a salc, surc manncr:
“Tcrc is but onc solution: it is to scck rcbirth in thc Purc
Land, draw closc to thc 8uddhas and 8odhisattvas, and, rclying
on thc suprcmcly auspicious cnvironmcnt ol that rcalm, cngagc
in cultivation and attain thc Tolcrancc ol Non8irth. Ònly thcn
can ! cntcr thc cvil world to rcscuc scnticnt bcings.”
Tc Treatise on (ebirth statcs:
“To dcvclop thc 8odhi Mind is prcciscly to scck 8uddhahood,
to scck 8uddhahood is to dcvclop thc Mind ol rcscuing
scnticnt bcings, and thc Mind ol rcscuing scnticnt bcings is
nonc othcr than thc Mind that gathcrs in all bcings and hclps
thcm achicvc rcbirth in thc Purc Land.”
¡· ¡o
Morcovcr, to cnsurc rcbirth, wc should pcrlcct two practiccs:
abandoning thc thrcc things that hindcr cnlightcnmcnt and
abiding by thc thrcc things that lostcr cnlightcnmcnt.
Vhat arc thc thrcc things that hindcr cnlightcnmcnt:
Tirst, thc Mind ol sccking our own pcacc and happincss,
cgograsping and attachmcnt to our own bodics. Tc
practitioncr should lollow thc path ol wisdom and lcavc
all such thoughts lar bchind.
'econd, thc Mind ol abandoning and lailing to rcscuc scnticnt bc
ings lrom sußcring. Tc practitioncr should lollow thc path
ol compassion and lcavc all such thoughts lar bchind.
Tird, thc Mind ol cxclusivcly sccking rcspcct and oßcrings, with
out sccking ways to bcncnt scnticnt bcings and bring thcm
pcacc and happincss. Tc practitioncr should lollow thc
path ol cxpcdicnts and lcavc all such thoughts lar bchind.
Òncc hc has abandoncd thcsc thrcc hindranccs, thc practitioncr
will obtain thc thrcc things that lostcr cnlightcnmcnt. Tcy arc:
Tirst, thc “undcnlcd Purc Mind” ol not sccking pcrsonal
happincss. Tat is, cnlightcnmcnt is thc statc ol undc
nlcd purity. !l wc scck altcr pcrsonal plcasurc, body and
Mind arc dcnlcd and obstruct thc path ol cnlightcnmcnt.
Tcrclorc, thc undcnlcd Purc Mind is callcd consonant
with cnlightcnmcnt.
.c .s
'econd, thc “Purc Mind at pcacc,” rcscuing all scnticnt bcings
lrom sußcring. Tis is bccausc 8odhi is thc undcnlcd
Purc Mind which givcs pcacc and happincss to scnticnt
bcings. !l wc arc not rcscuing scnticnt bcings and hclping
thcm to cscapc thc sußcrings ol 8irth and Ðcath, wc
arc going countcr to thc 8odhi path. Tcrclorc, a Mind
locusscd on saving othcrs, bringing thcm pcacc and
happincss, is callcd consonant with cnlightcnmcnt.
Tird, a “blisslul, Purc Mind,” sccking to hclp scnticnt bcings
achicvc Grcat Nirvana. 8ccausc Grcat Nirvana is thc
ultimatc, ctcrnally blisslul rcalm, il wc do not hclp
scnticnt bcings to achicvc it, wc obstruct thc 8odhi
path. Hcncc, thc Mind which sccks to hclp scnticnt
bcings attain ctcrnal bliss is callcd consonant with
How can wc abandon thc things that hindcr cnlightcnmcnt and
abidc by thc things that lostcr cnlightcnmcnt: — !t is prcciscly
by sccking rcbirth in thc Vcstcrn Purc Land, rcmaining
constantly ncar thc 8uddhas and cultivating thc Ðharma until
Tolcrancc ol Non8irth is rcachcd. At that point, wc may
sail thc boat ol grcat vows at will, cntcr thc sca ol 8irth and
Ðcath and rcscuc scnticnt bcings with wisdom and compassion,
“adapting to conditions but lundamcntally unchanging,”

lrcc and unimpcdcd. Tis cnds our discussion ol thc goal ol
.c .s
:) Tc cultivator should ncxt contcmplatc thc wholcsomc
charactcristics ol thc Purc Land and thc auspicious lcaturcs ol
Amitabha 8uddha.
Auspicious lcaturcs:
Amitabha 8uddha posscsscs a rcsplcndcnt, goldcn Rcward 8ody,
rcplctc with ·¡,ccc major charactcristics, cach charactcristic
having ·¡,ccc minor auspicious signs, cach sign bcaming ·¡,ccc
rays ol light which illuminatc thc cntirc Ðharma Rcalm and
gathcr in thosc scnticnt bcings who rccitc thc 8uddha’s namc
|Ninth \isualization in thc ´editation 'utra|.
Vholcsomc charactcristics:
Tc Vcstcrn Purc Land is adorncd with scvcn trcasurcs, as
cxplaincd in thc Purc Land sutras.
!n addition, whcn practicing charity, kccping thc prcccpts
and pcrlorming all kinds ol good dccds, Purc Land practitioncrs
should always dcdicatc thc mcrits toward rcbirth in thc Purc
Land lor thcmsclvcs and all othcr scnticnt bcings.
!l thc practitioncr can cultivatc joylulncss in vows, as sct out
in scction 8, hc will dcvclop a Mind ol hopc and longing lor
thc Purc Land and achicvc rcbirth without lail. Tis is what is
mcant by vowing to rcscuc oncscll and othcrs.
.: ..
Ðoun+s aNo Ouvs+:oNs
anou+ Puvv IaNo
((hing-t’u (uo-.en)
T.¡·, No. so·:
Iiovv ZvN Mas+vv T’:vN !u
.: ..
Te |Jodhisatt.as| also concei.e this o.er.helming determination:
“If I attain complete, perfec enlightenment nrst .ithout ha.ing
established all sentient beings on the path of unsurpassed liberation, I
.ould be .iolating my original .o. — that .ould ne.er do…. 7hy:
'entient beings ha.e not asked me to set my mind on enlightenment
— I of my o.n accord ac as an unsolicited friend to sentient beings,
.ishing to nrst cause all beings to fully de.elop their good potential
and attain omniscience.”
“Te Ten Jractices”
:+atamsaka 'utra. (hap. :z
Tomas (leary, tr.
.¡ ..
8lder ´aster T’ ien (u .as seated in meditation in the
(all of (eclining (louds. 'uddenly, someone pushed the
door open, stepped inside and introduced himself as a 2en
guest. Te ´aster greeted him .ith a silent nod and
extended his hand, in.iting him to sit do.n. Tey remained
thus, facing one another, for a long time…. Te sunlight
.as disappearing through the bamboo .indo. and the
smoke from the incense burner had d.indled to a trickle
.hen the guest monk leisurely arose, solemnly rearranged
his robe, and slo.ly began to address the ´aster.
Ouvs+:oN r
! vcnturc to think that ¡ldcr Zcn Mastcr Yung Ming rcccivcd
thc Ðircc Transmission Ðharma with National Mastcr Shao
ol T’icn T’ai Mountain. Hc was also in thc dircct lincagc ol
¡ldcr Mastcr Fa Ycn.
As thc Abbot ol thc Ching Tzu Tcmplc
in Hangchou, hc cnlightcncd many monks and nuns to thc
Vay. His cloqucncc and ßcxiblc wisdom wcrc likc thc swirling
winds and thc roaring thundcr. Zcn monks at homc and abroad
praiscd him as a mastcr ol thc highcst achicvcmcnt.
Ncvcrthclcss, why is it that, whilc prcaching Zcn, hc
pcrsonally cultivatcd Purc Land as wcll, cxhortcd othcrs to
rccitc thc 8uddha’s namc and wrotc trcatiscs propagating thc
Purc Land mcthod: Morcovcr, hc authorcd thc vcrsc “Four
Òptions,” |Ssu Liao Chicn Chich| which statcs in csscncc:
.¡ ..
“Vith Zcn but without Purc Land, ninc out ol tcn scckcrs ol
thc Vay takc thc wrong road…. Vithout Zcn but with Purc
Land, ol tcn thousand who practicc, tcn thousand rcach thc
Purc Land….”
Vith thcsc lincs, thc Mastcr sccms to advocatc thc Purc Land
mcthod, disparaging his own school ol Zcn. Vcrc his words not
an cxaggcration: My mind is nllcd with doubts on this point,
and ! would likc to scck your instruction.
Tat is a vcry good point. Howcvcr, ¡ldcr Mastcr Yung Ming did
not, in lact, cxtol Purc Land cxccssivcly whilc dcnigrating Zcn.
Rathcr, his answcrs arc ol grcat bcncnt lor both thc Zcn and
Sutra Studics mcthods. Unlortunatcly, in thc “Four Òptions,”
thc Grcat Mastcr mcrcly gavc a gcncral cxplanation, which did
not bring out all thc subtlctics ol his thoughts. Tcrclorc, hc
could not dispcl thc doubts ol Zcn disciplcs.
! am a lollowcr ol Zcn and am not wcllvcrscd in thc Purc
Land mcthod. Howcvcr, through thc trcatiscs and sutras ol that
School, ! can givc you thc lollowing gcncral cxplanation.
Purc Land is a mcthod which is casy to practicc and through
which it is casy to achicvc cnlightcnmcnt. Howcvcr, it is also
dimcult to cxplain and to bclicvc in. Vhcn 8uddha Sakyamuni
was prcaching thc :mitabha 'utra, Hc was awarc that scnticnt
bcings in thc Ðharma¡nding Agc would havc dimculty
bclicving Him. Hc thcrclorc quotcd thc carncst words ol thc
.6 .·
8uddhas ol thc six dircctions to dispcl thc doubts and dcvclop
thc laith ol latcr gcncrations. Ncar thc cnd ol thc Sutra, rclcrring
to thc various 8uddhas who praiscd Him, Sakyamuni 8uddha
“Shariputra! You should bc awarc that, in this cvil agc ol nvc
corruptions |scc Notc ..|, ! did this dimcult thing: ! obtaincd
thc highcst pcrlcct knowlcdgc. For thc sakc ol thc wholc
world ! prcach this Ðharma, which is dimcult to bclicvc in.
Tis is cxtrcmcly dimcult.” (H. Scki, :mida K yo, Ncw York:
Amcrican 8uddhist Acadcmy, so·., p.·¡.)
Tcsc arc sinccrc, thorough words ol instruction, cnjoining
pcoplc to dcvclop laith in thc Purc Land.
Morcovcr, with grcat, ovcrßowing compassion, 8uddha
Sakyamuni has comc to thc world’s rcscuc in this Ðharma
¡nding Agc. ¡ach ol his words is acccptcd and put into practicc
by humans and cclcstial bcings alikc. Ncvcrthclcss, somc scnticnt
bcings havc doubts about this spccinc Purc Land tcaching. Vhy
is this so: !t is bccausc thc Purc Land tcaching is allcmbracing,
yct its practicc is cxtrcmcly simplc, and thcsc two opposing
charactcristics sccm dimcult to rcconcilc. Tis is why thc Purc
Land mcthod casily cngcndcrs doubts in thc Minds ol listcncrs.
Tc mcthod is all-embracing bccausc it gathcrs in pcoplc
ol all capacitics. Not only do thc highcst lcvcl and ÒncLilc
8odhisattvas scck rcbirth in thc Purc Land, cvcn unsophisticatcd
mcn and womcn, as wcll as thosc who havc committcd thc nvc
gravc oßcnscs or thc tcn cvil acts, will all achicvc rcbirth. Tcy
.6 .·
nccd only put thcir laith in and dircct thcir Minds toward thc
Purc Land with utmost dctcrmination.
Òn thc othcr hand, this mcthod is simple bccausc thc
practitioncr is not subjcctcd to too many dimcultics and
hardships, nor docs hc havc to pass through many dißcrcnt
statcs ol Mind, whcn hc could casily bc mislcd.
Hc nccd only
rccitc thc 8uddha’s namc to cnsurc cscapc lrom thc Saha Vorld
(our world), bc rcborn in thc Vcstcrn Purc Land and achicvc
nonrctrogrcssion until 8uddhahood is nnally attaincd.
8ccausc ol thcsc two charactcristics ol thc Purc Land
mcthod, allcmbracing yct simplc, cvcn thc wisc dcvclop doubts.
Tus, il you lully undcrstand this point, you will rcalizc that
¡ldcr Mastcr Yung Ming’s words ol praisc truly havc a prolound
mcaning and arc not an cxaggcration.
Ouvs+:oN a
! now undcrstand thc allcmbracing yct simplc naturc ol thc
Purc Land mcthod. Howcvcr, cnlightcncd Zcn Mastcrs havc
said that “to scc onc’s naturc is to achicvc 8uddhahood.” Vhy
should wc scttlc lor rcbirth in thc Vcstcrn Purc Land:
You ask such a qucstion bccausc you still do not undcrstand. !n
lact, cnlightcncd mastcrs arc thc vcry oncs who arc urgcntly
.· .o
sccking rcbirth. Tc ancicnts havc said: “!n which rcalm would
onc scck rcbirth, il not thc Purc Land:” From your qucstion, !
can scc that you havc not yct awakcncd to thc Vay — bccausc,
oncc you havc, your aspiration lor rcbirth cannot bc rcstraincd,
cvcn by tcn thousand bußalocs!
Ouvs+:oN ,
Tc rcason 8uddha Sakyamuni appcarcd in thc world was to
rcscuc scnticnt bcings. As 8uddhist lollowcrs, wc should worry
only about not having awakcncncd. Òncc awakcncd to thc Vay,
wc should bc unconccrncd about 8irth and Ðcath, and lollow
thc 8uddha’s cxamplc, manilcsting oursclvcs in thc cvil rcalms
to rcscuc all scnticnt bcings…. !l thosc who havc awakcncd
or attaincd cnlightcnmcnt still scck rcbirth in thc Purc Land,
arc thcy not guilty ol rcjccting sußcring, sccking happincss lor
thcmsclvcs and abandoning thosc who arc still mircd in 8irth
and Ðcath: ! may bc dcludcd and vilc, but all thc samc, ! abhor
such an attitudc!
You arc too impaticnt — likc somconc who discovcrs an cgg and
wants it to hatch immcdiatcly! Ðo you rcally think that altcr a
momcntary awakcning you havc cxtinguishcd all dcludcd habits
.· .o
and suddcnly rcachcd thc stagc ol nonrctrogrcssion: Ðo you
also think that, altcr such an awakcning, you no longcr havc to
study thc 8uddha Ðharma in its totality nor cngagc in lurthcr
cultivation so as to attain thc various stagcs ol 8odhisattvahood,
stcp by stcp: Òr arc you by any chancc thinking that, altcr a
glimpsc ol cnlightcnmcnt, you havc bccomc thc cqual ol thc
8uddhas, lrcc to cntcr and cxit 8irth and Ðcath, unhindcrcd
and unpcrturbcd by obstructing conditions:
!l this wcrc thc casc, thc grcat 8odhisattvas who spcnt
untold æons cultivating thc paramitas and thc tcn thousand
conducts should all lccl ashamcd, comparcd to you! Tc ancicnts
havc admonishcd:
“Arhats arc still dcludcd at birth, 8odhisattvas arc still dcludcd
in thc bardo stagc!” |Scc Glossary.|
!l this is truc ol sagcs, such as Arhats and 8odhisattvas, what
can wc say about thosc who havc only supcrncially awakcncd
and, in thc midst ol this world, cannot cvcn savc thcmsclvcs:
Morcovcr, cvcn il your awakcning is prolound, your wisdom
and undcrstanding brilliant and lolty, and cvcn il your practicc
is consonant with your undcrstanding and you arc dctcrmincd to
rcscuc scnticnt bcings, as long as you havc not rcachcd thc stagc
ol nonrctrogrcssion, your skills and capacitics arc ncccssarily
incomplctc. Undcr thcsc circumstanccs, should you dccidc to
rcmain in this cvil world to convcrt and rcscuc rccalcitrant
scnticnt bcings, thc sagcs and saints would not vouch lor your
6c 6s
succcss! !t would bc no dißcrcnt lrom attcmpting to rcscuc
pcoplc lrom thc raging sca with a boat that is ncithcr sturdy nor
watcrtight — unavoidably, cvcryonc would drown!
Tus, it is statcd in thc Treatise on (ebirth:
“!l you wish to movc lrccly in thc ncthcr worlds, il you wish
to rcscuc dcludcd, sußcring scnticnt bcings, you should nrst
scck rcbirth in thc Vcstcrn Purc Land. Ònly altcr you havc
achicvcd Tolcrancc ol Non8irth should you rcturn to thc sca
ol 8irth and Ðcath to lulnll your original vow. !t is bccausc ol
thcsc causcs and conditions that thc practitioncr should scck
rcbirth in thc Purc Land.”
Tc sagcs ol old havc also said:
“Tosc who havc not rcachcd thc stagc ol nonrctrogrcssion nor
achicvcd Tolcrancc ol Non8irth should ncvcr bc scparatcd
lrom thc 8uddhas. Tcy arc not unlikc small childrcn who
should not lcavc thcir mothcrs or young birds who can only
hop lrom branch to branch.”
!n this day and agc, in this Saha Vorld, 8uddha Sakyamuni
has cntcrcd Nirvana, whilc Maitrcya, thc luturc 8uddha, is not
yct born. Morcovcr, along thc Four ¡vil Paths, scnticnt bcings
arc casily swaycd by intcrlinking causc and cßcct, cxposcd to
hundrcds ol hctcrodox, cvil tcachings, pcrturbcd by criticism
and calumny, lurcd by bcautilul lorms and scnsuous sounds,
6c 6s
continuously undcr thc inßucncc ol cvancsccnt circumstanccs
and cvil conditions. Undcr such conditions, with no 8uddha to
rcly on and disturbcd by thc cvil cnvironmcnt, how many ol thc
ncwly awakcncd can avoid rctrogrcssion:
Tat is why 8uddha Sakyamuni has carncstly rccommcndcd
rcbirth in thc Vcstcrn Purc Land. !n that Land, 8uddha
Amitabha now prcachcs thc Ðharma, and in that Land lavorablc
conditions abound. Òncc rcborn, rclying on thc hclp ol thc Òccan
widc Asscmbly, thc practitioncr swiltly achicvcs thc Tolcrancc
ol Non8irth. Morcovcr, as hc is always in thc company ol thc
King ol thc Ðharma, hc casily attains 8uddhahood. At that
timc, thcrc arc no obstructions to prcvcnt him lrom appcaring
in thc world at will, to rcscuc scnticnt bcings. Tcrclorc, cvcn
thosc ol thc highcst capacity, cndowcd with wisdom, must scck
rcbirth, not to mcntion pcoplc likc you who arc ol only modcratc
or low capacitics, and arc barcly awakcncd!
Ðo you not know that in thc 'utra on the Juddha .isuali-
zation 'amadhi, thc 8odhisattva Manjusri himscll rccallcd his
cultivation in past lilctimcs and rcvcalcd that hc had attaincd
thc 8uddha Rcmcmbrancc Samadhi and usually dwcllcd in thc
purc lands: For this rcason 8uddha Sakyamuni prcdictcd, “You
will bc rcborn in thc Land ol Ultimatc 8liss!”
Ðo you not also know that in thc :.atamsaka 'utra, thc
8odhisattva Samantabhadra urgcd Sudhana and thc Òccan
widc Asscmbly to dcdicatc thc virtucs ol thc Tcn Grcat \ows
toward rcbirth in thc Vcstcrn Purc Land: Tc Sutra contains
thc lollowing passagc:
6: 6.
“! vow that whcn my lilc approachcs its cnd,
All obstructions will bc swcpt away,
! will scc Amita 8uddha,/And bc born in his Land ol
Ultimatc 8liss and pcacc.”
(Hsuan Hua, tr. T/o.er :dornment 'utra, Ch. ¡c. p.:s¡.)
Ðo you not also know that, in thc Ianka.atara 'utra, 8uddha
Sakyamuni prcdictcd:
“!n thc luturc, in southcrn !ndia, thcrc will bc an ¡ldcr Mastcr
ol high rcputc and virtuc namcd Nagarjuna…. Hc will attain
thc nrst 8odhisattva stagc ol ¡xtrcmc ]oy and bc rcborn in thc
Vcstcrn Purc Land.”
Ðo you not also rcalizc that in thc Treatise on the :.akening of
the Taith, thc Patriarch Asvaghosha
also cxtollcd rcbirth: !n thc
´aharatnakuta 'utra, 8uddha Sakyamuni prcdictcd that his
lathcr, King Suddhodana, along with scvcnty thousand rclativcs,
would bc rcborn in thc Purc Land. !n thc ´editation 'utra,
8uddha Sakyamuni taught Òuccn \aidchi and hcr nvc hundrcd
attcndants how to pay homagc to Amitabha 8uddha….
|Lct us bc impartial and ask oursclvcs this qucstion: il cvcn
grcat 8odhisattvas such as Manjusri and Samantabhadra, and
towcring Patriarchs such as Asvaghosha and Nagarjuna
rcbirth, vowing to scc Amitabha 8uddha, who arc today’s
barcly awakcncd practitioncrs to rcjcct rcbirth: !ndccd, to do
so is tantamount to considcring thcir own achicvcmcnts to bc
highcr than thosc ol thc 8odhisattvas and Patriarchs! Tat is
6: 6.
|!n latcr timcs, in China, lor cxamplc, ¡ldcr Mastcr Hui
Yuan ol Lu Shan (..¡–¡s6) loundcd thc Lotus Socicty, which
was dcvotcd cxclusivcly to Purc Land practicc, whilc many
othcr mastcrs and laymcn bclonging to both thc T’icn T’ai and
Avatamsaka traditions pcrsonally cultivatcd 8uddha Rccitation
and widcly cxpoundcd thc Purc Land mcthod.
Following onc
anothcr’s cxamplc, thcy sought rcbirth in thc Purc Land.
|Furthcrmorc, ovcr thc ccnturics, in China, numcrous
Zcn Mastcrs, in addition to mcditation, quictly practiccd and
propagatcd Purc Land tcachings.
Among thcm arc lound many
¡ldcr Mastcrs ol high achicvcmcnt, including Mastcrs Yung
Ming, T’icn ! Huai, Yuan Chao Pcn, Tzu Shou Shcn….|
Not only did thcsc Zcn Mastcrs lollow thc Purc Land
mcthod, ! |Mastcr T’icn ]u| havc hcard a Zcn monk ol high
achicvcmcnt say, “almost all monks, both within and outsidc
thc Fivc Houscs ol Zcn,
awakcncd to thc Vay or not, sct thcir
Minds on thc Purc Land.” Vhcn ! askcd thc rcason, thc Mastcr
“¡ldcr Zcn Mastcr Pai Chang
ol Huai Hai |onc ol thc most
lamous Zcn Mastcrs ol all timc| was thc dircct succcssor to thc
grcat Zcn Mastcr Ma Tsu ol Chiang Hsi.
Zcn communitics
throughout thc world arc cstablishcd on his modcl and havc
adoptcd thc (ure (ules lor monastcrics which hc institutcd.
Sincc ancicnt timcs, no onc has darcd to criticizc or violatc this
sct ol rulcs.
“According to thcsc Rulcs, praycrs lor thc bcncnt ol
scriously ill monks and nuns includc thc lollowing passagc:
6¡ 6.
‘Tc lourlold asscmbly should gathcr togcthcr, and all should
rccitc vcrscs ol praisc to Amitabha 8uddha and chant his namc
lrom onc hundrcd to onc thousand timcs. At thc cnd, thc
lollowing words ol translcrcncc should bc rcad: “If conditions
ha.e not yet come to an end, let him quickly, reco.er. If the time of
death has arri.ed, .e pray that he .ill be reborn in the (ure Iand.”
!s this not pointing thc way back to thc Purc Land:
“Morcovcr, thc liturgy lor scnding oß dcccascd monks
includcs this passagc: ‘thc grcat asscmbly should all rccitc thc
namc ol Amitabha 8uddha in unison, translcrring thc mcrits
and making thc lollowing vow: “Iet his soul be reborn in the (ure
Iand, his karma in the .orld of dust se.ered, let him be reborn in
the upper lotus grade, .ith a golden body. ´ay he also recei.e a
predicion of Juddhahood in one lifetime.”’ !s this not pointing
thc way back to thc Purc Land:
“Furthcrmorc, at thc timc ol burial or crcmation, thc (ure
(ules stipulatc: ‘Tc monk in chargc ol thc scrvicc should
lcad thc way, striking thc small bcll, and rccitc thc namc ol
Amitabha 8uddha tcn timcs, with thc grcat asscmbly lollowing
in unison. Altcr rccitation, thc lollowing words ol translcrcncc
should bc rcad: “7e ha.e just intoned the Juddha’ s name ten
times to assist in rebirth….”’ !s this not pointing thc way back to
thc Purc Land:
“!t is lor thcsc rcasons that this old monk said, ‘Zcn Mastcrs
thc world ovcr all sct thcir Minds on thc Purc Land.’”
! listcncd to thc Zcn Mastcr’s cxplanations and, as thcy wcrc
lully substantiatcd, cannot nnd any rcason to rclutc thcm. Tc
prolound and lolty mcaning bchind Mastcr Pai Chang’s Purc
Rulcs thcn dawncd on mc….
6¡ 6.
Rcsiding as you arc in a monastcry complcx, you must havc
“scnt oß” countlcss monks. Your cars must havc hcard and your
mouth uttcrcd “tcn rccitations” an untold numbcr ol timcs. Your
Mind must havc locusscd on thc translcrcncc ol mcrit to thc
Purc Land innumcrablc timcs! !n spitc ol all this, you havc not
yct awakcncd nor havc you undcrstood thc rcal intcntions ol
thc Patriarchs, and arc dcludcd to thc point ol claiming that
“thosc who havc awakcncd or rcachcd cnlightcnmcnt do not scck
rcbirth.” Truly, your discasc ol grasping, ol clinging to Zcn, has
no cqual in thc wholc, widc world!
Ouvs+:oN ¡
Tc “gathcring powcr” |i.c., tcaching| ol thc Purc Land mcthod
is truly allcmbracing — this loolish monk will no longcr darc
to commcnt upon it. Howcvcr, ! uscd to hcar such cxprcssions
as “ScllNaturc Amitabha, MindÒnly Purc Land,” and could
not but sccrctly rcjoicc!
Tat was so until ! glanccd through
thc Purc Land sutras and commcntarics and discovcrcd that thc
Purc Land is thc Land ol Ultimatc 8liss, tcn billion 8uddha
lands lrom hcrc, and that Amitabha 8uddha is thc tcachcr ol
that Land. Tus, thcrc sccms to bc a contradiction: here |i.c.,
MindÒnly Purc Land| and there |i.c., Purc Land in thc Vcst|
arc quitc distant, and outsidc thc truth ol MindÒnly Scll
Naturc! How shall ! undcrstand this qucstion:
66 6·
You still havc a supcrncial and narrow undcrstanding ol thc
issuc. Ðo you not know that your Truc Mind is allcxtcnsivc
and allilluminating: Tc 'urangama 'utra statcs:
“Tc various mountains, rivcrs and contincnts, cvcn thc cmpty
spacc outsidc our physical body, arc all rcalms and phcnomcna
within thc wondcrlul, bright Truc Mind.”
!t lurthcr statcs:
“Phcnomcna which arc born — thcy arc all manilcstations ol
Tcrclorc, whcrc can you nnd a 8uddha land outsidc thc Mind:
Tus, thc conccpt ol MindÒnly Purc Land rclcrs to thc Purc
Land within our Truc Mind. Tis is no dißcrcnt lrom thc occan,
lrom which springs an untold numbcr ol bubblcs, nonc ol which
is outsidc thc widc occan. !t is also likc thc spccks ol dust in thc
soil, nonc ol which is not soil. Likcwisc, thcrc is no 8uddha
land which is not Mind. Tcrclorc, sagcs and saints havc said:
“Tis singlc Mind cncompasscs thc lour kinds ol Lands in
thcir totality: a) thc Land ol Common Rcsidcncc ol bcings
and saints, b) thc Land ol ¡xpcdicncy, c) thc Land ol Truc
Rcward and d) thc Land ol ¡tcrnally Tranquil Light (¡tcrnal
Scrcnity and !llumination)….” |Tc Land ol Common
Rcsidcncc is lurthcr dividcd into thc Common Rcsidcncc (ure
Land and thc Common Rcsidcncc Impure Land.|
66 6·
Tc distinctions among thc lour lands arc bascd on dißcrcnt
lcvcls ol cultivation and achicvcmcnt, howcvcr, thcy arc in lact
but onc rcalm. Tc Truc Mind cncompasscs thc tcn thousand
Lands as numcrous as thc spccks ol dust through
out thc tcn dircctions arc nonc othcr than thc rcalms in our own
Mind, thc countlcss 8uddhas ol thc Trcc Pcriods ol Timc arc
also thc 8uddhas in our own Mind. Nothing cxists outsidc our
ScllMind. Undcrstanding this truth, wc rcalizc that thcrc is
no land which is cstablishcd indcpcndcntly ol our own Mind,
thcrc is no 8uddha who appcars without rclying on our naturc.
Tis bcing thc casc, how can thc Vcstcrn Purc Land tcn billion
8uddha lands away lrom hcrc not bc thc Purc Land ol Mind
Tc Land ol Ultimatc 8liss bcing thus, thc Tcachcr ol that
Land is, likcwisc, 8uddha Amitabha ol thc Scll Naturc. Vc
should know that this Mind cncompasscs thc totality ol thc Tcn
Rcalms, bodics and lands lrccly intcrpcnctrating ad innnitum.
Vc should know, lurthcr, that Mind, 8uddha and scnticnt
bcings, whilc thrcc, arc in lact onc:
thcy havc thc samc Naturc
and arc no dißcrcnt lrom onc anothcr. Scnticnt bcings and
8uddhas appcar intcrchangcably, thcir thoughts mcshing with
onc anothcr’s….
Tc rcalm ol thc Truc Mind, cncompassing untold lands,
can bc likcncd to thc ]cwcl Nct ol !ndra dcscribcd in thc
:.atamsaka 'utra.
|Tis is a nct said to hang in thc palacc ol !ndra, thc king ol
thc gods. At cach intcrsticc ol thc nct is a rcßccting jcwcl, which
6· 6o
mirrors not only thc adjaccnt jcwcls but thc multiplc imagcs
rcßcctcd in thcm. Tis lamous imagc is mcant to dcscribc thc
unimpcdcd intcrpcnctration ol all and cvcrything.|
Tc Vcstcrn Purc Land, as wcll as cach ol thc tcn billion
8uddha lands, rcscmblcs onc ol thc jcwcls in !ndra’s nct.
Òn a morc subtlc lcvcl, throughout cach and cvcry land,
lrom thc 8uddhas, 8odhisattvas and Arhats down to animals,
hungry ghosts and hclls, cach and cvcry thing rcscmblcs onc
ol thc jcwcls. Juddha :mitabha himself is one of the je.els.
Tcrclorc, to scc onc 8uddha is to scc all thc 8uddhas ol thc
tcn dircctions as wcll as thc ninc rcalms ol scnticnt bcings
throughout thc tcn dircctions. Tc multitudc ol 8uddha
lands, thc tcn dircctions ol thc past and prcscnt — thc wholc
constitutcs an “occan scal,” “suddcn and pcrlcct.” Tcrc arc no
othcr dharmas.
Tus, thc “dusts” |scnsory objccts| throughout thc tcn
billion 8uddha lands arc born by translormation prcciscly
within our own ScllMind. How can thc “substancc” |i.c.,
bcings| which appcars in thc ninc Lotus Gradcs |scc Glossary|
bc scparatc lrom or outsidc thc Truc Tusncss 8uddha: Tcsc
cxplanations arc thc cnlightcncd tcachings ol thc 8uddhas,
Patriarchs, sagcs and saints. !l wc undcrstand this truth, wc
will scc that thc Vcstcrn Purc Land is MindÒnly, cach
8uddha land, cach motc ol dust, is also MindÒnly, Lord
Amitabha 8uddha is thc ScllNaturc, and cach 8uddha, cach
scnticnt bcing is also thc ScllNaturc.
Tus, what is thcrc to
6· 6o
:dditiona/ (omments by 9harma ´aster Ti


n Tâm
Te Jharma (ealm True ´ind is an immensely broad and
extensi.e state, encompassing an untold number of lands, Juddhas
and sentient beings.
In that One True 'tate, the aspec of lands and sentient beings,
constantly in nux, pertains to the “Joor of Jirth and Jeath.” Te
silent and illuminating aspec — still, .onderful, clear, bright and
e.erlasting — is called the “Joor of True Tusness.”
Te True ´ind is a (ommon True 'tate encompassing
those t.o Joors, the conditioned and the unconditioned. :ll
the follo.ing expressions refer to that True ´ature: True ´ind,
'elf-´ature, Juddha ´ature, 7omb of the Tathagata, Jharma
(ealm, Jharma ´ature, True ´ark, ´ir.ana, Jharma Jody,
:laya (onsciousness of the Tathagata, Original Tace, (rajna, True
Te Juddha taught t.o approaches for returning to that true
nature. 'uch Jharma methods as 2en, T ’ ien T ’ ai (Tendai or Iotus
'chool) and a di.ision of the 8soteric 'chool enter it through the
Joor of 8mptiness. Other schools, such as the (ure Iand 'chool, the
:.atamsaka 'chool, the .inaya (Jiscipline) 'chool, as .ell as the
Jiamond Ji.ision of the 8soteric 'chool do so through the Joor of
Terefore, those .ho deeply understand the prajna truth of 2en,
or the meaning of the Ten ´ysterious Gates of the :.atamsaka
'chool, all clearly realize that form is no diferent from emptiness,
·c ·s
emptiness is no diferent from form, form is emptiness, emptiness is
form. On the other hand, those .ho lack thorough understanding
.ill cling to emptiness unless they cling to existence.
(o.e.er, clinging to existence at least makes the pracitioner
fear cause and efec, a.oid transgressions and perform good deeds,
.hich leads to auspicious rebirth in human and celestial realms — or
in the 7estern (ure Iand (in the case of diligent pracitioners of
Juddha (ecitation). On the other hand, if he clings to emptiness, he
.ill end up denigrating cause and efec and rejecing the Juddhas
and sages. Tus, he .ill descend, in the future, upon the Tree 8.il
(aths. Terefore, the ancients ha.e cautioned.
“!t is bcttcr to bc attachcd to cxistcncc, though thc attachmcnt
may bc as grcat as Mount Sumcru, than to bc attachcd to
cmptincss, though thc attachmcnt may bc as small as a mustard
Te .isiting 2en ´aster of our story did not yet clearly understand
the True ´ind. Terefore, as soon as he heard that “the (ure Iand
is ´ind-Only, the 'elf-´ature is :mitabha Juddha,” he hastily
concluded that our ´ind, if pure, is precisely the (ure Iand, is
precisely :mitabha Juddha — and that there is no other Iand of
Jliss nor any Juddha called :mitabha. 'uch deluded indi.iduals,
attached to emptiness, can be found e.ery.here. In general, they
rejec the existence of Juddha :mitabha, the 7estern (ure Iand,
demonic or celestial realms, or else they say that the Jodhisatt.a
8arth 'tore (Ksitigarbha) is the ´ind-ground-´ature-store and
there is no such Jodhisatt.a as 8arth 'tore.
·c ·s
Tis is not unlike .earing dark glasses and seeing e.erything
in black. (egardless of ho. many Jharma talks such pracitioners
present or ho. many sutras or commentaries they compose or
translate, ultimately they stray, de.eloping the disease of attachment
to emptiness.
Tese indi.iduals are usually .ain and conceited, considering
themsel.es intelligent and lofty, .hile deprecating others as being
attached to forms. In truth, .hen they .rite commentaries or translate
sutras, they ha.e the intention of propagating the Jharma, but, in
the end, they .ilify the Tree Treasures |Juddha, Jharma, 'angha|
instead. ´ot only are they in the .rong, they mislead countless others
as .ell. Tis is no diferent from an incompetent physician .ho
.ishes to help sentient beings, but, because his kno.ledge is not yet
up to par, harms many patients instead.
Tus, translating sutras and lecuring on the Jharma do not
necessarily bring merits nor constitute propagation of the Jharma,
if the author goes astray and misses the intent of the sutras.
Ouvs+:oN .
You havc said, Mastcr, that purc and impurc arc intcr
pcnctrating, that cach spcck ol dust is a Land ol Ultimatc
8liss. Vhy is it, thcn, that thc Saha Vorld has bccomc an
impurc world:
·: ·.
!t is duc to thc karma ol scnticnt bcings, which has changcd
a purc placc into an impurc onc. !n thc cycs ol thc 8uddha,
howcvcr, all impuritics arc purc. !n any cvcnt, how can
Sakyamuni 8uddha’s Land ol Truc Rcward bc rcally
Ouvs+:oN 6
! now bclicvc in thc lolty and sublimc principlc ol MindÒnly
— allcncompassing and pcrlcctly unimpcdcd. Howcvcr, how
can pcoplc who arc still sunk in dcludcd passion and not yct
divorccd lrom cvil karma bccomc purc:
!l thc Mind is pollutcd, thc rcalm is pollutcd, il thc Mind is
purc, thc rcalm is purc. Tc Pimalakirti Sutra statcs:
“To bc rcborn in thc Purc Land, you should nrst purily your
Mind, whcn thc Mind is purc, thc 8uddha lands will bc purc
as wcll.”
Tc Purc Land Ðharma Ðoor is a wondcrlul mcthod lor
achicving purity ol Mind. Tcrc is no bcttcr cxpcdicnt!
·: ·.
Ouvs+:oN y
Could ! plcasc hcar your cxplanation ol thc gcncral points ol thc
Purc Land mcthod:
Fundamcntally, thc Purc Land mcthod docs not rcquirc any
cultivation. !t is only bccausc ol dclusion that cultivation bccomcs
ncccssary. Morcovcr, Ðharma mcthods arc not, in thcmsclvcs,
high or low. !t is only bccausc ol thc dißcring naturcs and
capacitics ol individuals that thcy havc bccn catcgorizcd as such.
Scnticnt bcings arc at dißcrcnt lcvcls ol spiritual dcvclopmcnt,
and thcrclorc, various mcthods arc rcquircd. Tcrc arc, in
summary, thrcc basic approachcs: s) \isualization (Rcal Mark
8uddha Rccitation), :) Rccitation/Rccollcction and .) Sundry
!. Fivs) Mv)nob
Tc nrst, or \isualization Mcthod, is cxplaincd as lollows in thc
´editation 'utra:
“¡vcry 8uddha,… Tathagata, is Ònc who is a… |Ðharma Rcalm
8ody| and cntcrs into thc Minds ol all bcings. For this rcason
whcn you pcrccivc thc 8uddhastatc in your Minds, this indccd
is thc Mind which posscsscs thc thirtytwo signs ol pcrlcction
·¡ ·.
and thc cighty minor marks ol cxccllcncc. !t is thc Mind that
becomes 8uddha, indccd, it is thc Mind that is 8uddha. Tc
occan ol truc and univcrsal knowlcdgc ol all thc 8uddhas is
born ol Mind and thought. For this rcason… |you| ought to
apply… |your| Minds with onc thought to thc mcditation on
that 8uddha…” (Juddha-Jhasita :rnitâyur Jhyana-'utra
(´editation on Juddha :mitâyus) by Kalayasas. Ncw York:
Amcrican 8uddhist Acadcmy Prcss, p.:..)
According to thc T ’ ien T ’ ai Treatise,
“Tc passagc bcginning lrom ‘¡vcry 8uddha,… Tathagata’
rclcrs to all 8uddhas.
“Tc passagc bcginning with ‘you ought to apply your
Minds,’ ctc., rclcrs spccincally to mcditation on 8uddha
“Tc Ðharma Rcalm 8ody is thc Ðharma 8ody ol thc
Rcward 8uddha. !l thc Minds ol scnticnt bcings arc purc, thc
Ðharma 8ody rcvcals itscll. Tus, thc word cntcr is uscd. (Tis
is similar to thc brilliant sun, whcn it riscs, its imagc appcars
in a multitudc ol rivcrs.) Tis is to indicatc that thc 8uddha
8ody is lrcc and unimpcdcd and can manilcst itscll according
to thc objcc. Morcovcr, thc ‘Ðharma Rcalm 8ody’ rclcrs to
thc 8uddha 8ody, appcaring cvcrywhcrc, taking thc Ðharma
Rcalm as its naturc. Vhcn thc pracitioncr achicvcs this
8uddha \isualization Samadhi, his undcrstanding and acions
|noumcnon and phcnomcna| intcrpcnctratc and bccomc onc.
Tis is cxprcsscd in thc words ‘cntcrs into thc Minds ol all
·¡ ·.
“‘!t is thc Mind that becomes 8uddha’ mcans that thc
8uddha has always bccn inhcrcntly cmpty and void. 8ccausc
thc Minds ol scnticnt bcings arc purc, 8uddha cxists.
“‘!ndccd, it is thc Mind that is 8uddha,’ Sincc pcoplc might
misundcrstand what was said prcviously and think that thc
8uddha has spontancously comc into cxistcncc, thc words ‘is
8uddha’ arc uscd. Tc word ‘bccomcs’ indicatcs thc bcginning
ol visualization, whilc thc word ‘is’ mcans that visualization
has bccn accomplishcd.”
Anothcr commcntary statcs:
“To visualizc thc 8uddha’s body, you should clcarly undcrstand
thc naturc ol visualization. Tat naturc is scllcnlightcnmcnt.
\isualization mcthods arc dcvclopcd lrom thcrc. Scll
cnlightcnmcnt is thc Ðharma Rcalm 8ody ol thc 8uddhas
bccausc what thc 8uddhas havc complctcly attaincd is nothing
othcr than thc ScllNaturc ol scnticnt bcings.
“Ònly whcn thc ‘initial cnlightcnmcnt’ is mcritorious docs
‘scllcnlightcnmcnt’ appcar. Tis is thc mcaning ol thc words
‘thc Ðharma 8ody is born ol Mind and thought.’
“Morcovcr, 8uddha Amitabha and all 8uddhas posscss thc
samc Ðharma 8ody, thc samc wisdom and thc samc capacitics
and lunctions. Vhcn thc body ol Amitabha 8uddha is
manilcstcd, thc bodics ol all 8uddhas arc manilcstcd, whcn thc
bodics ol thc 8uddhas arc undcrstood, thc naturc ol Amitabha
8uddha is rcvcalcd. Tcrclorc, thc ´editation 'utra rclcrs
broadly to all 8uddhas in ordcr to cnd in thc visualization ol
Amitabha 8uddha.
·6 ··
“From thc words ‘Ðharma Rcalm 8ody’ on, thc Sutra
rclcrs to thc mutual rcsponsc bctwccn thc 8uddhas and thc
practitioncr and thc ‘intcrpcnctration’ bctwccn undcrstanding
and action |thcory and practicc|.”
Commcnting on thcsc two cxplanations, an ¡ldcr Mastcr has
“Vithout thc nrst cxplanation, thc abovc visualization would
not bc a mcditation on thc 8uddha. Vithout thc sccond
cxplanation, thc practitioncr could misundcrstand and think
that thc naturc ol scnticnt bcings is dißcrcnt lrom that ol
thc 8uddhas. Tc two cxplanations arc complcmcntary in
clucidating thc \isualization mcthod.”
!!. Svcoxb Mv)nob
Vith thc sccond, or Rccitation/Rccollcction mcthod, thc
cultivator cithcr “rccollccts” thc auspicious lcaturcs ol Amitabha
8uddha or rccitcs His namc. Tis mcthod has both a noumcnal
and a phcnomcnal aspcct. !n thc Avatamsaka Sutra, thc ¡ldcr
Mukata (“Libcration”) said:
“!l ! wish to scc Amitabha Tus Comc Ònc in thc Vorld ol
Happincss, thcn as soon as ! lormulatc thc intcntion ! scc
Him… |! can clcarly scc all thc various 8uddhas, thcir lands
and rctinucs as wcll as thcir spiritual powcrs.| And yct, thcsc
Tus Comc Òncs do not comc hcrc, nor do ! go to thcm. |Tis
·6 ··
is so bccausc| ! know that all 8uddhas and my own Mind
arc complctcly likc a drcam. ! know that all 8uddhas arc likc
an imagc or rcßcction |in thc watcr|… ! know that all thc
physical charactcristics ol all 8uddhas togcthcr with my own
Mind, arc both likc an illusion.. an ccho. ! rcalizc this as such
and rccollcct and considcr this as such — that all 8uddhas !
scc arisc lrom my own Mind.” |8ccausc ! clcarly undcrstand
my Mind as such, ! can at will scc thc 8uddhas.| (Tlo.er
:dornment 'utra, tr. by Tripitaka Mastcr Hsuan Hua. Ch. .o,
Part !!, p.sc¡sc6.)
An ¡ldcr Mastcr commcntcd on thc abovc quotc as lollows:
“From thc nrst scntcncc to thc words ‘Nor do ! go to thcm’ |thc
8uddhas|, thc Sutra clucidatcs thc truth ol MindÒnly. !l thc
practitioncr is cnlightcncd to thc truth ol ‘Mind but not Mind,’
hc immcdiatcly cntcrs thc Truc Tusncss Samadhi. Vhcn thc
practitioncr truly undcrstands that all rcalms and marks arc
illusory, crcatcd lrom thc Mind, and awakcns to thc truth ol
‘MindÒnly and Mind is 8uddha,’ thcn, dcpcnding on thc
objcct ol his thoughts and rccollcction, thcrc is nothing which
is not 8uddha.
“Tc sccond part ol thc quotc rclcrs to lour cxamplcs: (s) ‘likc
a drcam’ stands lor thc truth ol ‘ncithcr coming nor going,’
(:) ‘likc a rcßcction in thc watcr’ rcprcscnts thc truth ol ‘ncithcr
lcaving nor cntcring,’ (.) ‘likc an illusion’ stands lor thc truth
ol ‘ncithcr cxisting nor noncxisting,’ (¡) ‘likc an ccho’ mcans
‘ncithcr disintcgrating nor amalgamating.’
·· ·o
“Tc nrst cxamplc indicatcs that cvcrything is ‘´ind-Only,’
thc sccond cxamplc shows that, bccausc it is MindÒnly: it is
empty, thc third cxamplc indicatcs that, bccausc it is MindÒnly,
it is false, thc lourth cxamplc shows that, bccausc it is Mind
Ònly, it is thc ´iddle 7ay. Tcsc lour cxamplcs cncompass
thc Four Mcditations and includc thc ‘gcncral’ and thc ‘spccinc,’
thus rcvcaling thc truth ol MindÒnly — cvcrything has
always bccn pcrlcct and unobstructcd. Tis is thc tcaching ol
thc :.atamsaka 'utra.”
Noumcnon or absolutc lcvcl:
!l thc practitioncr clcarly undcrstands this truth and conccntratcs
upon thc 8uddha’s namc, lrcc ol (s) thc Mind ol cxistcncc and
noncxistcncc, (:) thc Mind ol simultancous cxistcncc and non
cxistcncc, (.) thc Mind ol simultancous noncxistcncc and non
noncxistcncc, whilc (¡) scvcring all past, prcscnt and luturc
— this is callcd “noumcnonrccitation.” !l thc practitioncr can
rccitc singlemindedly in this way throughout thc six pcriods ol
thc day and night (i.c., all thc timc), without intcrruption and
without dcvcloping a singlc thought, hc nccd not pass through
any stagc ol cultivation but can cntcr dircctly into thc rcalm
ol thc 8uddhas. Tis is also callcd “oncpointcdncss ol Mind
(noumcnon lcvcl).”
Phcnomcnon or matcrial lcvcl:
Tc 'urangama 'utra statcs:
·· ·o
“Morcovcr, whocvcr rccitcs thc namc ol Amitabha 8uddha,
whcthcr in thc prcscnt timc, or in luturc timc, will surcly scc
thc 8uddha Amitabha and ncvcr bccomc scparatcd lrom him.
8y rcason ol that association, just as onc associating with thc
makcr ol pcrlumcs bccomcs pcrmcatcd with thc samc pcrlumcs,
so hc .ill bccomc pcrlumcd by Amitabha’s compassion, and
will bccomc cnlightcncd without any othcr cxpcdicnt mcans.”
(Ðwight Goddard, : Juddhist Jible. 8oston, MA: 8cacon
Prcss, so·c, p.:¡..)
Anothcr sutra tcachcs that:
“Vhcthcr hc locusscs on thc 8uddha constantly throughout his
lilc, or rccitcs assiduously lor thrcc months, or lortyninc days,
or onc to scvcn days and nights, or rccitcs only tcn timcs cach
morning, as long as thc practitioncr holds thc 8uddha’s namc
with dccp laith and lcrvcnt vows, in a dragon cncountcring
watcr or a tigcr hiddcn dccp in thc mountains, hc will bc assist
cd by thc 8uddha’s powcr and achicvc rcbirth in thc Purc Land.”
|A dragon outsidc thc occan or a tigcr without thc protcction ol
thc lorcst has but onc thought in mind: to rcturn to its cnviron
mcnt…. Rccitation rcquircs thc samc singlcmindcd intcnsity.|
According to thc ´editation 'utra, cvcn an ordinary bcing,
guilty ol thc nvc gravc oßcnscs and thc tcn cvil dccds, will bc
rcborn il, at thc timc ol dcath, hc rccitcs thc 8uddha’s namc
but tcn timcs with utmost sinccrity. Tis is “oncpointcdncss ol
Mind (phcnomcnon lcvcl).”
·c ·s
!n summary, “oncpointcdncss ol Mind (noumcnon lcvcl)”
rclcrs to thc practitioncr who thoroughly undcrstands thc lour
mcditation truths discusscd abovc and rccitcs thc 8uddha’s
namc with such a Mind. !t is cquivalcnt to thc rcalm ol ¡mpty
Visdom (Visdom ol ¡mptincss) and lcads to thc rcalm ol Purc
“Òncpointcdncss ol Mind (phcnomcnon lcvcl),” on thc othcr
hand, rclcrs to thc practitioncr whosc Mind is still attachcd
to rccitation, onc rccitation lollowing anothcr without pausc,
lcading to thc statc ol cxtinction ol all sundry thought.
Òncpointcdncss ol Mind (noumcnon lcvcl) is thc practicc
ol thosc ol thc highcst capacitics, oncpointcdncss ol Mind
(phcnomcnon lcvcl) cmbraccs thosc ol modcratc and low
!!!. Tnivb Mv)nob
Tc third mcthod is callcd “Sundry Practiccs,” as thc cultivator
cngagcs in many practiccs sccking rcbirth in thc Purc Land.
A) Tus, in thc :.atamsaka 'utra, thc 8odhisattva Samanta
bhadra adviscs and urgcs thc youth Sudhana (“Good Vcalth”)
and thc ÒccanVidc Grcat Asscmbly to scck rcbirth through
thc Tcn Grcat \ows.
Tcsc Tcn Grcat \ows arc:
“First, worship and rcspcct all 8uddhas.
Sccond, praisc thc Tus Comc Òncs.
·c ·s
Tird, makc abundant oßcrings.
Fourth, rcpcnt misdccds and hindranccs.
Filth, rcjoicc at othcrs’ mcrits and virtucs.
Sixth, rcqucst thc 8uddha to turn thc Ðharma whccl.
Scvcnth, rcqucst thc 8uddha to rcmain in thc world.
¡ighth, lollow thc tcachings ol thc 8uddha at all timcs.
Ninth, accommodatc and bcncnt all scnticnt bcings.
Tcnth, translcr mcrits and virtucs univcrsally.”
¡ach \ow contains thc clausc:
“Vhcn thc rcalm ol cmpty spacc is cxhaustcd, my |\ows|
will bc cxhaustcd. 8ut bccausc thc rcalm ol cmpty spacc is
incxhaustiblc, my |\ows| will ncvcr cnd. !n thc samc way, whcn
thc rcalms ol living bcings, thc karma ol living bcings, and thc
amictions ol living bcings arc cxhaustcd, my |\ows| will bc
cxhaustcd. 8ut thc rcalms ol living bcings, thc karma ol living
bcings, and thc amictions ol living bcings arc incxhaustiblc.
Tcrclorc my |\ows| arc incxhaustiblc. Tcy continuc in
thought altcr thought without ccasc. My body, mouth and
mind ncvcr tirc ol doing thcsc dccds.” (Mastcr Hsuan Hua, tr.
Tlo.er :dornment 'utra, Ch. ¡c, p.¡·.)
Tc practitioncr should cultivatc thcsc Tcn Grcat \ows with
body, mouth and Mind, and without intcrruption or lcthargy.
At thc timc ol dcath, whcn all lamily and posscssions arc lclt
bchind and all lacultics disintcgratc, only thcsc Grcat \ows will
lollow closc bchind, and in an instant, thc practitioncr will bc
rcborn in thc Purc Land.
·: ·.
Tis constitutcs sccking rcbirth through thc powcr ol vows.
8) Morcovcr, in thc ´aharatnakuta 'utra, 8uddha
Sakyamuni told thc 8odhisattva Maitrcya:
“Tcsc Tcn Minds cannot bc dcvclopcd by ordinary pcoplc, nor
thosc who lack virtuc and arc bcsct by amictions. Vhat arc
thcsc Tcn Minds: Tcy arc… to dcvclop grcat loving kindncss
toward scnticnt bcings…, to dcvclop grcat compassion…, to
protcct thc truc Ðharma ol thc 8uddha without rcgard lor onc’s
lilc, to dcvclop Suprcmc Tolcrancc ol thc Corrcct Ðharma,
without clinging nor grasping, to bc still and pcacclul, without
sccking gain, support nor rcspcct, to scck thc 8uddha’s wisdom
at all timcs…, to bc rcspcctlul and rcvcrcntial toward all bcings
at all timcs…, to avoid indulging in mundanc discussions…,
to plant all good roots…, to givc up attachmcnt to thc marks
ol thc 8uddhas, whilc always kccping thc 8uddhas in mind.”
(Altcr translation by Saddhaloka 8hikku.)
“Tcsc arc thc Tcn Minds ol thc 8odhisattvas, which
cnablc thcm to achicvc rcbirth. For somconc to attain onc ol
thcsc tcn lramcs ol Mind whilc sccking rcbirth in thc Purc
Land and yct lail to bc rcborn is simply impossiblc.”
Tis sutra passagc rclcrs to achicving rcbirth through Mind
C) Morcovcr, in thc 'utra of the (eart of Great (ompassion
´antra, thc 8odhisattva Avalokitcsvara (Kuan Yin) said to thc
·: ·.
“Grcat Honorcd Tcachcr! !l any scnticnt bcing should assiduously
rccitc thc Grcat Compassion Mantra and still dcsccnd upon
thc Trcc ¡vil Paths, ! vow not to attain 8uddhahood. !l any
practitioncr should assiduously rccitc thc Grcat Compassion
Mantra and lail to bc rcborn in thc lands ol thc 8uddhas, !
vow not to attain 8uddhahood. !l any practitioncr should
assiduously rccitc thc Grcat Compassion Mantra and not
achicvc innumcrablc samadhis and grcat cloqucncc, ! vow
not to attain 8uddhahood. !l anyonc should rccitc thc Grcat
Compassion Mantra and not havc all thc wishcs and hopcs
ol his prcscnt lilc lulnllcd, this dharani cannot bc callcd thc
Grcat Compassion Mantra! Tc only cxccptions arc wishcs
which arc unwholcsomc and thosc madc whcn thc Mind is not
uttcrly sinccrc.”
Morcovcr, practitioncrs who assiduously rccitc such dharani
as thc TousandArmcd Avalokitcsvara Mantra, thc Rcbirth
Mantra,… ctc. with utmost sinccrity, can all bc rcborn in thc
Vcstcrn Purc Land or othcr purc lands. Tis is achicvcmcnt ol
rcbirth through spiritual powcr.
Ð) Morcovcr, as statcd in thc ´editation 'utra:
“Tosc who wish to bc born in that land |ol Ultimatc 8liss| must
cultivatc thc thrcclold goodncss. Tirstly, thcy should bc nlial
toward thcir parcnts and support thcm, scrvc and rcspcct thcir
tcachcrs and cldcrs, bc ol compassionatc hcart and abstain lrom
·¡ ·.
doing harm, and cultivatc thc tcn virtuous actions. 'econdly,
thcy should acccpt and hold on to thcir rclugc in thc Trcc
]cwcls, pcrlcctly obscrvc all moral prcccpts and not lowcr thcir
dignity nor ncglcct ccrcmonial obscrvanccs. Tirdly, thcy should
awakcn in thcir Minds a longing lor 8odhi, dccply bclicvc in
thc principlc ol causc and cßcct, pcrusc and rccitc Mahayana
sutras and pcrsuadc and cncouragc othcr practitioncrs. Tcsc
thrcc groups ol practiccs arc callcd purc actions… and thcy arc
thc cmcicnt causcs lor thc purc actions ol all thc 8uddhas ol
thc thrcc worlds, past prcscnt and luturc.” (Kalayasas, Op. cit.,
Tis is in rclcrcncc to achicving rcbirth through thc powcr ol
accumulatcd mcrits.
Furthcrmorc, thosc who pcrlorm good dccds, carrying thcm
out to pcrlcction and translcrring thc mcrits with a Mind ol laith
and vows, can all achicvc rcbirth as wcll.
Tcsc mcritorious
acts includc crccting tcmplcs, stupas and statucs ol thc 8uddhas,
worshipping thc 8uddhas, rcciting sutras, adhcring to thc
prcccpts, burning inccnsc, oßcring ßowcrs, donating pcnnants
and othcr dccorations to 8uddhist tcmplcs, making oßcrings ol
lood to thc clcrgy, practicing charity, ctc.).
Tis is a gcncral outlinc ol thc Purc Land mcthod. Sincc
practitioncrs dißcr in thcir vows and practiccs, and noumcnon
also dißcrs lrom phcnomcna, thcrc arc bound to bc dißcrcnccs
in thcir pcrccption ol thc 8uddha and undcrstanding ol thc
Ðharma. Tcir rcsulting physical attributcs and cnvironmcnt
arc also dißcrcnt. |Scc Glossary lor “noumcnon.”|
·¡ ·.
:dditiona/ (omments by 9harma ´aster Ti


n Tâm
To achie.e rebirth in the (ure Iand, the pracitioner need not limit
himself to Juddha (ecitation or .isualization, but may engage, inter
alia, in any one of the follo.ing pracices:
a) (o.er of .o.s, such as the Ten Great .o.s of the Jodhisatt.a
'amantabhadra (Avatamsaka Sutra),
b) ´ind-(o.er, such as the Ten ´inds of the Jodhisatt.a
(Maharatnakuta Sutra),
c) 'piritual .po.er, such as reciting the Great (ompassion ´antra,
the (ebirth ´antra, the Tousand :rmed :.alokites.ara
Jharani, etc.
d) (o.er of accumulated merits (such as pracicing the Ten .irtues,
reciting sutras, building temples, erecing statues…). Cavcat: all the
merits must be dedicated to rebirth in the (ure Iand.
´e.ertheless, the pracitioner must engage in these four methods to
the point of perfecion to obtain results. 'ince ordinary people cannot
easily extinguish hea.y karma and amicions or accomplish dimcult,
.holesome deeds, .e should rely on Juddha (ecitation, .ith its
emphasis on other po.er, the po.er of the Juddha. Tor this reason,
8lder ´aster 1in Kuang has said that “.eak and limited sentient
·6 ··
beings .ho achie.e rebirth o.e it entirely to the compassionate po.er
of the Tathagata.” Tus, those .ho engage in Juddha (ecitation
today should adopt the (olding the ´ame method as their main
pracice. Other pracices such as sutra recitation, chanting of mantras,
charity and other good deeds should be considered auxiliary. Tis is
the only safe course.
Te nrst of the three methods explained earlier by 8lder ´aster
T ’ ien (u is (eal ´ark Juddha (ecitation — .hich is dimcult
for those of moderate and lo. capacities to follo.. Te third method,
using the po.er of .o.s, the ´ind, mantras or accumulated merits,
holds little hope for ordinary people beset by karmic conditions. It
should only be employed as a subsidiary means. Only the second
method, Juddha (ecitation at the phenomenal le.el |(olding the
´ame|, can be praciced successfully by e.eryone.
(o.e.er, as sentient beings difer in their temperaments and
capacities, ´aster T ’ ien (u had to discuss many diferent methods,
from .hich people could choose. ´y o.n comments, on the other
hand, are based on the capacities of today’ s ordinary pracitioners.
Ouvs+:oN 8
! undcrstand that Sudhana is a 8odhisattva ol high capacity who
attaincd pcrlcct, suddcn cnlightcnmcnt in onc lilctimc. Vhy is
it that thc 8odhisattva Samantabhadra did not urgc him to scck
rcbirth in thc Flowcr Storc Vorld
rathcr than thc Vcstcrn
Purc Land:
·6 ··
Tat qucstion was raiscd in thc :+atamsaka Treatise, which
oßcrs thc lollowing answcr:
“Samantabhadra’s advicc dcrivcs lrom various rcasons, somc ol
thcm not rcadily apparcnt: s) bccausc ol causcs and conditions,
:) in ordcr to locus Mind and thought, .) bccausc |rcbirth in
thc Purc Land| docs not mcan lcaving thc Flowcr Storc Vorld,
¡) bccausc Amitabha is Sudhana’s original tcachcr.”
Tc nrst two rcasons arc casy to undcrstand and rcquirc no
Tc third rcason is that thc 8uddha lands within thc Flowcr
Storc Vorld arc as numcrous as motcs ol dust, thc Vcstcrn Purc
Land, tcn billion 8uddha lands away lrom hcrc, is but onc ol
thcsc countlcss lands.
Vith rcspcct to thc lourth rcason, it is taught in onc ol thc
“\airocana Tathagata is thc tcachcr ol thc Flowcr Storc
Vorld, Sincc 8uddha Amitabha is thc translormation body ol
\airocana 8uddha, Hc is no dißcrcnt lrom \airocana 8uddha
— thcrclorc, it is said that |Amitabha 8uddha is Sudhana’s|
original tcachcr.”
!t is also statcd in thc samc sutra:
“Tc 8odhisattva Samantabhadra, in conclusion, cxhortcd
Sudhana and thc ÒccanVidc Asscmbly to scck rcbirth
·· ·o
in thc Vcstcrn Purc Land bccausc Sudhana bclicvcd in
and undcrstood thc pcrlcct Ðharma Ðoor, had pcnctratcd
thc wisdom ol Manjusri and practiccd thc dccds ol
Samantabhadra, and his blcssings and wisdom, as wcll as his
undcrstanding ol noumcnon and phcnomcna, wcrc consonant
with thc Ðharma Rcalm. Although hc was a sagc with a grcat
Mind who had bccomc cnlightcncd to thc naturc ol original
wisdom and rcachcd thc lcvcl ol thc saints, his powcrs and
capacitics wcrc not yct pcrlcctcd. Tcrclorc, hc could not yct
cntcr this cvil world and bcncnt all scnticnt bcings, as thc
8uddhas could.
“For this rcason, thc 8odhisattva Samantabhadra cxhortcd
him, along with thc ÒccanVidc Asscmbly, to rcly on thc Purc
Land and draw closc to 8uddha Amitabha, so as to achicvc
8uddhahood swiltly.”
Ouvs+:oN o
!n discussing Sundry Practiccs abovc |Òucstion ·|, you said
that sincc practitioncrs dißcr in thcir vows and practiccs, and
noumcnon is also dißcrcnt lrom phcnomcna, cultivators dißcr
in thcir pcrccption ol thc 8uddha and undcrstanding ol thc
Ðharma. Tcir rcsulting physical attributcs and cnvironmcnt
must also dißcr. Tus thc prcmiscs ol thc two othcr mcthods
ol Purc Land cultivation (\isualization and Rccitation) bcing
dißcrcnt, arc thcrc not dißcrcnccs in thc rcsults achicvcd:
·· ·o
Naturally, thc rcsults achicvcd must dißcr. Tcrclorc, ¡ldcr
Mastcr Yung Ming has said:
“Rcbirth occurs within ninc gradcs, which arc not at thc samc
lcvcl. Somc cultivators, rclying on thc translormation rcalms,
scc thc translormation (manilcstcd) body ol thc 8uddha.
Òthcrs arc rcborn in thc Land ol Truc Rcward and scc thc
truc naturc ol thc Tathagata |scc Òucstion ¡|. Still othcrs
must cultivatc thc Ðharma lor many æons to attain thc lruits
ol thc two vchiclcs |Arhats and Pratycka 8uddhas|. Òthcrs
again, barcly a night altcr achicving rcbirth, attain thc highcst
8odhisattva “grounds.”
“!n conclusion, sincc thosc who arc rcborn arc not cqual in
lacultics and practiccs, somc having dull lacultics and othcrs
kccn lacultics, somc having achicvcd samadhi and othcrs not,
thc lotus blossoms will opcn at dißcrcnt timcs and thc rcsults
will bc achicvcd at dißcrcnt ratcs, taking grcatly varying
lcngths ol timc.”
Anothcr ¡ldcr Mastcr has said:
“Although rcbirth is dividcd into ninc gradcs, this is only a
gcncralization. !l wc go into dctail, thcrc arc innumcrablc
gradcs and lcvcls.”
oc os
Ouvs+:oN ro
Tc Vcstcrn Purc Land is only a “Common Land ol bcings and
saints,” not a “Land ol Truc Rcward.” Vhy was it said in thc
prcvious qucstion that somc scnticnt bcings arc born in thc Land
ol Truc Rcward and scc thc Truc Naturc ol thc Tathagata:
Ðo not think that thcrc is a Land ol Truc Rcward, which cxists
scparatcly, outsidc thc Land ol Common Rcsidcncc! |Scc middlc
ol Òucstion ¡.| You should know that thc thrcc othcr Lands
|Lands ol ¡xpcdicncy, Truc Rcward, ¡tcrnally Tranquil Light|
cannot cxist scparatc and apart lrom thc Land ol Common
Rcsidcncc — thc dißcrcncc lics only in thc physical attributcs
(bodics), thc cnvironmcnt and thc “quality ol lilc.” As it is said
in thc sutras, “Amitabha’s body is immcnscly tall.” Tc ancicnts
havc commcntcd that this rclcrs to thc Rcward 8ody.
Not only docs thc Vcstcrn Purc Land cncompass lour
uncqual “Lands,” thc samc is truc ol othcr rcalms. Tcrclorc, an
Ancicnt Mastcr has said:
“Tis vcry Saha Vorld contains all lour Lands in thcir
cntircty. Tus, during thc 8uddha’s lilctimc, thc ÒccanVidc
Avatamsaka Asscmbly did not “lcavc” thc ]cta Grovc in !ndia,
yct grcat Arhats did not hcar, scc or know about it.”
oc os
Ouvs+:oN rr
!l thc Saha Vorld contains all lour Lands in thcir cntircty, wc
should just rcmain hcrc, cngaging in stcpbystcp cultivation.
Vhcrc is thc nccd to scck rcbirth:
Although this world cncompasscs all lour Lands in thcir cntircty,
it bclongs to thc Common Rcsidcncc Jenled Land. Tcrclorc,
practitioncrs havc dimculty cxtinguishing dcnlcd karma. To
cscapc such dcnlcd karma, thc practitioncr should scck rcbirth
in thc Common Rcsidcncc (ure Land ol thc Vcst. Tus, an
¡ldcr Mastcr has said:
“Tc cnvironmcnt and conditions ol thc Saha Vorld arc
proloundly impurc and cvil, thc practitioncr should achicvc at
cast thc lcvcl ol thc Tcn Faiths to cscapc rcvolving in sußcring.
Tc cnvironmcnt and conditions ol thc Land ol Ultimatc 8liss
arc uttcrly wondcrlul. Tcrclorc, all who arc rcborn within thc
ninc gradcs achicvc nonrctrogrcssion. Ðid you not rcad in
thc Iotus 'utra that somc who rcccivcd instruction lrom thc
8uddha Grcat Pcrvading Surpassing Visdom countlcss æons
ago — as numcrous as motcs ol dust in countlcss 8uddha lands
— arc still at thc stagc ol Arhatship today: Tis is bccausc thcy
kccp rctrogrcssing.
o: o.
“For cxamplc, cvcn thc ¡ldcr Sariputra, who in onc ol his
prcvious lilctimcs had attaincd thc Sixth Abodc (Ðwclling),
still cxpcricnccd rctrogrcssion, not to mcntion thosc whosc
cultivation is pcrlunctory! Gcncrally spcaking, thcrc arc many
obstructing conditions in this world, so that cultivators casily
Tcrclorc, thc ancicnts havc said,
“8odhisattvas who havc ncwly dcvclopcd thc 8odhi Mind arc
as numcrous as ßowcrs on a mango trcc or nsh cggs, but, in thc
cnd, thosc who pcrscvcrc arc lcw and lar bctwccn.”
Anyonc who scts his Mind on thc Vcstcrn Purc Land, and rclics
on thc auspicious conditions ol that Land, can rcach thc stagc ol
nonrctrogrcssion immcdiatcly upon rcbirth. Tis includcs cvcn
common bcings ol low capacity.
Practitioncrs should carclully
pondcr this csscntial rcason lor sccking rcbirth.
Ouvs+:oN ra
Tcrc arc many Common Rcsidcncc (ure Lands in thc tcn
dircctions. Vhy is it that 8uddha Sakyamuni spccincally
dircctcd pcoplc to thc Vcstcrn Purc Land and cxtollcd thc
suprcmcly wondcrlul conditions and cnvironmcnt ol that Land
o: o.
Tc :mitabha 'utra statcs,
“Scnticnt bcings in that Land cxpcricncc no sußcring but only
know cvcry kind ol joy, thcrclorc, it is callcd Ultimatc 8liss.”
Tc cnvironmcnt and conditions ol thc Vcstcrn Purc Land
arc most cxaltcd. Tat rcalm providcs scnticnt bcings with
many morc advantagcous circumstanccs than othcr purc
lands, which ordinary bcings in thc Triplc Vorld cannot lully
undcrstand… ¡vcn on a gcncral lcvcl, thc gap bctwccn thc
auspicious cnvironmcnt and conditions ol thc Purc Land and
thc lowly cnvironmcnt and conditions ol thc Saha Vorld is
widc and prolound. !l wc wcrc to dclvc into thcm in dctail, such
dißcrcnccs arc so grcat that thcy cannot bc lully dcscribcd!
Howcvcr, in gcncral, thosc dißcrcnccs can bc summarizcd as
two lactors:
s. Tc cnvironmcnt ol thc Vcstcrn Purc Land is cxaltcd, and
can awakcn thc ycarning and scrvc as a locus lor scnticnt
bcings to achicvc rcbirth.
:. Tc conditions ol thc Vcstcrn Purc Land arc unlathomablc
and wondcrlul and can hclp thosc who arc rcborn to progrcss
casily and swiltly along thc path ol cnlightcnmcnt.
o¡ o.
For thcsc rcasons, although thcrc arc many Common Rcsidcncc
Purc Lands in thc tcn dircctions, only thc Vcstcrn Purc Land
posscsscs all auspicious conditions in lull. Tis is why sutras and
commcntarics point toward rcbirth in thc Vcstcrn Land.
Ouvs+:oN r,
Tcrc arc countlcss 8uddhas in thc tcn dircctions. All right
mindcd scnticnt bcings can approach and study with thcm. Vhy
has Amitabha 8uddha bccn singlcd out among all 8uddhas:
Tcrc arc thrcc rcasons:
s. 8ccausc Amitabha 8uddha has madc lortycight prolound,
allcncompassing vows,
:. 8ccausc scnticnt bcings in this world havc grcat amnitics
|causcs and conditions| with Him,
.. 8ccausc thc tcachings ol 8uddha Sakyamuni in thc Saha
Vorld and 8uddha Amitabha in thc Vcst arc intcrrclatcd.
s) Conccrning thc nrst rcason, thc Ionger:mitabha 'utra
statcs that in thc causal stagc (prcvious lilctimcs), Amitabha
8uddha madc many lolty, allcncompassing vows. Tc gcncral
o¡ o.
tcnor ol thcsc vows is bcst cxcmplincd in thc cightccnth and
clcvcnth vows:
|¡ightccnth \ow| “!l, altcr my obtaining 8uddhahood, all
bcings m thc tcn quartcrs should dcsirc in sinccrity and
trustlulncss to bc born in my country, and il thcy should not
bc born by only thinking ol mc tcn timcs…, may ! not attain
thc highcst cnlightcnmcnt.” (]oji Òkazaki, (ure Iand Juddhist
(ainting, tr. by ¡lizabcth tcn Grotcnhuis. Tokyo: Kodansha,
so··, p.s..)
|¡lcvcnth \ow| “! shall not attain suprcmc cnlightcnmcnt
il any scnticnt bcing in my land |would still bc subjcct to
rctrogrcssion and| not ccrtainly achicvc suprcmc cnlightcnmcnt
and rcalizc grcat nirvana.” (Garma C.C. Chang, : Treasury
of ´ahayana 'utras, Univcrsity Park, Pa: Pcnnsylvania Statc
Univcrsity Prcss, p..¡:.)
Tus, it is statcd in thc :.atamsaka Treatise:
“8uddha Amitabha has madc prolound and lolty vows — vowing
to wclcomc and guidc scnticnt bcings ol thc Saha Vorld.”
:) Vith rcgard to thc sccond rcason, whcn Sakyamuni
8uddha was still alivc, a grcat many scnticnt bcings, listcning
to His compassionatc tcaching, dircctcd thcir Minds toward
Amitabha 8uddha. Sincc Sakyamuni 8uddha cntcrcd Nirvana,
many pcrsons, whcthcr clcrgy or layman, man or woman, rich
or poor, uppcr or lowcr class, lamiliar with thc Ðharma or not,
o6 o·
havc rccitcd thc namc ol Amitabha 8uddha… !n thc Ionger
:mitabha 'utra, 8uddha Sakyamuni statcd:
“!n thc days to comc, thc paths ol thc sutras will comc to
cxtinction. !, with compassion and mcrcy, will purposcly makc
this sutra survivc lor a hundrcd ycars. Anybody who cncountcrs
this sutra will, according to his wish, surcly attain cnlightcnmcnt.”
|Òuotcd in 'hozomatsu 7ason: 'hinran’ s (ymns on the Iast :ge.
Kyoto: Ryukoku Univcrsity Prcss, p.xv.|
Tc Ionger:mitabha 'utra addcd lurthcr:
“Altcr this sutra is no longcr in cxistcncc, thc 8uddha Ðharma
will cntircly disappcar lrom thc world. Ònly thc words
‘Amitabha 8uddha’ will rcmain to rcscuc scnticnt bcings. Tosc
who disbclicvc this and vilily thc 8uddha’s words will sink into
thc hclls and cndurc all kinds ol sußcring.”
For this rcason, thc loundcr ol thc T’icn T’ai School, thc
Patriarch Chih !, has said,
“Vc should know that Amitabha 8uddha has grcat amnitics
(causcs and conditions) with this dcpravcd world”
.) Vith rcgard to thc third rcason, thc ancicnts havc said,
“Sakyamuni 8uddha manilcsts himscll in thc impurc world
and subdues scnticnt bcings through such conditions as nlth,
sußcring, impcrmancncc and obstaclcs, crcating in thcm a scnsc
o6 o·
ol abhorrcncc so that thcy will lollow thc right path. 8uddha
Amitabha, on thc othcr hand, manilcsts himscll in thc Purc
Land, gathers scnticnt bcings in through such conditions as
purity, happincss, pcrmancncc and nonrctrogrcssion, crcating
in thcm thc dcsirc to rcturn to thc sourcc ol truth. !n this way,
thc two 8uddhas cmploy thc dual mcthod ol subduing and
gathcring in to propagatc thc corrcct Ðharma. Tcir activitics
ol tcaching and translormation arc thus rclatcd.
“Morcovcr, whilc prcaching thc Trcc \chiclcs, 8uddha
Sakyamuni spccially addcd thc Purc Land mcthod, so that,
through thc hclp ol Amitabha 8uddha, thosc scnticnt bcings
who wcrc still lclt out could bc rcscucd. Tcrclorc, in Mahayana
sutras, 8uddha Sakyamuni compassionatcly rccommcndcd and
constantly cxtollcd rcbirth in thc Purc Land.”
!t is lor thcsc thrcc rcasons that 8uddha Amitabha has bccn
spccially singlcd out among thc 8uddhas ol thc tcn dircctions.
Ouvs+:oN r¡
! now undcrstand thc rcasons why thc Vcstcrn Purc Land and
Amitabha 8uddha havc bccn singlcd out, as wcll as thc conccpts
ol subduing and convcrting, rcvulsion and londncss. Howcvcr,
! vcnturc to think that thc Truc Mind has always bccn cqual,
clcar and cvcn. !l thcrc is still rcvulsion and londncss, thcn thcrc
is still lovc and hatc, grasping and rcjcction. Arc wc not still in
o· oo
You raisc this qucstion bccausc you still do not undcrstand thc
issuc in dcpth. Tis rcvulsion and londncss is not thc mundanc
Mind ol lovc and hatc, but is rathcr thc common mcthod
cmploycd by all thc 8uddhas ol thc tcn dircctions, to translorm
ordinary bcings into sagcs. !l thcrc is no rcvulsion and rcjcction,
how can common mortals bc translormcd: !l thcrc is no londncss
and grasping, how can sagchood bc attaincd:
Tcrclorc, in thc span ol cultivation lrom ordinary pcrson
to sagchood and lrom sagchood to “¡qual ¡nlightcnmcnt,”
cvcrything is within thc cyclc ol grasping and rcjcction,
rcvulsion and londncss. Ònly whcn thc practitioncr has attaincd
thc highcst lcvcl ol “Vondcrlul ¡nlightcnmcnt” will hc bc
lrcc ol such lcclings and cntcr thc statc ol “¡qual Tusncss”
For this rcason, thc ancicnts havc said:
“At thc bcginning, cultivators should havc lcclings ol grasping
and rcjcction, in ordcr to arrivc at thc point ol no grasping and
no rcjcction. Vhcn that grasping and rcjcction havc rcachcd
thc ultimatc stagc, thcy will bc lound to bc thc samc as non
grasping and nonrcjcction.”
Morcovcr, thc Purc Land mcthod was cxpcdicntly dcviscd
by 8uddha Sakyamuni and 8uddha Amitabha, with 8uddha
Sakyamuni cxhorting pcoplc to scck rcbirth and 8uddha
Amitabha playing thc rolc ol wclcoming and cscorting. !l thc
Purc Land cultivator docs not havc lcclings ol rcvulsion and
o· oo
rcjccion, how can hc lcavc thc Saha Vorld: !l hc docs not havc
lcclings ol londncss and sccking, how can hc bc rcborn in thc
Vcstcrn Purc Land: To achicvc rcbirth is nothing morc than
to rcly on thc auspicious cnvironmcnt ol that Land to achicvc
8uddhahood swiltly. Tcrclorc, such grasping and rcjccion,
rcvulsion and londncss arc ol grcat bcncnt, how can thcy possibly
bc considcrcd liabilitics: |Scc Notc .:.|
Ouvs+:oN r.
! agrcc that thc doctrinc ol grasping and rcjcction is corrcct and
darc not discuss it lurthcr. Howcvcr, ! vcnturc to think, is not
rcbirth in thc Purc Land contrary to thc Truth ol Non8irth:
¡ldcr Mastcr Chih ! has said:
“Tc wisc, whilc carncstly striving lor rcbirth in thc Purc Land,
also undcrstand that thc naturc ol rcbirth is intrinsically cmpty.
Tis is truc Non8irth, and also thc mcaning ol ‘only whcn thc
Mind is purc, will thc 8uddha lands bc purc.’
“Tc dull and ignorant, on thc othcr hand, arc caught up
in thc conccpt ol birth. Upon hcaring thc tcrm ‘8irth,’ thcy
undcrstand it as actual birth, hcaring ol ‘Non8irth,’ thcy
|cling to its litcral mcaning| and think that thcrc is no rcbirth
anywhcrc. Littlc do thcy rcalizc that ‘8irth is prcciscly Non
8irth, and Non8irth docs not hindcr 8irth.’”
scc scs
!t has also bccn said by a Zcn Mastcr:
“!l wc undcrstand 8irth as mcaning rcal birth, wc stray in
thc dircction ol ¡tcrnalism, il wc undcrstand Non8irth as
mcaning that thcrc is no actual birth, wc commit thc crror ol
Nihilism. 8irth and yct no 8irth, no 8irth and yct 8irth, is
truly thc ‘ultimatc mcaning.’”
Anothcr Zcn Mastcr has said:
“8irth is dcnnitcly birth, but rcturning |to thc Purc Land| is in
lact nonrcturning.”
Tc cxplanations ol thcsc thrcc Mastcrs arc vcry clcar. ! will
now givc a broadcr cxplanation, through thc two conccpts ol
“Naturc” and “Marks.”
From thc point ol vicw ol Naturc (noumcnon) thc Truc
Mind is wondcrlul and silcnt, its naturc is inhcrcntly unborn
(no 8irth). From thc point ol vicw ol Marks, whcncvcr thcrc
is a congrucncc ol causcs and conditions, thc various Marks ol
8irth and Ðcath lalscly appcar, as in a drcam, lrom thc Truc
Mind. 8ccausc Naturc is usually manilcstcd through Marks, it
is said that Non8irth is 8irth. Sincc Marks appcar as a rcsult
ol Naturc, it is said that 8irth is Non8irth. Vhcn wc truly
undcrstand this truth, rcbirth in thc Purc Land is rcbirth in thc
naturc (statc) ol MindÒnly, bctwccn 8irth and no 8irth, no
contradiction in mcaning cxists!
scc scs
Ouvs+:oN r6
Tc doctrinc ol rcbirth is now clcar to mc. Howcvcr, how many
ol today’s numcrous 8uddhist scholars thoroughly undcrstand
it: Tus, thcy all think that thc Vcstcrn Purc Land, tcn billion
8uddha lands away, is vcry distant. How can it cvcr bc rcachcd
at thc timc ol dcath: Ðo you, Mastcr, havc any way ol clarilying
this point:
Tat is a most loolish doubt! ! havc cxplaincd many timcs that
thcrc is no land outsidc thc Mind and thcrc is no Mind outsidc
thc lands. How is it that you still lail to undcrstand:
Howcvcr, this crror is undcrstandablc, it is duc to thc lact
that many pcoplc mistakcnly considcr thcir Minds to bc limitcd
within thc narrow connncs ol thcir physical bodics. Littlc do
thcy rcalizc that what thcy considcr as Mind is mcrcly dcludcd
consciousncss. !n rcality, thc Truc Mind ol cach pcrson is
allcncompassing, covcring worlds as numcrous as thc grains
ol sand in thc Rivcr Gangcs and nlling all thc cmpty spacc
in thc univcrsc. Tcrclorc, thc boundlcss cmpty spacc ol thc
tcn dircctions and thc untold numbcr ol lands and worlds,
as numcrous as grains ol sand in thc Rivcr Gangcs, arc all
cncompasscd and cntircly nllcd by thc Mind.
sc: sc.
Tus, thc tcn billion 8uddha lands arc squarcly within our
Mind, thcy arc, in rcality, not distant but vcry ncar! Likcwisc,
rcbirth at thc timc ol dcath is mcrcly rcbirth within our own
Mind. Tis is rcally vcry casy. Vhcrc is thc dimculty:
Tc Trcatisc Ten Joubts about (ure Iand |Òucstion o| statcs:
“Tc Vcstcrn Purc Land is dcscribcd as bcing tcn billion 8uddha
lands away lrom hcrc only with rcspcct to thc limitcd conccpts
ol ordinary pcoplc with cycs ol ßcsh and blood, mircd in 8irth
and Ðcath. For thosc who havc attaincd thc purc karma ol
rcbirth, thc Mind in samadhi at thc timc ol dcath is prcciscly
thc Mind rcborn in thc Purc Land… as soon as thc thought |ol
rcbirth| ariscs, rcbirth is achicvcd. Tus, thc ´editation 'utra
statcs that ‘thc Land ol Amitabha 8uddha is not lar lrom hcrc!’
Morcovcr, thc powcr ol karma is inconccivablc. !n thc spacc ol
onc thought, rcbirth in thc Purc Land is achicvcd. Tcrc is no
nccd to worry about distancc.
“Tis is analogous to a pcrson aslccp and drcaming.
Although his body is on thc bcd, his Mind can travcl to any
laraway placc as though hc wcrc awakc. Rcbirth in thc Purc
Land is, gcncrally spcaking, similar to this cxamplc…”
Somc sutra passagcs statc that rcbirth is achicvcd in a nngcr snap,
whilc othcrs indicatc that it occurs within thc timc it takcs to
contract and cxtcnd onc’s arm, or within an instant. Tcrclorc, it
is statcd in onc trcatisc that “in an instant, thc practitioncr spans
tcn billion 8uddha lands, bccausc thc ScllNaturc is inhcrcntly
sc: sc.
wondcrlul.” Tcsc cxamplcs dcmonstratc, in gcncral, that
bccausc thc practitioncr is rcborn within his broad and spacious
Truc Mind, such rcbirth is vcry casy and vcry ncar.
Now, lct us put asidc thc allcncompassing lcaturcs ol thc
Truc Mind. ! shall citc a simplc cxamplc bascd on your small,
narrow mind ol an ordinary bcing. Tc |sca| routc lrom China
to !ndia, lor instancc, passcs through many countrics and covcrs
thousands ol milcs. Supposc somconc who has ncvcr sct loot in
!ndia listcns to thc dctailcd account ol anothcr travcllcr, paying
particular attcntion and carclully mcmorizing cach and cvcry
lcaturc. Latcr on, as hc is lying down or sitting up, mcmorics
cross his Mind. Hc rccalls thc travcl accounts and bcgins to
rcmcmbcr which country is so many milcs lrom !ndia and which
othcr country is so many milcs away, and how !ndia is nnally
rcachcd. As hc docs so, hc immcdiatcly witncsscs sccncs lrom
cach stagc ol thc journcy, and cach timc his thoughts lingcr on a
particular stagc or country, it sccms as though hc has pcrsonally
rcachcd that land.
Rcbirth in thc Vcstcrn Purc land is no dißcrcnt lrom
this truth. !n thc span ol a nngcr snap or a singlc thought, thc
practitioncr has rcachcd it. Vhcrc is thc dimculty: To rcach
thc Land ol Ultimatc 8liss without practicing thc Purc Land
mcthod is, ol coursc, dimcult. Howcvcr, il your Purc Land
karma has rcachcd maturity, travclling to thc Purc land is vcry
casy. A rcsolutc Mind is all you nccd to lulnll your aspiration
lor rcbirth. Tc 8uddhas and sagcs ncvcr indulgc in mislcading
sc¡ sc.
Ouvs+:oN ry
! rcalizc that without practicing thc Purc Land mcthod, it is
dimcult to bc rcborn. Tis is a ccrtainty. Howcvcr, why is it that
dcpravcd and cvil common bcings can also achicvc rcbirth at
thc timc ol dcath: ! still do not undcrstand this point and havc
somc doubts. ! wish, Mastcr, that you would cnlightcn mc on
this issuc.
|Rcbirth ol dcpravcd, cvil bcings is taught in thc ´editation
According to thc Treatise on the ´editation 'utra, thc
rcbirth ol dcpravcd, cvil bcings is duc to thcir rccitation ol thc
8uddha’s namc with utmost sinccrity at thc timc ol dcath, as this
lcads to thc dissipation ol karmic obstructions. Tcrclorc, thc
Treatise suggcsts that 8uddha Rccitation is thc most important
condition lor rcbirth.
As lar as ! |Mastcr T’icn ]u| am conccrncd, having studicd thc
Purc Land sutras and commcntarics, thc conditions lor thc rcbirth
ol such cvil bcings may bc summarizcd undcr thrcc hcadings.
s) \cry strong Mindpowcr and uttcrly dctcrmincd will,
which allow thc practitioncr to ovcrcomc thc cvil karma ol an
cntirc lilctimc by rcciting thc 8uddha’s namc lor only a short
timc. Tis is callcd thc Grcat Mind. Tis situation can bc
sc¡ sc.
comparcd to. that ol a soldicr surroundcd by cncmics rcady to
harm him. !n such pcrilous circumstanccs, boldly risking his
lilc, hc mustcrs his utmost powcr and strcngth and thus brcaks
out ol cncirclcmcnt.
:) Prcvious or currcnt good karma. Although thc pcrson has
crcatcd cvil karma, hc has also practiccd samadhi during his
currcnt lilctimc. Tus, at thc timc ol dcath, whcn hc is rcmindcd
by othcrs, hc casily achicvcs conccntration. !l thc dying pcrson
has not cultivatcd samadhi in this lilctimc, hc must havc donc
so assiduously in a prcvious lilc. Tat good sccd has now comc
to maturity. Tcrclorc, thanks to his prcvious good karma, oncc
hc is counscllcd by a good spiritual advisor, hc casily achicvcs
rcbirth with just tcn thoughts ol Amitabha 8uddha at thc timc
ol dcath.
.) A Mind ol uttcrly sinccrc rcpcntancc. !l rcbirth is not duc
to cßorts at cultivation in this lilc nor good karma lrom prcvious
livcs, thc cultivator, at thc timc ol dcath, must havc rccitcd thc
8uddha’s namc with a Mind ol uttcrly sinccrc rcpcntancc. Tus,
¡ldcr Mastcr Yung Ming has said:
“Sincc thc naturc ol causcs and conditions is intrinsically cmpty,
good or bad karma is not nxcd. !n dctcrmining thc path ol
salvation or pcrdition, wc should considcr whcthcr thc statc ol
Mind is lowly or transccndcntal |at thc timc ol dcath Tis is
analagous to an ouncc ol purc gold which is worth much morc
than a hundrcd timcs its wcight in cotton wool, or a small,
isolatcd ßamc, which can rcducc a pilc ol straw, cnormous
bcyond rcckoning, to ashcs.”
sc6 sc·
!t is duc to i) onc ol thcsc thrcc causcs and conditions, in
addition to ii) thc virtucs ol Amitabha 8uddha’s namc and
iii) thc powcr ol His \ows, that cvcn thc dcpravcd and cvil can,
at thc timc ol dcath, ovcrcomc thc immcnsc wcight ol thcir
transgrcssions and bc rcborn in thc Vcstcrn Purc Land.
Ouvs+:oN r8
Living in thc cvil world ol thc nvc turbiditics, cach scnticnt
bcing must havc committcd transgrcssions. !l hc has not
committcd thc nvc gravc oßcnscs, hc must havc bccn cntanglcd
in othcr transgrcssions. Supposc a cultivator has not practiccd
rcpcntancc, or, dcspitc having rcpcntcd, has not yct wipcd out all
his bad karma. Undcr thcsc circumstanccs, il such a practitioncr
rccitcs thc 8uddha’s namc wholchcartcdly during thc coursc ol
his lilc and at thc timc ol dcath, can hc achicvc rcbirth:
All thosc who cultivatc in such a manncr can achicvc rcbirth,
thanks to thc powcr ol thc grcat, unlathomablc \ow ol Amitabha
8uddha. Tc sutra ¹uestions of King ´ilinda statcs:
“For cxamplc, il you placc a hugc block ol stonc on a boat,
bccausc ol thc ‘strcngth’ ol thc boat, thc stonc docs not sink
and can bc carricd to thc othcr shorc. Vithout thc boat, cvcn il
sc6 sc·
you placc but a singlc grain ol sand on thc surlacc ol thc watcr,
it will sink to thc bottom ol thc rivcr.”
Tc hugc block ol stonc stands lor thc practitioncr with hcavy
karma, whilc thc grain ol sand rcprcscnts thc practitioncr
with only light karma. Tc boat stands lor thc vowpowcr ol
thc 8uddha. Pcoplc who rcpcnt and wholchcartcdly rccitc thc
8uddha’s namc will bc wclcomcd and cscortcd back to thc Purc
Land, howcvcr hcavy thcir karma may bc. Tosc who havc light
karma but do not rccitc thc 8uddha’s namc will, according to
thcir karma, cndurc sußcring and rcvolvc in samsara at thc timc
ol dcath — likc thc grain ol sand which, unlikc thc block ol
stonc, sinks bccausc it is not carricd by boat.
Tis is prcciscly thc rationalc lor thc doctrinc ol “carrying
onc’s karma to thc Purc Land” |i.c., bcing rcborn in spitc ol
onc’s rcmaining bad karma|.
Tcrclorc, it is statcd in thc (ure Iand Ietters, in thc scction
rclcrring to thc lour Lands, that “thosc who arc nllcd with dcnlcd
karma can still bc rcborn in thc Common Rcsidcncc Purc Land.”
Takc thc casc ol thc thrcc notorious mcn mcntioncd in Purc
Land trcatiscs whosc prolcssion was thc slaughtcr ol livcstock.

All thrcc |saw an cvil omcn appcar| at thc timc ol dcath, but
thanks to thcir wholchcartcd rccitation ol thc 8uddha’s namc,
thcy all cscapcd thc karma ol hcll and achicvcd rcbirth.
Such occurrcnccs arc clcarly rccordcd in thc Jiographies of
(ure Iand 'ages and 'aints. Vhat arc thcy, il not cvidcncc ol
thc 8uddha’s powcr:
sc· sco
! shall citc anothcr cxamplc to clarily thc mattcr. Supposing
somconc has committcd an oßcnsc undcr local law and is subjcct
to imprisonmcnt. !l hc sccks thc hclp ol thc king, hc may obtain
dclcrral ol his scntcncc until such timc as hc can pcrlorm public
scrvicc instcad. 8ccausc ol thc intcrccssion ol thc king, thc
local magistratc cannot carry out thc scntcncc, and thus thc
culprit can procccd dircctly to thc capital without hindrancc.
Tcrclorc, it is statcd in a Purc Land trcatisc that:
“Scnticnt bcings arc rcborn in thc Purc Land bccausc ol thc
guidancc ol Sakyamuni 8uddha, thc wclcoming and cscorting
ol Amitabha 8uddha and thc support and protcction ol thc
8uddhas ol thc tcn dircctions. Tis is similar to a pcrson who
has thc opportunity to cross thc opcn scas in a largc, sturdy
boat, with an cxccllcnt, honcst guidc and lavorablc winds as
wcll. Tus, hc can swiltly rcach thc othcr shorc. !l hc is now
unwilling to stcp onto thc boat, rcmaining continuously adrilt
in this cvil world, hc has only himscll to blamc.”
Ouvs+:oN ro
You said carlicr that cvcn ordinary pcoplc may rcach thc stagc
ol nonrctrogrcssion. ! vcnturc to think that thc stagc ol non
rctrogrcssion is limitcd to thosc who havc no cvil karma. Can it
bc that thosc who carry thcir rcsidual karma to thc Purc Land
also achicvc nonrctrogrcssion:
sc· sco
Mcrcly achicving rcbirth in thc Purc Land is attaining thc stagc
ol nonrctrogrcssion. As statcd in thc sutras:
“Tosc who achicvc rcbirth all dwcll in corrcct samadhi.”
!t is also statcd in thc :mitabha 'utra:
“Scnticnt bcings who arc rcborn in thc Vcstcrn Purc Land arc
all at thc stagc ol nonrctrogcssion.”
Tc Treatise on the Ten Joubts |Òucstion 6| statcs that thcrc
arc nvc rcasons why thosc who arc rcborn achicvc non
“a) Tc powcr ol thc 8uddha’s grcat, compassionatc vow cmbraccs
and protccts thcm,
b) Tc 8uddha’s light |wisdom| always shincs upon thcm, and,
thcrclorc thc 8odhi Mind ol thcsc supcrior pcoplc will always
c) !n thc Vcstcrn Purc Land, thc birds, watcr, lorcsts, trccs, wind
and music all prcach thc Ðharma ol ‘sußcring, cmptincss,
impcrmancncc and noscll.’ Upon hcaring this, practitioncrs
bcgin to locus on thc 8uddha, thc Ðharma and thc Sangha,
ssc sss
d) Tosc who arc rcborn in thc Purc Land havc thc highcst
lcvcl 8odhisattvas as thcir companions and arc lrcc lrom all
obstaclcs, calamitics and cvil conditions. Morcovcr thcrc arc
no cxtcrnalists or cvil dcmons, so thcir Minds arc always calm
and still,
c) Òncc thcy arc rcborn in thc Purc Land, thcir lilc span is
incxhaustiblc, cqual to that ol thc 8uddhas and 8odhisattvas.
Tus, thcy can pcacclully cultivatc thc Ðharma lor countlcss
Tc ancicnts havc also said:
“Vithout a vow to bc rcborn |rcbirth cannot bc achicvcd|,
howcvcr, with a sinccrc vow, all achicvc rcbirth. Vithout
rcbirth in thc Purc Land |thc stagc ol nonrctrogrcssion
cannot casily bc rcachcd), howcvcr, with rcbirth, all achicvc
Ouvs+:oN ao
Tosc who commit cvil dccds throughout thcir livcs, not only
may takc thcir rcsidual karma to thc Purc Land, but may also
achicvc nonrctrogrcssion — solcly by rcciting thc 8uddha’s
namc at thc timc ol dcath. Tc vowpowcr ol 8uddha Amitabha
is unlathomablc, truly inconccivablc! Can ! thcrclorc cngagc in
mundanc cndcavors, waiting lor thc timc ol dcath to rccitc thc
8uddha’s namc sccking rcbirth:
ssc sss
Vhat a grcat pity! Vhat you havc just said is vcry dcludcd and
crroncous. Such thoughts arc morc dangcrous than poisoncd
winc, harmlul not only to yourscll but also to clcrgy and laymcn
Tc rcason pcrvcrsc and cvil bcings managc to rccitc thc
8uddha’s namc at thc timc ol dcath is that thcy havc “good roots,
causcs, conditions, mcrits and virtucs” lrom thc past. Tat is
why thcy arc ablc to cncountcr good spiritual advisors, bclicvc
in thcm and act accordingly. Tis is onc chancc in a million, not
somcthing cvcryonc can look lorward to. A Purc Land trcatisc
“Tcrc arc tcn typcs ol pcoplc who cannot rccitc thc 8uddha’s
namc at thc timc ol dcath:
s. Tosc who lail to mcct spiritual lricnds and thus havc no onc
to urgc thcm to rccitc,
:. Tosc who arc opprcsscd by karmic sußcring and lack both
pcacc ol Mind and lrcc timc to practicc 8uddha Rccitation,
.. Tosc strickcn by suddcn illncss, which prcvcnts thcm lrom
actually rcciting thc 8uddha’s namc aloud,
¡. Tosc who arc insanc and cannot locus thc Mind on invoking
thc 8uddha,
.. Tosc who mcct with suddcn dcath by nrc or drowning and
losc thcir calmncss and uttcr sinccrity,
ss: ss.
6. Tosc who arc suddcnly injurcd by lcrocious bcasts,
·. Tosc who cncountcr cvil lricnds at thc timc ol dcath, as such
lricnds dcstroy thcir laith,
·. Tosc strickcn by latal illncss, who arc unconscious whcn thcy
pass away,
o. Tosc who arc woundcd and dic suddcnly on thc battlcncld,
sc. Tosc who losc thcir livcs lalling lrom high placcs.”
Tcsc tcn instanccs arc common occurrcnccs, which can bclall
anyonc, clcrgy or layman. Tcy arc duc to prcvious or currcnt
karma and occur suddcnly, and so arc impossiblc to avoid.
You arc not a sagc who has attaincd thc “knowlcdgc ol
prcvious livcs,” and who can thus know in advancc whcthcr
or not you will cncountcr karmic rctribution at thc momcnt ol
dcath. Ncithcr do you havc thc laculty ol rcading othcr pcoplc’s
Minds nor supcrnatural vision, to know whcthcr you will dic
pcacclully or not.
Tus, il you do not rccitc thc 8uddha’s namc
in daily lilc, how will you rcact il, at thc timc ol dcath, you
inadvcrtcntly mcct with onc ol thcsc calamitics:
At such a timc, cvcn il a living 8uddha or a multitudc ol
good spiritual advisors surround you, thcy will havc no way
to savc you. Your consciousncss will thcn lollow your karma
and dcsccnd upon thc Trcc ¡vil Paths, subjcct to thc ¡ight
Advcrsitics and cnduring many æons ol sußcring. Vho knows
whcthcr you will cvcn bc ablc to hcar thc 8uddha’s namc as you
do now:
ss: ss.
¡vcn il you do not mcct with thcsc cvil conditions, but sim
ply cxpirc altcr a “mild” illncss, at that timc thc lour clcmcnts
|carth, watcr, air, nrc| scparatc, your ligamcnts and boncs jcrk
and rctract, Mind and body arc aching and in a statc ol panic,
not unlikc a turtlc bcing skinncd alivc or a crab thrown alivc into
a boiling pot. How can you thcn rccitc thc 8uddha’s namc:
¡vcn il you dic pcacclully, without illncss, you may not havc
scvcrcd all worldly tics, or you may still bc caught up in dcnlcd
thoughts. Tc dcsirc to survivc, couplcd with thc lcar ol dcath,
disturb your Mind, rcndcring it pcrplcxcd and undccidcd. !n
such circumstanccs as wcll, you cannot rccitc thc 8uddha’s namc.
Morcovcr, il you arc a layman, you havc, in addition, unnnishcd
lamily obligations, unscttlcd projccts and plans, wailing wilc
and wccping childrcn, along with hundrcds ol othcr worrics
and apprchcnsions. How can you havc thc lcisurc to rccitc thc
8uddha’s namc:
Lct us not cvcn talk about thc timc ol dcath. ¡vcn in daily
lilc, il you arc amictcd with somc mild illncss, you sußcr, moan
ing and groaning cndlcssly. As you scarch lor a physician or a curc
or scck out monks and nuns to rccitc vcrscs ol rcpcntancc, hoping
lor a quick rccovcry, your sundry thoughts arc lcgion. !t is not casy,
thcn, to conccntratc thc Mind and rccitc thc 8uddha’s namc.
¡vcn undcr normal circumstanccs, whcn you arc in good
hcalth, you may bc amictcd with old agc and dcclining strcngth,
bcsct by all kinds ol worrics and sorrows. Kccping thc aging
body togcthcr is a ncvcrcnding task, how can you havc timc lor
8uddha Rccitation:
ss¡ ss.
¡vcn whcn you havc not rcachcd old agc and your body is still
vigorous, you arc still wcighcd down by mundanc prcoccupations
and havc not yct scvcrcd worldly thoughts. You run hithcr and
yon, worrying about tcn thousand things. Vith your sca ol
consciousncss so vast, how can you rccitc thc 8uddha’s namc:
¡vcn il you arc lrcc ol all conditions and cntanglcmcnts
and arc dctcrmincd to cultivatc thc Ðharma, unlcss you can
scc through mundanc marks, undcrstand thcm thoroughly, and
scvcr thcm complctcly, you will not bc in control ol yourscll
whcn laccd with cxtcrnal conditions. Your Mind, thcn, will
movc crratically, lollowing thc cnvironmcnt. How can you havc
thc pcacc ol Mind to rccitc thc 8uddha’s namc:
Tink about it. You cannot cvcn rccitc thc 8uddha’s namc
with a propcr lramc ol Mind whcn you arc mcrcly old or sick, nor
cvcn whcn hcalthy and at lcisurc il prcoccupicd with somcthing
— lct alonc at thc timc ol dcath!
Morcovcr, cvcn at this momcnt you arc talking about
cngaging in mundanc cndcavors, arc thcsc not uttcrly dcludcd
words, scrious crrors ol judgcmcnt:
Furthcrmorc, worldly carccrs and undcrtakings arc likc a
drcam, an illusion, a bubblc, an ccho, cxisting lor but a momcnt
bclorc rcturning to thc void — thcy oßcr no rcal bcncnt to thc
cultivator on thc path ol libcration. ¡vcn il you havc built hugc,
statcly tcmplcs and monastcrics, achicvcd grcat inßucncc and
high position, cstablishcd lricndships with numcrous important
pcrsons ol status and wcalth, lccling dccp pridc “insidc,” thinking
that you havc succccdcd on your path ol cultivation, littlc do you
ss¡ ss.
rcalizc that you havc violatcd thc vcry admonition ol thc ancicnt
sagcs! Tis is bccausc thcy havc spccincally warncd:
“Tosc who havc cntcrcd thc Òrdcr should sct thcir Minds and
locus on achicving libcration and not bc unduly prcoccupicd
with mundanc cndcavors, as thcsc cntail numcrous crrors. Not
only will thcy lail to scc thc hcavcns, thc karma ol hcll has
alrcady bccn crcatcd! !l thc issuc ol 8irth and Ðcath is not
rcsolvcd, all mundanc activitics arc but thc causcs ol sußcring.
Ònc day, oncc thcir cycs arc closcd, thcy will rcvolvc in samsara
according to thcir karma. At that timc, thcy will discovcr
that thcir past actions havc only addcd chains to thcir yokc
and nrcwood and charcoal undcr thc ‘boiling cauldrons,’ thc
Ðharma robc
no longcr covcrs thcir bodics, whilc thc paths
ol various rcalms kccp changing ad innnitum throughout thc
Vith thcsc words, thosc who havc sct thcir Minds on libcration
should pondcr thcir own lot and bc movcd to thc point ol
shcdding tcars! Patriarchs and ¡ldcr Mastcrs havc carncstly
admonishcd you in this way. Tcy havc not cnjoincd you to
cngagc in mundanc cndcavors, waiting lor thc momcnt ol dcath
to rccitc thc 8uddha’s namc!
Ðo you not know what Zcn Mastcr Ssu Hsin (“Ðcad
Mind”) has said:
“!n our world, do not thosc who arc cxtrcmcly wcalth, with
houscs lull ol scrvants and rctaincrs, wish to rcmain ctcrnally
young to cnjoy worldly blcssings day and night:
ss6 ss·
Howcvcr, bccausc thcir lilctimcs arc limitcd, old agc comcs
swiltly with thc passagc ol months and ycars. Ðcath is blind
to wcalth and nobility, whilc thc powcr ol karma ncithcr
rcspccts nor sparcs thc talcntcd and intclligcnt. At that momcnt,
pcrturbcd as thcy arc by transgrcssions and cvil karma, whcrc
arc thc civilizcd, lcisurcly ways ol yorc: !n a world ol karmic
rctribution, rcpaymcnt and lurthcr indcbtcdncss, thcrc is only
rcgrct lor a dissipatcd lilc!
“Vhat has just bccn alludcd to has bccn witncsscd by most ol us
with our own cycs and cars. Òrdinary pcoplc usually drag thcir
lcct until old agc, waiting until thcy havc lulnllcd thcir lamily
obligations bclorc rcciting thc 8uddha’s namc. Howcvcr, dcath
waits ncithcr lor thc old nor thc young. !n any casc, although
wc may rcason this way, how many cldcrly pcrsons actually
practicc 8uddha Rccitation assiduously:”
Tc ancicnts havc said,
“Ðo not wait until old agc to rccitc thc 8uddha’s namc. Ðcscrtcd
hilltops arc nllcd with thc gravcs ol thc young!”
Tcy havc addcd lurthcr:
“From thc timc thcy arc young, pcoplc scck wivcs, raisc childrcn
and arc busy in thcir prolcssions. Tcy must cndurc thc countlcss
vagarics and sußcrings ol daily lilc. Òn thcir dcathbcds, thcy
must lcavc cvcrything bchind, bc it lamily or wcalth, to lollow
thcir karma only. !l thcir childrcn arc nlial, thcy will shcd a
ss6 ss·
lcw tcars, burn a lcw stacks ol papcr moncy and invitc monks
and nuns to rccitc a lcw sutras. Òn dcath annivcrsarics, thcy
may prcparc a mcal in mcmory ol thc dcpartcd. Tis is callcd
bcing nlial toward onc’s parcnts.
“!l, unlortunatcly, thc childrcn arc not nlial, as soon as thc
parcnts havc closcd thcir cycs, hcad and boncs not yct cold,
thcy arc alrcady busy nghting ovcr houscs and othcr propcrty.
Tcy suc onc anothcr and, upon rccciving thcir sharc, squandcr
it on cvancsccnt plcasurcs to thc point ol cvcn lorgctting thc
annivcrsarics ol thcir parcnts’ dcaths. Tus, an cntirc lilctimc
cnds in such a pitilul way. Vhat is thcrc to look lorward to:
“Tcrclorc, thc wisc should bcgin practicing 8uddha
Rccitation and cultivating carly in lilc. Childrcn and grand
childrcn havc thcir own mcrits and blcssings, parcnts can only
hclp to a ccrtain cxtcnt. Tcy should not, lor thc sakc ol thcir
childrcn, toil likc oxcn and horscs throughout thcir livcs!”
Hcrc again ! quotc a lcw lincs by thc ancicnts:
“A cold laugh lor thc rich lamily’s patriarch. Hc is busy as can
bc managing his cntcrpriscs. !n his storchouscs, wccvils arc in
thc grain, in his trcasurics, thc cords on which thc coins arc
strung arc rotting away. All day long hc holds thc scalcs,… at
night, by lamp light, hc ngurcs his accounts. His body is likc
a puppct. Ðon’t lct thc strings brcak, old man!” (].C. Clcary,
(ure Iand, (ure ´ind.)
¡ldcr Mastcr Ssu Hsin took grcat pains to givc you carncst
rcmindcrs and counscl. Ðid hc cvcr cnjoin you to cngagc in
ss· sso
mundanc cndcavors and wait lor thc timc ol dcath to rccitc thc
8uddha’s namc:
Tcrclorc, you should bcar in mind that thc human condition
is unccrtain and cphcmcral, likc sparks among stoncs, or a bolt ol
lightning illuminating thc horizon. Tings appcar and disappcar
in an instant, nothing is pcrmancnt or lasting. You should
undcrstand this thoroughly and takc advantagc ol thc lact that
you arc not yct old and discascriddcn to put asidc all mundanc
conccrns and clcansc your body and Mind. ¡ach passing day
is a day ol 8uddha Rccitation, cach momcnt is a momcnt ol
cultivation. At thc timc ol dcath, cvcrything is scttlcd, thc
wcstcrn sky is rcady as wcll, its path vast and radiant!
Unlcss you conduct yourscll in this way, whcn conditions
and karma mcct, thc timc lor rcgrcts will bc long gonc! You
should pondcr this most carclully!
Ouvs+:oN ar
Tc words ol this dcludcd monk arc grcatly mistakcn. Alas,
thcy cannot bc takcn back cvcn il you chasc thcm with a
chariot drawn by lour mustangs! Listcning to what you, Mastcr,
havc taught, who among us would not cxpcricncc a shivcr:
Rcgrctlully, our Minds, whilc capablc ol grcat vigor, arc casily
pronc to rctrogrcssion as wcll. Hcaring words ol advicc and
admonition, wc bravcly rcdoublc our cßorts, but whcn wc
ss· sso
cncountcr obstaclcs, wc grow lazy and lax, rctrogrcss and hcad
in a dißcrcnt dircction.
Most pcoplc would say that thc rcsults ol 8uddha Rccitation
practicc may cmcrgc altcr dcath, but at prcscnt wc can cxpcricncc
only wcarincss and latiguc, with no practical bcncnt. !s this not
a likcly rcason why cultivators grow lazy and rctrogrcss:
Your undcrstanding is still not comprchcnsivc. Tc sutras say
that thosc who invokc thc 8uddha’s namc with utmost sinccrity
will dcrivc tcn grcat bcncnts in this vcry lilc:
s. Ðay and night thcy cnjoy thc invisiblc protcction ol all
cclcstial bcings, powcrlul dcitics and thcir multitudcs ol
:. Twcntynvc grcat 8odhisattvas, including thc 8odhi
sattva Avalokitcsvara (Kuan Yin) and othcr 8odhisattvas,
constantly kccp thcm in mind and protcct thcm,
.. Tcy cnjoy thc continuous aid and protcction ol thc
8uddhas, Amitabha 8uddha cmits constant light to
gathcr thcm in,
¡. No cvil dcmons, lcrocious dragons, poisonous snakcs or
thc likc can harm thcm,
s:c s:s
.. Tcy do not mcct with such calamitics as drowning,
burning or othcr violcnt dcath, nor do thcy cncountcr
such punishmcnt as bcing shacklcd and imprisoncd,
6. Prcvious cvil karma is gradually dissipatcd, thc souls
ol thosc whom thcy havc murdcrcd in past livcs arc
libcratcd and no longcr scck rcvcngc,
·. Tcy havc rcstlul slccp or drcam ol auspicious cvcnts or vicw
thc suprcmcly wondcrlul body ol Amitabha 8uddha,
·. Tcir Minds arc always joylul and at pcacc, thcir
complcxions clcar and bright, thcir bodics nllcd with
cncrgy and strcngth, whatcvcr thcy undcrtakc gcncrally
mccts with succcss,
o. Tcy arc always honorcd and assistcd by othcrs, and arc
gladly accordcd thc rcspcct rcscrvcd lor thc 8uddhas,
sc. At thc timc ol dcath, thcy do not cxpcricncc lright,
as right thoughts manilcst thcmsclvcs, thcy witncss
Amitabha 8uddha and thc Sacrcd Asscmbly bcaring
thc goldcn lotus dais, to wclcomc and cscort thcm to
thc Purc Land, whcrc thcy will cnjoy pcacc ol Mind and
happincss lorcvcr.
Tcsc tcn bcncnts arc dcscribcd by thc 8uddha himscll, as
rccordcd in thc sutras. Sincc 8uddha Rccitation can bring
such bcncnts in thc prcscnt lilc and in thc luturc, it is thc
most important ol all mundanc and supramundanc Ðharma
mcthods. Cultivators should, thcrclorc, rcdoublc thcir cßorts
and not dcvclop doubts.
s:c s:s
Ouvs+:oN aa
! no longcr havc doubts about thc Purc Land mcthod, thanks
to your rcpcatcd tcaching. ! havc also dcvclopcd corrcct laith.
Howcvcr, you said carlicr that thc cultivator should put asidc all
mundanc conccrns and clcansc his body and Mind. !n this world,
cvcryonc livcs in dißcrcnt circumstanccs. Tosc with lcisurc
timc and lavorablc conditions can lollow your advicc, but what
about thosc who arc bcsct by countlcss dutics and obligations:
How can thcy cultivatc:
Cultivators who dccply rcalizc thc impcrmancncc ol thc world
carncstly scck libcration. Tcy do not ncglcct 8uddha Rccitation,
rcgardlcss ol whcthcr conditions arc lavorablc or unlavorablc,
lortunatc or bittcr, upsctting or tranquil, prcssing or rclaxcd, or
whcthcr thcy thcmsclvcs arc cntcrtaining, attcnding to privatc
or omcial busincss, or coping with all manncr ol situations. Tc
ancicnts havc said:
“High mountains cannot obstruct thc path ol whitc clouds,
dcnsc stands ol bamboo cannot stop limpid strcams and
Tcy lurthcr addcd:
s:: s:.
“Rccitc Amitabha 8uddha’s namc in thc morning, rccitc again
in thc cvcning. ¡vcn il you arc as rushcd as a ßying arrow, do
not part lrom Amitabha 8uddha.”
Tc tcn thousand sccncs arc always calm and still, it is only wc
who arc pcrturbcd. !l a cultivator truly sccks rcbirth and knows
how to utilizc his Mind, thcrc arc no circumstanccs which can
hindcr his cultivation.
Ncvcrthclcss, thosc who lack cncrgy and arc involvcd in
many worldly aßairs should try to nnd thc ncccssary lrcc timc,
rcmain calm in thc midst ol commotion, and rccitc thc 8uddha’s
namc as many timcs as possiblc, according to thcir capacitics.
Tcy should dccidc upon thc numbcr ol uttcranccs, whcthcr
.c,ccc, sc,ccc, .,ccc or s,ccc, and kccp to that numbcr cach
day, without intcrruption. Tosc who arc cxtrcmc busy should
lollow thc Tcn Rccitations Mcthod
cach morning, translcrring
thc mcrits and adhcring to that practicc throughout lilc. Tcn,
thcy, too, can achicvc rcbirth.
Tosc who havc thc timc and lavorablc circumstanccs, can,
in addition to thcir rcgular 8uddha Rccitation scssions, chant
mantras or sutras, practicc rcpcntancc or charity, or cultivatc
othcr mcrits and blcssings, according to thcir capacitics and
strcngths. Vhatcvcr virtuc thcy dcrivc lrom all thcsc practiccs
should bc dcdicatcd to rcbirth in thc Vcstcrn Purc Land.
Cultivating in this way, thcy will not only bc assurcd ol
rcbirth in thc Purc Land, thcir gradc ol rcbirth will also bc
s:: s:.
Ouvs+:oN a,
From thc bcginning, this barbarian monk has hcard a grcat dcal
about 8uddha Rccitation, but docs not yct lully undcrstand its
tcncts. Hc is also not cntircly clcar about thc Tcn Rccitations
Mcthod. Could you, Mastcr, plcasc clucidatc thcsc qucstions:
8uddha Rccitation has scvcral mcanings. Ònc is to locus on/
visualizc thc thirtytwo auspicious signs, conccntrating thc
Mind so that, aslccp or awakc, you always scc thc 8uddha.
Anothcr, morc commonly cmploycd mcthod is to conccn
tratc cxclusivcly on rcciting thc 8uddha’s namc, holding last
singlcmindcdly and without intcrruption. !n this way, thc prac
titioncr will scc thc 8uddha in this vcry lilc. ! noticc that most
Purc Land lollowcrs thcsc days havc choscn this Holding thc
Namc mcthod.
Tc mcthod rcquircs that thc Mind bc calm, still and
undisturbcd — cach rccitation lollows thc onc bclorc, thc Mind
locusscd on thc 8uddha’s namc. Vhilc thc mouth rccitcs thc
8uddha’s namc, thc Mind should clcarly contcmplatc cach and
cvcry uttcrancc, so that cach and cvcry word is clcar and distinct.
Ðuring rccitation, rcgardlcss ol thc numbcr ol uttcranccs, Mind
and thought should bc uttcrly sinccrc and locusscd. Ònly with
such singlcmindcd practicc can cach uttcrancc crasc “cight
s:¡ s:.
million æons ol hcavy transgrcssions.” Òthcrwisc karmic
obstructions arc dimcult to cradicatc.
Vith rcgard to thc Tcn Rccitations Mcthod, cach morning
thc practitioncr should knccl bclorc thc altar ol thc 8uddha,
or stand crcct with palms joincd, lacing wcst. Hc should
rccitc continuously in onc strctch, cach strctch counting as
onc rccitation, tcn strctchcs constituting tcn rccitations. Tc
numbcr ol uttcranccs pcr strctch dcpcnds on thc lcngth ol thc
practitioncr’s brcath span. Hc should kccp thc rccitation clcar
and distinct, in a voicc ncithcr too low nor too loud, ncithcr
hurricd nor lcisurcly, rcciting thus, with oncpointcdncss ol
Mind, lor tcn consccutivc strctchcs. Tis mcthod uscs thc
brcath to gathcr and locus thc Mind, its cßcctivcncss lics in
singlcmindcdncss and stcadlastcdncss throughout lilc, without
a day’s intcrruption.
To translcr thc mcrits, thc practitioncr should, altcr rccitation,
with an uttcrly sinccrc Mind, makc thc lollowing vow:
“My Ðharma namc is…, ! havc dcvclopcd thc 8odhi Mind and
carncstly takc rclugc in Amitabha 8uddha, sccking rcbirth in
thc Vcstcrn Purc Land. !n thc past, You vowcd that ‘!l any scn
ticnt bcing wishing to bc rcborn in my Land rccitcs my namc
with utmost sinccrity up to tcn timcs, yct docs not achicvc rc
birth, ! will not bccomc a 8uddha.’ ! vow to scck thc assistancc
ol Your compassionatc powcr to climinatc transgrcssions and
dcvclop mcrits. ! also vow that, whcn my timc ol dcath comcs,
! will know thc day and timc in advancc and will havc climin
s:¡ s:.
atcd obstructions. ! will thcn bc wclcomcd and cscortcd by
Amitabha 8uddha and thc Sacrcd Asscmbly, swiltly awakcn to
thc 8uddha’s Vay and rcscuc all scnticnt bcings.”
Tc Tcn Rccitations Mcthod is an important tcchniquc, handcd
down through thc agcs. !t is widcly taught and vcry hclplul to
pcoplc at largc. Purc Land practitioncrs should lollow and apply it.
Ouvs+:oN a¡
Ancicnt mastcrs havc clcarly and carclully taught thc appropriatc
mcthod ol cultivation lor laymcn caught in thc nct ol thc sccular
world. Howcvcr, how should thosc who havc cntcrcd thc
monastic lilc, likc myscll, cultivatc:
! havc indicatcd carlicr that thcrc arc many mcthods ol cultivation,
which can bc summarizcd undcr thrcc main hcadings. ¡ach
practitioncr, lollowing his inclinations, can choosc lrom
among thcsc mcthods, and cngagc in 8uddha Rccitation
cithcr cxclusivcly or in conjunction with othcr practiccs |sutra
rccitation, bowing, ctc.|. Tc main point to rcmcmbcr is that his
Mind must bc uttcrly sinccrc, carncst and pcrscvcring. Rcsults
will thcn comc his way — naturally.
s:6 s:·
Ouvs+:oN a.
\isualization and MindÒnly Rccitation sccm to bc mcthods
rcscrvcd lor thosc ol thc highcst capacitics. Likcwisc, thc Tcn
Grcat \ows ol thc :.atamsaka 'utra and thc Tcn Minds
dcscribcd in thc ´aharatnakuta 'utra arc lor practitioncrs
with sharp lacultics. Tcy arc not lruitlul lor thosc who lack thc
appropriatc capacitics and lacultics!
]udging myscll and considcring my own capacitics and
prclcrcnccs, ! havc dccidcd just to rccitc thc 8uddha’s namc
assiduously. !l ! havc any sparc timc, ! shall add only thc
practiccs ol rcpcntancc and bowing to thc 8uddha. Vhat arc
your vicws on this mattcr:
Finc! You now know your own strcngths and limitations! Vhat
you havc just said is, in lact, quitc consonant with thc doctrinc
ol “cxclusivc, unintcrruptcd practicc” ol Mastcr Shan Tao. Tat
doctrinc is summarizcd bclow.
A. ¡xciisivv Pv~c)icv
Scnticnt bcings, lor thc most part, sußcr hcavy karmic
obstructions. Tcir Minds and thoughts arc coarsc and lrivolous,
conluscd and agitatcd.
s:6 s:·
\isualization objccts and sccncs, on thc othcr hand, arc
cxcccdingly subtlc and clusivc. Tcrclorc, it is dimcult to obtain
rcsults through visualization.
For this rcason, Òur Mastcr Sakyamuni, with his grcat
compassion, has adviscd cultivators to limit thcmsclvcs to
8uddha Rccitation. Sincc rccitation is so casy, as long as thc
practitioncr conccntratcs without intcrruption, hc immcdiatcly
achicvcs rcbirth. Practicing in this manncr throughout thcir
livcs, tcn cultivators out ol tcn, indccd, onc hundrcd out ol onc
hundrcd, will achicvc rcbirth. Vhy is this so: !t is bccausc:
s. Vithout sundry conditions, it is casy to havc corrcct
:. Tc practitioncr’s longing is consonant with thc original
vows ol Amitabha 8uddha,
.. Tc 8uddha Rccitation mcthod is not contrary to thc
8uddha Ðharma,
¡. Tc mcthod is in agrccmcnt with thc 8uddha’s words.
!l cultivators abandon cxclusivc practicc and cngagc in sundry
practiccs, only thrcc or lour out ol hundrcds ol thousands can
hopc to achicvc rcbirth. Vhy is this so: !t is bccausc:
s. Sundry conditions causc thc Mind to bccomc agitatcd
and losc corrcct thought,
:. Sundry practicc is not consonant with thc original vows ol
Amitabha 8uddha,
s:· s:o
.. !t contradicts thc 8uddha Ðharma,
¡. !t is not consonant with thc 8uddha’s words,
.. Rccitation is not continuous,
6. Tc Mind is not constantly nllcd with gratitudc toward
thc 8uddha,
·. Tc good dccds ol thc cultivator may bc taintcd by thc
dcsirc lor lamc and pront,
·. A prcdilcction lor sundry conditions hindcrs rcbirth in thc
Purc Land lor oncscll and othcrs.
8. Uxix)vvviv)vb Pv~c)icv
Tis mcans that thc body bows cxclusivcly to Amitabha 8uddha
and not to any othcr sagcs, thc mouth rccitcs thc namc ol
Amitabha 8uddha cxclusivcly and not sutras or thc namcs
ol othcr 8uddhas, thc Mind thinks cxclusivcly ol Amitabha
8uddha with no othcr thoughts intruding.
¡ach timc thc karma ol grccd, angcr and dclusion ariscs,
causing a brcak in cultivation, you should rcpcnt immcdiatcly, in
accordancc with thc transgrcssion, without waiting lor thc ncxt
hour, thc ncxt night or thc ncxt day. You should do your utmost
to hold onto onc purc thought, with no othcr thoughts intruding
and no intcrruptions. Tis is callcd unintcrruptcd practicc…
Vhat has just bccn dcscribcd is thc doctrinc ol cxclusivc,
unintcrruptcd practicc ol thc Patriarch Shan Tao. Tc csscntial
point ol his tcaching is that rccitation should continuc thought
s:· s:o
altcr thought without intcrruption. Anothcr ¡ldcr Mastcr has
said, as wcll:
“You should not rccitc in a disturbcd, agitatcd way, nor should
you vow in a pcrlunctory manncr.” ¡ldcr Mastcr Yung Ming,
too, has said:
“Tc practitioncr should singlcmindcdly put his laith in thc
8uddha and cultivatc with purity throughout his lilc. Vhcthcr
scatcd or rcclining, hc should lacc wcst. Vhcncvcr hc bows
to thc 8uddha, rccitcs thc 8uddha’s namc or makcs a vow, hc
should do so in cxtrcmc carncstncss, without intruding, sundry
thoughts. Hc should act as though hc wcrc on thc vcrgc ol
cxccution, or in prison, or pursucd by cncmics, or in dangcr
ol drowning or bcing burncd alivc. Hc should singlcmindcdly
scck hclp, vowing, to cscapc thc cyclc ol dangcr and swiltly
attain Non8irth, in ordcr to carry on thc work ol thc Triplc
]cwcl, rcpay thc Four Grcat Ðcbts |scc Glossary| and rcscuc
scnticnt bcings. Vith such an carncst Mind, his cultivation
will not bc in vain.
“Òn thc othcr hand, il his dccds do not match his words,
his laith is not solid, his rccitation is haphazard and hc sccks
rcbirth in this lazy, lcthargic manncr, it will bc dimcult lor
him to cncountcr good spiritual lricnds at thc timc ol dcath.
Ðraggcd away by thc powcr ol karma, wcighcd down by pain
and sußcring, hc cannot achicvc right thought. Vhy is this so:
!t is bccausc prcscnt actions arc causcs, what is rcccivcd at thc
timc ol dcath arc rcsults. Causcs should bc truc lor rcsults not
to bc lalsc, just as an ccho which rcvcrbcratcs loud and clcar
comcs lrom a loud noisc, and a straight mirror imagc rcquircs
a straight objcct.”
s.c s.s
Ouvs+:oN a6
!n truth, ! havc always wantcd to cultivatc in such a way that
thought lollows upon thought without intcrruption. Rcgrctlully,
! havc not yct achicvcd oncpointcdncss ol Mind. ! cannot cvcn
rcin in thc nrst thought, or clsc, thc prcvious pcrccption is
dimcult to lorgct, or dcludcd thoughts arisc. ! cannot kccp my
thoughts lrom bcing disturbcd by circumstanccs and conditions,
my Mind and lcclings arc conluscd and cannot bc stillcd. ¡ach
timc ! sit down to nngcr thc rosary lor a momcnt, my thoughts
havc gonc in all dircctions, suddcnly travclling millions ol milcs
without my knowlcdgc or awarcncss.
At timcs, whcn ! am prcoccupicd with somc problcm, ! turn
it ovcr and ovcr in my Mind lor days and days on cnd, or cvcn lor
months. !t is impossiblc to rid myscll ol such tanglcd thoughts,
not to mcntion doing away with intcrruptions in rccitation! !
conlcss this not only with all humility and shamc, but also,
upon rcßcction, in all sorrow! !s thcrc any way to supprcss such
occurrcnccs: Could you plcasc hclp:
Alas! Tis is thc common discasc ol almost all practitioncrs.
Undcr such circumstanccs, il you do not carncstly rcstrain
yourscll, it will bc dimcult to succccd in thc practicc ol cxclusivc,
unintcrruptcd cultivation. ! havc hcard that thc ancicnts would
s.c s.s
bittcrly rcproach thcmsclvcs lor thrcc things, which ! shall
cxplain lor your cdincation. You should bcar thcm in mind.
s. Rcpaying onc’s obligations
Cultivators havc a numbcr ol important obligations. Lct us put
asidc tcmporarily thc dcbts to thc 8uddhas and our tcachcrs. !n
your casc, as a monk, do you not think that you owc a prolound
and hcavy dcbt to your parcnts lor giving you lilc and raising
you: Having “lclt homc” and all mundanc activitics, studying
thc Ðharma lar lrom your birthplacc lor so many ycars, you
wcrc not awarc ol thc hardships and sußcrings ol your parcnts.
You did not know ol thcir old agc and illncss, and so did not
takc propcr carc ol thcm. Vhcn thcy dicd, you cithcr had no
knowlcdgc, or, il you wcrc awarc ol it, you probably rcturncd
homc too latc. Vhcn you wcrc young, in ordcr to providc lor
you and out ol conccrn lor your wcllarc, your parcnts, at timcs,
committcd numcrous transgrcssions. Altcr dcath, as thcy
dcsccndcd upon thc path ol sußcring, thcy hopcd that you would
comc to thcir rcscuc, just as a pcrson might wait lor a glass ol
watcr to assuagc his thirst, or lor thc pouring rain to ccasc.
!l your cultivation is haphazard, your Purc Land karma will
not bring rcsults. Tus, you cannot cvcn savc yourscll, lct alonc
your parcnts! !n such circumstanccs, you havc not only misscd
thc opportunity to takc carc ol thcir tcmporal nccds, you arc
now rcmiss in your obligations to thcir souls. You arc a most
unnlial son indccd! Tc sutras say: “To bc unnlial is to sink
s.: s..
into hcll.” Tus, thc Mind ol intcrruption, ol lailurc to cultivatc
assiduously, is indccd thc karma ol hcll.
Morcovcr, you do not wcavc, yct you wcar clothing, you do
not plough, yct you cat your nll. Living quartcrs, bcdding, lood,
clothing, mcdicinc, ctc. arc all providcd by 8uddhist lollowcrs.
Tc ancicnt mastcrs havc oltcn admonishcd:
“8uddhist lollowcrs, out ol rcspcct and vcncration lor thc Triplc
]cwcl, parccl out part ol thcir mcagcr lamily lood budgct as a
donation to monks and nuns. !l thc lattcr arc not blamclcss in
thcir cultivation, cvcn an inch ol cloth or a grain ol ricc will havc
to bc paid back in luturc lilctimcs. To rcpay thc lavor ol your
disciplcs, you should lollow thc Purc Land path assiduously,
to rccuc yourscll and othcrs. !l you lct cvcn a singlc intrusivc
thought arisc and lail to pcrscvcrc, you havc bccomc cnmcshcd
in samsara — cndlcssly ‘borrowing’ and ‘rcpaying.’ Tat vcry
intrusivc thought is vilc karma or thc karma ol animality.”
:. Tc rcsolutc will
Tc pracitioncr should bc rcsolutc in ordcr to achicvc rcsults. !n
your casc, you havc spcnt a lilctimc pracicing Zcn but havc not
awakcncd to its mcaning.
Nor did you mastcr thc subtlctics ol thc 8uddhist Canon
whcn you bcgan studying thc sutras. ¡vcn today, your Mind is
not yct cmpty and calm, your thoughts arc still in lcrmcnt. At
timcs you want to writc poctry, at othcr timcs you want to dralt
commcntarics, at timcs you want to cxpound thc Ðharma, at
s.: s..
othcr timcs you want to indulgc in Zcn talks. Your thoughts arc
scattcrcd among thrcc or lour arcas. Tc ancicnts havc said:
“A Mind which is still grasping is prcciscly thc karma ol 8irth
and Ðcath. As soon as lcclings and thoughts |attachmcnts|
arisc, you arc chaincd lor tcns ol thousands ol æons.”
Tc rcason you havc not achicvcd right thought is prcciscly
that your lcclings and thoughts arc still unlocusscd, and such
pcrplcxcd lcclings and thoughts arc duc to lack ol dccisivcncss.
Tus, cultivating with an irrcsolutc Mind is thc bcginning ol
rcbirth in thc Triplc Rcalm.
Furthcrmorc, il a practitioncr lacks a dctcrmincd Mind,
hc cannot bc mastcr ol his scnscs. 8ccausc ol his unlocusscd
Mind, hc cannot control his body and mouth. As is statcd in
thc sutras:
“! vow that ! would rathcr pour boiling mctal in my mouth than
allow such a mouth cvcr to brcak thc prcccpts and still partakc
ol thc lood and drink oßcrcd by lollowcrs. ! would rathcr wrap
my body in a rcd hot mctal nct than allow such a body to brcak
thc prcccpts and still wcar thc clothing oßcrcd by disciplcs.”
Nccd wc mcntion that, bccausc thc prcccpts arc not rcspcctcd,
thc Mind grows cvcr morc pcrturbcd, and, bccausc ol this pcr
turbation, carncst cultivation is intcrruptcd: Tcrclorc, a singlc
thought ol intcrrupting 8uddha Rccitation is much morc than
mcrcly thc causal karma ol rcd hot ncts and boiling mctal!
s.¡ s..
Morcovcr, il thc practitioncr’s dctcrmination is not strong,
hc cannot lully rcalizc that all mundanc dharmas arc illusory,
and so hc casily chascs altcr drcamlikc, cmpty lamc and lortunc.
Vhcn lamc and lortunc arc on his sidc, hc grows dcludcd and
attachcd. !l such lamc and lortunc bclong to othcrs, hc dcvclops
hatrcd and cnvy. Tc ancicnts havc said:
“To bc sunk in thc pursuit ol lamc and lortunc is to hcad lor thc
rcalms ol animals and hungry ghosts. To bc givcn to dclusivc
thoughts ol lovc and hatc is to bc condcmncd to thc nrcpit and
thc boiling cauldron. Tus, a thought ol intcrrupting cultivation
is prcciscly thc karma ol hungry ghosts and hcll.”
.. Sccking an Auspicious Rcsponsc
Purc Land lollowcrs should strivc carncstly lor a rcsponsc. Tc
livcs ol scnticnt bcings arc cphcmcral and casily cut short, thc
ghost ol impcrmancncc waits lor no onc. Your hair is alrcady
strcakcd with whitc, your lacc has grown wrinklcd. Tc marks
ol dccay and old agc arc vcry clcar, and dcath is but a short
timc away. Tcrclorc, you should strivc to cultivatc in carncst,
to cnsurc that somc auspicious and rcliablc signs ol rcbirth
Tus, in ancicnt China, ¡ldcr Mastcr Hui Yuan ol Lu Shan
saw thc 8uddha rub his crown thrcc timcs. Anothcr ¡ldcr
Mastcr carncstly rccitcd thc 8uddha’s namc and immcdiatcly
saw Amitabha 8uddha cmit rays ol light and display auspicious
s.¡ s..
marks. !n thc casc ol still anothcr ¡ldcr Mastcr, cach timc hc
uttcrcd thc 8uddha’s namc, thc Grcat Asscmbly would scc a
8uddha ßying out ol his mouth. Tis was truc lor hundrcds ol
thousands ol his uttcranccs, hundrcds ol thousands ol 8uddhas
cscapcd lrom his mouth, likc so many rosary bcads, onc altcr
Such rcsponscs arc countlcss. !l you rccitc Amitabha
8uddha’s namc in carncst, without intcrruption, it is vcry casy
to scc Him. Òthcrwisc, it is vcry dimcult. !l you do not scc thc
8uddha, you do not havc amnitics with Him. Vithout amnitics,
it is ccrtainly dimcult to achicvc rcbirth. !l you arc not rcborn
in thc Purc Land, sooncr or latcr you will dcsccnd into thc
cvil rcalms. Tus, a singlc thought ol intcrrupting rccitation
is prcciscly thc karma ol rcbirth on thc Trcc ¡vil Paths. You
should bcar this in mind and pondcr it carclully!
Tc Purc Land practitioncr should kccp thcsc thrcc
admonitions in mind and rcßcct upon thcm. Hc should
rcstrain himscll with such carncstncss that his Mind bccomcs
inscparablc lrom thc 8uddha, thc 8uddha bccomcs inscparablc
lrom his Mind — 8uddha and Mind intcrpcnctrating lrccly
— so that hc may scc 8uddha Amitabha in this vcry lilc. To scc
thc 8uddha ol thc Vcstcrn Purc Land is to scc all thc 8uddhas
ol thc tcn dircctions, to scc thc 8uddhas ol thc tcn dircctions is
to scc thc 8uddha ol thc ScllNaturc. Òncc thc practitioncr has
sccn thc 8uddha ol thc ScllNaturc, grcat capacitics and powcr
ol cxpcdicnts will dcvclop naturally. At that timc, hc can rcscuc
all scnticnt bcings, in accordancc with his compassionatc vows.
s.6 s.·
Tis is callcd Purc LandZcn, or ZcnPurc Land. Tus,
at that stagc, thc truc mcaning ol thc lollowing lincs by thc
Patriarch Yung Ming is clcarly dcmonstratcd:
“To practicc both Zcn and Purc Land is to bc likc a tigcr with
horns. !n this lilc, thc cultivator is a lcadcr ol mcn. !n thc ncxt
lilc, hc will bc a 8uddha or a Patriarch.”
You should rcdoublc your cßorts and pcrscvcrc!
Tc visiting Zcn Mastcr, having listcncd to this tcaching, was
both shakcn and joylul. Hc rcmaincd silcnt lor somc timc, as
though hc had just rccovcrcd a prccious objcct which had bccn
lost. ¡ldcr Mastcr T’icn ]u addcd, “Zcn and Purc Land havc
always bccn NonÐual.
!l you thoroughly undcrstand, you
thoroughly undcrstand thcm both, il you miss thc point, you
miss thc point ol both — bccausc thcrc arc no dharmas outsidc
thc Mind, no Mind outsidc ol dharmas. You should makc no
mistakc about this!”
Tc Zcn gucst immcdiatcly madc his obcisancc and said, “!
am vcry lortunatc to havc rcccivcd instruction lrom you, Mastcr.
! now know thc path back to my ScllNaturc, thc way homc.”
Hc thcn slowly took his lcavc and dcpartcd.
:dditiona/ comments
“2en and (ure Iand ha.e al.ays been ´on Jual. If you thoroughly
understand, you thoroughly understand them both, if you miss the
s.6 s.·
point, you miss the point of both.” Tese .ords of 8lder ´aster T ’ ien
(u are truly to the point. Te True ´ind encompasses an untold
number of dharmas, an innnite number of lands. In 2en, it is called
“Original Tace,” in (ure Iand it is called “'elf-´ature :mitabha.”
Te Surangama Sutra states:
“|¡vcn| thc cmpty spacc ol thc tcn dircctions, born in your
´ind, is but a clustcr ol clouds in thc midst ol thc vast, bluc
sky — not to mcntion thc countlcss worlds in that vcry cmpty
Te ancients ha.e said, as .ell.
“Tcsc countlcss dharmas arc thc 8odhi Vay. Vhy think ol
8odhi (cnlightcnmcnt) as bcing so lar away:”
'ince the True ´ind encompasses ten thousand marks and forms, if
the 2en pracitioner merely understands 2en through the mundane
conception of emptiness |i.e., nothing exists| and rejecs the existence of
the 7estern (ure Iand and the seeking of rebirth, he has not yet truly
understood 2en. Te reason ´aster T ’ ien (u carefully explained
this point on se.eral occasions, .as to destroy this “attachment to
Trom the point of .ie. of noumenon, the True ´ind is all-
illuminating and encompasses countless .orlds — this is referred to
as 2en–(ure Iand. (ountless .orlds are reneced in the True ´ind,
e.erything is empty, still, illusory and dreamlike — this is referred to
as (ure Iand–2en.
s.· s.o
Trom the .ie.point of skill-in-means and capacities, .hen the
pracitioner has a.akened to the Original ´ature and made the
compassionate .o. to engage in pracices .hich adorn the Juddha
lands and rescue sentient beings — this is 2en–(ure Iand. On the
other hand, if he teaches and transforms sentient beings, returning
them to their True ´ature through (ure Iand pracice — this is
(ure Iand–2en.
In summary, 2en is (ure Iand, (ure Iand is 2en. To rejec
(ure Iand is to fail to truly understand 2en, like.ise, to rejec 2en
is to fail to comprehend (ure Iand thoroughly. “If you thoroughly
understand, you thoroughly understand them both, if you miss the
point, you miss the point of both…”

Te (ure Iand school accepted the 2en perspeci.e |on
8nlightenment| as .alid in principle, but questioned ho.
many people could get results by using 2en methods…
Te (ure Iand method of Juddha-name recitation
.as ofered as a simpler method by .hich a.erage
people could make progress to.ard enlightenment…
Jure Iand, Jure ´ind
(.(. (leary, tr.
s.· s.o
Ixcerpts from Juddhism of 7isdom and Taith
by Master Tich Ti
eˆn Tâm
Te 7estern (ure Iand is described as being ten
billion Juddha lands a.ay from here only .ith
respec to the limited concepts of ordinary people .ith
eyes of nesh and blood, mired in birth and death.
Tor those .ho ha.e attained the pure karma of
rebirth in the (ure Iand, the ´ind in samadhi at
the time of death is precisely the ´ind reborn in the
(ure Iand. :s soon as the thought |of rebirth| arises,
rebirth is achie.ed. Tus, the Mcditation Sutra
states that “the Iand ol :mitabha Juddha is not
far from here!”
T’ ien T’ai (atriarch (hih I
“Ten Joubts about (ure Iand ”
Jure Iand Juddhism. (art !.
s¡c s¡s
I. Ðoun+s Basvo oN
M:svvao:Nc +nv Su+vas
(excerpts p.8,–o.)
…Tcrc arc numcrous studcnts ol thc 8uddha Ðharma who raisc
a numbcr ol issucs about thc Purc Land School, bascd on thc
tcachings in thc sutras. ! will lollow thc qucstionandanswcr
lormula to rcply to thcm.
r. Ouvs+:oN:
Tc Jiamond 'utra statcs, “All mundanc (conditioncd) dharmas
arc likc drcams, illusions, shadows and bubblcs.” Tcrclorc, thc
Saha Vorld bcing illusory, so is thc Land ol Ultimatc 8liss.
Vhy not cntcr dircctly into thc Truc Òriginal Mind instcad ol
sccking rcbirth in an illusory world.
!n truth, all thc purc and impurc lands in thc tcn dircctions arc
likc drcams and illusions, howcvcr, only whcn wc havc attaincd
thc “!llusionlikc Samadhi” can wc scc thcm as illusory and
lalsc. !l wc havc. not yct rcachcd that stagc, wc still scc thcm as
rcal, wc arc still subjcct to thcir sway, wc still know sorrow and
s¡c s¡s
happincss, wc still lccl uncomlortablc during thc summcr hcat
and arc cvcn bothcrcd by such small things as mosquito and
ant bitcs. Tus, how can wc spcak about things bcing illusory:
Vc should rcalizc that thc Purc Land mcthod is a wondcrlul
cxpcdicnt ol thc 8uddha, borrowing an illusory rcalm ol
happincss to hclp scnticnt bcings cscapc lrom an illusory rcalm
ol grcat sußcring, lull ol obstructing conditions and dangcrs.
Tcn, lrom that happy, pcacclul, illusory rcalm, cultivation
progrcsscs casily, and thc cvcrsilcnt rcalm ol thc Truc Mind is
swiltly attaincd.
To takc an cxamplc, in this Saha Vorld ol ours, thc sccncs
ol stißing lamily lilc and noisy downtown busincss districts arc
illusory, and so arc thc sccncs ol tcmplcs and pagodas or mountain
wildcrncsscs. Howcvcr, why is it that cultivators lcavc thc noisy
cnvironmcnt ol thc citics to scck thc quict, sparscly populatcd
landscapcs ol tcmplcs and pagodas hiddcn in thc mountains: !s
it not bccausc lamily lilc crcatcs many binding tics and bustling
urban intcrscctions arc not conducivc to conccntration, whilc
tcmplcs and pagodas and mountain wildcrncsscs lacilitatc
cultivation. For this rcason, thc circumstanccs ol ordinary
pcoplc arc dißcrcnt lrom thosc ol thc saints. For common
mortals to put thcmsclvcs in thc placc ol thc saints is larlctchcd
and unrcalistic. Vc who arc still common mortals should lollow
thc path ol ordinary pcoplc, and cultivatc gradually. Vc should
not look with thc cycs ol saints and commcnt too lar abovc our
lcvcl, to avoid thc transgrcssion ol lalsc spccch, which can bc
s¡: s¡.
Tcrc was oncc a Zcn Mastcr who thought that thc Purc
Land was illusory and that rcciting thc 8uddha’s namc and
sccking rcbirth was usclcss. Upon hcaring this, ¡ldcr Mastcr
Ch’c Vu said immcdiatcly, “Tis is a mistakc. 8odhisattvas
ol thc scvcnth stagc and bclow arc all cultivating in a drcam.
¡vcn thosc 8odhisattvas who havc rcachcd thc lcvcl ol ¡qual
¡nlightcnmcnt arc still last aslccp within thc grcat drcam ol
dclusion. Ònly thc 8uddhas can bc honorcd with thc dcsignation
Grcat ¡nlightcncd, i.c., thosc who havc complctcly awakcncd.
Vhcn our own body is in a drcam, happincss and sußcring arc
to bc cxpcctcd, wc cxpcricncc happincss and still know sußcring.
How can wc considcr oursclvcs awakcncd lrom a drcam and our
cnvironmcnt drcamlikc:
“Tis bcing thc casc, how can rcmaining in thc sußcring
drcam ol thc Saha Vorld comparc with rcturning to thc happy
drcam ol thc Purc Land: Morcovcr, thc Saha Vorld Ðrcam
gocs lrom drcam to drcam, subjcct to thc laws ol karma,
ctcrnally rcvolving and sinking in thc cyclc ol birth and dcath.
Tc Purc Land Ðrcam on thc othcr hand, is lrom drcam to
cnlightcnmcnt and gradual awakcning to thc ultimatc stagc
ol 8uddhahood. Although thc illusory drcam is thc samc, thc
conditions ol thc drcaming statc in thc two instanccs arc rcally
dißcrcnt. Tus, it is truly ncccssary to rccitc thc 8uddha’s namc
and scck rcbirth.”
From thc abovc cxplanations ol ancicnt mastcrs, wc can
scc that thc nccd to scck rcbirth has bccn clcarly dcmonstratcd.
Howcvcr, thc stanza lrom thc Jiamond 'utra quotcd abovc is
s¡: s¡.
still an cxpcdicnt cxplanation to hclp scnticnt bcings abandon
thc common mortal’s conccpt ol attachmcnt.
Going onc stcp lurthcr, as statcd in thc Great (rajna
(aramita 'utra: “Tc 8uddha cxplaincd to thosc ol dull
capacitics that all dharmas arc drcamlikc, silcnt, and still, lcst
thcy dcvclop vicwattachmcnt. To thosc ol sharp capacitics
hc spokc ol thc cmbcllishmcnts ol thc 8uddhas, bccausc thcy
arc likc lotus blossoms, untouchcd by worldly dusts.” For this
rcason, Subhuti, who, ol all thc Arhat disciplcs, was thc onc
most complctcly awakcncd to thc Truth ol ¡mptincss (dcvoid
ol all namcs and marks) charactcristically rcccivcd a prcdiction
that hc would attain lull cnlightcnmcnt in thc luturc undcr thc
titlc ol “Namc and Mark 8uddha.” Tus, thc sublimc truth ol
no name or mark is inscparablc lrom namc and mark, all illusory
dharmas arc thc 8uddha’s dharmas, truc and unchanging.
Going still dccpcr, to thc ultimatc and pcrlcct stagc, as thc
Sixth Patriarch has said, scnticnt bcings arc originally 8uddhas,
amictions arc 8odhi (cnlightcnmcnt), all dclusions arc thc
pcrlcct and illuminating csscncc, truly cnlightcncd, ol thc womb
ol thc Tathagata (8uddha).
a. Ouvs+:oN:
Tc Platlorm Sutra statcs, “Vithout rccitation, rccitation is
corrcct, with rccitation, rccitation bccomcs crroncous.” Tus, is
not 8uddha Rccitation dcviant and lalsc:
s¡¡ s¡.
Tc mcaning ol No8irth, NoTought (No Rccitation) has
bccn discusscd carlicr, but ! will givc a dircct cxplanation hcrc.
“NoTought” docs not mcan no 8uddha or Sutra Rccitation, but
rathcr habitual rccitation ol thc 8uddha’s namc and thc sutras
with a complctcly cmpty Mind, ncithcr sccing nor grasping at
thc thought that wc arc thc oncs doing thc rcciting. Tis is callcd
“NoTought.” Òn thc othcr hand, though wc may sit still and at
pcacc, our Minds not thinking ol anything, il wc arc still awarc
that wc arc sitting in mcditation, this is still “having thought.”
!l wc think that NoTought is not to rccitc thc 8uddha’s namc
or thc sutras, not to lccturc on thc Ðharma and not to pondcr or
mcditatc, thcn wc havc turncd into wood and stonc. Vhilc avoid
ing thc crror ol grasping at lorms, wc havc lallcn into thc crror ol
“grasping at cmptincss,” thus going against thc vcry mcaning ol
thc Sutra. For this rcason, thc Sixth Patriarch continucd:
“Hc who is abovc ‘amrmativc’ and ‘ncgativc’
Ridcs pcrmancntly in thc whitc bullock cart
(thc vchiclc ol 8uddha).”
(Vong MouLam, tr. “Tc Sutra ol Hui Ncng,” p.6..
!n Te Jiamond 'utra . Te 'utra of (ui ´eng.
8oston, Ma: Shambhala, so6o.)
Highranking Purc Land monks ol old oltcn practiccd 8uddha
Rccitation sccking rcbirth, but thcy did not grasp at thc mark ol
such rccitation. Tcrclorc, thcy lclt bchind this stanza:
s¡¡ s¡.
“To rccitc is thc samc as not to rccitc,
No8irth is prcciscly birth,
Not bothcring to movc cvcn hall a stcp,
Tc body has rcachcd thc city ol Grcat ¡nlightcnmcnt.”
Howcvcr, wc havc spokcn so lar ol thc cultivation practiccs
ol individuals ol high capacitics. Pcrsons ol modcratc and low
capacitics should strivc to rcpcat thc 8uddha’s namc as many
timcs as possiblc. Vhilc thcy may still havc attachmcnts and scc
thcmsclvcs as rcciting thc 8uddha’s namc and carncstly sccking
rcbirth, it is still a good thing, bccausc by so doing, thcy will
assurcdly achicvc rcbirth at thc timc ol dcath and ultimatcly
cntcr thc rcalm ol NoTought, No8irth. Vhcrc is thc worry:
Òthcrwisc, not conscious ol thcir own limitations, sccking a
dircct and lolty way, grasping at thc tcachings ol cmptincss whilc
incapablc ol lollowing thc truth ol NoTought — yct unwilling
to practicc at thc lowcr lcvcl ol sccking rcbirth through 8uddha
Rccitation — in thc cnd thcy achicvc ncithcr. Tcy just rcmain
common mortals in thc painlul cyclc ol birth and dcath!
,. Ouvs+:oN:
!n thc (latform 'utra, thc Sixth Patriarch statcd, “Tosc living
in thc ¡ast who commit transgrcssions, rccitc thc 8uddha’s namc
sccking rcbirth in thc Vcst. Vhcrc do thosc transgrcssors living
in thc Vcst scck rcbirth, whcn thcy rccitc thc 8uddha s namc:”
s¡6 s¡·
Tus, wc should only aim at climinating transgrcssions. Vhat
nccd is thcrc to rccitc thc 8uddha’s namc and scck rcbirth:
Tc Sixth Patriarch and highranking Zcn Mastcrs wcrc intcnt
on tcaching thc Mind Ònly doctrinc. Tus, all ol thcir words arc
bascd on thcsc tcncts, pointing dircctly to thc scllnaturc, with
thc Mind as thc ccntcr. Vhat thc Patriarch was rcally saying is
that il thc Mind is purc, cvcn though wc arc in thc Saha Vorld,
wc arc cmancipatcd and lrcc. !l thc Mind is impurc, cvcn in
thc Purc Land wc arc still subjcct to thc sußcrings ol birth and
dcath. !n truth, lor thc Purc Land cultivator who undcrstands
thc Ðharma, thc Patriarch’s words scrvc only to urgc him on, cn
couraging him to rccitc thc 8uddha’s namc to thc lcvcl ol purity
ol Mind, dcvoid ol all attachmcnt to lorms. Tc Patriarch did
not rcjcct thc act ol rcciting thc 8uddha’s namc to scck rcbirth.
8uddha Sakyamuni, thc 8uddhas ol thc tcn dircctions, thc grcat
8odhisattvas and thc Patriarchs all rccommcndcd sccking rc
birth in thc Purc Land. Tc two lorcmost !ndian Zcn Patriarchs,
Asvaghosha and Nagarjuna, both rccommcndcd thc Purc Land
mcthod. Nagarjuna himscll, according to thc Ianka.atara 'utra,
was cnlightcncd to thc prcliminary 8odhisattva stagc ol “cxtrcmc
]oy,” and was rcborn in thc Purc Land.
!l thc Sixth Patriarch had truly intcndcd to rcjcct 8uddha
Rccitation, hc would havc bccn criticizing and rcjccting 8uddha
s¡6 s¡·
Sakyamuni, thc 8uddhas, thc 8odhisattvas and thc Patriarchs,
including thc vcry prccursors who cstablishcd his own Zcn
School, thc Patriarchs Asvaghosha and Nagarjuna. How can
that bc: Tcrclorc, il wc wcrc to misundcrstand thc Sixth
Patriarch’s words and usc thosc vcry words to dcprccatc 8uddha
Rccitation, wc would bc slandcring and sowing thc sccds ol
injusticc toward him.
Morcovcr, cvcry mcthod has two aspccts, noumcnon
(principlc) and phcnomcna. Tc abovc quotation lrom thc Sixth
Patriarch is at thc lcvcl ol principlc. Vc must also considcr thc
phcnomcnal aspcct ol thc path to libcration. Lct us rcstatc thc
qucstion. “Tosc who commit transgrcssions in thc sccular world
scck rclugc in tcmplcs and pagodas, whcrc thcy cut thcir hair,
bccomc vcgctarians, and kccp thc prcccpts, looking lor a placc
ol purity and tranquillity in ordcr to cultivatc. Vhcrc do thosc
living in tcmplcs and pagodas who transgrcss go to cultivatc:”
!l wc basc oursclvcs only at thc lcvcl ol principlc and lollow thc
abovc argumcnt, thcn can such actions as cntcring thc monastic
lilc, bcing vcgctarian, and kccping thc prcccpts, including
8uddha, Sutra and Mantra Rccitation as wcll as mcditation, all
bc mistakcs:
Tc Purc Land mcthod is similar. !n truth, pcoplc in thc
¡ast do not rccitc thc 8uddha’s namc sccking rcbirth in thc
Vcst mcrcly bccausc thcy havc committcd transgrcssions, rathcr,
thcy do so prcciscly to takc advantagc ol thc cxccllcnt conditions
ol that Land to cultivatc and swiltly attain thc lcvcl ol No8irth
and libcration. Tis is also thc goal pursucd by thosc who havc
s¡· s¡o
committcd many bad dccds but who now rcpcnt and rccitc thc
8uddha’s namc.
Morcovcr, thc inhabitants ol thc Vcstcrn Purc Land cannot
commit transgrcssions bccausc, oncc rcborn, thcy arc surroundcd
by 8uddhas, 8odhisattvas and “morally supcrior bcings,” around
thcm arc birds singing thc Ðharma and music cxpounding thc
sutras, whilc thcy arc lrcc lrom such daily worrics as lood,
clothing, discasc, calamitics, hatrcd and rcscntmcnt. Tus, thcy
can only progrcss along thc path ol cultivation. Vhcrc arc thc
conditions lor crcating bad karma:
!n conclusion, wc should undcrstand thc Sixth Patriarch’s
words as an cxplanation and cxhortation bascd cxclusivcly on
purc principlc or naturc. Vc should not misundcrstand thcm
and usc thcm to rcjcct phcnomcna and marks. !n vicw ol thc
abovc, Purc Land cultivators should rcdoublc thcir cßorts and
practicc to thc point ol cmptincss ol Mind. Ònly thcn will thcy
bc in accord with thc intcnt ol thc Patriarch.
Te 5eed to 'e+er 9ua/istic :ttachments
Many similar doubts rcmain conccrning thc Purc Land mcthod.
Tis is bccausc cultivators arc still attachcd to “duality,” and havc
not rcconcilcd csscncc and marks, cxistcncc and noncxistcncc,
noumcnon and phcnomcna. Tat is why thcy usc csscncc to
rcjcct marks, noumcnon to rcjcct phcnomcna, cmptincss to rcjcct
cxistcncc, and vicc vcrsa, thus crcating disputcs, doubts and
s¡· s¡o
pcrplcxity. Littlc do thcy suspcct that thcrc is mutual idcntity
bctwccn noumcnon and phcnomcna. Tat is, phcnomcna arc
noumcnon, noumcnon is phcnomcna. !l wc dividc thcm and
considcr thcm scparatcly, phcnomcna arc not truc phcnomcna,
noumcnon is not truc noumcnon. Tis is truc also ol csscncc and
marks, cxistcncc and noncxistcncc and othcr dualistic dharmas.
For this rcason, thc .imalakirti 'utra spcaks ol thc nondual
mcthod to dcstroy this attachmcnt. Nondual mcans rcconciling
all things, Pcnctrating into thcir vcry naturc, it docs not mcan
onc.” Tis is thc truc rcalm ol “Mind Ònly.” Any othcr doctrinc
bascd on thc Ðharma Ðoors ol ¡xistcncc or ¡mptincss is mcrcly
an cxpcdicnt lor tcaching purposcs.
Tc sutras say, “To tirc ol and abandon ‘conditioncd’ vir
tucs is thc action ol dcmons. Yct, to bc grccdy and attachcd to
transccndcntal, unconditioncd virtucs is also dcmonic action.”
Ancicnt sagcs havc also said that “Conditioncd dharmas, whilc
illusory, cannot bc abandoncd il wc arc to attain thc Vay.
Although unconditioncd dharmas arc truc, il wc bccomc at
tachcd to thcm, our wisdomnaturc will not bc comprchcnsivc.”
Tcsc words clcarly dcmonstratc that, on thc path to cnlightcn
mcnt, unconditioncd and conditioncd dharmas, noumcnon and
phcnomcna arc inscparablc.
!t is also statcd in thc Treatise on the ´iddle 7ay that,
“8ccausc common scnticnt bcings grasp at cxtcrnal lorms, thc
sutras dcstroy thcm with thc truth ol cmptincss. !l as soon as
thcy arc lrcc ol thc discasc ol attachmcnt to cxistcncc thcy lall
into thc crror ol grasping at cmptincss, thcrc is no mcdicinc that
s.c s.s
can hclp thcm.” As thc Prajna Paramita Truth ol ¡mptincss
sounds lolty and miraculous, whcn cducatcd pcoplc rcad ol this
litcraturc, thcy usually gct caught up in thc crror ol “spcaking on
thc lcvcl ol principlc” about cvcrything and look down on thosc
who lollow lorm and marks in thcir practicc. Tus, thcy crcatc
thc karma ol arrogancc and scllimportancc. Vhilc thcy mouth
thc Truth ol ¡mptincss, thcir actions arc cntircly in thc rcalm
ol cxistcncc, as cxcmplincd by thc lollowing couplct:
“Abovc, thcir mouths spcak about thc totally wondcrlul,
8clow, thcir lcct do not part with cvcn a motc ol dust.”
!n thc past, highranking spiritual tcachcrs oltcn uscd thc Truth
ol ¡mptincss to curc thc discasc ol attachmcnt to cxistcncc.
Howcvcr, thc achicvcmcnts ol thcsc mastcrs wcrc gcnuinc, and
thcir tcachings wcrc adaptcd to thc capacitics and circumstanccs
ol thc rccipicnts, bringing thcm actual bcncnts. Tis can bc sccn
lrom thc storics which lollow.
Tcrc was oncc a Zcn Mastcr who cultivatcd with cxtrcmc
diligcncc. Hc usually slcpt in a sitting position rathcr than
lying down, and hardly rcstcd much at all. Howcvcr, dcspitc
cngaging in ascctic practiccs lor many ycars, hc still had not
bccomc cnlightcncd to thc Vay. Ònc day, a novicc ol unknown
provcnancc sought pcrmission to join thc Òrdcr. Tis novicc
was habitually lazy to thc point whcrc hc would oltcn rcmain
in bcd cvcn altcr thc bcll announcing thc carly praycr scssion
had bccn rung. !nlormcd ol this, thc Mastcr summoncd him
s.c s.s
and scoldcd him in thc lollowing tcrms, “How is it that you
havc joincd thc Òrdcr but arc still so lazy as to bc always lying
down: Ðon’t you rcmcmbcr what thc rulcs ol disciplinc say:
‘Rcmaining in bcd and lailing to arisc altcr hcaring thc bcll will
bring thc luturc rctribution ol rcbirth as a snakc:’” Tc novicc
rcplicd, “You said, Mastcr, that ! oltcn lic down and thcrclorc
will bccomc a snakc. How about you, who arc attachcd to thc
sitting posturc, you will bc rcborn a toad. Vhat can you cvcr
hopc to awakcn to:” !mmcdiatcly altcr this cxchangc, thc novicc
disappcarcd. Howcvcr, thc Mastcr had awakcncd. As thc story
gocs, thc novicc was in lact a 8odhisattva, who had assumcd thc
appcarancc ol a novicc in ordcr to cnlightcn thc Mastcr.
Tcrc is also thc story ol a wcllknown ¡ldcr Mastcr who sat
astridc thc ncck ol a statuc ol thc 8uddha, splitting and burning
woodcn 8uddhas in ordcr to dcstroy thc conccpt ol attachmcnt
to thc 8uddhas, or thc anccdotc ol Mastcr Fa Ta, who, having
rccitcd thc Iotus 'utra thrcc thousand timcs, prostratcd himscll
without touching his hcad to thc ground, and was rcprimandcd
by thc Sixth Patriarch lor not having scvcrcd his attachmcnt to
thc Ðharma and to mcrits and virtucs |(latform 'utra|, or thc
story ol Mastcr Pci T’a, who, upon achicving thc Grcat Frccdom
Samadhi, wrotc thc namcs ol thc 8odhisattvas Manjusri and
Samantabhadra on his undcrwcar, to dcstroy thc conccpt ol
attachmcnt to thc Sangha.
¡nlightcncd Mastcrs ol thc past, with thcir high lcvcl ol
practicc and achicvcmcnt, could tcach thc Ðharma according
to thc timcs and conditions. Morcovcr, thc practitioncrs ol thc
s.: s..
timc includcd individuals ol thc highcst capacitics, so that thc
tcaching ol cmptincss was oltcn lruitlul. Today, thc majority
arc ol low and modcratc capacity. !n our tcaching, wc should
harmonizc thcory and practicc, naturc and marks, so as not to
cngcndcr doubts, and to kccp thc 8odhi Mind ol thc cultivators
lrom rctrogrcssing… Sincc thc majority ol practitioncrs cannot
cntcr dircctly into thc sphcrc ol Truc ¡mptincss in onc stcp,
il wc rcjcct cxtcrnal lorms wc would bring on thc calamity ol
“prcmaturcly dcstroying thc boat bclorc stcpping onto thc shorc.”
How, thcn, could wc cscapc drowning:
Ònc morc point to bcar in mind: il wc spcak about thc
Truth ol ¡mptincss without having attaincd that stagc (or at
lcast rcachcd a ccrtain lcvcl ol achicvcmcnt in our practicc) wc
ccrtainly cannot convcrt othcrs but will only cnd up in usclcss
argumcnts and disputcs.
A lcw ycars ago, this author witncsscd thc lollowing
occurrcncc: a young monk vcrscd in thc 8uddha Ðharma was
staying at a ccrtain tcmplc to lccturc on thc sutras. Tc abbot,
who was advanccd in agc, was diligcnt in his daily rccitation,
but uscd to traditional ways ol worship. Hc took a dislikc to
thc young monk and his lrcc, progrcssivc ways and said to
him, “You arc tcaching and urging pcoplc to lollow thc Vay,
yct you yourscll havc ncvcr bccn sccn to rccitc a singlc sutra nor
thc 8uddha’s namc. Undcr thcsc circumstanccs, how can you
scrvc as a modcl ol cultivation lor thc lourlold asscmbly:” Tc
young monk rcplicd, “Tcrc arc many ways to cultivatc. !t is
not ncccssary to lollow appcaranccs, rcciting thc sutras and thc
s.: s..
8uddha’s namc day and night, as you do, Mastcr, to qualily as a
cultivator. Tc Jiamond 'utra statcs:
‘Vho sccs Mc by lorm,
Vho sccs Mc in sound,
Pcrvcrtcd arc his lootscps upon thc Vay,
For hc cannot pcrccivc thc Tathagatha.’
(translation by A. F. Pricc, “Tc Ðiamond Sutra,” p.6..
!n Te Jiamond 'utra . Te 'utra of (ui ´eng.
8oston, Ma: Shambhala, so6o.)
“Takc thc Sixth Patriarch, who rccitcd ncithcr thc sutras nor
thc 8uddha’s namc, yct attaincd cnlightcnmcnt and bccamc a
Patriarch.” Tc abbot, at a loss lor words, rcmaincd silcnt.
!n truth, thc abbot was guilty ol attachmcnt to appcaranccs
and lorms, thc young monk, on thc othcr hand, whilc mouthing
abstrusc principlcs, actually practiccd ncithcr mcditation nor
rccitation. Tcrclorc, hc was not only unablc to cnlightcn thc
abbot, hc irritatcd him unncccssarily.
Òl thc two typcs ol attachmcnts, to cxistcncc and to
cmptincss, thc lattcr is vcry dangcrous. 8oth thc Ianka.atara
and thc 8soteric :dornment 'utras statc:
“!t is bcttcr to bc attachcd to cxistcncc, though thc attachmcnt
may bc as grcat as Mount Sumcru, than to bc attachcd to cmpti
ncss, though thc attachmcnt may bc as small as a mustard sccd.”
Attachmcnt to “cxistcncc” lcads to mindlulncss ol causc
and cßcct, warincss ol transgrcssions and lcar ol brcaking
s.¡ s..
thc prcccpts, as wcll as to 8uddha and sutra rccitation and
pcrlormancc ol good dccds. Although thcsc actions arc bound
to lorms and not lrcc and libcratcd, thcy arc all conducivc to
mcrits, virtucs and good roots. Òn thc othcr hand, il wc arc
attachcd to cmptincss without having attained Truc ¡mptincss,
but rclusc to lollow lorms and cultivatc mcrits. and virtucs, wc
will ccrtainly sink in thc cyclc ol birth and dcath.
Tis author, knowing himscll to bc nllcd with karmic
obstructions and bcing ol low capacity, has no dcsirc to discuss
lolty doctrinal qucstions, lcst his practicc not bc in accord with
his words, thus crcating thc karma ol lalsc spccch. Howcvcr,
with a sinccrc mind, wishing pcoplc to climinatc doubts and
bclicvc in 8uddha Rccitation, hc has rcluctantly providcd somc
cxplanations. Hc always comparcs himscll to a handicappcd
pcrson sitting at thc crossroads, although hc himscll cannot
walk, hc strivcs to show othcrs thc way, rcminding passcrsby to
avoid thc dangcrous path and lollow thc widc, cvcn and pcacclul
Vay. Hc ccrtainly would ncvcr cntcrtain thc ambition to cngagc
in discussions dcsigncd to scparatc thc important lrom thc
trivial, nor thc truc lrom thc lalsc.
s.¡ s..
II. Cavva+s:
ÐvxoNs ov +nv M:No
(excerpts p.ro6–aar)
A) IN+vvNai Rvaixs
!l wc arc not diligcnt and do not cxcrt cßorts along thc path ol
cultivation, nothing happcns, howcvcr, il wc arc diligcnt and
cxcrt a grcat dcal ol cßort, wc will dcnnitcly witncss dißcrcnt
rcalms. Tcy cithcr comc lrom within thc Mind or arc causcd
by outsidc sourccs. ! will spcak nrst about thc rcalms originating
lrom thc Mind, callcd intcrnal rcalms.
!ntcrnal rcalms arc also callcd “rcalms ol thc scllMind”
bccausc thcy do not comc lrom outsidc, but dcvclop lrom thc
Mind. Tosc who do not clcarly undcrstand thc truth that “tcn
thousand dharmas arc crcatcd by thc Mind” think that all rcalms
comc lrom thc outsidc. Tis is wrong. Vhcn thc practitioncr
cxcrts himscll to thc stagc ol mutual intcrpcnctration |ol Mind
and rcalms|, complctcly scvcring cxtcrnal conditions, thc sccds
ol latcnt dharmas in thc Alaya (Storc or ¡ighth) consciousncss
suddcnly manilcst thcmsclvcs. For thc 8uddha Rccitation or
mantra chanting practitioncr, thc powcr ol thc 8uddha’s namc
or thc mantra pcnctratcs dccp into thc Alaya consciousncss,
cliciting a rcaction lrom thc wholcsomc or cvil sccds thcrcin.
s.6 s.·
Tc rcalms that rcsult arc vcry complcx and usually appcar in
drcams, or cvcn whcn thc practitioncr is awakc and striving to
rccitc thc 8uddha’s namc. !n 8uddhism, this condition is callcd
“changing manilcstations ol thc Alaya consciousncss.”
9reaming scenes
!l thc cvcnts or sccncs rcsult lrom cvil sccds, thc practitioncr,
in his drcams, may scc various spccics ol worms crawling out
ol his body, or witncss himscll, cach night, rcmoving lrom his
body six or scvcn insccts with many limbs, such as scorpions or
ccntipcdcs. Òr clsc, hc may scc various spccics ol wild animals
and/or spirits or ghosts. Such rcalms arc innumcrablc and cannot
all bc dcscribcd!
!n gcncral, individuals grcatly amictcd with grccd, who
arc miscrly and wickcd, usually scc marks ol mcn and womcn,
snakcs and scrpcnts and odd spccics with whitc lcaturcs and
lorms. Tosc harboring a grcat dcal ol angcr and rcscntmcnt
usually scc tigcrs and lcopards or strangc spccics with rcd lorms
and lcaturcs. Tosc who arc hcavily dcludcd usually scc domcstic
animals, clams, oystcrs, snails or dißcrcnt spccics with black
lorms and lcaturcs. Tc abovc, howcvcr, is mcrcly indicativc, it
docs not mcan that cvcrything will bc cxactly as dcscribcd.
!l thc sccncs in his drcams comc lrom good, wholcsomc
sccds, thc practitioncr sccs tall trccs and cxotic ßowcrs, bcautilul
sccncry, brightly adorncd with ncts ol pcarls. Òr clsc, hc sccs
s.6 s.·
himscll cating succulcnt, lragrant lood, wcaring cthcrcal
garmcnts, dwclling in palaccs ol diamonds and othcr prccious
substanccs, or ßying high in opcn spacc.
Tus, in summary, all thc sccds ol thc tcn Ðharma Rcalms
arc lound in thc Minds ol scnticnt bcings. !l wholcsomc sccds
manilcst thcmsclvcs, scnticnt bcings vicw thc rcalms ol 8uddhas,
8odhisattvas, human and cclcstial bcings, il unwholcsomc
karma is manilcstcd, thcy witncss sccncs lrom thc wrctchcd
thrcc cvil paths. !l thc cultivator has lollowcd cxtcrnalist ways in
livcs past, hc usually sccs his body cmitting clcctric wavcs, or his
soul lcaving thc body to roam, mccting dcitics and thc likc, to
discuss politics and thc risc and lall ol countrics and cmpircs. Òr
clsc, whcn thc practitioncr’s Mind is purc, hc will know in his
drcams about cvcnts that will occur thrcc or lour days, or scvcn
or cight months, hcncc. !n gcncral, thosc who havc cultivatcd
in prcvious livcs will immcdiatcly scc auspicious rcalms whcn
rcciting thc 8uddha’s namc. Tosc with hcavy karma, lacking
mcrits and virtucs, will usually scc cvil rcalms whcn thcy bcgin
8uddha Rccitation. !n timc, thcsc cvil omcns will disappcar and
gradually bc rcplaccd with auspicious omcns.
7aking scenes
!l thc practitioncr’s cßorts havc rcachcd a high cnough lcvcl,
thcrc arc timcs during his waking hours whcn all dcludcd lccl
ings suddcnly ccasc lor a whilc, body and Mind bcing at casc
s.· s.o
and lrcc. At othcr timcs, thc practitioncr may rccitc lor lour or
nvc hours but lccl that thc timc was vcry short, pcrhaps two or
thrcc minutcs. Òr clsc, at timcs during rccitation, good, wholc
somc omcns will appcar. At othcr timcs, unconsciously, his
Mind cxpcricnccs grcat contcntmcnt and bliss. Somctimcs, hc
dccply rcalizcs lor a split sccond that Mind and rcalm arc both
cmpty. At othcr timcs, just by hcaring or sccing somcthing oncc,
hc bccomcs cnlightcncd to thc truth ol sußcring, cmptincss, im
pcrmancncc and NoScll, scvcring thc marks ol scll and othcrs.
Tcsc occurrcnccs arc too numcrous to bc lully dcscribcd!
A layman was oncc rcciting thc 8uddha’s namc whilc
awakc in thc dark. Suddcnly, hc saw two typcs ol ßowcrs, rcd
and whitc, springing up all ovcr thc ßoor, rcaching as high as
thc cdgcs ol his bcd, mcanwhilc, othcr ßowcrs wcrc dropping
likc rain lrom thc sky. Anothcr layman, whilc knccling down
to rccitc thc 8uddha’s namc, suddcnly saw a rcd lotus ßowcr
appcar bclorc thc 8uddha’s altar, its bud gradually opcning up
and disappcaring altcr a lcw minutcs.
Tcrc was yct anothcr layman who, during rccitation, would
suddcnly scc cvcrything around him disappcar. !n lront ol his
cycs would appcar thc sccnc ol an immcnsc occan, calm and still,
with no wind or wavcs whatsocvcr, countlcss hugc, multicolorcd
lotus blossoms would spring up on thc occan surlacc. Altcrward,
thc occan sccnc would disappcar, to bc rcplaccd by sccncs ol
mountains, with vcrdant hcrbs and ßowcrs, luxuriant ccntury
old trccs, and, by and by, a tcmplc complcx, sumptuous and
magninccnt. Tcn thc tcmplc and mountains would disappcar,
s.· s.o
to bc rcplaccd by sccncs ol jcwcllcd ncts coming togcthcr thcn
drawing apart, coming apart thcn drawing togcthcr again. Tcrc
arc, in gcncral, many such sccncs, which thc author has hcard
lcllowcultivators dcscribc and which hc has rccountcd hcrc as
cxamplcs and cvidcncc.
\isionary sccncs as thc abovc, callcd “intcrnal rcalms” or
“rcalms ol thc scllMind,” havc thcir origin in a thought ol pcacc
and stillncss, or arc causcd by wholcsomc sccds gcncratcd by
8uddha or Mantra Rccitation. Tcy appcar suddcnly and arc
lost immcdiatcly. Tc practitioncr should not bc attachcd to
thcm, thinking that thcy arc rcal or rcmcmbcring thcm londly.
!t is a vcry grcat mistakc to dcvclop nostalgia lor thcm, thinking
how cthcrcal, calm and pcacclul, bcautilul and wclladorncd
thcy wcrc, thcn daydrcaming about thcm, unablc to lorgct
thcm and longing lor thcir rcappcarancc. Tc ancicnts havc
criticizcd such thoughts as “scratching in advancc and waiting
lor thc itch.” Tis is bccausc thcsc sccncs havc thcir origin in
diligcnt cxcrtion and appcar tcmporarily. Tcy havc no truc
cxistcncc. Vc should rcalizc that whcn thc practitioncr cxcrts a
ccrtain dcgrcc ol cßort, thc sccncs and lcaturcs particular to that
lcvcl will appcar naturally.
Takc thc cxamplc ol a travcllcr who vicws |cvcr morc
bcautilul| sccncry as hc passcs through dißcrcnt strctchcs ol
thc road. !l hc has not rcachcd homc, yct dcvclops such an
attachmcnt and londncss lor a particular sccnc along thc road
that hc rcluscs to procccd, his travcl will bc impcdcd. Hc will
bc hclplcssly lost in thc midst ol his journcy, not knowing whcn
s6c s6s
hc will nnally rcturn homc to rcst. Tc practitioncr is likc that
travcllcr, il hc bccomcs attachcd to and lond ol tcmporary
rcalms and sccncs, hc will ncvcr attain thc truc rcalms. Vcrc hc
to drcam ol thcm to thc point ol insanity, hc would bc dcstroycd
by dcmons and wastc an cntirc lilctimc ol practicc!
Tc Jiamond 'utra statcs: “¡vcrything in this world that
has marks is illusory, to scc marks as not marks is to scc thc
“¡vcrything that has marks” rclcrs hcrc to compoundcd,
conditioncd dharmas. Tosc marks cannot bc said cithcr to
cxist or not to cxist, or to bc truc or lalsc. Ðclusions arisc
prcciscly bccausc uncnlightcncd scnticnt bcings discriminatc,
bccomc attachcd and think that thcsc marks cxist or do not
cxist, arc rcal or arc lalsc. ¡vcn whcn Zcn practitioncrs, upon
cntcring conccntration and witncssing thc immcnsc, cmpty,
still, transparcnt, pcacclul and lrcc rcalm ol samadhi, dcvclop
a londncss lor this rcalm — it lalls into thc catcgory ol “having
marks.” Tc samc is truc whcn thcsc practitioncrs, oncc
cnlightcncd to a ccrtain lolty, transccndcntal principlc, joylully
grasp at it. Òncc thcrc arc marks, thcrc is dclusion.
“To scc marks” mcans to scc such marks as auspicious/cvil,
good/bad, dirty/clcan, cxistcnt/noncxistcnt, 8uddha/scnticnt
bcings, cvcn thc rcalms ol thc “nvc aggrcgatcs,” thc “six dusts,’
“As not marks” mcans sccing but ncithcr bccoming attachcd
to nor rcjccting thcm — just lctting cvcrything bc. Vhy should
wc not rcjcct thcm: !t is bccausc marks, whilc illusory, arc not
s6c s6s
noncxistcnt. Tis is not unlikc thc rcßcction ol thc moon in
thc watcr. Although thc rcßcctcd moon is not rcal, this docs not
mcan that thcrc is no illusory mark ol thc rcßcction ol thc moon.
Tcrclorc, il wc scc marks appcar whilc wc arc cultivating, wc
should disrcgard thcm and rcdoublc our cßorts, just likc thc
travcllcr, who vicws varicd sccncry cn routc but must push
lorward to rcach homc quickly.
“To scc thc Tathagata” is to scc thc original 8uddha Naturc,
to scc thc Vay.
!n summary, all statcs ol mind, lrom thosc dcscribcd
abovc to thc statc ol oncpointcdncss ol mind, bclong to thc
“intcrnal rcalms.” Tcsc rcalms havc two aspccts: “attainmcnt
likc” and “partial attainmcnt.” “Attainmcntlikc” rcalms appcar
tcmporarily and disappcar immcdiatcly. “Partial attainmcnt”
rcalms arc thosc that, oncc achicvcd, wc havc lorcvcr, bccausc
wc havc actually attaincd a part ol Truc Tusncss. Rcgardlcss
ol whcthcr it is intcrnal or cxtcrnal, il it is “attainmcntlikc” it is
not a Truc Rcalm — bccausc it is mcrcly a lull undcrstanding ol
somc ol thc manilcstations ol thc Truc Mind.
Practitioncrs who truly scck libcration should not conlusc
thcsc aspccts, taking attainmcntlikc marks lor thc Truc Rcalm.
Attainmcntlikc marks arc likc a dark, lcadcn sky which suddcnly
clcars, thanks to thc winds which tcmporarily push away thc
dark clouds, lctting a lcw rays ol sunlight through bclorc thc sky
bccomcs ovcrcast again. Tcy also rcscmblc thc “mark” ol smokc
just bclorc thc nrc that pcoplc uscd to gct whcn thcy rubbcd two
picccs ol wood togcthcr.
s6: s6.
Tc Truc Rcalm can bc likcncd to thc bright sunlight in a
clcar and calm sky. !t is likc rubbing picccs ol wood togcthcr
and alrcady having nrc. Howcvcr, wc should not undcrcstimatc
attainmcntlikc marks, as thcy dcmonstratc thc gcnuinc cxistcncc
ol thc Truc Rcalm. !l, lrom that lcvcl, wc diligcntly rcdoublc our
cßorts, thc Truc Rcalm is not that lar away altcr all.
B) Ix+vvNai Rvaixs
¡xtcrnal rcalms arc rcalms which arc not crcatcd by thc Mind,
but comc lrom thc outsidc. For cxamplc, somc practitioncrs
might scc 8uddhas and 8odhisattvas appcaring bclorc thcm,
prcaching thc Ðharma, cxhorting and praising thcm. Òthcrs,
whilc rcciting thc 8uddha’s namc, suddcnly cxpcricncc an
awakcning and immcdiatcly scc thc Land ol Ultimatc 8liss.
Somc practitioncrs, in thc midst ol thcir purc rccitation, scc
dcitics and !mmortals arrivc, palms joincd in rcspcct, to
circumambulatc thcm or invitc thcm lor a lcisurcly stroll. Still
othcr practitioncrs scc “wandcring souls” arrivc, sccking to takc
rclugc with thcm. Yct othcrs, having rcachcd a high lcvcl in
thcir practicc, havc to cndurc challcngcs and harassmcnt lrom
cxtcrnal “dcmons…”
For cxamplc, thcrc was oncc a layman ol rathcr dull capaci
tics who constantly worshippcd thc 8odhisattva Avalokitcsvara.
Ðuring a drcam onc night, hc saw thc 8odhisattva urging him
s6: s6.
to mcditatc on thc lollowing stanza, and in timc hc would
achicvc cnlightcnmcnt:
“Grcat wisdom dcvclops lrom thc Mind,
Vhcrc in thc Mind can it bc lound:
To rcalizc all mcanings,
!s to havc ncithcr past nor prcscnt.”
A nun ol thc author’s acquaintancc was cultivating in thc vicinity
ol Ðalat. Altcr hcr Mantra Rccitation scssion, as shc was scatcd
in mcditation, shc saw two mcn ol noblc countcnancc, drcsscd
likc dcitics or !mmortals, rcspcctlully inviting hcr to scalc thc
mountains and visit thcir bcautilul grounds. !n hcr conccntration,
shc askcd thcm, “How can ! go, whcn thc mountains arc so high
and ! am so wcak:” Ònc ol thc mcn said, “Ðo not worry, ! havc
a way.” Hc thcn touchcd hcr lightly with somcthing similar to
a willow branch and rcqucstcd hcr to lollow him. Shc suddcnly
saw hcr body glidc cßortlcssly ovcr thc grass, and, in no timc,
shc was scaling thc mountains. Tcrc shc witncsscd cthcrcal
sccncs, with a palacc and a towcr in thc distancc. At that vcry
momcnt, a companion in thc back room droppcd somcthing
with a bang. Tc nun suddcnly awakcncd lrom mcditation. All
sccncs had disappcarcd and hcr thighs wcrc still aching lrom
Tc rcalms and manilcstations summarizcd abovc arc callcd
“cxtcrnal rcalms.” Somc might ask, “To scc 8uddhas and lotus
blossoms — is it not to scc dcmonic apparitions:” Answcr: “!l
s6¡ s6.
causc and cßcct coincidc, thcy arc not ‘dcmonic rcalms.’ Tis
is bccausc thc Purc Land mcthod bclongs to thc ‘School ol
¡xistcncc,’ whcn Purc Land practitioncrs nrst dcvclop thc 8odhi
Mind, thcy cntcr thc Vay through lorms and marks and scck to
vicw thc cclcstial sccncs ol thc Vcstcrn Purc Land. Vhcn thcy
actually witncss thcsc auspicious sccncs, it is only a mattcr ol
cßccts corrcsponding to causcs. !l causc and cßcct arc in accord,
how can thcsc bc ‘dcmonic rcalms:’
“!n thc Zcn School, on thc othcr hand, thc practitioncr
cntcrs thc Vay through thc door ol cmptincss. Right lrom thc
bcginning ol his cultivation hc wipcs out all marks — cvcn
thc marks ol thc 8uddha or thc Ðharma arc dcstroycd. Tc
Zcn practitioncr docs not scck to vicw thc 8uddha or thc lotus
blossom, yct thc marks ol thc 8uddha or thc lotus blossom
appcar to him. Tcrclorc, causc and cßcct do not corrcspond. For
somcthing to appcar without a corrcsponding causc is indccd thc
rcalm ol thc dcmon. Tus, thc Zcn practitioncr always holds thc
sword ol wisdom alolt. !l thc dcmon comcs, hc kills thc dcmon,
il thc 8uddha comcs, hc kills thc 8uddha — to cntcr thc rcalm
ol Truc ¡mptincss is not to tolcratc a singlc mark.”
A cavcat: wc arc only talking hcrc about novicc cultivators.
Highlcvcl Zcn practitioncrs do somctimcs scc various marks
which arc not, howcvcr, rcalms ol thc dcmons. Vhcn thcir
Minds bccomc cnlightcncd, Zcn Mastcrs who havc practiccd
mcditation lor many æons can scc cvil as wcll as transccndcntal
rcalms, including thc purc and dcnlcd lands ol thc tcn dircctions.
Tis is bccausc all worlds arc within thc light ol thc Truc Mind.
s6¡ s6.
Òn thc othcr hand, dcspitc what wc havc said carlicr, 8uddha
Rccitation practitioncrs somctimcs scc various marks which arc
“dcmonic rcalms,” as will bc cxplaincd latcr.
!n short, whcn wc rclcr to “intcrnal” and “cxtcrnal” rcalms,
wc arc spcaking on thc lcvcl ol bcginning cultivators. For thosc
who havc attaincd thc Vay, Mind is rcalm, rcalm is Mind, thc
tcn thousand dharmas and oursclvcs havc but onc common
naturc — thcrc is no insidc or outsidc at all.
C) Ð:scuss:oN oN “ÐvxoN:c Rvaixs”
As indicatcd abovc, somctimcs thc 8uddha Rccitation pracitioncr
sccs marks and lorms which could actually bc dcmonic rcalms.
Tcsc arc instanccs whcrc causc and cßcct do not corrcspond. For
cxamplc, whilc visualizing thc physical lcaturcs ol thc 8uddha, a
practitioncr may suddcnly scc thc lcaturcs ol a bcautilul woman.
— Anothcr cultivator, diligcntly rcciting thc 8uddha’s namc
in thc hopc ol sccing auspicious sccncs ol thc Purc Land, may
uncxpcctcdly scc a slum arca, with mcn, womcn and domcstic
animals running back and lorth in all dircctions. — Yct anothcr
practitioncr, hoping to scc prccious lotus blossoms in thc Purc
Land, suddcnly sccs a small cart instcad. Tcsc arc dcmonic
rcalms, as causc and cßcct do not coincidc.
Tcrc arc nvc critcria that can hclp us dctcrminc which
cvcnts arc rcal and which bclong to thc dcmonic rcalms.
s66 s6·
s. !nstanccs whcrc causc and cßcct do not corrcspond (such as
visualizing onc mark but sccing anothcr, hoping to scc onc
rcalm but sccing anothcr), as wcll as sccncs and rcalms that
do not rcscmblc thosc dcscribcd in thc sutras, arc all dcmonic
:. 8uddhas and 8odhisattvas havc purc compassion, thcrclorc,
cvcn il thcy takc thc appcarancc ol “dcmons” to tcst us, wc
should still lccl calm, at pcacc and purc. Ðcmons, on thc
contrary, arc inhcrcntly cvil and wickcd, thus, cvcn whcn thc
takc thc appcarancc ol 8uddhas and 8odhisattvas (i.c., good
and moral pcrsons), wc still lccl agitatcd, angry and uncasy.
.. Tc 8uddha’s light makcs us lccl calm and rclrcshcd, it has
ncithcr shadow nor a blinding cßcct on thc cyc. Tc light ol
dcmons, on thc othcr hand, aßccts our cycs and makcs us lccl
agitatcd rathcr than calm and pcacclul, it also has shadows, as
dcscribcd in thc Ianka.atara 'utra…
¡. Tc tcachings ol thc 8uddhas and 8odhisattvas arc in accord
with thc sutras and thc truth. Tc words ol dcmons arc contrary
to thc truth and not in linc with thc sutras’ tcachings.
.. Vhcn an auspicious mark appcars, thc practitioncr who wishcs
to tcst it nccd only conccntratc on rcciting thc (eart Sutra
with a Purc Mind, or rcciting a mantra or thc 8uddha’s namc
with oncpointcdncss ol mind. !l thc mark rcally is auspicious,
thc morc hc rccitcs, thc clcarcr it bccomcs, bccausc gcnuinc
gold docs not lcar nrc. !l it bclongs to thc dcmonic rcalm, it
disappcars as hc rccitcs, bccausc cvil can ncvcr inlringc upon
thc truc and thc auspicious.
s66 s6·
Vc should judgc cvcnts by all nvc ol thc abovc critcria, not
just onc or two. Tis is bccausc thcrc arc many cclcstial dcmons
or cxtcrnalist dcitics and !mmortals who want to lcad us thcir
way and thcrclorc lalscly takc thc appcarancc ol 8uddhas and
8odhisattvas prcaching thc Ðharma. Although thcir cultivation
is not thc ultimatc Vay lcading to libcration, thcy posscss good
karma or a lairly high lcvcl ol conccntration. Tus, thcir “light”
can also makc us lccl rclrcshcd and pcacclul. Morcovcr, thcir
tcachings somctimcs cncouragc thc pcrlormancc ol good dccds,
kccping thc prcccpts, vcgctarianism and 8uddha Rccitation.
Howcvcr, thcy divcrgc lrom thc 8uddhist sutras on ccrtain
points. Ònly by cxcrcising carclul judgcmcnt and undcrstanding
thc Ðharma in dcpth arc wc ablc to know.
For cxamplc, ccrtain cxtcrnalist dcitics urgc vcgctarianism
and 8udhha Rccitation, but tcach that thc sacrcd words should
bc visualizcd as circulating throughout thc body — this, thcy
say, is “turning thc Ðharma whccl,” to rclcasc blockagcs in thc
cncrgy systcm. Tis is thc prcaching ol cxtcrnalist dcmons.
Tcrc arc also dcmons who takc thc appcarancc ol ¡ldcr
Mastcrs and say, “Statucs ol thc 8uddha madc ol bronzc and
ccmcnt cannot vanquish watcr, bccausc thcy sink in watcr,
statucs ol thc 8uddha madc ol wood cannot vanquish nrc,
bccausc thcy would burn. Ònly thc Mind8uddha cannot bc
dcstroycd by anything. You nccd only to cultivatc thc Mind
8uddha, striving to makc it purc, thcrc is no nccd to cultivatc
thc body and mouth. Tcrclorc, cvcn ‘cating mcat and drinking
winc,’ lusting and bcgctting childrcn, is ol no conscqucncc.
s6· s6o
Cultivating thc body and thc mouth through maintaining thc
prcccpts, vcgctarianism, Sutra, Mantra and 8uddha Rccitation
arc rcstrictivc, ascctic practiccs which arc ol no usc and bring no
bcncnt!” Tis is a typical tcaching ol somc spirits ol long ycars’
standing or dcmons ol scxual lust.
Tcrc arc somc typcs ol dcmon who havc rcachcd a lairly high
lcvcl ol attainmcnt and can usc thcir powcrs ol conccntration to
hclp thc practitioncr rcach a statc ol samadhi lor a pcriod ol
scvcn or twcntyonc days. Howcvcr, thcir tcaching docs not lcad
to ultimatc libcration and, in thc cnd, cannot transccnd thc cyclc
ol cgoattachmcnt.
Ancicnt mastcrs havc said, “whcn wc scc dcmons yct rcmain
undisturbcd, thc dcmons sclldcstruct, whcn wc scc ghosts yct
rcmain undisturbcd, thc ghosts arc vanquishcd.” Tis saying
mcans: il wc scc dcmons and ghosts but our Minds arc unmovcd
and unalraid, holding last to corrcct thoughts or singlcmindcdly
rcciting thc 8uddha’s namc, thcsc dcmons and ghosts cannot
hurt us in any way, and will lcavc ol thcir own accord.
Not only should wc act in such a manncr whcn sccing
dcmons, but cvcn whcn wc achicvc somc rcsults or scc auspicious
marks during cultivation, wc should not bc movcd to sadncss,
astonishmcnt or joy. !t is as il wc lost a diamond at thc bottom
ol thc lakc and bccausc thc watcr was murky wc wcrc unablc
to rccovcr it dcspitc our bcst cßorts. Now that thc watcr is still
and transparcnt, wc havc lound it. Sincc thc diamond originally
bclongcd to us, why should wc bc astonishcd and happy: !l thc
cultivator’s Mind is not calm and pcacclul and is ovcrly givcn to
s6· s6o
sorrowlul thoughts, hc will bc harmcd by thc dcmon ol sorrow
and cry all thc timc. !l hc is givcn to too much happincss, hc
will bc harmcd by thc dcmon ol happincss and laugh all thc
timc, as though insanc.
Morcovcr, although thc Purc Land practitioncr may also
hopc to scc auspicious sccncs, hc should not long lor or drcam ol
thcm too much, bccausc to rccitc is alrcady to scck. Hc should
bc calm and “scck but not scck, not scck but scck,” so as to
avoid disturbing his Mind. Hc should just carncstly rccitc thc
8uddha’s namc and in timc, whcn thc powcr ol his rccitation
is purc, thcrc will bc a rcsponsc and hc will witncss auspicious
rcalms. To continuously scck and hopc lor thcm is dcludcd
thought which brings harm.
Long ago in China thcrc was a layman who had cngagcd in
mcditation lor somc thirty ycars. Ònc day, hc suddcnly attaincd
thc laculty ol transccndcntal vision. At thc bcginning, hc would
scc through walls, latcr on, hc could scc things within a lcw
dozcn milcs as clcarly as though thcy wcrc in lront ol his cycs.
Rcalizing that hc had achicvcd “transccndcntal vision” hc was
vcry astonishcd and happy! As timc wcnt on, hc was not only ablc
to “scc” but also “hcar” thc voiccs ol human bcings and animals
lrom lar away. Tis is transccndcntal hcaring, which dcvclops
altcr transccndcntal vision. As timc wcnt by, hc could scc and
hcar things that occurrcd within a radius ol scvcral thousand
milcs. Still latcr, hc was ablc to “prcdict” luturc cvcnts… Tus, hc
“kncw” in advancc ol a war bctwccn two ncighboring kingdoms
and “witncsscd” thc pitilul sight ol countlcss dcad and dying
s·c s·s
among thc populacc. Hc was so movcd that hc would wccp and
lamcnt to whomcvcr hc mct, “A grcat, violcnt uprising is going
to occur. Tcrc will bc massacrcs and uttcr miscry. Tc pcoplc
dcscrvc pity and compassion. How can thcy bc hclpcd:”
At thc timc, cvcryonc who hcard him thought hc was
insanc. Latcr on, howcvcr, war and rcbcllion did occur as hc had
prcdictcd. ¡vcn whcn it was ovcr, hc continucd to go around
lamcnting. Ancicnt mastcrs commcntcd: “‘Tis is a casc ol
posscssion by thc ‘dcmons ol sorrow and sadncss.’ Tc cultivator
who has rcachcd a ccrtain high lcvcl ol practicc suddcnly
dcvclops ‘transccndcntal vision.’ Hc should rcßcct it toward
thc scllnaturc, not lctting worldly lorms and marks movc and
disturb his Mind. Hc should rcalizc that thcsc psychic powcrs
havc always bccn in his posscssion and should thcrclorc not
bc unduly happy or astonishcd, considcring thcm strangc and
wondcrlul occurrcnccs…”
Ð) Vav:ous Tvvvs ov ÐvxoNs
Tc author. had just nnishcd dralting thc prcvious thrcc scctions
whcn hc was visitcd by a Ðharma collcaguc who rcqucstcd him
to claboratc on thc dißcrcnt typcs ol dcmons, lor thc bcncnt ol
lcllowcultivators. !n thc thrcc prcvious scctions hc has, in lact,
givcn a gcncral cxplanation ol thc dißcrcnt rcalms, including
thosc ol dcmons. !l thc cultivator has undcrstood thc main idca,
s·c s·s
hc can kccp his Mind undisturbcd and countcract all harmlul
occurrcnccs. Howcvcr, to comply with thc abovc rcqucst, hc will
dcscribc thc dißcrcnt typcs ol dcmons in grcatcr dctail.
“Ðcmons” arc callcd “mara” in Sanskrit. !n Chincsc, thc
word is translatcd as “murdcrcr” bccausc dcmons usually plundcr
thc virtucs and murdcr thc wisdom lilc ol cultivators. “Ðcmons”
also rcprcscnt thc dcstructivc conditions (i.c., lunctions and
inßucnccs) that causc practitioncrs to rctrogrcss in thcir
cultivation. Ðcmons can rcndcr cultivators insanc, makc thcm
losc thcir right thought, dcvclop crroncous vicws, commit bad
karma and cnd up sunk in thc lowcr rcalms.
Tosc activitics which dcvclop virtuc and wisdom and lcad
scnticnt bcings to Nirvana arc callcd 8uddha work. Tosc
activitics which dcstroy good roots, causing scnticnt bcings to
sußcr and to sink in thc cyclc ol birth and dcath, arc callcd
dcmonic actions. Tc longcr a practitioncr cultivatcs, and thc
highcr his lcvcl ol attainmcnt, thc morc hc discovcrs how wickcd,
cunning and ßourishing thc dcmons arc. Although thcrc arc
numcrous dcmons, thcy can bc dividcd into thrcc typcs: dcmons
ol amictions, cxtcrnal dcmons and cclcstial dcmons.
a) 9emons of aHiuions
Tcsc dcmons rcprcscnt thc amictions ol grccd, angcr,
rcscntmcnt, dclusion, contcmpt, doubt and wrong vicws. Tc
also includc thc dcmons ol thc Fivc Aggrcgatcs |obstructions
causcd by our physical and mcntal lunctions|, thc Six ¡ntranccs,
s·: s·.
thc Twclvc Scnsc Ficlds |cycs, lorms, cars…| and thc ¡ightccn
¡lcmcnts. Tcsc dcmons arc also callcd “intcrnal” as thcy arc
crcatcd by topsyturvy, dclusivc statcs ol mind. Tcrclorc, thcy
must bc annihilatcd by thc truc, cnlightcncd, bright Mind.
Tc Minds ol human bcings arc casily movcd, dcvcloping
amictions not only bccausc ol thcir pcrsonal karma but
also bccausc ol thc common karma ol living togcthcr in an
cnvironmcnt nllcd, lor thc most part, with cvil bcings. Somc
cannot rcsist thc attractions ol thc nvc dusts and thus lall into
cvil ways. Òthcrs, cncountcring advcrsc conditions, grow sad
and mournlul and losc thcir dctcrmination to progrcss. Such
dcvclopmcnts, dcpcnding on thcir scvcrity, rcndcr thc cultivator
dcspondcnt, indignant and ill, or worsc still, causc him to
abandon thc 8uddhist Òrdcr or cvcn to commit suicidc out
ol dcspair. Morc harmlul still, thcy crcatc loss ol rcspcct and
good will toward othcr cultivators, somctimcs cvcn hatrcd and
avoidancc ol clcrgy and lay pcoplc alikc. Loss ol laith in causc
and cßcct, bad karma and, nnally, dcsccnt upon thc thrcc cvil
paths is thc cnd rcsult.
To countcract thcsc dcmons, thc practitioncr should mcdi
tatc on thc lact that all amictions arc illusory, upsctting, sul
locating, binding, cvil and conducivc only to sußcring lor both
himscll and othcrs. To climinatc amictions is to rcturn to thc
Truc Mind, which is lrcc and libcratcd, lrcsh and tranquil, bright
and clcar, happy and at pcacc, transccndcntal and miraculous.
Tc cultivator should also mcditatc in thc samc way on all at
tachmcnts, lrom thc Fivc Aggrcgatcs to thc ¡ightccn ¡lcmcnts.
s·: s·.
!n thc Iotus 'utra, thc 8uddha said, “You should not bc grccdy
and attachcd to gross and vilc lorms, sound, smcll, tastc, touch
and dharmas. !l you do, thcy will burn you up.” Tc 8odhisattva
Manjusri oncc askcd a lcmalc dcity, “How do you scc thc ¡ight
ccn ¡lcmcnts:” Tc dcity rcplicd, “Tcy arc similar to thc æonic
nrc burning up thc wholc world.” Tcsc arc words ol warning,
rcminding us to climinatc thc dcmons ol amictions.
!l thc dcmons ol amictions (intcrnal dcmons) arc not
subducd, thcy will attract “cxtcrnal dcmons” which wrcak
havoc. Tc ancicnts havc said, “!l bchind thc door thcrc arc
mcanspiritcd pcoplc, mcanspiritcd pcoplc will arrivc at thc
door, il bchind thc door thcrc arc virtuous, supcrior pcoplc,
noblc supcrior pcoplc will arrivc at thc door.” As an cxamplc,
whcn thicvcs try to cntcr a housc through thc sidc door, il thc
owncr calmly scolds thcm in a loud voicc, thcy will naturally bc
lrightcncd and lcavc. !l, on thc othcr hand, hc is tcrrincd and
panicstrickcn and bcgs thcm to dcsist, hc will unwittingly bc
inviting thcm into his housc.
b) 8xterna/ demons
“¡xtcrnal dcmons” arc intcrprctcd as taking thc lorm ol various
cxtcrnal spirits, ghosts and dcitics. Òncc thc cultivator has
rcachcd a ccrtain lcvcl ol attainmcnt, hc will bc subjcct to
dcmonic disturbanccs which will put him to thc tcst. ¡xtcrnal
dcmons can bc dividcd into thrcc groups.
s·¡ s·.
s. Tvvvovizixc Ðv:oxs
Tcsc arc ghosts which likc to lrightcn and tcrrorizc pcoplc.
Tcy usually takc thc lorm ol tigcrs, wolvcs, scrpcnts, snakcs
or othcr lcrocious bcasts or hallucinatory, diabolic apparitions
to scarc thc cultivator. Tcir lorms changc ad innnitum. Tcy
may havc no hcad or many hcads, many hands, many cycs, or
a hallhuman, hallbcstial body. Tcy brandish wcapons or spit
nrc. !l thc practitioncr is lrightcncd, hc loscs his right thought
and oltcn gocs insanc.
Faccd with thcsc occurrcnccs, wc should rcßcct that all
lorms and marks arc illusory, and that dcmons can only dcstroy
thc illusory body, not thc Truc Mind. Mcditating this way, wc
should rcmain calm and unalraid, pcacclully conccntrating on
8uddha or Mantra Rccitation, and thc dcmons will rctrcat ol
thcir own accord.
:. Ðv:oxs ov Lis) ~xb A))~cn:vx)
Tcsc arc a typc ol dcmon which cxcitcs a rangc ol cmotions, lrom
scxual lust to dclusivc attachmcnt to thc nvc dusts |i.c., this world|.
Tcy takc thc appcarancc ol alluring, nudc mcn and womcn or
ol parcnts, siblings or closc rclativcs, as wcll as ol 8uddhas and
8odhisattvas with bcautilul, adorncd lcaturcs, in ordcr to cnticc
thc practitioncr. !l hc is lond ol good lood, thcsc dcmons bring
him succulcnt, lragrant dishcs. !l hc likcs diamonds or gold, thcy
takc thc appcarancc ol strangc animals holding prccious stoncs
s·¡ s·.
in thcir mouths as oßcrings. Tcy causc whatcvcr thc practitioncr
dcsircs to appcar. Tcy can also usc thcir psychic powcr to lcad
him into cvil samadhi, cvil wisdom and cloqucncc, giving him
thc mystic powcr to know thc past and thc luturc.
Tosc who do not undcrstand will mistakc thcsc occurrcnccs
lor cvidcncc that thc practitioncr has attaincd cnlightcnmcnt,
and thus bclicvc in and trust him. !n rcality, howcvcr, thc
cultivator’s Mind is upsidc down, and hc spcnds all his timc
cngaging in crrant, dcmonic practiccs to dcccivc thc world.
Tcrc was a casc ol a \ictnamcsc monk who was cultivating
at a dcscrtcd tcmplc in Laos. !n onc ol his mcditation scssions,
hc saw a group ol bcautilul, cthcrcal womcn, all nakcd, holding
hands and dancing around. Tc monk, unablc to calm his
agitatcd Mind, immcdiatcly rccitcd thc 8uddha’s namc in all
carncstncss. Ònly thcn did this sccnc disappcar.
Anothcr story: Òncc thcrc was a monk in China who was
practicing mcditation. As hc was cold and hungry, thc thought
ol lood arosc in his Mind. Hc suddcnly saw a woman prcscnting
him with an oßcring ol lood. Tc woman knclt, put lood in
his bowl, and rcspcctlully askcd him to cat immcdiatcly, bclorc
thc lood grcw cold and lost all tastc. Tc monk, bcing hungry
wantcd to cat at oncc, but, rcmcmbcring that it was not yct
noontimc, hc paticntly told hcr to put thc bowl asidc lor thc timc
bcing. Tc woman lclt, appcaring angry and upsct. Somc timc
latcr, at noon, thc monk uncovcrcd thc bowl to discovcr that it
was lull ol worms, crawling all around. Hc thcn undcrstood that
his lalsc thought ol lood had attractcd thc dcmonic apparition.
s·6 s··
Tanks to his powcr ol conccntration, hc was ablc to avoid cating
thc dirty lood and violating thc prcccpt against killing.
Tcrc was also a casc ol a Zcn monk practicing in thc
mountains. Loncly and isolatcd, hc had a dcludcd thought,
hoping to havc somc lcllowcultivators practicing along with
him, to makc lilc morc bcarablc. !mmcdiatcly, an old woman
appcarcd lrom nowhcrc, lcading two bcautilul young girls by
thc hand, who, shc said, livcd in thc villagc down in thc vallcy.
Tcy had comc, thcy said, to scck guidancc in thc Vay. Tc
monk, unsuspicious, immcdiatcly bcgan to givc a Ðharma talk
to thc group. Ònc day, altcr many such visits ovcr a pcriod ol
timc, thc old woman rcspcctlully askcd that thc two girls bc
allowcd to bccomc attcndants to thc monk and rclicvc him ol
his daily chorcs. Tc monk, hcaring this, bccamc suspicious. Hc
rcprimandcd thc old woman scvcrcly and rcluscd thc oßcr. Tc
thrcc womcn lclt, apparcntly angry and ashamcd.
Tc monk, intrigucd, lollowcd thcm discrcctly until thcy
disappcarcd around a bcnd in thc road. Vhcn hc rcachcd thc
spot, hc lound it was a dcad cnd with no habitation or anything
clsc around, cxccpt lor thrcc vcry old trccs, onc big trcc and
two smallcr oncs. Hc thought it ovcr and rcalizcd that hc had
bccn “tcstcd….” A ßccting thought occurrcd to him, that hc
should cut down thc trccs, start a bonnrc, and burn thcm up. At
that momcnt, thrcc pcrsons appcarcd, sccking rcpcntancc and
bcgging him to lorgivc thcm and sparc thcir livcs.
Tcrclorc, thc cultivator should rcmcmbcr: whcn thc Mind is
still, all rcalms arc calm, whcn dclusion ariscs, dcmons arc born.
s·6 s··
.. Niis~xcv Ðv:oxs
Tis typc ol dcmon conccntratcs on harassing and disturbing
thc practitioncr. Tcrc is a ccrtain spccics ol spirits and ghosts,
which can bc subdividcd into many typcs, cach appcaring at a
nxcd timc ol thc day. !n gcncral, cach hour has thrcc typcs ol
spirits…. For cxamplc, during thc pcriod bctwccn scvcn and
ninc in thc morning, thcy takc thc appcarancc ol dragons, nsh
and scrpcntlikc crcaturcs….
!n thc commcntary (oncentration and .isualization in 2en, a
typc ol dcmon is mcntioncd, with a lacc likc a pcarshapcd guitar,
lour cycs and two mouths, which cnjoys disturbing cultivators.
Vaiting lor thc individual to bcgin practicc, it takcs thc lorm ol
worms and crawls all ovcr his hcad and lacc, pcnctratcs into his
mouth, nosc, cycs and cars, or gocs undcr his armpits or bclly to
sting him. At othcr timcs it shouts loudly into thc practitioncr’s
cars, crcating a grcat disturbancc and giving him a hcadachc,
or it suddcnly cmbraccs him tightly. !l thc practitioncr attcmpts
to scizc it in rcturn, nothing is thcrc. Tis nuisancc dcmon
also causcs sccncs ol thc nvc dusts to appcar, cithcr lavorablc
or unlavorablc, or ncithcr lavorablc nor unlavorablc. Such
translormations arc countlcss and can causc thc practitioncr
to bccomc agitatcd. As hc docs not know what to makc ol all
this, hc loscs his conccntration. Tc gcncral way to subduc thcsc
nuisancc dcmons is to “gathcr” thc Mind in right conccntration,
or diligcntly rccitc mantras or thc 8uddha’s namc — thcy will
thcn all disappcar.
s·· s·o
Spcaking morc broadly, thc catcgory ol “cxtcrnal dcmons”
also includcs dcmons bclonging to cults and othcr lalsc, quasi
8uddhist sccts. According to thc obscrvations ol this author
and many ol his collcagucs, practitioncrs who havc bclongcd
to cults in this or prcvious livcs but havc now convcrtcd to
8uddhism, as wcll as thosc who arc thcmsclvcs 8uddhists but
who comc lrom lamilics lormcrly activc in othcr laiths and
cults, tcnd to bc bothcrcd by cxtcrnal dcmons. Tis is bccausc
thc cultivation mcthods ol cxtcrnalists arc within thc rcalm ol
worldly amictions and arc taintcd with pridc, cgo attachmcnt,
powcr and lamc. Tcrclorc, thcy stick togcthcr and do not
want pcoplc conncctcd with thcm in somc way to lollow othcr
A casc in point is a lricnd ol thc author, a 8uddhist monk
ol gcntlc and pcacclul disposition, who was continuously
disturbcd by cxtcrnalist dcmons during his cultivation.
Unlortunatcly, bccausc ol his “cxtcrnalist” past sccds, hc
did not apply thc 8uddha Ðharma wholchcartcdly, but wcnt
instcad lrom placc to placc, sccking hclp lrom cxtcrnalists. !n
thc cnd, hc straycd complctcly lrom 8uddhism. Vhilc taking
thc outsidc appcarancc ol a 8uddhist monk, hc spcnt all his
timc practicing thc “balancing ol body cncrgy currcnts,” and
dcnigratcd thc practiccs ol bowing to thc 8uddha and rcciting
sutras as attachmcnts to lorms…. Tus, thosc who wcrc oncc
amliatcd with cxtcrnalist laiths and latcr rcturncd to thc
8uddha Ðharma, should rcßcct on thc abovc cxamplcs and bc
s·· s·o
c) (e/estia/ 9emons
Tis rclcrs to thc typc ol dcmon which rcsidcs in thc Sixth
Hcavcn, also callcd thc Hcavcn ol Frcc ¡njoymcnt ol Òthcrs’
¡manations. Tis typc ol dcmon posscsscs mcrits and blcssings
and cnjoys thc highcst hcavcnly bliss in thc Rcalm ol Ðcsirc
|ol which our world is but a small part|. Tcy thcn mistakc
such happincss and bliss as ultimatc, and do not wish anyonc to
cscapc lrom thcir inßucncc. |Cclcstial dcmons stand lor lust and
powcr, and takc thc lorm ol opprcssion by mcn ol powcr.|
Vhcn a practitioncr has attaincd a lairly high lcvcl ol
cultivation, his Mind Light dcvclops and shincs up to thc
rcalm ol thc Sixth Hcavcn. !t is thcn discovcrcd by thc cclcstial
dcmons, who scck ways to sabotagc his cultivation. Such
action can takc many lorms, thrcatcning or cajoling, or cvcn
inducing thc practitioncr to attain lalsc samadhi, wisdom and
spiritual powcr, with thc aim ol ultimatcly dccciving him. Tcsc
dcmons takc turns watching thc practitioncr constantly and
without intcrruption, waiting lor thc opportunc momcnt. !l thc
practitioncr has a dclusivc thought, thcy pouncc on him or stccr
him toward things contrary to thc Vay. Tc practitioncr’s cntirc
lilctimc ol cultivation is thcn ovcr, lor all practical purposcs.
!n his Treatise on the :.akening of the Taith, thc Patriarch
Asvaghosha admonishcd:
“Tcrc may bc somc disciplcs whosc root ol mcrit is not yct
maturc, whosc control ol Mind is wcak and whosc powcr ol
s·c s·s
application is limitcd, and yct who arc sinccrc in thcir purposc
to scck cnlightcnmcnt, thcsc lor a timc may bc bcsct and
bcwildcrcd by maras and cvil inßucnccs who arc sccking to
brcak down thcir good purposc.
“Such disciplcs, sccing scductivc sights, attractivc girls,
strong young mcn, must constantly rcmind thcmsclvcs that all
such tcmpting and alluring things arc Mindmadc, and, il thcy
do this, thcir tcmpting powcr will disappcar and thcy will no
longcr bc annoycd. Òr, il thcy havc visions ol hcavcnly gods and
8odhisattvas and 8uddhas surroundcd by cclcstial glorics, thcy
should rcmind thcmsclvcs that thcsc, too, arc Mindmadc and
unrcal. Òr, il thcy should bc upliltcd and cxcitcd by listcning
to mystcrious Ðharanis, to lccturcs upon thc paramitas, to
clucidations ol thc grcat principlcs ol thc Mahayana, thcy
must rcmind thcmsclvcs that thcsc also arc cmptincss and
Mindmadc, that in thcir csscncc thcy arc Nirvana itscll. Òr,
il thcy should havc intimations within that thcy havc attaincd
transccndcntal powcrs, rccalling past livcs, or lorcsccing luturc
livcs, or, rcading othcrs’ thoughts, or lrccdom to visit othcr
8uddhalands, or grcat powcrs ol cloqucncc, all ol |thcsc| may
tcmpt thcm to bccomc covctous lor worldly powcr and richcs
and lamc. Òr, thcy may bc tcmptcd by cxtrcmcs ol cmotion,
at timcs angry, at othcr timcs joyous, or at timcs vcry kind
hcartcd and compassionatc, at othcr timcs thc vcry oppositc,
or at timcs alcrt and purposclul, at othcr timcs indolcnt and
stupid, at timcs lull ol laith and zcalous in thcir practicc, at
othcr timcs cngrosscd in othcr aßairs and ncgligcnt.
“All ol |thcsc| will kccp thcm vacillating, at timcs cxpcri
cncing a kind ol nctitious samadhi, such as thc hcrctics boast
ol, but not thc truc samadhi. Òr latcr, whcn thcy arc quitc
advanccd |thcy| bccomc absorbcd in tranccs lor a day, or two,
s·c s·s
or cvcn scvcn, not partaking ol any lood but uphcld by inward
lood ol thcir spirit, bcing admircd by thcir lricnds and lccling
vcry comlortablc and proud and complaccnt, and thcn latcr bc
coming vcry crratic, somctimcs cating littlc, somctimcs grccd
ily, and thc cxprcssion ol thcir lacc constantly changing.
“8ccausc ol all such strangc manilcstations and dcvclop
mcnts in thc coursc ol thcir practiccs, disciplcs should bc on
thcir guard to kccp thc Mind undcr constant control. Tcy
should ncithcr grasp altcr nor bccomc attachcd to thc pass
ing and unsubstantial things ol thc scnscs or conccpts and
moods ol thc Mind. !l thcy do this thcy will bc ablc to kccp lar
away lrom thc hindranccs ol karma.” (translation by Vcitao,
: Juddhist Jible, p.¡c:–..)
!n summary and as a lurthcr gcncralization, thcrc arc only two
typcs ol dcmons: intcrnal and cxtcrnal. Cclcstial dcmons arc
within thc catcgory ol cxtcrnal dcmons, howcvcr, ! havc dcscribcd
thcm scparatcly to alcrt thc practitioncr to thc dangcrous, subtlc
havoc thcy can causc. !n addition to thc dcmons ol amictions,
cxtcrnal dcmons and cclcstial dcmons dcscribcd abovc, 8uddhist
sutras also mcntion “discasc dcmons” and thc “dcmon ol dcath.”
A bout ol discasc will usually withcr thc practitioncr’s cßorts,
whilc dcath in thc midst ol cultivation can makc him rctrogrcss.
Tus, discasc and dcath arc callcd dcmons. Howcvcr, in gcncral,
thcy rcprcscnt obstaclcs to thc Vay that aßcct thc physical
body, but thcy cannot harm and dcstroy thc 8odhi Mind in thc
truc scnsc ol thc word “dcmon.” For this rcason, thcy arc only
mcntioncd in passing, but not claboratcd upon hcrc.
s·: s·.
Considcring thc lcvcl ol cultivation ol today’s practitioncrs,
thcy gcncrally lacc harassmcnt only lrom dcmons ol amictions
or cxtcrnal dcmons. Such cultivators arc not advanccd cnough to
arousc opposition lrom cclcstial dcmons. Howcvcr, should thc
lattcr sct thcir minds to dcstroying somconc, that pcrson has littlc
hopc ol cscaping harm, unlcss his cultivation is cxcmplary.
!n thc 'urangama 'utra, 8uddha Sakyamuni, out ol
compassion lor cultivators laccd with many dangcrs along thc
Vay, admonishcd thosc who practiccd mcditation to rccitc
mantras at thc samc timc. Tis would cnablc thcm to rcly on
thc 8uddha’s powcr to cscapc harm lrom dcmons and achicvc
right conccntration. ¡ldcr Mastcr Yin Kuang has said: “At
nrst glancc, it would appcar that thc 'urangama 'utra has
a dißcrcnt vicwpoint lrom thc Purc Land. Howcvcr, upon
closcr scrutiny, thc Sutra, in its csscncc, actually praiscd and
commcndcd thc Purc Land School. Vhy is this so: !t is bccausc,
il cvcn thosc who havc attaincd thc third lcvcl ol Arhatship can
sußcr rctrogrcssion causcd by dcmons, wc can scc thc crucial
importancc ol 8uddha Rccitation and rcbirth: in thc ‘gathcring’
and hclping light ol thc Lord Amitabha 8uddha, thcrc is no
morc dangcr ol dcmons.”
Tus, whilc trcading thc Vay but not yct rcborn, Purc Land
practitioncrs may also cncountcr dcmonic obstaclcs. Howcvcr,
in most cascs, this is bccausc thc cultivator docs not undcrstand
thc Ðharma and is not skilllul at rcining in his Mind, lctting
intcrnal dcmons “spring up,” which, in turn, attract cxtcrnal
dcmons. !l hc can kccp his Mind calm and tranquil and, in
s·: s·.
addition, rccitc thc 8uddha’s namc, cxtcrnal dcmons will bc
powcrlcss and amictions will gradually disappcar as wcll. Tus,
lor Purc Land practitioncrs, cvcn il dcmonic obstaclcs appcar,
thcy arc lcw in numbcr.
Zcn practitioncrs, on thc othcr hand, lacc many dcmonic
occurrcnccs bccausc thcy rcly only on thcir own strcngth and
scllpowcr. A Zcn lollowcr should lulnll thc lollowing nvc
conditions to bc succcsslul: nrst, hc should kccp thc prcccpts
strictly, sccondly, his naturc and roots should bc “swilt” and
cnlightcncd, thirdly, hc should havc a clcar undcrstanding ol thc
8uddha Ðharma, skilllully distinguishing thc corrcct lrom thc
dcviant, thc truc lrom thc lalsc, lourthly, hc should bc nrm and
stablc in his dctcrmination, and nlthly, hc should bc guidcd by
a good advisor, who has a thorough undcrstanding ol thc sutras
and many ycars cxpcricncc in mcditation. !l thc practitioncr
docs not mcct thcsc nvc conditions, hc is vcry casily subjcct to
harm lrom dcmons.
Tc ancicnts havc said that “in Zcn practicc, thcrc arc
many opportunitics to go astray.” Tcrclorc, to bc succcsslul in
mcditation, it is ncccssary to bc a pcrson ol supcrior capacitics and
intclligcncc. Highlcvcl Zcn Mastcrs ol thc past, in transmitting
thc Ðharma to thcir disciplcs would rcpcatcdly warn thcm: “Ðo
not promisc to acccpt as a disciplc anyonc who docs not havc thc
dccpcst good roots.” Tcsc words should scrvc as prool cnough
ol thc abovc obscrvation.
!n thc Treatise on the :.akening of the Taith, altcr
summarizing thc csscntial points ol Mahayana doctrinc and
s·¡ s·.
cxplaining thc path ol cultivation, thc Patriarch Asvaghosha
“Ncxt, supposc thcrc is a man who lcarns this tcaching lor thc
nrst timc and wishcs to scck thc corrcct laith but lacks couragc
and strcngth. 8ccausc hc livcs in this world ol sußcring, hc
lcars that hc will not always bc ablc to mcct thc 8uddhas and
honor thcm pcrsonally, and that, laith bcing dimcult to pcrlcct,
hc will bc inclincd to lall back |rctrogrcss|.
“Hc should know that thc Tathagathas havc an cxccllcnt
cxpcdicnt mcans by which thcy can protcct his laith: that is,
through thc strcngth ol wholchcartcd mcditationrccitation on
thc 8uddha, hc will in lulnllmcnt ol his wishcs bc ablc to bc
born in thc 8uddhaland bcyond, to scc thc 8uddha always,
and to bc lorcvcr scparatcd lrom thc cvil statcs ol cxistcncc.
“!t is as thc sutra says: ‘!l a man mcditatcs wholly on
Amitabha 8uddha in thc world ol thc Vcstcrn Paradisc and
wishcs to bc born in that world, dirccting all thc goodncss hc
has cultivatcd toward that goal, thcn hc will bc born thcrc.’
8ccausc hc will scc thc 8uddha at all timcs, hc will ncvcr lall
back… |!l a cultivator lollows this path|, hc will bc ablc to bc
born thcrc in thc cnd bccausc hc abidcs in thc corrcct samadhi.”
(Te :.akening of the Taith ´ |by| :s.aghosha. Translatcd with
commcntary by Yoshito S. Hakcda. Ncw York and London:
Columbia Univcrsity Prcss, so6·, p.sc:.)
As cxplaincd abovc, diligcnt 8uddha Rccitation is a wondcrlul
cxpcdicnt to cscapc dcmonic dangcrs and swiltly attain right
s·¡ s·.
7hile .e are still treading the path of (racice, not ha.ing
reached the stage of (erfec 8nlightenment, all methods and
schools are expedients. Juddha (ecitation is an expedient,
and so are 2en and all other methods…. Jiligent Juddha
(ecitation leads to a.akening as in 2en, ho.e.er, the
principal goal of the (ure Iand 'chool is rebirth…. (Once
“reborn,” none .ill e.er retrogress and all .ill ultimately
attain Juddhahood and help sentient beings.)
Juddhism of 7isdom and Taith
(hap. ., 'ec. :o
s·6 s··
Io:+ovs’ No+vs
r. “Tc Purc Land School is prcscntly thc school ol 8uddhism
in China and ]apan that has thc most lollowcrs.” (Te 'hambhala
Jicionary of Juddhism and 2en, p.s·¡ and ].C. Clcary, (ure
Iand, (ure ´ind.)
Purc Land 8uddhism as prcscntcd hcrc, bascd on thc thrcc
clcmcnts ol Faith, \ows and Practicc, is currcntly practiccd in
China, \ictnam, Korca and othcr countrics. !n thc casc ol ]apan,
Purc Land is mainly dividcd into two branchcs, thc ]odo (Purc
Land) School and thc ]odo Shinshu (Truc Purc Land) School.
Tc tcachings ol thc ]odo School (loundcd by Honcn, ss..–s:s:)
arc substantially thc samc as thc tcachings prcscntcd hcrc. !n thc
casc ol ]odo Shinshu (loundcd by Honcn’s bcst known disciplc,
Shinran Shonin, ss·.–s:6:, and rcprcscntcd in thc Unitcd Statcs
by thc 8uddhist Churchcs ol Amcrica) major cmphasis is placcd
on laith (which may bc dcnncd as Mind).
“Tc ncmbutsu |rccitation ol thc 8uddha’s namc| thcn bccomcs
an cxprcssion ol gratitudc to Amida lor thc gilt ol laith that
lcads to birth in thc Purc Land, rathcr than a mcritorious
act that can aßcct rcbirth.” ((ure Iand Juddhist (ainting,
¡lizabcth tcn Grootcnhuis, tr., p.:..). Scc Note .o lor a
discussion on laith. Jack
a. Tc 8uddha taught countlcss schools or Ðharma mcthods.
Among thcsc mcthods, Zcn, T’icn T’ai, ctc. lcad to 8uddha
hood through thc Ðoor ol ¡mptincss, whilc Purc Land and, to
a largc cxtcnt, thc Avatamsaka School cntcr through thc Ðoor
s·6 s··
ol ¡xistcncc. (Tc :.atamsaka 'utra, ol coursc, bcing cncyclo
pcdic and cxprcssing thc totality ol 8uddhism, also contains thc
Ðharma ol ¡mptincss ol thc Zcn school.) Scc also Tích Ti
Tâm, Juddhism of 7isdom and Taith, Prclacc.
“Two important lacts inhcrcnt in Chincsc 8uddhism arc (s) that
major doctrinal cßorts to undcrstand and classily thc Purc
Lands wcrc madc by thinkcrs not included |cmphasis addcd| in
thc lincagc ol Purc Land dcvotionalism in China, and (:) that
thc main scriptural sourccs lor thosc thinkcrs lrcqucntly wcrc
not thc classical Purc land tcxts…. !ntcrcstingly, it was thc
\imalakirtinirdcsasutra |\imalakirti Sutra| which cvokcd…
analysis and which also scrvcd as thc platlorm lor thc cxprcssion
ol thc Purc Land doctrincs ol Chihi.” (Michacl Saso and Ðavid
V. Chappcll, cd., Juddhist and Taoist 'tudies I, p.:6.) Jack
,. “!n 8uddhism, thcrc is no cultivation without disciplinc,
conccntration and wisdom, and also thcrc is no Ðharma
without disciplinc, conccntration and wisdom.” (Hsu Hcng
Chi, 7hat’ s Juddhism:, p..o. Scc also p. s6–s·.) Jack
¡. “Tc Purc Land sutras cxhort both monks and laity who aspirc
lor rcbirth in Amitabha’s Sukhavati to cngagc in a broad rangc
ol practiccs that includc mcditation, obscrvanccs ol prcccpts,
virtuous acts, building ol stupas, and contcmplation.” (Kcnncth
K. Tanaka, Te Ja.n of (hinese (ure Iand Juddhist Jocrine,
p.s.) Scc also this book, p.xx–xx (T’icn ]u, Ouestion y).
Tc nrst Purc Land practitioncrs, such as Lushan Huiyuan,
wcrc actually mcditators:
s·· s·o
“Huiyuan… a lcrvcnt dcvotcc ol Amitabha 8uddha, was
lond ol using picturcs and visual aids lor his mcditation. His
lollowcrs arc said to havc lormcd thc socallcd Vhitc Lotus
Socicty. ‘Òn thc basis ol such traditions Huiyuan is rcgardcd
as thc loundcr ol thc Purc Land School and its First Patriarch.’
Mcditation was practiccd assiduously in his circlc ol lollowcrs
in thc hopc ol catching a glimpsc ol thc glory ol Amitabha
and thc othcrworldly Purc Land through visions and ccstasy.”
(Hcinrich Ðumoulin, 2en Juddhism: : (istory, p.6·.) Jack
.. Tc scriptural basis lor Purc Land visualization can bc
lound in thc ´editation 'utra. (Scc Glossary, “Tree Pure
Iand Sutras.”
“Òut ol conccrn lor luturc bcings who will bc without thc
bcncnt ol thc 8uddha’s rcvclation, \aidchi |thc Òuccn to whom
thc 8uddha prcachcd thc ´editation 'utra| inquircs about
thc way lor thcir rcbirth. !n rcsponsc, thc 8uddha instructs
hcr in thc sixtccn kinds ol contcmplations, bcginning with
contcmplation ol thc sctting sun in this Saha world and moving
on to thc physical dimcnsions ol Sukhavati, such as thc ground,
trccs, and lakcs, and to thc lcaturcs ol 8uddha Amitabha and
thc 8odhisattvas Avalokitcsvara and Mahasthamaprapta. Tc
last thrcc contcmplations havc as thcir objcct thc ninc gradcs
ol rcbirth that dctail pcoplc ol varying ability and attainmcnt.
Tc instruction on thc contcmplations constitutc thc primary
subjcct ol thc main body ol thc Sutra.” (Kotatsu Fujita, Te
Textual Origin of the Kuan 7u-liang-shou (hing, translatcd by
Kcnncth K. Tanaka, p.s.c.) Jack
s·· s·o
6. “Vc must also rccognizc that this disciplinc, conccntration,
and wisdom arc cquivalcnt to thc Ðharmagatc ol buddha
rcmcmbrancc. How so: Ðisciplinc |prcccpt kccping| mcans
prcvcnting wrongdoing. !l you can wholchcartcdly practicc
buddharcmcmbrancc, cvil will not darc to cntcr: this is
disciplinc. Conccntration mcans climinating thc scattcring
charactcristic ol ordinary mind. !l you wholchcartcdly practicc
buddharcmcmbrancc, mind docs not havc any othcr objcct:
this is conccntration. Visdom mcans clcar pcrccption. !l you
contcmplatc thc sound ol thc buddha’s namc with cach syllablc
distinct, and also contcmplatc that thc onc who is mindlul and
thc objcct ol this mindlulncss arc both unattainablc, this is
wisdom.” (¡ldcr Mastcr Zhuhong, s6th ccntury, in (ure Iand,
(ure ´ind, translatcd by ].C. Clcary.) Jack
y. Tc kcy word hcrc is “altcrnativc.”
“Vc may takc up any Ðharma lor practicc as long as it is
agrccablc to our intcrcst and inclination, and sincc cvcry
Ðharma is pcrlcct and complctc, thcrclorc in thc coursc ol
cultivation, wc should not think ol changing lrom onc Ðharma
to anothcr, nor should wc think that a ccrtain Ðharma may bc
supcrior or inlcrior to thc othcrs. As no mcdicinc may bc callcd
good or bad as long as it can curc, likcwisc, no Ðharma may bc
said to bc high or low as long as it is adaptablc to its lollowcrs.”
(Hsu Hcng Chi, 7hat’ s Juddhism:, p.6:.) Jack
8. Somc ol thc twclvc ascctic practiccs lor monks and nuns,
dcsigncd to purily body and Mind, arc: to survivc on alms, to
soc sos
cat only onc main mcal a day and rclrain lrom cating altcr noon
timc, to wcar garmcnts madc ol rags, to livc in ccmctcrics, to
livc undcr trccs. Among thcsc practiccs, thc bcst known arc not
to cat altcr noon timc and to survivc on alms. Jack
o. Scc thc lollowing cxccrpts:
“!n thc casc ol |thc Tantric School|, thc mattcr is lar morc
scrious, sincc onc is bound by ccrtain commitmcnts oncc
thc mastcr/disciplc link is lormcd. ¡vcn thc rccciving ol a
simplc initiation puts onc undcr thcsc commitmcnts, so grcat
carc must bc takcn to asscss thc qualitics ol a tcachcr bclorc
attcnding such ccrcmonics. Ònc is allowcd up to t.el.e years
|cmphasis addcd| to obscrvc thc conduct and cxaminc thc
qualitics ol a potcntial tcachcr bclorc cstablishing a mastcr/
disciplc rclationship…. Tc valuc ol kccping thc prcccpts is
scllcvidcnt hcrc.” (Karma Lckshc Tsomo, cd., Jaughters of the
Juddha. Rcport ol thc !ntcrnational Conlcrcncc on 8uddhist
Nuns, hcld in Fcbruary so·· undcr thc auspiccs ol thc Ðalai
Lama, p..:..) Jack
ro. Scc thc lollowing commcnts on this point:
“Tcrc is no doubt that this |koan| systcm is largcly artincial
and harbors grcat pitlalls, but thc lilc ol Zcn runs through it
whcn it is propcrly handlcd. To thosc who pursuc it judiciously
undcr a really competent master, Zcncxpcricncc is possiblc and a
statc ol satori will surcly comc.” (Ð.T. Suzuki, :n Introducion
to 2en Juddhism, p.ssc.)
soc sos
“Conccrning Zcn 8uddhism, no onc can dcny its grcat
contribution in bringing thousands to dircct rcalization. Zcn
is cmptincss in action, thc living prajnaparamita. !t is hard to
nnd words to praisc Zcn adcquatcly. Tc morc onc studics and
practiccs Ðharma, thc morc onc apprcciatcs and admircs Zcn.
Howcvcr, without propcr guidancc and sumcicnt prcparation,
Zcn can also bc dangcrous and lutilc. 8y misconstruing a
pscudocxpcricncc as truc cnlightcnmcnt, onc may dcvclop
an unwarrantcd scllconccit. Zcn can also inducc a dcvilmay
carc attitudc and onc may cvcntually losc all ground in onc’s
Ðharmic cßorts.” (Garma C.C. Chang, cd., : Treasury of
´ahayana 'utras, p.xi.)
“Tc Purc Land school acccptcd thc Zcn pcrspcctivc |on
¡nlightcnmcnt| as valid in principlc, but qucstioncd how
many pcoplc could gct rcsults by using Zcn mcthods. Purc
Land tcachcrs grantcd that Zcn might indccd bc thc ‘suprcmc
vchiclc,’ but insistcd that lor most pcoplc it was too rigorous and
dcmanding to bc practical. Tc Purc Land mcthod ol 8uddha
namc rccitation was oßcrcd as a simplcr mcthod by which
avcragc pcoplc could makc progrcss toward cnlightcnmcnt…”
(].C. Clcary, (ure Iand, (ure ´ind.) Jack
rr. Ðcgcncratc Agc. Scc Glossary, “Ðharma-Inding Age.” Jack
ra. Òthcrpowcr/scllpowcr. (Scc also Note ¡a.)
Tc issuc ol othcrpowcr (8uddha’s powcr) is oltcn mis
undcrstood and glosscd ovcr by many 8uddhists. Howcvcr, it
must bc pointcd out that, in 8uddhism, othcrpowcr is absolutcly
ncccssary il a 8odhisattva is to attain Ultimatc ¡nlightcnmcnt.
Tc Ianka.atara 'utra (thc only sutra rccommcndcd by 8odhi
so: so.
dharma) and thc :.atamsaka 'utra (dcscribcd by Ð.T. Suzuki
as thc cpitomc ol 8uddhist thought) arc cmphatically clcar on
this point:
“As long as |convcrsion| is an cxpcricncc and not mcrc undcr
standing, it is cvidcnt that sclldisciplinc plays an important
rolc in thc 8uddhist lilc… but… wc must not lorgct thc lact
that thc Ianka |Ianka.atara 'utra| also cmphasizcs thc ncccs
sity ol thc 8uddha’s powcr bcing addcd to thc 8odhisattvas’,
in thcir upward coursc ol spiritual dcvclopmcnt and in thc
accomplishmcnt ol thcir grcat task ol world salvation.” (Ðaisctz
Tcitaro Suzuki, tr., Te Ianka.atara 'utra, p.xviii.)
Tc :.atamsaka 'utra statcs:
“Having purincd wisdom and mcans in thc se.enth stage…
Tc grcat sagcs attain acccptancc ol nonorigination…
Òn thc basis ol thcir prcvious rcsolution,
thc buddhas lurthcr cxhort thcm…:
‘Tough you havc cxtinguishcd thc burning ol
thc nrc ol amiction,
Having sccn thc world still amictcd, rcmcmbcr your past
Having thought ol thc wcllarc ol thc world,
work in qucst
Òl thc causc ol knowlcdgc, lor thc libcration
ol thc world.”‘
(T. Clcary, tr. Te Tlo.er Ornament 'utra, \ol !!, p.·6)
For an cxplanation ol thc stagcs ol 8odhisattvahood, scc
Glossary, “Ten Stages.” Jack
so: so.
r,. Tis wclcoming and cscorting aspcct has bccn comparcd to
an iron bcing drawn to a powcrlul magnct. Jack
r¡. “Purc Land 8uddhism rclcrs to a sct ol bclicls and practiccs
that cspouscs lor its aspirants thc rcalization ol thc stagc ol
nonrctrogrcssion cithcr in thc prcscnt lilc or through rcbirth
in a 8uddha land or rcalm callcd ‘Sukhavati’ (Land ol 8liss).
According to thc Purc Land sutras… Sukhavati lics billions ol
8uddha lands away in thc wcstcrn dircction lrom this world, thc
Saha worldrcalm. Tc 8uddha Amitabha is thc transccndcnt
8uddha who prcsidcs ovcr thc Sukhavati worldrcalm….
“According to thc Iarger 'ukha.ati.yuha |:mitabha|
'utra, Amitabha cstablishcd through his compassionatc vows
Sukhavati in ordcr to lcad scnticnt bcings to 8uddhahood. Hc
madc thc vows as a 8odhisattva, namcd Ðharmakara, and altcr
nvc Kalpas (æons ol contcmplation lollowcd by innumcrablc
Kalpas ol cultivation his vows wcrc consummatcd. For thc past
tcn Kalpas, 8uddha Amitabha has dwcllcd in Sukhavati and has
continuously prcachcd thc Ðharma….” (Kcnncth K. Tanaka, Te
Ja.n of (hinese (ure Iand – Juddhist Jocrine, p.s.) Jack
r.. Scc thc :.atamsaka 'utra, Ch. :c, particularly thc “Stanza
that Ðcstroys Hcll”:
“!l pcoplc want to rcally know
All 8uddhas ol all timc,
Tcy should contcmplatc thc naturc ol thc cosmos:
All is but mcntal construction.”
|i.c., ¡vcrything is madc lrom Mind alonc.|
(Tomas Clcary, tr. Te Tlo.er Ornament 'utra, \ol !, p.¡.:.)
Scc also this book, T’icn ]u, Òucstion ¡, as wcll as Note yy.
so¡ so.
r6. Unlikc ccrtain othcr schools ol 8uddhism (Zcn, Tantric),
Purc Land docs not strcss thc rolc ol gurus, roshis or mcntors.
Rathcr, thc cmphasis is on rccitation ol thc 8uddha’s namc
and thc sutras as wcll as dircct contact and communion with
8uddha Amitabha — 8uddha Amitabha bcing undcrstood as
an cxprcssion ol cmptincss or ultimatc wisdom.
“Kumarajiva (thc lamous translator ol sutras lrom !ndic lan
guagcs to Chincsc| intcrprctcd Amida 8uddha as an cxprcssion
ol sunyata |cmptincss| and rccommcndcd ncmbutsu |8uddha
Rccitation| as a mcans ol rcalizing sunyata or ultimatc wisdom,
prajna.” (Allcn A. Andrcws, “Ncmbutsu in Chincsc Purc Land
Tradition,” in Te 8astern Juddhist, Òctobcr so·c, p.:c.) Jack
ry. Òn thc subjcct ol cxistcncc and cmptincss, an ancicnt Zcn
Mastcr has said:
“!l wc rclcr to cxistcncc, thcn
¡vcrything lrom thc smallcst motc ol dust cxists,
!l wc rclcr to cmptincss,
Tis wholc, widc world and cvcrything in it arc cmpty.”
Scc also a rclatcd commcnt:
“All phcnomcna arc likc bubblcs in an occan. Tcy havc no
gcnuinc cxistcncc…. ¡vcrything, including samsara and
nirvana and scnticnt bcings and 8uddhas, is illusory. All sagcs,
8odhisattvas and 8uddhas arc likc ßashcs ol lightning. You
can see lightning, just as you can witncss thc powcr ol and
lunctions ol 8odhisattvas and 8uddhas, but il try to grasp
so¡ so.
lightning, or attach to thc idca that 8uddhas and 8odhisattvas
havc concrctc cxistcncc or scllnaturc, thcn you arc wasting
your timc.” (Mastcr Shcngycn, Te '.ord of 7isdom, p.::..).
´Scc also this book, Chih !, Òucstion ·. Jack
r8. Òn thc mcaning ol Amitabha 8uddha as Mind Ònly, scc
thc lollowing:
“From thc ultimate standpoint, thc Purc Land is not to bc
takcn as an cxistcnt placc, in thc way ordinary bcings arc
prcdisposcd to undcrstand it. Tc admonition against such a
vicw ol thc Purc Land is lound in thc lollowing passagc: ‘A
loolish pcrson in hcaring birth in thc Purc Land undcrstands
it as birth and in hcaring non-birth undcrstands it as non-birth.
Hc thus lails to rcalizc thc idcntity ol birth and nonbirth and
ol nonbirth and birth’…. Having said that, howcvcr, thc Purc
Land proponcnts acknowlcdgc that thc capacity ol ordinary,
uncnlightcncd pcoplc is such that thcy havc no choicc but to
rcgard thc Purc Land as ontically cxistcnt…. Tc objcctivc
prcscntation ol thc Purc Land accords with thc cmotional and
intcllcctual makcup ol ordinary bcings whosc capacity aßords
only a litcral undcrstanding ol thc sutra dcscription…. Ònly
through thcir rclationship with thc Purc Land ol lorm can thc
ultimatc rcality bc rcalizcd.
“8ut thc qucstion rcmains as to how bcings arc ablc to
rcalizc cnlightcnmcnt through grasping at forms ol Purc Land,
which strikcs as bcing antithctical to thc lundamcntal 8uddhist
practicc. T’aoCh’o |a Purc Land Patriarch| argucs: ‘Although
this is grasping onto lorm, such grasping docs not constitutc
so6 so·
binding attachmcnt. !n addition, thc lorm ol thc Purc Land
bcing discusscd hcrc is idcntical to lorm without dcnlcmcnts,
lorm that is truc lorm…. !t is likc lighting nrc on top ol icc.
As thc nrc intcnsincs, thc icc mclts. Vhcn thc icc mclts, thcn
thc nrc gocs out….’ According to this cxplanation, an ordinary
bcing is ablc to cngagc thc ultimatc rcalm without that pcrson
lully undcrstanding thc ultimatc naturc. Tis proccss skilllully
uscs thc lorm (rootcd in truth) to transccnd lorm in ordcr to
cntcr thc lormlcss. Vhcn thc lormlcss is attaincd, thc prcvious
attachmcnt to lorm disappcars….” (Kcnncth K Tanaka,
“Vhcrc is thc Purc Land:’ in (acinc 7orld, Fall so··.) Jack
ro. As statcd in thc (eart 'utra:
“Ò Sariputra, lorm docs not dißcr lrom thc \oid, and thc
\oid docs not dißcr lrom lorm. Form is thc \oid, and \oid is
lorm, thc samc is truc lor lcclings, conccptions, impulscs and
consciousncss.” (Sutra Translation Committcc ol thc Unitcd
Statcs and Canada, tr., Te Juddhist liturgy, p.¡..) Jack
ao. Scc this book, T’ien !u, Ouestion ry. Jack
ar. Tc opcrativc word hcrc is oncpointcdncss ol Mind, or
singlcmindcdncss. Scc also thc lollowing passagc:
“All thc training ol thc monk in thc zcndo, in practicc as wcll
as in thcory, is bascd on this principlc ol ‘mcritlcss dccd.’ (Ð.T.
Suzuki, Introducion to 2en Juddhism, p.s.:.) Jack
so6 so·
aa. 8uddha Rccitation, likc thc usc ol kung an in Zcn, is
a poison to dcstroy thc poison ol lalsc thinking…. !t is likc
nghting a war to cnd all wars. According to thc Purc Land
School, howcvcr, rccitation ol thc 8uddha’s namc contains an
additional clcmcnt: thc practitioncr by association absorbs somc
ol thc mcrit ol thc 8uddha himscll. Scc thc lollowing passagc,
with rclcrcncc to thc 8odhisattva Avalokitcsvara (Kuan Yin),
onc ol thc Trcc Purc Land Sagcs:
“Somc ol us may ask whcthcr thc cßcct ol |cvil| karma can bc…
|changcd| by rcpcating thc namc ol KuanYin. Tis qucstion is
ticd up with that ol rcbirth in Sukhavati |thc Purc Land| and it
may bc answcrcd by saying that invocation ol KuanYin’s namc
lorms anothcr causc which will right away oßsct thc prcvious
karma. Vc know, lor cxamplc, that il thcrc is a dark, hcavy
cloud abovc, thc chanccs arc that it will rain. 8ut wc also know
that il a strong wind should blow, thc cloud will bc carricd
away somcwhcrc clsc and wc will not lccl thc rain. Similarly,
thc addition ol onc big lactor can altcr thc wholc coursc ol
“!t is only by acccpting thc idca ol lilc as onc wholc that
both Tcravadins and Mahayanists can advocatc thc practicc
ol translcrcncc ol mcrit to othcrs. Vith thc casc ol KuanYin
thcn, by calling on Hcr namc wc idcntily oursclvcs with Hcr
and as a rcsult ol this idcntincation Hcr mcrits ßow ovcr to us.
Tcsc mcrits which arc now ours thcn countcrbalancc our bad
karma and savc us lrom calamity. Tc law ol causc and cßcct
still stands good. All that has happcncd is that a powcrlul and
immcnscly good karma has lorcshadowcd thc wcakcr onc…
so· soo
“!l wc want to go dccpcr, wc may say that this idcntincation
with a 8odhisattva also mcans that a 8odhisattva idcntincs
Himscll with us. Vhcn this occurs, thcrc is not only thc
mcrc translcrcncc ol mcrit, but thc nondiscriminatc, innnitc,
unqualinablc Compassion ol all thc 8odhisattvas coming into
us, lilting us, as it wcrc, right up into Nirvana.” (Lccturc on
KuanYin by Tcch ¡ng Soon — Pcnang 8uddhist Association,
c. so6c. Pamphlct.) Jack
a,. “!n principlc, all canonical tcxts arc ablc to satisly thc spiritual
nccds ol all 8uddhists, whcthcr ¡astcrn or Vcstcrn, but, in
practicc somc tcxts appcal morc strongly to 8uddhists ol onc
kind ol tcmpcramcnt, or onc kind ol spiritual aspiration, than
thcy do to thosc ol anothcr. Tis is thc main rcason lor thc
vast cxtcnt ol thc canonical litcraturc, which may bc rcgardcd
as onc and thc samc Ðharma in varying dcgrccs ol cxpansion
and contraction, conccntration and dilution, rathcr than as a
collcction ol scparatc tcachings. Tc canonical litcraturc is
likc thc pharmacopocia. All thc dißcrcnt drugs and mcdicinal
prcparations which arc listcd in thc pharmacopocia havc onc
and thc samc objcct, thc rcstoration ol thc sick pcrson to hcalth,
but somc rugs and mcdicinal prcparations arc suitcd to thc curc
ol onc kind ol discasc and somc to thc curc ol anothcr.
“Tc sick pcrson docs not havc to swallow thc cntirc
contcnts ol thc pharmacopocia. !n thc samc way, it is not
ncccssary lor thc individual Vcstcrn 8uddhist, any morc than
lor thc individual ¡astcrn 8uddhist, to study and put into
practicc thc cntirc contcnts ol thc 8uddhist canonical litcraturc.
Vhat hc has to do is to nnd out which canonical tcxt, or which
collcction or sclcction ol tcxts, is bcst suitcd to his individual
so· soo
spiritual nccds, and thcn dcvotc himscll to thc conccntratcd
and intcnsivc practicc ol thc tcachings containcd in thosc tcxts
— ol coursc, without any diminution ol his rcvcrcncc lor thc
canonical litcraturc as a wholc.” (Sangharakshita, Te 8ternal
Iegacy, p.:··–:··.) Jack
a¡. An intcrcsting parallcl can bc lound in thc lact that thc
nrst ol thc Ten Stages ol 8odhisattvahood (scc Glossary) is thc
Stagc ol ¡xtrcmc ]oy.
“Hcrc, standing on thc stagc ol cxtrcmc joy ol |8odhisattvas|,
onc is nllcd with cxtrcmc joy, nllcd with calm, nllcd with
happincss, nllcd with cbullicncc…. Ònc bccomcs cxtrcmcly
joylul thinking ol thc buddha |rcciting thc 8uddha’s namc|,
ol thc buddha’s tcaching…. Tus thinking, thc |8odhisattva|
givcs risc to cxtrcmc ]oy. Vhy: 8ccausc that is what happcns to
all lcars with thc |8odhisattva’s| attainmcnt ol thc stagc ol joy
— lcars such as lcar ol not surviving, lcar ol illrcputc, lcar ol
dcath, lcar ol statcs ol miscry, lcar ol intimidation by groups…
thus all lcars and tcrrors arc rcmovcd.” (Tomas Clcary, tr. Te
Tlo.er Ornament 'utra, \ol !!, p.s..) Jack
a.. !t would appcar that thcrc is a nccd lor 8uddhism to
broadcn its appcal and bc ol bcncnt to all classcs ol socicty,
whilc adhcring closcly to its corc tcaching (do not what is cvil,
do what is good, kccp your Mind purc). 8uddhism is not mcrcly
intcllcctual, it is, abovc all, practical — it is praxis. Scc also
thc lollowing passagc, which cxprcsscs thc Purc Land position,
albcit to a somcwhat cxtrcmc cxtcnt:
:cc :cs
“Tirst, wc arc houscholdcrs, who work to survivc, providc, and
livc. Òur main conccrn is to support and maintain thc lamily.
Vc arc dccply bound to all thc problcms ol human cxistcncc.
Rathcr than cutting away or limiting attachmcnts, wc makc
thcm grow continuously. Vc cannot hclp but makc attachmcnts
grow. 'econd, to hcar thc tcaching is rcally a limitcd possibility.
!n this kind ol lilc, it is not rcally possiblc lor us to cscapc
or undcrstand thc bonds ol lilc…. 8ccausc ol our lilcstylc,
it bccomcs impossiblc |sic| to conccivc ol ¡nlightcnmcnt in
this lilc. Òur lilc condition is such that thc causc and cßcct
ol ¡nlightcnmcnt cannot bc lulnllcd by our own cßorts….”
(H. Yamaoka, (odo 'hinshu. :n Introducion, p..6.) Jack
a6. “!n latcr popular 8uddhist rcligion, which consistcd mainly
ol thc Amida… |School|, Zcn — by naturc somcwhat clitist
— was ablc to carry on only at thc cost ol dcnying somc ol its
clcmcnts.” (Hcinrich Ðumoulin, 2en Juddhism: : (istory,
p.:··.) Jack
ay. ¡vcn whcn thc 8uddhas and 8odhisattvas arc dcpictcd
as providing matcrial assistancc to thc bclicvcr, this is always
vicwcd as an “cxpcdicnt mcans” — thc ultimatc goal is to lcad
thc bclicvcr to ¡nlightcnmcnt. Jack
a8. “Making a vow to attain birth in thc Purc Land signincs a
lundamcntal rcoricntation ol thc bclicvcr’s motivations and
will. No longcr is thc purposc brutc survival, or lulnllmcnt ol
a social rolc, or thc strugglc to wrcst somc satislaction lrom a
lrustrating, taxing cnvironmcnt. 8y vowing to bc rcborn in thc
Purc Land, bclicvcrs shilt thcir locus. Tc joys and sorrows ol
:cc :cs
this world bccomc incidcntal, inconscqucntial. Tc prcscnt lilc
takcs on valuc chicßy as an opportunity to conccntratc onc’s
awarcncss on Amitabha, and purily onc’s mind accordingly.”
(].C. Clcary, tr., (ure Iand, (ure ´ind.) Jack
ao. TripIe ReaIm, nvc turbiditics. Scc Glossary. Jack
,o. “!n 8uddhist tcaching… a pcrson who is not cnlightcncd is —
by dcnnition — ‘ill’…. Tc hcaling proccss is thc convcrsion ol
sußcring into thc aspiration to attain cnlightcnmcnt.” (Raoul
8irnbaum, Te (ealing Juddha, p.xiv.) Jack
,r. Non-Birth. Scc Glossary. Tis important tcrm has bccn
rcndcrcd in various ways.
Tis trcatisc, Ten Joubts about (ure Iand, was nrst translatcd
by Lco Prudcn undcr thc titlc “Tc Chingt’u Shihi Lun,” in
Te 8astern Juddhist, May so·.. Hc cmploycd thc cxprcssion
“insight ol nonarising.” Charlcs Luk, in his translation ol thc
.imalakirti 'utra uscd thc tcrm “paticnt cndurancc ol thc
uncrcatc.” Jack
,a. Bodhi Mind. Scc Glossary lor this major conccpt. Jack
,,. ¡vil lilc. Tis Saha Vorld is callcd cvil in Purc Land
sutras bccausc it is nllcd with thc nvc dcpravitics (corruptions,
nlths), such as thc nlth ol vicws, whcn all sorts ol wrong vicws
prcvail, and thc nlth ol passions, whcn dcsirc, hatrcd and othcr
dcnlcmcnts arc prcdominant… (altcr Garma C.C. Chang).
:c: :c.
“Shariputra: you should bc awarc that in this cvil agc ol nvc
corruptions |dcpravitics|, ! did this dimcult thing: ! obtaincd
thc Highcst Pcrlcct Knowlcdgc. For thc sakc ol thc wholc world
! prcach this Ðharma, which is dimcult to bclicvc in. Tis is
cxtrcmcly dimcult.” (Hozcn Scki, :mida-kyo, p.·¡.) Jack
,¡. Also callcd (rajnaparamita Treatise. Jack
,.. Scc thc rclatcd passagc lrom thc .imalakirti 'utra:
“As thc Lord 8uddha dcclarcs: ‘!t is not possiblc lor onc who is
himscll bound to dclivcr othcrs lrom thcir bondagc. 8ut onc
who is himscll libcratcd is ablc to libcratc othcrs lrom thcir
bondagc.’” (Robcrt Turman, Te (oly Teaching of .imalakirti,
p.¡6.) Jack
,6. !n citing this passagc lrom thc Patriarch Chih !, Mastcr
Tích Ti
cˆn Tâm tcmpcrcd it by adding:
“Ncvcrthclcss, considcring thc rcsponsibility and thc compas
sionatc Mind ol thc cultivator, wc should not complctcly rcjcct
all attcmpts to savc scnticnt bcings in our currcnt lilc. !n truth,
howcvcr, our prcscnt altruistic attcmpts can only bc within thc
lramcwork ol ‘according to onc’s mcans and conditions.’ Tis is
not unlikc thc casc ol somconc who, having lallcn into thc rivcr
ol dclusion, trics his bcst to rcach thc shorc, and at thc samc
timc shouts out, cxhorting othcrs to do likcwisc.” (Juddhism of
7isdom and Taith, Scction s¡.) Jack
,y. Non8irth. Also translatcd as “nonarising,” “non
origination.” Jack
:c: :c.
,8. Two Truths. Scc Glossary. Jack
,o. A kcy conccpt in 8uddhism: cvcrything is ultimatcly Mind
madc (scc Note yy). Jack
¡o. Òucstion : is prcsumably askcd by a Zcn Monk. Tus,
thc Patriarch Chih ! gavc his paradoxical, Zcnlikc answcr.
Ð.T. Suzuki quotcs thc Zcn Patriarch Fa Ycn as lollows:
“Tc sutras prcachcd by thc 8uddha during his lilctimc arc
said to amount to nvc thousand and lortycight lasciclcs, thcy
includc thc doctrinc ol cmptincss and thc doctrinc ol bcing,
thcrc arc tcachings ol immcdiatc rcalization and ol gradual
dcvclopmcnt. !s this not an amrmation:
“8ut, according to |Zcn Mastcr Yung Chia in his 'ong
of 8nlightenment|, ‘thcrc arc no scnticnt bcings, thcrc arc no
8uddhas, sagcs as numcrous as thc sands ol thc Gangcs arc but
so many bubblcs in thc sca, sagcs and worthics ol thc past arc
likc ßashcs ol lightning.’ !s this not a ncgation:
“Ò you, my disciplcs, il you say thcrc is, you go against
|Yung Chia|, il you say thcrc is not, you contradict our old
mastcr 8uddha. !l hc wcrc with us, thcn how would hc pass
through thc dilcmma:… !l you conlcss your ignorancc, ! will
lct you scc into thc sccrct. Vhcn ! say thcrc is not, this docs
not ncccssarily mcan a ncgation, whcn ! say thcrc is, this also
docs not signily an amrmation. Turn castward and look at thc
Vcstcrn Land, lacc thc south and thc North Star is pointcd out
thcrc!” (Ð.T. Suzuki, Introducion to 2en Juddhism, p.6..)
“Tc critic will bc inclincd to call Zcn absurd, conlusing,
and bcyond thc, kcn ol ordinary rcasoning. 8ut Zcn is inßcxiblc
:c¡ :c.
and would protcst that thc socallcd common scnsc way ol
looking at things is not nnal, and that thc rcason why wc
cannot attain to a thoroughgoing comprchcnsion ol thc truth is
duc to our unrcasonablc adhcrcncc to a ‘logical’ intcrprctation
ol things. !l wc rcally want to gct to thc bottom ol lilc, wc
must abandon our chcrishcd syllogisms, wc must acquirc a
ncw way ol obscrvation whcrcby wc can cscapc thc tyranny
ol logic and thc oncsidcdncss ol our cvcryday phrascology….
Tis is bccausc Zcn has comc to thc dcnnitc conclusion that
thc ordinary logical proccss ol rcasoning is powcrlcss to givc
nnal satislaction to our dccpcst spiritual nccds.” (Ð.T. Suzuki,
Introducion to 2en Juddhism, p..·.) Jack
¡r. Anothcr kcy conccpt in Mahayana 8uddhism, particularly
popular with thc Avatamsaka School. Jack
¡a. Scc lollowing quotc:
“!nvisiblc assistancc — providcd by thc 8uddhas and
8odhisattvas ol Hcaling — can bc a potcnt aid in this proccss
|ol climination ol thc thrcc poisons ol lust, angcr and dclusion|.
Tis assistancc oltcn is dcscribcd as stcmming lrom thc lorcc ol
thcir lundamcntal vows, which thcy madc whcn thcy dcdicatcd
thcir livcs to spiritual work. Tc vows to hcal all bcings and
allcviatc various sußcrings scrvcd as spccial motivating lactors
in thcir spiritual dcvclopmcnt. Upon lruition ol thcir spiritual
work… thcy thcn truly bccamc ablc to lulnll thcsc vows.”
(Raoul 8irnbaum, Te (ealing Juddha, p.xv.)
'Scc also Note ra. Jack
:c¡ :c.
¡,. !n thc 8ncyclopedia of Juddhism, \ol. !, G.P. Malalasckcra
quotcd a ]apancsc author who lound two hundrcd tcxts rclcrring
to Amitabha 8uddha and His Purc Land (thirtyonc ol thc
tcxts arc in Sanskrit). Jack
¡¡. Rcbirth through othcrpowcr is, in cßcct, rcbirth through
cmphasis on othcrpowcr, not cxclusivc rcliancc upon it. Jack
¡.. Tc purposc ol sccing thc 8uddha is to bc ablc to hcar his
tcaching dircctly, rathcr than through intcrmcdiary sourccs such
as sutras, commcntarics, ctc. Morcovcr, il cultivators arc rcborn
in thc Purc Land, as is said in thc 'urangama 'utra:
“Tcy will ncvcr bc lar lrom thc 8uddha, and thcir Minds
will awakcn by thcmsclvcs, without thc aid ol cxpcdicnts.
A pcrson who has bccn ncar inccnsc will carry a lragrancc on
his pcrson….” (Mastcr Hsuan Hua, tr.) Jack
¡6. Tc (erfecion of 7isdom Treatise statcs:
“Tc Purc Land is not includcd in thc Triplc Vorld…. !t is
thc 8odhisattva Ðharmakara’s spccial karma which brought
this about. !t cxists cxtraphcnomcnally and so wc can call it
subtlc.” (T’anLuan as quotcd in Rogcr ]. Corlcss, “Purc Land
and Purc Pcrspcctivc,” Te (ure Iand, Ðcccmbcr so·o.) Jack
¡y. To cnlightcncd pcrsons, cvcrything rcminds thcm (spcaks)
ol thc Ðharma, thus, thc mctaphor ol thc birds, rivcrs, ctc.
spcaking thc Ðharma. Tis is also a poctical way to dcscribc rc
:c6 :c·
birth among likcmindcd practitioncrs — among thc “transccn
dcntal Sangha.” (Sangha - lratcrnity ol monks and nuns.) Jack
¡8. 8uddhist sutras wcrc writtcn somc twcnty ccnturics ago,
whcn thc monastic ordcr was mainly (though not cxclusivcly)
composcd ol monks. Tcrclorc, thc word actually uscd in thc
tcxt, “womcn,” may, in this contcxt, bc undcrstood as “scductivc
bcings” rathcr than “lcmalc pcrsons.”
“Vhcn invcstigating lcmininc imagcry in 8uddhist litcraturc, it is
important to kccp in mind thc social and cultural sctting within
which thc tcachings wcrc givcn. Tc original tcxts thcmsclvcs
prcscnt a rangc ol variant imagcs, not contradictory in an
absolutc scnsc, but spcaking to dißcrcnt audicnccs and to bcings
ol dißcrcnt propcnsitics. Ònc point to bc notcd, lor cxamplc, is
that many ol thc discourscs in thcsc carly tcxts wcrc aimcd at
hclping cclibatc malcs brcak through attachmcnts to thc lcmalc
lorm. Had thc 8uddha bccn addrcssing cclibatc lcmalcs, thc
dclccts ol thc malc lorm would havc bccn similarly claboratcd.”
(Karma Lckshc Tsomo, Jaughters of the Juddha„ p.::.) Jack
¡o. Scc this bcautilul account ol thc mccting bctwccn thc
Purc Land Patriarch T’an Lun (thcn a Taoist) and thc lamcd
translator/monk 8odhiruci:
“T’an Lun (¡··–..¡), sccking immortality, travcllcd about
China obtaining tcachings lrom various notcd sagcs, including
thc Taoist mastcr T’ao Hungching. ¡vcntually (ca. ..c) hc mct
with thc !ndian 8uddhist tcachcr 8odhiruci: ‘T’an Lun opcncd
thc convcrsation by saying “Is there anything in the Teaching of the
:c6 :c·
Juddha .hich is superior to the methods for obtaining immortality
found in this country’ s scriptures on the immortals:’”
‘8odhiruci spat on thc ground and said, “7hat are you
saying: Tere is no comparison! 7here on this earth can you nnd a
method for immortality: 'uppose that you can obtain youth in your
old age, and ne.er die: e.en ha.ing done that, you .ould still be
rolling around in the triple .orld:”’
‘So hc gavc him thc ´editation 'utra and said, “Tese are
the recipes of :mitabha Juddha: if you rely on his pracices, you
.ill be liberated from samsara.”’ (Raoul 8irnbaum, Te (ealing
Juddha, p.:¡s.) Jack
.o. Scc Tomas Clcary, Òp. cit., p..c.–.c¡. (Cclcstial drum -
antidotc.) Jack
.r. Tc sccond part ol this qucstion dcals with thc issuc raiscd
in thc (ebirth (ommentary (sccond ccntury, ~.b.) as to whcthcr
womcn and ccrtain othcr groupsol pcoplc can bc rcborn in thc
Purc Land. Mastcr Chili ! answcrs strongly in thc amrmativc
and citcs thc ´editation 'utra, which was prcachcd cxprcssly
lor Òuccn \aidchi and hcr nvc hundrcd lcmalc attcndants, all
ol whom ultimatcly achicvcd rcbirth in thc Purc Land. Jack
.a. Tis conccpt, disgust vcrsus joyfulness, is an important onc
and constitutcs a kcy cxpcdicnt in Purc Land 8uddhism. !t is
bascd on a mixturc ol wisdom (\isualization ol thc dccaying body
is wisdom…) and laith (in thc vows ol Amitabha 8uddha).
´Scc also Note ro and Note 88. Jack
:c· :co
.,. Scc thc lollowing passagc lrom thc .imalakirti 'utra:
“Tc sagc \imalakirti discusscd thc cxpcricncc ol illncss at
grcat lcngth…. Vith many visitors asscmblcd to inquirc altcr
his hcath, thc innrm sagc took thc opportunity to spcak out
against thc human body and its limitations.
“ Ò, virtuous oncs, thc wisc do not rcly upon thc body. !t is
likc a mass ol lroth which cannot bc raspcd, likc a bubblc which
bursts in an instant. Tc body is likc a ßamc arising lrom thc
thirst ol lovc… likc a shadow, appcaring as a rcsult ol karma.
!t is likc an ccho, rcsponding to causcs and conditions…. Tc
body docs not act ol itscll, but it is spun around by thc lorcc ol
thc winds ol passion.’
“His own lacc gaunt and crcascd by illncss, vividly
imprcssing upon visitors thc transitory naturc ol carthly
cxistcncc, \imalakirti thcn urgcd thcm to scck thc 8uddha
body.” (Raoul 8irnbaum, Te (ealing Juddha, p.s..)
!t should bc clcar that, although thc 8uddha taught that thc
human body is a skinbag nllcd with cxcrcmcnt, His is not
a pcssimistic vicw ol lilc, but a rcalistic onc. Tc 8uddha
rccognizcd thc nccd to usc thc body as a mcans to cnlightcnmcnt.
Tus, onc important injunction to monks and laymcn is ncvcr to
cntcrtain thc thought ol suicidc. Jack
.¡. Tis is a kcy conccpt in 8uddhism: thc tcaching is innnitcly
adaptablc but its truth is always thc samc. Jack
:c· :co
... “Scvcn trcasurcs,” “cightylour thousand charactcristics”
arc among thc numcrous allcgorical numbcrs lound in 8uddhist
sutras and commcntarics. Tc scvcn trcasurcs arc, litcrally, gold,
silvcr, crystal, ctc. but also stand lor thc scvcn powcrs (laith,
pcrscvcrancc, shamc, avoidancc ol wrongdoing, mindlulncss,
conccntration, wisdom). Jack
.6. Fa Ycn (··.–o.·), loundcr ol onc ol thc Fivc Houscs
(divisions) ol Zcn. Scc Glossary, “Iive Houses.”
“!n thc Housc ol Faycn, thc Avatamsaka world vicw occupicd
an cvcn morc promincnt placc than it did in othcr Zcn
schools. Tc mastcr studicd thc :.atamsaka 'criptures
intcnscly…. Faycn carricd on thc mcthods ol thc Tang Zcn
mastcrs. Hc lovcd paradoxcs and aimcd at inducing suddcn
National Mastcr Tc Shao (·os–o·s) was Faycn’s most illustrious
studcnt. Zcn Mastcr Yung Ming was Tc Shao’s bcst known
“Yung Ming introduccd a dcvclopmcnt that truly borc
lruit only latcr…. Hc may bc considcrcd thc pionccr ol
thc unincation movcmcnt bctwccn Zcn and thc nembutsu
tradition, a movcmcnt that latcr on was to gain thc uppcr hand
in Chincsc 8uddhism.” (Hcinrich Ðumoulin, 2en Juddhism,
p.:.¡–:...) Jack
:sc :ss
.y. Scc thc lollowing partial translation ol thcsc vcrscs:
“Vith both dhyana |Zcn| and thc Purc Land
Ònc is likc a tigcr with horns,
!n thc prcscnt agc a tcachcr ol man,
!n thc luturc a 8uddhist Patriarch.
Vith dhyana but without thc Purc Land
Ninc out ol tcn will takc thc wrong road,
Vithout dhyana and with only thc Purc Land,
!l tcn thousand practicc, tcn thousand will go.”
(Hsuan Hua, Jure Iand L (h’ an 9harma Ta/ks, p.:.–:¡.) Jack
.8. Tis commcntary consists ol a dialoguc bctwccn two
Zcn Mastcrs. Tcrclorc, thc rcadcr should bcar in mind thc
paradoxical mcthod ol rcasoning in Zcn, as dcscribcd carlicr in
Note ¡o. Scc also thc lollowing passagc:
“8clicls arc mistakcn as long as thcy arc supposcd to bc absolutcly
truc, in contrast to othcr bclicls which arc thcn considcrcd lalsc,
thcy actually bccomc absolutcly truc only whcn thcir rclativc
naturc is lully rcalizcd and thcrc is no longcr any qucstion ol
truc vcrsus lalsc.
For cxamplc, onc ol thc Amcrican astronauts, standing
on thc moon and looking up at thc carth in thc sky, is said
to havc suddcnly rcalizcd that hc was standing in what had
lormcrly bccn thc sky lor him and looking up at what was oncc
thc ground. To scc that carth and moon arc simultancously
ground and sky to onc anothcr is a Hua Ycn |Avatamsaka|
insight. Again, thcrc is a popular story ol thc Zcn mastcr who
:sc :ss
scparatcly told two quarrcling disciplcs that cach ol thcm
was right. Vhcn a third disciplc protcstcd that thcy couldn’t
both bc right, thc mastcr said, ‘You arc right too.’ Tis also
cxprcsscs thc Hua Ycn attitudc. (Historically spcaking, Hua
Ycn tcachings havc in lact had a grcat inßucncc on thc Zcn
tradition.)” (A]. Princc, “Tc Vorld ol Hua Ycn 8uddhism.”
Rcprintcd in (hâ

t (o

c (CÆ, USÆ), no. 6, so·6, p.s..–s.6.)
Tis articlc by a prolcssor at thc Univcrsity ol Sydncy (Australia)
providcs an cxccllcnt, indcpth vicw ol Hua Ycn 8uddhism.
!t kindlcd thc cditor’s intcrcst in Hua Ycn philosophy and
startcd him on his translation pursuits. Jack
.o. Tis conccpt ol laith is vcry important in all 8uddhist
schools, Zcn, Purc Land and Tantric, ctc. alikc. Scc thc lollow
ing quotc lrom Ð.T. Suzuki:
“A thoroughgoing cnlightcnmcnt, howcvcr, is attaincd only
through thc most scllsacrincing application ol thc mind,
supportcd by an inßcxiblc laith in thc nnality ol Zcn…. Tc
ncccssary rcquircmcnts arc laith and pcrsonal cßort, without
which Zcn is a mcrc bubblc.” (Ð.T. Suzuki, :n Introducion to
2en Juddhism, p.ss..)
Scc also thc lollowing quotc lrom thc Avatamsaka Sutra:
“Faith is thc basis ol thc Path,
thc mothcr ol virtucs,
Nourishing and growing all good ways,
Cutting away thc nct ol doubt,
lrccing lrom thc torrcnt ol passion,
:s: :s.
Rcvcaling thc unsurpasscd road to
ultimatc pcacc.”
(Tomas Clcary, tr. Te Tlo.er Ornament 'utra, \ol !, p...s.)
Òn thc issuc ol laith at thc timc ol dcath in Purc Land tcaching,
scc thc lollowing quotc:
“Tcrc is cvcn a placc in thc Vcstcrn Paradisc lor thc worst
sinncrs. Tc ´editation 'utra rclatcs that cvcn il a pcrson
has committcd thc nvc sins or tcn sins, il this sinncr carncstly
rccitcs Amitabha’s namc tcn timcs on his dcathbcd, a lotus
thronc will appcar and will bcar him to thc lowcst stagc in
Paradisc — thc lowcr birth ol thc lowcr dcgrcc. !nstcad ol
bcing condcmncd to cighty million kalpas in hcll, thc sinncr
will bc born in thc Vcstcrn Paradisc in a closcd lotus ßowcr,
altcr a pcriod ol six kalpas thc lotus thronc will opcn and
rclcasc him. Tis tcaching ol thc ninc possiblc lcvcls ol birth
was an cxtrcmcly cßcctivc way to rcward good dccds on carth
whilc still oßcring thc promisc ol salvation to all, rcgardlcss ol
how much mcrit thcy had accumulatcd.” (]oji Òkazaki, (ure
Iand Juddhist (ainting, p..:.) Jack
6o. “Tus, whcn you arc practicing Zcn, all thoughts othcr than
thc mcthod |kung an| should bc considcrcd as dcmons, cvcn
il it lccls likc you havc cntcrcd a ‘hcavcnly’ statc. Somc pcoplc,
as thcy arc sitting, may suddcnly cntcr a complctcly ncw world
which is vcry bcautilul and comlortablc. Altcrwards, thcy want
to rcturn to it in cach mcditation. Tcy may bc ablc to gct into
that statc again, but noncthclcss it is an attachmcnt. Tcrc arc
also othcr statcs that arc tcrrilying. Such visions, good and
:s: :s.
bad, arc gcncrally manilcstations ol our own mcntal rcalms.”
(Mastcr ShcngYcn, Taith in ´ind, p.66.) Jack
6r. Asvaghosha:
“!ndian poct and Mahayana philosophcr who livcd in thc nrst
to sccond ccnturics and is considcrcd onc ol thc most important
8uddhist authors.” ('hambhala Jicionary.)
Author ol thc lamous work Treatise on the :.akening of the
Taith. Jack
6a. For ´editation 'utra, scc Glossary “Tree Pure Iand
Sutras.” Jack
6,. “Tc national mastcr Òingliang, who succccdcd to thc position
ol patriarch ol thc Huayan |Avatamsaka| school, and who
was acclaimcd as an incarnation ol Manjushri, taught that
Amitabha is… \airocana. Hc also wrotc a commcntary on thc
Contcmplation ol Amitabha Sutra, and propagatcd Purc Land
tcchniqucs widcly.” (Òuotcd by ].C. Clcary in (ure Iand, (ure
´ind.) Jack
6¡. Nagarjuna. Ònc ol thc most important philosophcrs ol
8uddhism (:nd–.rd ccnturics, loundcr ol thc Madhyamika
(“Middlc Vay”) School.
“Nagarjuna is rcvcrcd in all ol Mahayana as a grcat rcligious
ngurc, in many placcs as a 8odhisattva. Not only Zcn, but
also thc Tantric branch ol 8uddhism and thc dcvotional
:s¡ :s.
communitics ol Amitabha 8uddha, count Nagarjuna among
thcir patriarchs.” (Ðumoulin, 2en Juddhism, p.¡¡.) Jack
6.. “Sincc thc Purc Land |School| was organizationally wcak, it
was dcpcndcnt on thc Ch’an monastic ordcrs. Many important
Ch’an mastcrs wcrc at thc samc timc Purc Land dcvotccs.”
(Sungpcng Hsu, : Juddhist Ieader in ´ing (hina, p.¡¡ and
s·¡, Notc o¡.)
!n ¡ast and Southcast Asia, according to most obscrvcrs, thcrc
is no rcal division into Zcn and Purc Land tcmplcs, as thc
two lorms ol practicc tcnd to cocxist in thc samc prcmiscs.
!n ]apan, on thc othcr hand, thcrc arc distinct Zcn and Purc
Land tcmplcs. Jack
66. Tcsc thrcc scctions bctwccn brackcts arc summarics ol thc
original tcxt, which is at lcast lour to nvc timcs longcr.
Somc lourtccn Zcn mastcrs arc citcd hcrc by namc as
practicing and propagating Purc Land tcachings.
“Ðuring thc Sung pcriod, somctimcs with thc support ol thc
mastcrs and somctimcs against thcir opposition, thc ncmbutsu
madc grcatcr and grcatcr inroads into Zcn monastcrics. Tis
proccss ol mixing rcligious practiccs continucd through thc
Yuan pcriod and camc to tcrm during thc Ming dynasty.
Tc simultancous practicc ol Zcn and thc ncmbutsu bccamc
a mattcr ol common practicc. !n trying to judgc this wholc
dcvclopmcnt, wc must not lorgct thc inncr amnitics ol thc two
practiccs. Tc psychological cßccts ol thc mcditativc rcpctition
:s¡ :s.
ol thc holy namc arc closc to thc cßccts ol Zcn mcditation.”
(H. Ðumoulin, 2en Juddhism, p.:·6.) Jack
6y. Scc Glossary, “Iive Houses of Zen.” Jack
68. Pai Chang (·:c–·s¡).
“Pai Chang was thc nrst to lay out a clcarly lormulatcd rulc
lor Zcn monks…. Ðrawing on thc traditions ol… vinaya
|monastic disciplinc|, Pai Chang crcatcd a ncw rulc adaptcd
to Zcn…. Tc (ure (ule of (ai (hang includcd thc basic
8uddhist commandmcnts… as wcll as additional injunctions
against luxury…. 8oth thc lilcstylc that Pai Chang spcllcd
out as wcll as thc architcctural lorm ol his monastcry bccamc
modcls lor latcr Zcn monastcrics. Tc scrvicc hc rcndcrcd
thc monastic community lilc ol Zcn carncd him thc cpithct,
‘thc patriarch who crcatcd thc lorcst.’” (H. Ðumoulin, 2en
Juddhism, p.s·c.) Jack
6o. Ma Tsu. Scc Glossary. Jack
yo. For an intcrcsting asidc on Zcn and its spccial mcthod ol
tcaching, scc thc lollowing:
“!t’s said that onc day 8rahma, lord ol crcation, oßcrcd thc
8uddha a ßowcr and askcd him to prcach thc Ðharma. Vhcn
thc 8uddha hcld up thc ßowcr, his audicncc was puzzlcd,
cxccpt lor Kashyapa, who smilcd. Tis is how Zcn bcgan. And
this is how it was transmittcd: with a ßowcr, with a rock wall,
.ith a shout. (cmphasis addcd.) (Rcd Pinc, Te 2en Teaching of
Jodhidharma„ p.xvi.) Jack
:s6 :s·
yr. !n Mahayana 8uddhism, bc it Purc Land, Zcn, ctc.,
Amitabha 8uddha, at thc noumcnon lcvcl, is our ¡nlightcncd
ScllNaturc, allilluminating and cvcrlasting — just as Hc is
thc 8uddha ol !nnnitc Light and !nnnitc Lilc. Hcncc, thc
cxprcssion “ScllNaturc Amitabha 8uddha, MindÒnly Purc
Land” rcprcscnts thc tcaching that, il thc Mind is purc, thc
cnvironmcnt, thc land, is purc as wcll. Tis cxprcssion is popular
in Zcn. Jack
ya. Four kinds ol Lands. A classincation by thc Purc Land and
T’icn T’ai Schools ol thc various rcalms dcscribcd in thc sutras.
Tcy arc:
i) thc Land ol Common Rcsidcncc ol 8cings and Saints, whcrc
all bcings, lrom thc six lowcr worlds (hclls, hungry ghosts…) to
thc 8uddhas and 8odhisattvas, livc togcthcr (lurthcr dividcd
into two, thc Common Rcsidcncc (ure Land and Common
Rcsidcncc Impure Land),
ii) Tc Land ol ¡xpcdicncy, inhabitcd by Arhats and lcsscr
iii) thc Land ol Truc Rcward, inhabitcd by thc highcst
iv) thc Land ol ¡tcrnally Tranquil Light, in which thc 8uddhas
Tcsc distinctions arc introduccd as a hcuristic dcvicc. At thc
noumcnon lcvcl, thcrc is, ol coursc, no dißcrcncc among thcm.
y,. Tcn thousand, tcn billion, i.c., an innnitc numbcr. Jack
:s6 :s·
y¡. Tis is a kcy Mahayana conccpt: “Mind, 8uddha, scnticnt
bcings — thc thrcc arc not dißcrcnt.” Jack
y.. For a dcscription and cxplanation ol !ndra’s nct, scc Francis
Cook, (ua-1en Juddhism, p.:. Jack
y6. “Òccan scal,” “suddcn and pcrlcct,” arc tcchnical tcrms
uscd in thc :.atamsaka 'utra and othcr Mahayana sutras. Tc
mcaning ol thc paragraph can bc summarizcd in thc lamous
Avatamsaka tcaching ol “onc in onc, onc in all, all in onc, all in
all,” cvcrything intcrpcnctrating lrccly ad innnitum. Jack
yy. Scc thc :.atamsaka 'utra, Chap. :c:
“!l onc wishcs to undcrstand / All 8uddhas ol thc thrcc pcriods
ol timc, / Ònc should contcmplatc thc naturc ol thc Ðharma
rcalm: / ¡vcrything is madc lrom thc mind alonc.” (tr. by
Mastcr Hsuan Hua.) Jack
y8. \cry important conccpt. Jack
yo. “Somc pcoplc say that thc Purc Land is nothing but mind, that
thcrc is no Purc Land ol Ultimatc 8liss bcyond thc trillions ol
worlds ol thc cosmos. Tis talk ol mindonly has its sourcc in
thc words ol thc sutras, and is truc, not lalsc. 8ut thosc who
quotc it in this scnsc arc misundcrstanding its mcaning.
“Mind cquals objccts: thcrc arc no objccts bcyond mind.
Òbjccts cqual mind: thcrc is no mind bcyond objccts. Sincc
objccts arc wholly mind, why must wc cling to mind and
dismiss objccts: Tosc who dismiss objccts whcn thcy talk ol
:s· :so
mind havc not comprchcndcd mind.” (Mastcr Zhuhong, in
].C. Clcary, trans., (ure Iand, (ure ´ind.) Jack
8o. Although thc rcal aim ol 8uddha Rccitation is onc
pointcdncss ol Mind, rccitation with a scattcrcd Mind also
lcads to accumulation ol mcrits, albcit on a much smallcr scalc.
Tis is bccausc cvcrything has its sourcc in thc Mind, thus, all
rccitation springs, by ncccssity, lrom somc dcgrcc ol purity ol
Mind. (Scc also Note 8a and Note ro,.) Jack
8r. Tc Tcn Grcat \ows arc thc suprcmcly important (“king”)
vows ol a 8odhisattva. To lollow thcm is tantamount to culti
vating all thc practiccs lcading to suprcmc cnlightcnmcnt. Tcsc
vows arc lound in Chaptcr ¡c (last chaptcr) ol thc :.atamsaka
'utra. Sincc thc Sutra has bccn translatcd scvcral timcs ovcr thc
ccnturics, this chaptcr is missing in somc vcrsions. For cxamplc,
thc ¡nglish translation by Tomas Clcary is bascd on a vcrsion
which lacks this chaptcr. Jack
8a. Ðonating ßowcrs, ctc. to 8uddhist tcmplcs. Tcsc actions
havc mcrit in 8uddhist tcaching and can lcad to rcbirth in thc
Purc Land bccausc thcy havc thcir sourcc in a purc Mind. ]ust
as calm watcrs rcßcct thc moon, a purc Mind naturally accrucs
mcrits. No god or supcrnatural powcrs nccd to bc involvcd.
!dcally, such good actions should bc carricd out to pcrlcction,
as a “mcritlcss dccd,” i.c., without any thought ol givcr, rcccivcr
or gilt. Jack
:s· :so
8,. Holding thc Namc 8uddha Rccitation.
“!n this mcthod, thc practitioncr rccitcs, aloud or silcntly, cithcr
‘Nam Mo Amitabha 8uddha’ or ‘Amitabha 8uddha.’ Tc short
lorm (Amitabha 8uddha) has thc advantagc ol casily locussing
thc cultivator’s Mind, whilc thc longcr vcrsion lacilitatcs
dcvclopmcnt ol a truly carncst, rcspcctlul Mind conducivc to
a rcsponsc. Tis mcthod, taught by thc 8uddha in thc 'horter
:mitabha 'utra, is most commonly in usc at thc prcscnt
“Ònly thc Holding thc Namc mcthod cmbraccs pcoplc
ol all capacitics, lcads to swilt rcsults and is casy cnough lor
anyonc to practicc. Holding thc Namc, practiccd carncstly
and corrcctly, will bring a rcsponsc, in this vcry lilc, wc can
immcdiatcly scc thc lcaturcs ol Amitabha 8uddha and thc
adornmcnts ol thc Vcstcrn Purc Land and awakcn to thc
Òriginal Mind. ¡vcn il wc cannot attain Truc Mark in this
lilc, wc will ccrtainly attain it altcr rcbirth. For this rcason, thc
Tirtccnth Purc Land Patriarch, Mastcr Yin Kuang, wrotc thc
lollowing words ol praisc:
‘¡xciisivviy Hoibixc )nv N~:v wiii nvixc ~))~ix:vx)
ov Tviv M~vx,
Vi)noi) cox)v:vi~)iox wv wiii s)iii svv )nv
Vvs)vvx L~xb.’
“Tc ancicnts havc also commcntcd: ‘Among Ðharma mcthods,
Purc Land is thc short cut lor attaining thc Vay. Vithin Purc
Land, Holding thc Namc is thc short cut.’ Nowadays, this
mcthod (Holding thc Namc) is thc most popular lorm ol
::c ::s
8uddha Rccitation.” (Tích Ti
cˆn Tâm, Juddhism of 7isdom
and Taith, p.sso.) Jack
8¡. Tc youth Sudhana and thc 8odhisattva Samantabhadra
(along with thc 8odhisattva Manjusri and thc 8uddha \airocana
arc thc main protagonists ol thc :+atamsaka 'utra (Scc
Glossary.) Te IIower Store WorId (scc Glossary) rcprcscnts
thc 8uddhist cosmos within which thc Vcstcrn Purc Land is
Tc qucstion is why Samantabhadra would urgc his disciplc
Sudhana to scck rcbirth in a limitcd rcalm (Vcstcrn Purc Land)
rathcr than in thc largcr rcalm ol thc Flowcr Storc Vorld. Tis
is, ol coursc, a typical qucstion at thc phcnomcnal lcvcl. At thc
noumcnon lcvcl, thcrc is no dißcrcncc bctwccn thcsc rcalms, as
thcy arc all cmpty and Mindcrcatcd. Jack
8.. Tis is an important point. Scc Note ¡¡. Jack
86. Tis is a manilcstation ol cxpcdicnt mcans (skillin mcans
or upaya).
“Tcy |8odhisattvas| play with illusory manilcstations / !n ordcr
to dcvclop living, bcings, / Showing thcmsclvcs to bc old or
sick, / And cvcn manilcsting thcir own dcaths.
“Tcy dcmonstratc thc burning ol thc carth / !n thc con
suming ßamcs ol thc world’s cnd, / !n ordcr to dcmonstratc im
pcrmancncc / To living bcings with thc notion ol pcrmancncc.”
(Robcrt Turman, Te (oly Teaching of .imalakirti, p.6o). Jack
::c ::s
8y. ¡qual ¡nlightcnmcnt and Vondcrlul ¡nlightcnmcnt
arc thc vcry last stagcs ol cultivation bclorc thc attainmcnt ol
8uddhahood. Jack
88. “!t is likc lighting a nrc on top ol icc. As thc nrc intcnsincs,
thc icc will mclt. Vhcn thc icc mclts, thcn thc nrc will go
out. Tosc pcoplc ol a lowcr gradc ol rcbirth who rcly on thc
powcr ol rcciting thc 8uddha’s namc… cvcn though thcy do
not undcrstand thc birthlcssncss ol thc dharma naturc, will
attain thc rcalm ol birthlcssncss and will scc thc ßamc ol
rcbirth spontancously disappcar at that timc.” (Tc Patriarch
Tao Ch’o, as quotcd in Ðavid V. Chapcll, “Chincsc 8uddhist
!ntcrprctations ol thc Purc Land.” !n Juddhist and Taoist
'tudies I, p.¡:.) Jack
8o. Scc Juddhism of 7isdom and Taith„ Scction :·, lor dctails.
oo. Tc conccpt as cxprcsscd hcrc can bc likcncd to thc modcrn
idca ol cxccutivc clcmcncy, whcrcby a hcad ol statc or a statc
govcrnor can commutc thc scntcncc ol a dcath row inmatc. Òn
a lowcr lcvcl, cvcn a judgc can sct asidc thc dccision ol a jury
undcr ccrtain circumstanccs. Jack
or. Tcsc thrcc mcn arc singlcd out bccausc in all schools ol
8uddhism and in all rulcs ol disciplinc, whcthcr lor monks or
laymcn, thc prohibition against killing scnticnt bcings is thc
cardinal prcccpt. Jack
::: ::.
oa. Tis is, ol coursc, a prccursor to thc crcativc scntcncing ol
modcrn jurisprudcncc: a guilty pcrson can bc givcn a suspcndcd
scntcncc or madc to pcrlorm a ccrtain numbcr ol hours ol
community scrvicc. !t is also in linc with thc conccpt that a
rclormcd oßcndcr is no longcr a thrcat to socicty and thcrclorc
docs not rcquirc harsh punishmcnt. Jack
o,. “Knowlcdgc ol prcvious livcs,” “laculty ol rcading othcr
pcoplc’s minds,” “supcrnatural vision” arc supcrnormal powcrs
ol thc 8uddhas and 8odhisattvas. Tcy posscss thcsc powcrs
to thc highcst dcgrcc bccausc thcy arc lrcc lrom all grasping
and attachmcnts, lollowing thc adagc “no docr, no rcccivcr, no
gilt….” Jack
o¡. Tc Ðharma robc and thc bcgging bowl arc thc traditional
symbols ol a 8uddhist monk or nun. 8uddhist lollowcrs (and
by cxtcnsion, thc King ol thc Hclls) accord thcm thc utmost
rcspcct. Jack
o.. “As thc 8uddha told king 8imbisara, whcn a man accumulatcs
good acts, at his dcath hc will havc no disturbing thoughts.
Tis is likc a trcc which lcans to thc wcst and will ncccssarily
lall in that dircction in which it has bccn bcnt…. Also
onc should havc scvcral likcmindcd companions joincd
togcthcr in an agrccmcnt that whcn thc cnd ol onc’s lilc
approachcs, onc will spcll anothcr cvcry morning in calling
upon thc namc ol thc 8uddha Amitabha, dcsiring birth in
::: ::.
Sukhavati….” (Lco Prudcn, tr. “A short ¡ssay on thc Purc
Land by Ðharma Mastcr Tan Lun.” Te 8astern Juddhist,
May so·., p.o..) Jack
o6. Tis list ol tcn grcat bcncnts is rathcr popular. Tcrc arc
scvcral altcrnativc translations into ¡nglish. Jack
oy. Scc ncxt Òucstion. Jack
o8. Scc thc lollowing passagc:
“You must takc rcciting thc buddhanamc as thc corrcct basis,
and making mcrit as an auxiliary lactor. Cultivating both
mcrit and wisdom, you will achicvc corrcct cnlightcnmcnt.
Tus, causcs cncompass thc sca ol rcsults, and rcsults cxtcnd
back through thc causal sourcc.” (citcd in ].C. Clcary, (ure
Iand, (ure ´ind.) Jack
oo. “Pcrlcct antidotc lor thc monkcy Mind…. Ðocs away with
thc monkcy Mind. How hard this is to do.” (Communication
lrom kalyanamitra 8arbara Lcvinc.) Jack
roo. “Purc Land litcraturc oßcrs many storics prcscntcd as rcal
lilc biographical accounts which corroboratc thc dcscription
ol thc Purc Land paradisc drawn lrom thc scripturcs…. Tc
storics oltcn rclatc pcoplc’s carly cxpcricncc ol 8uddhism,
and notc thc various practiccs thcy took up and thc scripturcs
thcy studicd. !n duc timc, thcir laith in Purc Land is
awakcncd, pcrhaps by mccting an inspirational tcachcr,
::¡ ::.
pcrhaps through a drcam or vision, pcrhaps lrom hcaring
thc Purc Land scripturcs…. Tc climax ol a Purc Land
biography comcs in thc subjcct’s dcath sccnc, whcn buddha
namc rccitation is rcwardcd and thc Purc Land tcachings
arc connrmcd. Tc bclicvcr dics pcacclully, cvcn joyously,
with mind and body composcd, in lull conndcncc ol rcbirth
in paradisc, rcciting thc buddha’s namc.” (].C. Clcary, (ure
Iand, (ure ´ind.) Jack
ror. Tis imagc ol 8uddhas cmcrging lrom thc mouths ol Grcat
Mastcrs appcars lrcqucntly in ]apancsc Purc Land paintings,
particularly in thc dcpiction ol thc Patriarch Shan Tao. (cl. ]oji
Òkazaki, (ure Iand Juddhist (ainting, p.s·..) Jack
roa. Nondual.
“Tis is synonymous with rcality, voidncss, ctc. 8ut it must
bc rcmcmbcrcd that nonduality docs not ncccssarily mcan
unity, that unity is only onc ol thc pair unityduality, hcncc
nonduality implics nonunity as wcll.” (Robcrt Turman, Te
(oly Teaching of .imalakirti, p.s6..) Scc also Glossary undcr
“Non-ÐuaI.” Jack
ro,. “According to thc rccordcd sayings ol Ch’an Mirror, ‘thc
ScllMind is allpcrvading and il you scc a 8uddha, this mcans
that you can scc your own 8uddha.’ Tat which is Fundamcntally
Unborn is cxistcnt but its cxistcncc docs not altcr thc lact that it
is Fundamcntally Unborn, and so Ch’an may bc said to bc thc
::¡ ::.
Ch’an ol thc Purc Land and thc Purc Land may also bc said to
thc Purc Land ol Ch’an. From this point ol vicw, Ðhyana (Zcn|
and NamcRcciting arc in common with cach othcr.’ (Hsu Hcng
Chi/P.H. Vci, 7hat’ s Juddhism: Teory and (racice, p..o.)
Tc cxprcssion “Ch’an ol thc Purc Land, Purc Land ol Ch’an”
(or Zcn/Purc Land, Purc Land/Zcn) indicatcs that thc various
8uddhist approachcs, whilc sccmingly dißcrcnt, lcad ultimatcly
to thc samc goal: purincation ol thc Mind. As thc saying gocs,
“all roads lcad to Romc.” Jack
ro¡. According to thc ´ahasamghata 'utra:
“To rccitc thc Holy Namc ol Amita 8uddha may bc said to bc
tantamount to cultivating thc prolound and suprcmc Ch’an.”
(Òuotcd in Hsu Hcng Chi, 7hat’ s Juddhism:, p.::.)
Scc also Ðumoulin on thc Zcn/Purc Land rclationship:
“!n Zcn monastcrics, thc invocation ol Amitabha was
practiccd in combination with sitting in mcditation. Morc
ovcr, during thc Ming pcriod wc scc a complctc lusing ol
all Chincsc 8uddhist schools and sccts.” ( 2en Juddhism:
: (istory, p.:·6.) Jack

::6 ::·
Io:+ovs’ Giossavv
:mitabha (:mida, :mita, :mitayus). Amitabha is
thc most commonly uscd namc lor thc Lord ol !nnnitc Light
and !nnnitc Lilc. A transhistorical 8uddha vcncratcd by all
Mahayana schools (T’icn T’ai, ¡sotcric, Zcn…) and, particu
larly, Purc Land. Prcsidcs ovcr thc Vcstcrn Purc Land (Land
ol Ultimatc 8liss), whcrc anyonc can bc rcborn with tcn uttcrly
sinccrc rccitations ol His namc at thc timc ol dcath.
Amitabha 8uddha at thc highcst or noumcnon lcvcl
rcprcscnts thc Mind ol thc 8uddhas and scnticnt bcings, all
cncompassing and allinclusivc. Tis dccpcr undcrstanding
providcs thc rationalc lor thc harmonization ol Zcn and Purc
Land, two popular schools ol Mahayana 8uddhism.
:rhat. 8uddhist saint, who has attaincd libcration lrom thc
cyclc ol birth and dcath, gcncrally through living a monastic lilc
in accordancc with thc 8uddha’s tcaching. Arhatship is thc goal
ol Tcravadin practicc, as contrastcd with 8odhisattvahood in
Mahayana practicc. (Jicionary of Juddhism, 8angkok, so·6.)
:+atamsaka 'utra. Tc basic tcxt ol thc Avatamsaka School.
!t is onc ol thc longcst sutras in thc 8uddhist Canon and rccords
thc highcst tcaching ol 8uddha Sakyamuni, immcdiatcly altcr
cnlightcnmcnt. !t is traditionally bclicvcd that thc Sutra was
taught to thc 8odhisattvas and othcr high spiritual bcings whilc
thc 8uddha was in samadhi. Tc Sutra has bccn dcscribcd as thc
::6 ::·
cpitomc ol 8uddhist thought, 8uddhist scntimcnt and 8uddhist
cxpcricncc and is quotcd by all schools ol Mahayana 8uddhism,
in particular, Purc Land and Zcn.
Jardo stage. Tc intcrmcdiatc stagc bctwccn dcath and
Jodhi ´ind. Tc spirit ol cnlightcnmcnt, or thc aspiration
to achicvc it, thc Mind sct on cnlightcnmcnt. !t involvcs two
parallcl aspccts: i) thc dctcrmination to achicvc 8uddhahood
and ii) thc aspiration to rcscuc all scnticnt bcings.
Jodies of the Juddha. Scc “Tree Bodies of the Buddha.”
Juddha (ecitation. Gcncral tcrm lor a numbcr ol practiccs,
such as oral rccitation ol Amitabha 8uddha’s namc and visual
ization or contcmplation ol His auspicious marks and ol thc Purc
Land. Vhcn uscd in a broad scnsc, it also includcs such sundry
practiccs as cultivating thc Tcn Grcat \ows, building tcmplcs and
rcciting sutras. (Mastcr T’icn ]u, Ouestion y & Ouestion a,.)
“Rcciting thc buddhanamc procccds lrom thc mind. Tc mind
rcmcmbcrs 8uddha and docs not lorgct. Tat’s why it is callcd
buddha rcmcmbrancc, or rcciting thc buddhanamc mindlully.”
(Citcd in ].C. Clcary, (ure Iand, (ure ´ind.)
(onditioned (compounded). Rclcrs to all thc various phc
nomcna in thc world — madc up ol scparatc, discrctc clcmcnts,
with no intrinsic naturc ol thcir own.
::· ::o
9harma. a) Ðuty, law, doctrinc. b) Tings, cvcnts, phc
nomcna, cvcrything, c) Tc tcachings ol thc 8uddha (gcncrally
capitalizcd in ¡nglish).
9harma Jody. Scc “Tree Bodies of the Buddha.”
9harma-8nding :ge, 9egenerate :ge. Tc prcscnt
cra, whcn “only thc appcarancc ol thc Ðharma |tcachings ol
thc 8uddha| rcmains, lcw carc to practicc it, and rcalization
is cxtrcmcly dimcult to attain” (G.C.C. Chang). Tc modcrn
rcadcr, unlamiliar with thc conccpt ol thc Ðharma¡nding
Agc may wish to rccall thc lamous story ol Hui K’o, thc sccond
Chincsc Patriarch ol Zcn, who, according to tradition, knclt in
thc snow bchind 8odhidharma lor many months bclorc bcing
acccptcd as a disciplc. Contrast this with thc contcmporary
situation whcn cvcn thc holicst ol all 8uddhist holidays, \csak
(8irthday ol Sakyamuni 8uddha), must bc hcld on thc wcck
cnd to cnsurc adcquatc attcndancc.
9harma 5ature (Juddha 5ature). Tc intrinsic naturc
ol all things. Uscd intcrchangcably with “cmptincss,” “rcality.”
9harma (ea/m
(osmos, dharmadhatu, rea/m of rea/ity,
rea/m of truth). !n 8uddhist tcxts it has scvcral mcanings:
i) thc naturc or csscncc ol all things, ii) innnity, iii) thc innnitc
univcrsc pcr sc, (G.C.C. Chang) iv) thc Mind.
::· ::o
9harmakara. Tc 8odhisattva who latcr bccamc Amitabha
8uddha, as rclatcd in thc Ionger :mitabha 'utra. Tc 8odhi
sattva Ðharmakara is lamous lor lortycight vows, particularly
thc cightccnth, which promiscs rcbirth in thc Purc Land to
whocvcr rccitcs his namc with utmost sinccrity at thc timc ol
9imcu/t Jath of Jractice (Jath of the 'ages, 'e/f-
Jo.er Jath). Rclcrs to all convcntional 8uddhist ways ol
practicc and cultivation (Zcn, Tcravada, thc \inaya School…),
which cmphasizc scllpowcr and scllrcliancc, as such mcthods
traditionally rcquirc æons to achicvc Suprcmc ¡nlightcnmcnt.
Tis is contrastcd to thc ¡asy Path ol Practicc, that is 8uddha
Rccitation (Purc Land School).
8asy Jath of Jractice (Other-Jo.er). Rcliancc on thc
powcr ol thc 8uddhas and 8odhisattvas, in particular 8uddha
Amitabha (“othcrpowcr”), in addition to onc’s own powcr
(“scllpowcr”). Rclcrs spccincally to 8uddha Rccitation. Usually
contrastcd with primary rcliancc on scllpowcr (Ðimcult Path
ol Practicc), taught in othcr 8uddhist schools.
Primary rcliancc on othcrpowcr distinguishcs thc Purc
Land School lrom othcr schools ol 8uddhism, which cmphasizc
scllpowcr. Tc distinction is, howcvcr, an cxpcdicnt, a mattcr
ol cmphasis, as all schools ol 8uddhism rcly on both scllpowcr
and othcrpowcr. Ultimatcly, ol coursc, scllpowcr is othcr
powcr, and viccvcrsa.
:.c :.s
8ight :d+ersities. “Tc cight conditions which prcvcnt onc
lrom sccing thc 8uddha or hcaring thc Ðharma: s. rcbirth in hcll,
:. rcbirth as a hungry ghost, .. rcbirth as an animal, ¡. rcbirth
in Uttarakuru (thc contincnt whcrc lilc is casy, so that onc who
livcs thcrc is not motivatcd to scck thc Ðharma), .. rcbirth in
thc longlilc hcavcns (whcrc onc is also not motivatcd to scck
thc Ðharma), 6. rcbirth with impaircd lacultics, ·. rcbirth as
a worldly philosophcr clcvcr at sophistry, and ·. rcbirth in a
world whcrc thcrc is no 8uddha” (G.C.C. Chang). Tus, cvcn
rcbirth undcr “lavorablc” circumstanccs (lourth and scvcnth
conditions, lor cxamplc) may constitutc advcrsity with rcspcct
to thc 8uddha Ðharma.
8mptiness (7oid, 'unyata). Connotcs “nrst, \oid in thc
scnsc ol antithcsis ol bcing, sccond, thc statc ol bcing ‘dcvoid’
ol spccinc charactcr, third, \oid in thc highcst scnsc, or
Transccndcntal \oid, i.c., all oppositions synthcsizcd…, and
lourth, thc Absolutc \oid or thc Unconditioncd” (\crgilius
Fcrm, cd. :n 8ncyclopedia of (eligion).
Contrastcd with “hollow cmptincss,” or “stubborn cmptincss,”
which is oncsidcd and lcads to nihilism…. Tus, thc cxprcssion,
“Truc ¡mptincss, Vondcrlul ¡xistcncc.”
8+i/ Jaths. Hclls, hungry ghosts, animality.
8terna/ism. “8clicving that thcrc is truc cxistcncc ol rcal
bcings in objccts, or that thcrc is somc cntity that cxists lorcvcr”
:.c :.s
(G.C.C. Chang). Ònc
ol thc “two cxtrcmc vicws,” thc othcr
bcing nihilism.
8xpedient means
'ki//fu/ means, 'ki//-in-means). Rclcrs
to stratcgics, mcthods, dcviccs, targcttcd to thc capacitics,
circumstanccs, likcs and dislikcs ol cach scnticnt bcing, so as to
rcscuc him and lcad him to cnlightcnmcnt. “Tus, all particular
lormulations ol thc Tcaching arc just provisional cxpcdicnts
to communicatc thc Truth (Ðharma) in spccinc contcxts”
(].C. Clcary). “Tc 8uddha’s words wcrc mcdicincs lor a givcn
sickncss at a givcn timc,” always innnitcly adaptablc to thc
conditions ol thc audicncc.
Ti+e Gra+e Ofenses
Ti+e 9ead/y 'ins). Òßcnscs which
causc rcbirth in thc Unintcrruptcd Hcll. Tcy arc: killing onc’s
lathcr, onc’s mothcr, or an Arhat, causing disscnsion within thc
Sangha, causing thc Tathagata to blccd.
Ti+e (ouses
'choo/s) of 2en. Tc nvc branchcs (somctimcs
dividcd into scvcn) ol thc southcrn Chincsc schools ol Ch’an
(Zcn), thc bcst known ol which arc thc LinChi (Rinzai) and
TsaoTung (Soto). All thc southcrn schools bclong to thc lincagc
ol thc Sixth Patriarch, HuiNcng (6.·–·s.).
Ti+e Turbidities
(orruptions, 9ef/ements, 9epra+i-
ties, Ti/ths, Impurities). “Tc nvc arc: s. thc nlth ol kalpa,
whcn thc historical cyclc is in a pcriod ol dcgcncration, :. thc
:.: :..
nlth ol vicws, whcn all sorts ol wrong vicws prcvail, .. thc nlth
ol passions, whcn dcsirc, hatrcd and othcr dcnlcmcnts arc prc
dominant, ¡. thc nlth ol human condition, whcn pcoplc arc
morc oltcn miscrablc than happy, and .. thc nlth ol lilc span,
whcn thc human lilc span diminishcs” (G.C.C. Chang). Tcsc
conditions, vicwcd lrom a 8uddhist anglc, howcvcr, can con
stitutc aids to cnlightcnmcnt, as thcy may spur practitioncrs to
morc carncst cultivation.
T/o.er 'tore 7or/d. Tc cntirc cosmos, as dcscribcd in
thc :.atamsaka 'utra. !t is thc land ol \airocana 8uddha, thc
transccndcntal aspcct ol 8uddha Sakyamuni and ol all 8uddhas.
Tc Saha Vorld, thc Vcstcrn Purc Land and, lor that mattcr,
all lands, arc rcalms within thc Flowcr Storc Vorld.
Tour Great 9ebts. Ðcbts to onc’s parcnts, thc Trcc
Trcasurcs (8uddha, Ðharma, Sangha), thc rulcrs ol thc country
and all scnticnt bcings (“all mcn wcrc my lathcrs, all womcn my
mothcrs” in past livcs).
Good 'piritua/ :d+isor. Anyonc (8uddha, 8odhisattva,
scnticnt bcing…) who can hclp thc practitioncr progrcss along
thc path to cnlightcnmcnt. Tis notwithstanding, wisdom
should bc thc primary lactor in thc sclcction ol such an advisor:
thc advisor must havc wisdom, and both advisor and practitioncr
must cxcrcisc wisdom in sclccting onc anothcr.
:.: :..
Insight into 5on-arising of the 9harmas. Scc “ToIerance
of Non-Birth.”
Ianka+atara 'utra. Tc only sutra rccommcndcd by
8odhidharma, thc First Zcn Patriarch in China. !t is a kcy
Zcn tcxt, along with thc Jiamond 'utra (rccommcndcd by thc
Sixth Patriarch), thc 'urangama 'utra, thc .imalakirti 'utra,
thc :.atamsaka 'utra….
Iotus Grade. Rclcrs allcgorically to ninc possiblc dcgrccs ol
rcbirth in thc Purc Land. Tc morc mcrits thc practitioncr
accumulatcs, thc highcr thc gradc.
Iotus 'utra. A major 8uddhist tcxt and onc ol thc most widcly
rcad sutras in thc prcscnt day.
“Ònc ol thc carlicst and most richly dcscriptivc ol thc Mahayana
sutras ol !ndian origin. !t bccamc important lor thc shaping ol
thc 8uddhist tradition in ¡ast Asia, in particular bccausc ol
its tcaching ol thc Ònc \chiclc undcr which is subsumcd thc
usual Hinayana |Tcravada| and Mahayana divisions. !t is thc
main tcxt ol thc Tcndai |T’icn Tai| school.” (]oji Òkazaki).
Tis School has a historically closc rclationship with thc Purc
Land School, so much so that ¡ldcr Mastcr T’ai Hsu taught
that thc Iotus 'utra is thc Ionger :mitabha 'utra in cxpandcd
lorm, whilc thc Ionger :mitabha 'utra is a summary ol thc
Iotus 'utra.
:.¡ :..
´a Tsu
yoo–y88). Tird gcncration Zcn Mastcr altcr thc
Sixth Patriarch Hui Ncng. Hc was thc originator ol thc kungan
“Hc was thc nrst to makc usc ol shouting as a mcans ol lostcring
cnlightcnmcnt, a mcans latcr madc lamous by Linchi (]pn.
Rinzai).” (H. Ðumoulin, 2en Juddhism, p.s6..)
´aitreya. Tc luturc 8uddha ol this Saha Vorld. Ònc ol
thc lcw transhistorical 8uddhas (i.c., 8uddha with no basis in
human history) rccognizcd by thc Tcravada School.
´anjusri. 8odhisattva who rcprcscnts thc Ultimatc Visdom
ol thc 8uddhas. (Tc ¡ldcr Sariputra cxcmplincs thc wisdom ol
thc Arhats.) Scc also “Sariputra.”
´arks. Scc “Noumcnon/Phcnomcna.”
´editation 'utra. Scc “Trcc Purc Land Sutras” and
´idd/e 7ay (´adhyamika). Tc way bctwccn and
abovc all cxtrcmcs, such as hcdonism or ascctism, cxistcncc
or cmptincss, ctcrnalism or nihilism, samsara or nirvana, ctc.
A basic tcnct ol Mahayana 8uddhism.
´ind. Kcy conccpt in all 8uddhist tcaching. To achicvc truc
and complctc mastcry ol thc Mind is to bccomc a 8uddha.
:.¡ :..
“Frcqucnt tcrm in Zcn, uscd in two scnscs: (s) thc mindground,
thc Ònc Mind… thc buddhamind, thc mind ol thusncss…
(:) lalsc mind, thc ordinary mind dominatcd by conditioning,
dcsirc, avcrsion, ignorancc, and lalsc scnsc ol scll, thc mind ol
dclusion, hcncc statcs ol mind, attitudcs, thc mcntal momcnts
ol cxpcricncc.” (].C. Clcary, : Juddha from Korea, p.s·¡.)
5ature and ´arks. Scc “Noumenon/Phenomena.” (bclow)
5ihi/ism. “Considcring that things do not cxist in any scnsc,
cvcn thc dclusory manilcstations ol thc world, also, thc tcnct
that nothing continucs altcr dcath, i.c. thc dcnial ol thc doctrinc
ol rcincarnation” (G.C.C. Chang). Ònc ol thc “two cxtrcmc
vicws,” thc othcr bcing ctcrnalism.
5on-Jirth (5o-Jirth). “A tcrm uscd to dcscribc thc naturc
ol Nirvana. !n Mahayana 8uddhism gcncrally, No8irth signincs
thc ‘cxtinction’ ol thc discursivc thinking by which wc conccivc
ol things as arising and pcrishing, lorming attachmcnts to thcm”
(Ryukoku Univcrsity). Scc also “ToIerance of Non- Birth.”
5on-9ua/. Kcy 8uddhist truth. Can bc undcrstood as not
two and not onc — transccnding two and onc. ¡quivalcnt to
rcality, cmptincss…
5oumenon/Jhenomena. Noumcnon: principlc, csscncc ol
things, always onc and indivisiblc. Phcnomcna: All things and
cvcnts. Uscd in plural lorm to contrast with noumcnon.
:.6 :.·
“‘Noumcnon’ (principlc) is rcason, thc rcalm ol cnlightcnmcnt,
and bclongs to thc sphcrc ol ‘naturc.’ ‘Phcnomcna’ arc
cxpcdicnts, practiccs, dccds, ‘lorm,’ and lall undcr thc hcading
ol ‘marks.’ Howcvcr, in thc cnd, phcnomcna arc noumcnon,
naturc is mark, and both bclong to thc samc truthlikc Naturc,
allilluminating, allpcrvading. !n cultivation, noumcnon
and phcnomcna arc thc two sidcs ol a coin, intcracting with
onc anothcr and hclping onc anothcr. Vith noumcnon,
wc havc a basis, a dircction, a goal to dcvclop into action.
Vith phcnomcna, wc arc ablc to actualizc what wc think,
dcmonstratc our undcrstanding, arrivc at an objcctivc goal and,
ultimatcly, achicvc rcsults.
“Noumcnon is likc thc cycs that watch thc road. Phcnomcna
arc likc thc lcct that sct out to walk. Vithout cycs, or with
glassy, dim cycs, it is casy to gct lost. Vithout lcct, howcvcr
sharp our cycs, thcrc is no way to rcach our dcstination. To
‘havc’ noumcnon but not phcnomcna is likc having a map and
knowing thc way, but rclusing to procccd. To ‘havc’ phcnomcna
but not noumcnon is likc sctting out on a journcy with ncithcr
a guidc nor a clcar itincrary. To havc both noumcnon and
phcnomcna is not only to know thc way pcrlcctly but also to
procccd to walk. Vc cannot lail to rcach thc City ol Lights.
“Noumcnon and phcnomcna, principlc and marks arc
thus intcrdcpcndcnt. !l onc lactor is missing, succcss is
illusory. Howcvcr, cvcn though thc practitioncr may lack thc
cnlightcnmcnt lactor, il hc lollows thc itincrary taught by thc
sagcs and cultivatcs, hc, too, can rcach thc goal and succccd.
Sutras, commcntarics, biographics, as wcll as thc writings ol
ancicnt mastcrs and advicc lrom today’s good spiritual advisors
— thcsc constitutc thc itincrary. !l wc lollow thcsc tcachings and
:.6 :.·
put thcm into practicc, wc will surcly achicvc rcsults. Tcrclorc,
to havc practicc but lack ‘thcory’ is not ncccssarily a causc lor
alarm. Òl most conccrn arc thosc who undcrstand ‘thcory’
but lail to put it into practicc. \crbalizing inccssantly, thcy
discoursc without cnd about thc mystcrious and thc wondcrlul,
but thcy do not progrcss onc stcp during thcir cntirc livcs.
“!n truth, thosc who lack ‘practicc’ arc not rcally in
posscssion ol ‘thcory.’ Vhy is this so: As an analogy, il a pcrson
knows his housc is on nrc, yct rcmains insidc without trying to
cscapc, is hc any dißcrcnt lrom somconc who is not awarc ol
thc nrc: Tcrclorc, thc 8uddha Ðharma can hclp thosc who
arc dcludcd and do not undcrstand a singlc word, but cannot
savc thosc who posscss mundanc knowlcdgc and cloqucncc but
lack practicc.’ (Tích Ti
cˆn Tâm, Juddhism of 7isdom and
Taith, Scction ¡6.)
Ocean 'ea/ 'amadhi. A statc ol conccntration ol thc highcst
lcvcl, dcscribcd, inter alia, in thc :.atamsaka 'utra.… Tc Mind
is likcncd to thc occan, which, whcn calm and without a singlc
wavc, can rcßcct cvcrything throughout thc cosmos, past, prcscnt
and luturc.
Ocean-7ide :ssemb/y. Tcrm uscd in thc :.atamsaka 'utra
to dcnotc a transccndcntal gathcring ol 8uddhas, 8odhisattvas,
Arhats and othcr scnticnt bcings, as immcnsc as thc occan.
One-Iife Jodhisatt+a. A 8odhisattva who is onc lilctimc
away lrom 8uddhahood.
:.· :.o
One-Jointedness of ´ind. Singlcmindcdncss or singlc
mindcd conccntration.
Other-Jo.er. Scc “Iasy Path of Practice.”
Jaramitas. “Tis can bc translatcd as ‘thc pcrlcction ol…, or
‘rcaching thc othcr shorc by mcans ol…. Paramita is thc ccntral
practicc ol a 8odhisattva” (Garma C.C. Chang). Tc paramitas
arc usually six in numbcr (charity, disciplinc, lorbcarancc, cncrgy,
conccntration, wisdom) or cxpandcd to tcn (adding cxpcdicnts,
vows, powcr and knowlcdgc). Tc Mahayana tradition
cmphasizcs thc paramita ol cxpcdicnts, or skillinmcans.
Jath of 'ages. Scc “ÐimcuIt Path of Practice.”
Jerfect Teaching ((ound Teaching). Suprcmc tcaching ol
thc 8uddha, as cxprcsscd in thc :.atamsaka and Iotus 'utras.
Jure Iand. Gcncric tcrm lor thc rcalms ol thc 8uddhas. !n
this tcxt it dcnotcs thc Land ol Ultimatc 8liss or Vcstcrn Land
ol Amitabha 8uddha. !t is “a paradisc rcalm ol thc spirit world”
(Raoul 8irnbaum), an ideal place of culti.ation, bcyond thc Triplc
Rcalm and samsara, whcrc thosc who arc rcborn arc no longcr
subjcct to rctrogcssion. Tis is thc kcy distinction bctwccn thc
Vcstcrn Purc Land and such rcalms as thc Tusita Hcavcn.
Tcrc arc two conccptions ol thc Purc Land: as dißcrcnt and
apart lrom thc Saha Vorld and as onc with and thc samc as
:.· :.o
thc Saha Vorld. Vhcn thc Mind is purc and undcnlcd, any
land or cnvironmcnt bccomcs a purc land (.imalakirti, Iotus,
:.atamsaka 'utras…). ¡vcrything, thc Purc Land includcd, is
MindÒnly, a product ol thc Mind. Scc also “TripIe ReaIm.”
Jure Iand 'utras. Scc “Tree Pure Iand Sutras.”
(e.ard Jody. Scc “Tree Bodies of the Buddha.”
'aha 7or/d. Vorld ol ¡ndurancc. Rclcrs to this world ol
ours, nllcd with sußcring and amiction, yct gladly cnjoycd and
cndurcd by its inhabitants.
'amadhi. Mcditativc absorption. “Usually dcnotcs thc
particular nnal stagc ol purc conccntration.” Tcrc arc many
dcgrccs and typcs ol samadhi (8uddha Rcmcmbrancc, Òccan
'amantabhadra. 8odhisattva who pcrsonincs thc transccn
dcntal practiccs and vows ol thc 8uddhas. Usually dcpictcd
scatcd on an clcphant with six tusks (six paramitas). 8cst known
lor his “Tcn Grcat \ows.”
'ariputra. Major disciplc ol Sakyamuni 8uddha, lorcmost in
wisdom among Arhats. Scc also “Manjusri.”
'e/f-Jo.er. Scc “ÐimcuIt Path of Practice.”
:¡c :¡s
'e+en Treasures. Gold, silvcr, lapis lazuli, crystal, agatc, rcd
pcarl and carnclian: Tcy rcprcscnt thc scvcn powcrs ol laith,
pcrscvcrancc, “shamc,” avoidancc ol wrongdoing, mindlulncss,
conccntration and wisdom.
'ix 9irections. North, South, ¡ast, Vcst, abovc and bclow,
i.c., all dircctions. !n thc :.atamsaka 'utra, thcy arc cxpandcd
to includc points ol thc compass inbctwccn and arc rclcrrcd to
as thc Tcn Ðircctions.
'ki//fu/ ´eans. Scc “Ixpedient Means.”
'ubhuti. Ònc ol 8uddha Sakyamuni’s major disciplcs. Forc
most among Arhats in undcrstanding doctrinc ol thc \oid
(¡mptincss). Howcvcr, thc 8uddha prcdictcd in thc Iotus 'utra,
Ch. 6 that hc would achicvc 8uddhahood with thc titlc Namc
andForm 8uddha, thus dcmonstrating that ¡mptincss is Form
and Form is ¡mptincss — thc two arc not dißcrcnt ((eart
'udhana. Tc main protagonist in thc last and longcst chaptcr
ol thc :.atamsaka 'utra. Sccking cnlightcnmcnt, hc visitcd
and studicd with nltythrcc spiritual advisors and bccamc thc
cqual ol thc 8uddha in onc lilctimc. Vhcn hc was born, myriad
trcasurcs suddcnly appcarcd in his lathcr’s homc. Tus thc namc
“Sudhana” or “Good Vcalth.”
:¡c :¡s
Ten 8+i/ 9eeds (Ten 8+i/ :cts, Ten 'ins). Òppositc ol thc
Tcn \irtucs. Scc also “Ten Virtues.”
Ten Great 7o.s. Tc vows ol thc 8odhisattva Samantabhadra
in thc :.atamsaka 'utra. Tcsc vows rcprcscnt thc quintcsscncc
ol this Sutra and arc thc corncrstonc ol all Mahayana practicc.
Studying thc \ows and putting thcm into practicc is, lor most
Mahayana cultivators, tantamount to studying thc :.atamsaka
'utra and practicing its tcachings.
Ten ´ysterious Gates (Ten 8soteric 9oors, Ten ´ysteries,
Ten Jropositions). Tcn aspccts ol thc intcrrclationship ol
all phcnomcna, as sccn lrom thc cnlightcncd point ol vicw.
To cxplain such rclationship and harmony,
“Tc |Avatamsaka| School advanccs thc Tcn Prolound
Propositions: s) All things arc cocxistcnt, corrcsponding
to onc anothcr. :) Tc intcnsion and cxtcnsion ol onc thing
involvc thosc ol othcrs without any obstaclc. .) Tc Ònc
and thc Many arc mutually inclusivc. ¡) All things arc
idcntical with onc anothcr. .) Tc hiddcn and thc manilcstcd
mutually pcrlcct cach othcr. 6) All minutc and abstrusc
things mutually pcnctratc onc anothcr. ·) All things rcßcct
onc anothcr. ·) Truth is manilcstcd in lacts and lacts arc thc
sourcc ol ¡nlightcnmcnt. o) Tc past, prcscnt and luturc
arc intcrpcnctrating. sc) All things arc manilcstations and
translormations ol thc Mind.” (Fcrm, Òp. cit.).
:¡: :¡.
Ten (ecitations. “Tcn rccitations rclcrs to thc Tcn Rccitation
mcthod… bascd on thc lowcst gradc ol rcbirth dcscribcd in thc
´editation 'utra. !t is rcscrvcd spccincally lor thosc who arc
busy with mundanc activitics, so that thcy, too, can practicc
8uddha Rccitation and achicvc rcbirth. Tc mcthod consists
ol uttcring thc 8uddha’s namc up to tcn timcs, cach timc onc
inhalcs or cxhalcs. Tc rcal intcnt bchind this practicc is to
usc thc brcath to conccntratc thc Mind. Ðcpcnding on thc
cultivator’s brcath span, hc can rccitc morc than tcn uttcranccs,
or only scvcn or cight. Altcr tcn such inhalations and cxhalations
(or somc sixty to ovcr onc hundrcd uttcranccs) thc cultivator can
procccd to rccitc thc Translcrcncc ol Mcrits Gatha:
‘! vow to bc rcborn in thc Vcstcrn Purc Land,
Tc ninc lotus gradcs arc my parcnts.
As thc lotus ßowcrs bloom, ! will scc thc 8uddha
and rcach No8irth,
Libcrating all scnticnt bcings…’
Altcr rcciting thc vows, thc practitioncr bows to thc 8uddha
thrcc timcs bclorc rctiring.” (Tích Ti
cˆn Tâm, Juddhism
of 7isdom and Taith, Scction .·.) Scc also Mastcr T’icn ]u,
Ouestion a,.
Ten 'tages. Tc tcn “stagcs” ol a 8odhisattva arc thc lortynrst
to nlticth lcvcls (out ol nltytwo lcvcls) ol 8odhisattva cnlight
cnmcnt. For dctails, scc :.atamsaka 'utra, Ch. :6.
:¡: :¡.
Ten 7irtues (Ten Jrecepts). \irtucs ol thc body, mouth and
Mind, lcading to rcbirth in thc rcalms ol thc gods. Cultivating thc
Tcn \irtucs lcads thc practitioncr to rcbirth in, lor cxamplc, thc
Tusita Hcavcn, though not yct in thc Vcstcrn Purc Land. Tc Tcn
\irtucs includc an cxpandcd vcrsion ol thc Fivc Prcccpts ol body
and mouth (not to kill, stcal, cngagc in illicit scx, takc intoxicants,
or lic) with thc addition ol thc virtucs ol thc Mind (climination ol
grccd, angcr and dclusion). Scc also “Ten IviI Ðeeds.”
Tree Jodies of the Juddha (Trikaya). Tcsc arc:
s) Ðharma 8ody (Ðharmakaya, 8ody ol Rcality) “which is
lormlcss, unchanging, transccndcntal and inconccivablc.
Synonymous with suchncss or cmptincss.”
:) Rcward 8ody (Sambhogakaya, 8ody ol ¡njoymcnt, 8liss 8ody,
Cclcstial 8ody ol thc 8uddha). “Pcrsonincation ol ctcrnal pcr
lcction in its ultimatc scnsc. !t ‘rcsidcs’ in thc Purc Land and
ncvcr manilcsts itscll in thc mundanc world, but only in thc
cclcstial sphcrcs, accompanicd by cnlightcncd 8odhisattvas.”
.) Translormation 8ody (Nirmanakaya, Manilcstcd 8ody,
!ncarnatc 8ody). “!n ordcr to bcncnt ccrtain scnticnt bcings, a
8uddha incarnatcs himscll into an appropriatc physical body,
such as that ol Sakyamuni 8uddha.”… (G.C.C. Chang)
Tree Jure Iand 'utras. Purc Land 8uddhism is bascd on
thrcc basic tcxts:
a) :mitabha 'utra (or 'horter :mitabha 'utra, or 'maller
'ukha.ati-.yuha, or thc 'utra of :mida),
:¡¡ :¡.
b) Ionger :mitabha 'utra (or Iarger 'ukha.ati-.yuha, or thc
Teaching of Innnite Iife),
c) ´editation 'utra (or thc ´editation on the Juddha of Innnite
Iife, or thc :mitayur Jyana 'utra).
Somctimcs thc last chaptcr ol thc :.atamsaka 'utra (‘“Tc
\ows and Practiccs ol thc 8odhisattva Samantabhadra”) is
considcrcd thc lourth basic sutra ol thc Purc Land tradition.
To/erance of 5on-Jirth. “Tolcrancc” (insight) that comcs
lrom thc knowlcdgc that all phcnomcna arc unborn. Somctimcs
translatcd as “insight into thc nonorigination ol all cxistcncc/
nonorigination ol thc dharmas.”
“A Mahayana 8uddhist tcrm lor thc insight into cmptincss,
rcalizcd nonorigination or birthlcssncss ol things or bcings
rcalizcd by 8odhisattvas who havc attaincd thc cighth
Stagc (Scc Tcn Stagcs) ol thc path to 8uddhahood. Vhcn a
8odhisattva rcalizcs this insight hc has attaincd thc stagc ol
nonrctrogrcssion” (Ryukoku Univcrsity).
Transference of ´erit. Tc rcadcr unaccustomcd to thc idca
ol mcrit translcrcncc could rcßcct on thc lollowing passagc:
“Somc ol us may ask whcthcr thc cßcct ol |cvil karma can bc…
|changcd| by rcpcating thc namc ol KuanYin. Tis qucstion is
ticd up with that ol rcbirth in Sukhavati |thc Purc Land| and it
may bc answcrcd by saying that invocation ol KuanYin’s namc
:¡¡ :¡.
lorms anothcr causc which will right away oßsct thc prcvious
karma. Vc know, lor cxamplc, that il thcrc is a dark, hcavy
cloud abovc, thc chanccs arc that it will rain. 8ut wc also know
that il a strong wind should blow, thc cloud will bc carricd
away somcwhcrc clsc and wc will not lccl thc rain. Similarly,
thc addition ol onc big lactor can altcr thc wholc coursc ol
“!t is only by acccpting thc idca ol lilc as onc wholc that
both Tcravadins and Mahayanists can advocatc thc practicc
ol translcrcncc ol mcrit to othcrs. Vith thc casc ol KuanYin
thcn, by calling on Hcr namc wc idcntily oursclvcs with Hcr
and as a rcsult ol this idcntincation Hcr mcrits ßow ovcr to us.
Tcsc mcrits which arc now ours thcn countcrbalancc our bad
karma and savc us lrom calamity. Tc law ol causc and cßcct
still stands good. All that has happcncd is that a powcrlul and
immcnscly good karma has lorcshadowcd thc wcakcr onc…
“!l wc want to go dccpcr, wc may say that this idcntincation
with a 8odhisattva also mcans that a 8odhisattva idcntincs
Himscll with us. Vhcn this occurs, thcrc is not only thc
mcrc translcrcncc ol mcrit, but thc nondiscriminatc, innnitc,
unqualinablc Compassion ol all thc 8odhisattvas coming into
us, lilting us, as it wcrc, right up into Nirvana.” (Lccturc on
KuanYin by Tcch ¡ng Soon — Pcnang 8uddhist Association,
c. so6c. Pamphlct.)
Transformation Jody. Scc “Tree Bodies of the Buddha.”
Trip/e (ea/m (Tree (ea/ms, Tree 7or/ds). Tc rcalms
ol dcsirc (our world), lorm (rcalms ol thc lcsscr dcitics) and
:¡6 :¡·
lormlcssncss (rcalms ol thc highcr dcitics). Tc Vcstcrn
Purc Land is outsidc thc Triplc Rcalm, bcyond samsara and
rctrogrcssion. Scc also “Pure Iand.”
True Tusness (True 'uchness). ¡quivalcnt to 8uddha Naturc,
Ðharma 8ody, ctc.
T.o Truths. s) (elati.e or convcntional, cvcryday truth ol thc
mundanc world subjcct to dclusion and dichotomics and :) thc
Ultimatc Truth as taught by thc 8uddha.
Purc Land thinkcrs such as thc Patriarch Tao Ch’o acccptcd
“thc lcgitimacy ol Convcntional Truth as an cxprcssion ol
Ultimatc Truth and as a vchiclc to rcach Ultimatc Truth. ¡vcn
though all lorm is nonlorm, it is acccptablc and ncccssary to
usc lorm within thc limits ol causality, bccausc its usc is an
cxpcdicnt mcans ol saving othcrs out ol onc’s compassion lor
thcm and bccausc, cvcn lor thc uncnlightcncd, thc usc ol lorm
can lcad to thc rcvclation ol lorm as nonlorm” (Ðavid Chappcll).
Tus to rcach 8uddhahood, which is lormlcss, thc cultivator can
practicc thc Purc Land mcthod bascd on lorm.
“According to 8uddhism, thcrc arc two kinds ol Truth, thc
Absolutc and thc Rclativc. Tc Absolutc Truth (ol thc \oid)
manilcsts ‘illumination but is always still,’ and this is absolutcly
incxplicablc. Òn thc othcr hand, thc Rclativc Truth (ol thc
Unrcal) manilcsts ‘stillncss but is always illuminating,’ which
mcans that it is immancnt in cvcrything” (Hsu Hcng Chi/
P.H. Vci). Scc also “Ultimatc Mcaning.”
:¡6 :¡·
U/timate ´eaning (9efniti+e ´eaning, Toremost
´eaning). “Tis rclcrs to thosc tcachings ol thc 8uddha that
arc in tcrms ol ultimatc rcality… rclatcs to voidncss.” (Robcrt
Turman). Scc also “Two Truths.”
Unconditioned. Scc “Conditioned.”
7aidehi. Tc Òuccn ol King 8imbisara ol Magadha. !t was in
rcsponsc to hcr cntrcatics that 8uddha Sakyamuni prcachcd thc
´editation 'utra, which tcachcs a scrics ol sixtccn visualizations
(ol Amitabha 8uddha, thc Purc Land…) lcading to rcbirth in
thc Land ol Ultimatc 8liss.
7airocana. Tc main 8uddha in thc :.atarnsaka 'utra.
Rcprcscnts thc Ðharma 8ody ol 8uddha Sakyamuni and all
8uddhas. His Purc Land is thc Flowcr Storc Vorld.
7ima/akirti 'utra. A kcy Mahayana sutra particularly popular
with Zcn and to a lcsscr cxtcnt Purc Land lollowcrs. Tc main
protagonist is a layman namcd \imalakirti who is thc cqual ol
many 8odhisattvas in wisdom, cloqucncc, ctc. Hc cxplaincd
thc tcaching ol ¡mptincss in tcrms ol nonduality…. “Tc truc
naturc ol things is bcyond thc limiting conccpts imposcd by
words.” Tus, whcn askcd by Manjusri to dcnnc thc nondual
truth, \imalakirti simply rcmaincd silcnt.
:¡· :¡o
(omplete, perfec enlightenment is based on the mind
— if the mind is pure and clear, one can fulnll all
roots of goodness and .ill surely attain freedom in
:+atamsaka 'utra, (hap. ¸8
Tomas (leary, tr.
:¡· :¡o
Andrcws, Allcn A., “Ncmbutsu in Chincsc Purc Land Tradition.”
!n Te 8astern Juddhist, \ol. ., No. :, Òctobcr so·c, p.:cß.
8irnbaum, Raoul, Te (ealing Juddha. 8oston, Ma: Shambhala,
Chang, Garma C.C. gcncral cditor, : Treasury of ´ahayana
'utras. Univcrsity Park, Pa and London: Pcnnsylvania Statc
Univcrsity Prcss, so·..
Chcng Chicn, 8hikshu, tr., ´anifestation of the Tathagata: :

(hapter from the :.atamsaka 'utra. Taipci: Mahayana \ihara
Prcss, soos.
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Taipci: Corporatc 8ody ol thc 8uddha ¡ducational Foundation
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Translation of the :.atamsaka 'utra. (Trcc vols.) 8oston Ma
and London: Shambhala, so·¡so··.
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Univcrsity Park, Pa and London: Pcnnsylvania Statc Univcrsity
Prcss, so··.
:.c :.s
Cowcll, ¡.8, ct al., cd., Juddhist ´ahayana Texts. Ncw York:
Ðovcr Publications, !nc., so6o. (Rcprint of Te 'acred Jooks of
the 8ast, \ol. XL!X)
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and (hina. Tr. by ]amcs V. Hcisig and Paul Knittcr. Ncw York
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(hing, tr. by Kcnncth K. Tanaka.
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Prcss, so·c.
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P.H. Vci. Hong Kong: Hong Kong 8uddhist 8ooks Ðistributor,
Hsu, Sungpcng, A Juddhist Ieader in ´ing (hina. Univcrsity
Park, Pa and London: Statc Univcrsity ol Pcnnsylvania Prcss,
Hsuan Hua, : General 8xplanation of the Juddha 'peaks of
:mitabha 'utra. San Francisco, Ca: 8uddhist Tcxt Translation
Socicty, so·¡.
Hsuan Hua, (ure Iand . (h’ an Jharma Talks. San Francisco,
Ca: SinoAmcrican 8uddhist Association, so·¡.
Hsuan Hua, tr. Tlo.er :dornment 'utra. Talmadgc, Ca:
8uddhist Tcxt Translation Socicty. so·:– |!ssucd in parts.|
:.c :.s
Karma Lckshc Tsomo cd., 'akyadhita: Jaughters of the Juddha.
(Rcport ol thc !ntcrnational Conlcrcncc on 8uddhist Nuns,
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Luk, Charlcs, tr., Te .imalakirti ´irdesa 'utra. 8oston, Ma:
Shambhala, so·:.
Òkazaki, ]oji, (ure Iand Juddhist (ainting. Tr. by ¡lizabcth
tcn Grotcnhuis. Tokyo: Kodansha, so··.
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t (o

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8astern Juddhist, \ol. 6, No. s, May so·., p.s:6ß.
Prudcn, Lco, tr. “A Short ¡ssay on thc Purc Land by Ðharma
Mastcr T’an Luan.” !n Te 8astern Juddhist, May so·., p.o.ß.
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Saso, Michacl and Ðavid V. Chappcll, cd., Juddhist and Taoist
'tudies I. Honolulu: Univcrsity ol Hawaii Prcss, so··.
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:.: :..
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Shambhala, soos.
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:spirations. Hong Kong: H.K. 8uddhist 8ook Ðistributor, so·c.
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Taipci: Tungchu Pub., so·o.
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8uddhist Cultural Scrvicc, so6:.
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tr., Te Juddhist Iiturgy. Tornhill, Ònt. and 8ronx, NY, so·..
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Jocrine. Albany, NY: Statc Univcrsity ol Ncw York Prcss, sooc.
Tanaka, Kcnncth K., “Vhcrc is thc Purc Land:” !n (acinc
7orld, Fall so··, p..·ß.
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:.: :..
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