Translated by Dr. J. C. Cleary —- Mind-Seal of Buddhas
Humbly Revised by Dr. Edwin Sha 沙行勉 based on my understanding of the scriptures.
Version: October, 2007. This one has Essence and Introduction Parts.
The Buddhas took pity on all the deluded sentient beings, and taught them based on the opportunities and the various potentials of these deluded sentient beings. Although the ultimate goal of taking Buddha’s teaching has no difference: returning to our pure mind, many different expedient methods are employed.
Among all these expedients, if we seek the most direct and fast, and the most complete and sudden, none is as good as seeking birth in the Pure Land through Buddha-remembrance. If we seek the simplest and most reliable among all the methods of Buddha-Remembrance, the best is to develop faith and vows and to concentrate on reciting the Buddha-name.
This is the reason that the ancients took the Amitabha Sutra as their daily study guide, though three Pure Land scriptures have circulated side by side in the world over the generations. The Amitabha Sutra shows that the method of reciting the Buddha-name applied to people with different capacities. It encompasses the level of phenomena and the level of inner truth (noumenon), omitting nothing. It embraces all sections of Buddhism and Scriptures of Buddhism, and leaves nothing out. This method is indeed inconceivably great.
There have been many people to comment upon and explain the Amitabha Sutra. Over time, many of these commentaries have been oblivion and nowadays not many survive. Master Yun-Qi (Lian-Chi, 1535-1615) wrote his extensive and subtle commentary and my senior fellow teacher, Mater You-Xi, wrote Complete Middle Path Commentary, which is profound and highly learned. These two commentaries are like the sun and the moon: all those with eyes see them. But in these two commentaries, the literary style is elaborate and the level of meaning is complex. Their ultimate reaches are unfathomable.
Therefore I have put aside all qualms about my own mediocrity and ignorance and composed another commentary, explaining the essential points of the Amitabha Sutra. I would not dare to diverge from the two elders just to be original, nor would I force myself to agree with them for the sake of agreement. It is as if we look at a same mountain from different angles, so none of us can fully describe the true realms of the “mountain,” as each one of us can only give you the record of our personal encounters. Before I explain the sutra, I will first present the summary of the sutra using five classifications.
First, the title of the sutra is explained. This sutra takes its title from the one who expounds it and from the one of whom he speaks.
Buddha is the master teacher in the world, that is, Sakyamuni. By the power of his vows of great compassion, he was born here in the world of the Five Turbidities. As the one enlightened, he was determined to bring enlightenment to others who have not. Buddha is the one who knows all and sees all.
[佛教以五浊说明世界的丑恶。 一、劫浊，言时代遭逢恶运，灾难频生； 二、烦恼浊，指世人心中充满贪、嗔、痴等烦恼； 三、众生浊，指众生资质低劣，苦多乐少； 四、见浊，指邪见流行，思想混乱； 五、命浊，指众生因恶业受报，心身交瘁，寿命短促。]
Buddha speaks the sutra with joy in his heart. Buddha’s intention is to liberate sentient beings. Since the potential of sentient being to achieve Buddhahood is ripe, Buddha expounds for them these Pure Land teachings which are difficult to believe. He intended to help them reach ultimate liberation. That’s why he is filled with joy.
Amitabha Buddha is the one Sakyamuni refers to in the sutra. Amitabha is the master teacher (guiding teacher) of the Pure Land. By the power of his forty-eight vows, he receives the sentient beings who have vowed to practice Buddha-remembrance by invoking the Buddha name and enable them to be born in the Land of Ultimate Bliss, and never fall back from there. The Sanskrit name “Amitabha” means “Infinite Life” and “Infinite Light”. The meanings of the name manifest his merits and his wisdom, his supernatural power, the grandeur of the Pure Land and people, his teachings and the liberation of sentient beings, all infinite.
A sutra is what Buddha said.
These terms taken from general and particular senses make up the title of the scripture: The Amitabha Sutra Spoken by Buddha. The three categories — teachings, practice, and inner truth (noumenon), which each sutra should have — can each be explained in both general and particular senses, as set out in the Tien-Tai system.
Second, there is the essence of the sutra to discern.
The true essence of all the Great Vehicle (Mahayana) scriptures is Absolute Reality (Real Mark) itself. What is Absolute Reality? Let’s look at the essence of our mind coming at each instant. It is not inside, not outside, and not in between. It is not past, not present, and not future. It is not green or yellow or red or while, long or short or square or round. It is not a scent, not a flavor, not a texture that can be touched, not a mental object.
When we search for it we cannot find it, but we cannot say it does not exist. It creates all worlds and all realms, but we cannot say it exists. It is detached from conditional thoughts and discriminations, from all words and characteristics. But conditional thoughts and discriminations and words and characteristics do not have any their identity apart from it.
Essentially, absolute reality is detached from all forms, but merged with all things. Being detached from forms, it is formless, and being merged with all things, it is all-formed. For lack of an alternative term, we impose on it the name “absolute reality” [i.e., Buddha Mind, Buddha Nature].
The essence of Absolute Reality is neither quiescent nor aware, but it is both quiescent and yet ever shining with awareness, both shining with awareness and yet ever quiescent. In that is shining with awareness but quiescent, it is called the Land of Eternally Quiescent Light. In that it is quiescent but shining with awareness, it is called the pure Dharmakaya (Dharma Body). Aware quiescence is called the Dharmakaya, the Dharma Body of all the Buddhas. Quiescent awareness is called the Sambhogakaya, the Reward Body. The quiescent shining of Buddha nature is named as Dharma Body. The quiescent shining of the practice of Buddha nature is named Reward Body. From the view point of practice of Buddha nature, practicing Buddha nature with shining quiescence is called Reward Body and practicing Buddha nature with quiescent shining is called Incarnation Body.
// [ 沙行勉 ]: 此段较难懂。可以强想成“法身“如月体，“报身“如月光。“应化身“如“千江有水千江月“。或者可以说法身如永恒播发的电台，报身如电波，应化身如电视所显示的影像。只有菩萨能见到报身，而我们一般凡夫只能随着电视机的开启（成住坏空）才能见到应化身。所以，广义来讲，法身为寂，报身显照。法身表性德，报身和应化身表修德。此两身的代表的修德亦有所差别。报身的修德在于无住而生心。应化身的修德在于生心而无住。
Quiescence and awareness are not two, bodies and environments are not two, nature and practice are not two, true essence and responsive functions are not two — everything is nothing but absolute reality. In terms of absolute reality, all these seemly dualities neither two nor not two.
Therefore, the essence of reality builds up both the environment that surrounds sentient beings and their very bodies. It builds up both the Dharma Body and the Reward Body of the Buddhas. It builds up both self and others.
Furthermore the one who speaks the sutra (Sakyamuni) and the one who is spoken of (Amitabha), the Buddhas who can deliver sentient beings and the sentient beings who are delivered, the ability to believe (mind) and that which is believed in (dharma), the ability to take vows and that which is vowed, the ability to concentrate on the Buddha-name (body, mouth and mind) and the Buddha-name which is concentrated upon, the ability to be born in the Pure Land (faith, vow and practice) and birth in the Pure Land itself, the ability to praise the Buddhas and the Buddhas who are praised –all of these are the imprint of the “true seal” of absolute reality. [Thus the Buddha Nature of sentient beings (absolute reality) is the true essence of all Mahayana Sutras.]
Third is to understand the principle of the sutra. The guiding principle is the essential route for cultivating practice, the key link for understanding the essence [of our mind], and the guiding framework for the myriad practices. When you hold up a net, the mesh opens up. When you lift the collar of a shirt, the breast and sleeves come too. Thus, after the essence, we must discern the guiding principle.
The essential principle for cultivation in this sutra is to develop faith and vows and to recite the Buddha-name. Without faith, we are not sufficiently equipped to take vows. Without vows, we are not sufficiently equipped to guide our practice. Without the wondrous practice of reciting the Buddha-name, we are not sufficiently equipped to fulfill our vows and to bring our faith to fruition.
The sutra first sets forth the environment of the Pure Land and the exalted embodiment of its inhabitants in order to engender faith in us. Next it urges us to take vows to lead our
practice. Then it teaches us the practice of reciting the Buddha-name as the route to reach the Pure Land, upon which we will never fall back.
Faith means having faith in oneself and faith in others. It means being sure about cause and effect, about phenomena and inner truth (noumenon).
Vows mean feeling aversion to the mundane world and detaching from it. Vows mean gladly seeking the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss.
Practice means persisting in the practice of reciting the Buddha-name singlemindedly and without delusion or confusion (with one-pointedness of mind).
Believe in ourselves. Believing the Mind that can recite Buddha-name is not a physical entity, or the thoughts responsive to outside objects. It extends through time without any before or after and through space without any boundaries. Though it appears to follow causal conditions all day long, it never changes.
All of space in the ten directions and all the worlds countless as atoms are things manifested by this Mind of ours. Although we are deluded and confused, if for a single moment we return to this Mind, we are sure to be born in the Land of Ultimate Bliss originally inherent in our own mind, and be troubled no more by worry and doubt. This is called “believing in ourselves”.
Believe in others. Have faith that the Tathagata Sakyamuni certainly did not lie, and that the World Honored One Amitabha certainly did not take his vows in vain. Believe that all the Buddhas of all the directions never equivocated. Believe to follow the true teachings of all the enlightened ones, so to establish our will to seek birth in the Pure Land without any doubt or confusion. This is called “believing in others”.
Believe in the causal basis. Have faith that even Buddha-name invocation carried out in a scattered confused state of mind is still a seed of enlightenment, and that this is even more true of invoking the Buddha-name singlemindedly and without confusion. [If we sincerely and singlemindedly invoke the name of Amitabha Buddha],
how can we fail to be born in the Pure Land? This is called “believing in the causal basis” [i.e., that recitation is the cause of enlightenment].
Believe in the result. Have deep faith that the Pure Land and all the good people assembling there are born from the Buddha Remembrance Samadhi [the meditative concentration that comes from reciting the Buddha-name]. When you plant melon seeds you get melons, and when you plant beans you get beans. [Effect follows causes] like a shadow follows a physical shape, like an echo responds to a sound. Nothing is sown in vain. This is called “believing in the result”.
Believe factual phenomena. Have deep faith that since this mind of ours is infinite, the worlds of the ten directions that appear based on it are inexhaustible. The Land of Ultimate Bliss really does exist ten billion Buddha-lands away, ultimate pure and sublime. This is not some fable from Chuang-tzu. This is called “believing factual phenomena”.
Believe in inner truth (noumenon). Have deep faith that the countless Buddha-lands (worlds) are in reality not outside our “tiny” Mind of Buddha remembrance since there is really nothing outside of this Mind. We have deep certainty that the whole array of beings and surroundings in the Pure Land is a set of reflections appearing in our mind. All phenomena are merged with inner truth. All falsity is merged with truth. All practices are merged with True Nature. All others are merged with oneself. Our own inherent mind is all-pervasive, and the Buddha-mind is also all-pervasive, and the true nature of the minds of sentient beings is also all-pervasive. It is like a thousand lamps in one room, each of whose lights shines on all the others and merges with the other lights without any obstruction. This is called “believing in inner truth” (Noumenon).
[Vows]. Once we have these forms of faith, then we must understand that the mundane world is the defilement brought about by our own minds, and we must detach from it; the Pure Land is the purity brought about by our own minds, and we must joyously seek it.
We must renounce defilement utterly, until there is nothing that can be renounced, and we must grasp purity utterly, until there is nothing more that can be grasped.
Therefore the commentary Miao-tsung said: If you take grasping and rejecting to the limit, they are not in a different track than not grasping and not rejecting. If you do not engage in grasping and rejecting, and only value not grasping and not rejecting, this is a form of clinging to inner truth and abandoning phenomena. If you neglect the phenomenal level, then you are not complete at the inner truth level. If you arrive at the point where all phenomena are merged with inner truth, then both grasping and rejecting are also merged with inner truth. Sometimes grasping, sometimes rejecting, nothing is not the realm of reality.
[Practice]. When we speak of concentrating on invoking the Buddha-name singlemindedly, with a mind that is unified and not chaotic, we are using the Buddha-name to summon up the qualities of Buddhahood. Since the qualities of Buddhahood are inconceivable, the Buddha-name itself is also inconceivable. Since the merits of the Buddha-name are inconceivable, even if we recite the Buddha-name in a scattered state of mind, it is still a seed of enlightenment, and if we recite Buddha-name singlemindedly, we will reach the Pure Land and until then it is impossible for us to retreat.
Many sutras teach Pure Land practices of various kinds: contemplating the image of Buddha, contemplating the concept of Buddha, doing prostrations, making offerings, practicing the five forms of repentance and the six forms of mindfulness, and so on. If you consummate any of these practices, [and dedicate the merits toward rebirth in the Pure Land], you will be born there.
[五种的忏悔方法。天台智者大师为了修习法华三昧的人，依据弥勒问经，占察经与普贤观经等之意，而订出五种的忏悔方法，即 一、忏悔，发露自己已往之罪而诫将来； 二、劝请，劝请十方诸佛以转法轮； 三、随喜，对于自他一切善根随喜赞叹；
[一、念佛，念佛具足十号，有大慈大悲大光明，神通无量，能拔除众生之苦，我欲与佛一样； 二、念法，念如来所说之一切法，有大功德，乃无上妙药，我欲证之而施与众生； 三、念僧，念僧是如来弟子，得无漏法，具足戒定慧，为世间之福田，我也想修僧之行； 四、念戒，念戒行有大势力，能防一切之恶，我欲精进持戒； 五、念施，念布施有大功德，既能拔人之苦，且能去除自己之悭贪，我欲以布施普利众生； 六、念天，念诸天有自然之快乐，皆由往昔勤修十善之因，我亦欲勤修善业，以便善因得善果。]
The method of reciting the Buddha-name is the one that is the most all-conclusive, embracing people of all mentalities and the one that is easiest to practice. This is why the compassionate one, Sakyamuni Buddha, explained it to Shariputra without being asked. Reciting the Buddha-name can be called the number one expedient among all the expedient methods in practices, the supreme one among all the methods in understanding the Buddha’s teaching, and the most perfect one among all the complete methods in finding the inner truth of Buddhahood.
There is a saying: “If a purifying pearl is put into dirty water, the dirty water cannot but be purified. If the Buddha-name is put into a chaotic mind, the chaotic mind must approach to enlightened. Reciting the Buddha-name with faith and vows is a true causal basis for the Supreme Vehicle. The four kinds of Pure Land [the Land Where Saints and Ordinary Beings Dwell Together, the Land of Expedient Liberation with Incompleteness, the Land of Real Reward, and the Land of Eternally Quiescent Light] are the wondrous fruits of the One Vehicle. If you have the causal basis, then the result is sure to follow.
Therefore, faith, vows and reciting the Buddha-name are the true guiding principles of the Amitabha Sutra.
The characteristics of the four kinds of Pure Land are described in detail in the Miao-tsung commentary on the sutra and in the book An explanation of the Brahma Net Sutra, and I will not explain them in full here. Later on I will give a brief account of them as I explicate the text.
Fourth, there is the sutra’s powerful function (Power and Application).
The powerful function of this sutra is to enable us to be reborn in the Pure Land and never fall back. Rebirth in the Pure Land can be categorized in terms of the Four Pure Lands, and also into nine grades in each land. Here I will give a brief explanation of the characteristics of the Four Lands.
If you recite the Buddha-name without cutting off your delusions of views and thoughts, depending on how scattered or how concentrated you are, you are reborn in the level of the Land Where Saints and Ordinary Beings Live Together.
If you recite the Buddha-name to the point of singlemindedness (phenomenal level) and your delusions of views and thoughts are naturally dropped off, you are born in the Land of Expedient Liberation with incompleteness [where Arhats live].
If you recite the Buddha-name to the point of singlemindedness (noumenon or inner truth level), and you smash from one to forty-one levels of delusion and ignorance, then you are born in the Pure Land of Real Reward [where Bodhisattvas live].
If you recite the Buddha-name to the point that ignorance and delusion are totally cut off, this is the highest reward and you will be reborn in the Land of Eternally Quiescent Light.
There are four meanings in no-retreat: contemplation never retreats, practice never retreats, status never retreats, and finality never retreats. 1. After breaking the ignorance, revealing Buddha nature, people can reach the birth of the Land of Real Reward, and also witness the Land of Eternally Quiescent Light. 2. After removing the confusions in views and thoughts, and breaking the countless dust-like confusion, people can reach the Land of Expedient Liberation with Incompleteness, and go toward to enlightenment.
3. After giving birth to Pure Land with karma, people will reach the land where Saints and Ordinary Beings Dwell Together, in which people are supported by the quality of lotus flower (pure land environment), and never have any possibility of retreat. 4. No matter with concentration or not, with mindfulness or not, with understanding or not, hearing Amitabha Buddha name or any Buddha’s names will gives the seed to the finality of reaching enlightenment. It is like people will get affected no matter they are near by or far away from the drum that is beating, and people will not digest the diamonds no matter how little they eat.
Furthermore, even those who give birth with karma to the land where Saints and Ordinary Beings Dwell Together have the same guarantee of no-retreats as the people in other three lands. They will become enlightened in one life-time there. Because people are always with supreme saints in the land where Saints and Ordinary Beings Dwell Together, this land is already a no-retreat step-stone to other three lands. One life-time to Buddhahood and no retreat in status show that with the birth to any place in Pure Land, people have reached the guarantee of no-retreats.
The Amitabha Sutra has this kind of powerful function, which no text has ever described. The powerful function of the Amitabha Sutra is far beyond other methods. For example, a correct causal basis to a sudden enlightenment is just a stepping stone for people out of the sensory world, which must be cultivated lifetime after lifetime before you can expect enlightenment. How can Zen Buddhists and Scriptural Buddhists fail to consider this?
Fifth, there are the forms of the Buddhist teaching in this sutra to explain.
The sutra is contained in the Mahayana canon, Bodhisattva vehicle, and is “self-spoken” [delivered by the Buddha without being asked].
This sutra has enabled sentient beings with many karmic obstructions, living in the Dharma Ending Age to make a direct ascent toward enlightenment without falling back.
Thus, in the future when all the other sutras have perished, this Amitabha Sutra will survive for another century, to bring deliverance on a wide scale to sentient beings.
The Amitabha Sutra is a remedy for all sicknesses. It is beyond relativities, a perfect fusion, with inconceivable power. The mystic treasury of the Flower Ornament (Avatamsaka) Sutra, the secret gist of the Lotus Sutra, the essential teachings on mind of all the Buddhas, the compass of all the Bodhisattvas’ myriad practices — none of them is outside of this sutra. If I wanted to praise it at length, at the end of time I still would not be finished. Those with wisdom please know the functions and characteristics of this wondrous sutra.
[EXPLANATION OF THE TEXT]
The text of the sutra is divided into three sections. The first portion is the introduction. The second portion is the main body of the text that gives the major guiding principles. The third portion is about the transmission of the text. These three parts are called the excellent opening, the excellent middle, and the excellent ending.
The introduction is like the head, complete with facial features. The main body of the text is like the body, complete with all the internal organs. The transmission portion is like the hands and feet, which move unimpeded.
A good example can be seen by the way that Master Chi-Zhe explaining Lotus Flower sutra, a significant portion of the sutra was categorized as the parts of introduction and transmissions. In sum, the introduction covers the overall structure of the sutra, while the transmission portion shows that the bestowal of the teaching has been unimpeded. The connection of these two portions with the main body of the sutra is not a minor matter. Lately people have not understood this. When they read the sutras, if the text is a little bit related to the principles, they categorize the text into the main body, treating the introduction and the transmission portion as if they were merely formalistic. If this were true, why are we told that both the opening words and the closing words of a sutra are also excellent?
[Introductory portion of sutra]
The introductory portion of the Amitabha Sutra has two parts: The general introduction part is applied to all Buddhist sutras, and the particular part is unique to this sutra. The general part first reveals the time and place of the Dharma assembly at which it was expounded, and then describes the assembly of those who were present.
Thus have I heard (As it is what I heard): Once Buddha was in the land of Shravasti, in the garden of Jeta and Anathapindika.
This section opens the assembly where the Pure Land doctrine was taught. They are the words of Ananda [the Buddha’s personal assistant], who recorded the sutra.
“As it is” means it is what Ananda believed to be truly recorded. “What I heard” expresses what he received from the teacher. “Once” describes the moment the teaching was given. “Buddha” is the supreme dharma teacher. “The Garden of Jeta and Anathapindika in the land of Shravasti” is the place where Buddha preached this sutra.
The essence of the Absolute Reality has never been changed from ancient times to modern, thus called “as”. For we recite the Buddha–name to seek birth in the Pure Land basing ourselves upon the inner truth of absolute reality, we will definitely not go wrong, thus called “it is”.
实相非我非无我，阿难不坏假名，故仍称我。耳根发耳识，亲聆圆音，如空印空, 名闻。时无实法，以师资道合，说听周足, 名一时。自觉觉他，觉行圆满，人天大师, 名佛。
Absolute reality is not self and it is not no-self, Ananda, however, intentionally followed the ordinary name of “I” here, so he still says “I”. Ananda’s ears produced auditory consciousness, so he could personally hear the perfect voice [of Sakyamuni Buddha preaching this sutra] — this was like emptiness printing emptiness. It is in this sense that Ananda “heard” the sutra.
“Once Buddha was in Shravasti” the sutra continues. Time has no absolute meaning. ‘Once” means at the time when the teacher and students have joined, and a full sharing of preaching and listening is taking place.
“Buddha” is the name for one who has been enlightened and who brings enlightenment to others, whose enlightened practice is complete and functions as the great teacher of all humans and gods (devas).
The place name “Shravasti” in Sanskrit means “hearing things”. It was the name of a great kingdom in India, and also of its main city, the capital of King Prasenajit [during the time of Sakyamuni Buddha]. The King’s Crown Prince was called Jeta, which means “Victorious in Battle”. A senior minister of the king, Sudatta, was also called Anathapindika which means “Benefactor of Widows and Orphans”. Anathapindika paid for Prince Jeta’s garden in gold, and donated it to Buddha and his monks. Prince Jeta was very moved, and donated the trees and another parcel of land. Thus the double name [for the site where Buddha preached the sutra]: “the Garden of Jeta and Anathapindika”.
Next the sutra describes the assembly [who came to hear Buddha preach]. There were three groups: first, the group of monastic disciples (Arhats), second, the group of Bodhisattvas, and third, the congregation of humans and gods.
Why are the monastic disciples put first? Because they had left behind worldly forms, because they always accompanied the Buddha, and because the Buddha Dharma depends on monks and nuns to spread it.
Why are the Bodhisattvas placed in the middle? Because their forms are not fixed, because they do not always accompany the Buddha, and also in order to suggest the idea of the Middle Path.
Why are the humans and gods placed last? Because they have worldly form, because they were a mixed lot, including both ordinary people and sages, and because their role is to protect the Buddha dharma from the outside.
There are three aspects to the description of the group of monastic disciples: first, an account of their quality and number; second, praise for their high standing and their virtues; and third, a list of the names of the foremost among them. [The sutra reads:]
He was accompanied by twelve hundred and fifty great bhikshus.
“Bhikshu” is a Sanskrit term to present a Mahayana Buddhist monk taking complete disciplines with a triple meaning.
First, “bhikshu” means a mendicant, someone who has just a single bowl to support his living, and accumulates nothing, and intently asking for Buddhist Dharma.
Second, “bhikshu” means someone who has broken through evil, someone who observes everything with correct wisdom, someone who has smashed the evil of sensory afflictions, and does not fall into illusionary views and thoughts.
Third, “bhikshu” means someone who scares devils, who has accepted the full set of 250 disciplinary precepts, who has acquired achievement by assemblies of monks for the confession of sins and absolution. Thus, devils are afraid of them.
The word for the monastic community as a whole, “Sangha”, means a harmonious association. This harmony at the level of inner truth means sharing the realization of the truth of uncontrived liberation. At the phenomenal level, harmony means dwelling together without rancorous speech, with the same joyful intent, and the same understanding, sharing the same precepts and sharing material goods equally.
The sutra speaks of twelve hundred and fifty bhikshus. The three brothers Kashyapa had together a thousand disciples, Sariputra and Maudgalyayana had two hundred and Yasha had fifty. These were all people who had become Buddha’s disciples shortly after his enlightenment, people who felt deep gratitude for Buddha’s benevolence, and always followed him everywhere.
[The sutra continues:]
…all of them great Arhats, well known to the assembly
The word ‘Arhat” also has three meanings. First, it means one who is worthy of offerings, as the result of being a mendicant [when he was a bhikshu]. Second it means a slayer of evil, as the result of having broken through evil. Third, it means one who will not be reborn in the cycle of life and death, as the result of destroying delusion and afflictions.
It also means one who is liberated with wisdom, one who is liberated with both wisdom and meditation, one who is liberated without any doubt. Because they reach the liberation without any doubt, thus they are named “great”. Furthermore, all these great Arhats are actually members of great Bodhisattvas, who appear as monastic disciples of the Buddha. They have realized the inconceivable reality of this Pure Land teaching, and so they are called “great”. They accompanied the Buddha as he turned the Wheel of the Dharma, bringing benefits to humans and gods on a vast scale, and so they were “well known to the assembly”.
Now the sutra lists the names of the leaders of the Arhats:
Among them were his leading disciples, such figures as the Elders Sariputra, Maudgalyayana, Mahakasyapa, Mahakatyayana, and Mahakausthila, Revata, Suddhipanthaka, Nanda, Ananda, Rahula, Gavampati, Pindola-bharadvaja, Kalodayin, Mahakapphina, Vakula, and Aniruddha, etc., all great disciples.
“Elder” is the term given to those who are honored both for their virtue and their long years as monks.
Among the Buddha’s monastic disciples, the Venerable Sariputra was the foremost in wisdom and the Venerable Maudgalyayana was foremost in supernatural powers.
The Venerable Mahakasyapa’s body shined with a golden light: he transmitted the Buddha’s Mind Seal and became the first patriarch [of the Zen tradition]. He was foremost among the Buddha’s monastic disciples in ascetic practices.
The Venerable Mahakatyayana was of a Brahmanical lineage, and was foremost in argumentation.
The Venerable Mahakausthila was foremost in question-and-answer dialogue.
The Venerable Revata was the foremost in meditation free of error and confusion.
The Venerable Suddhipanthaka had been dull by nature but through memorizing two words of the sutras [sweep clean, i.e., sweep the mind clean], his eloquence became limitless and he was the foremost in upholding the truth of Real Mark.
The Venerable Nanda (Sundarananda) was Buddha’s own younger brother, and was foremost in formal comportment.
The Venerable Ananda was Buddha’s cousin, and served as his personal attendant: he was the most learned [and always committed the Buddha’s spoken teachings to memory].
The Venerable Rahula was Buddha’s son and heir [from the time when he was a royal prince], and he was the foremost in adherence to every subtle precept and never advertising his cultivation.
The Venerable Gavampati had spoken evil in past lives, and was affected by the karmic retribution for this [by having a voice like a snorting ox]: he was foremost in receiving the offerings of the gods.
The Venerable Pindola-bharadvaja had broken the rule against displaying spiritual powers and was told to remain in this world for a long time. He was foremost as a field of blessings for sentient beings.
The Venerable Kalodayin was Buddha’s emissary, and he was foremost in spreading the teaching.
The Venerable Mahakapphina was the foremost in his knowledge of the stars.
The Venerable Vakula was the most long-lived of Buddha’s monastic disciples.
The Venerable Aniruddha was another of Buddha’s cousins, and he was foremost in the magical ability of his celestial eye.
Fundamentally, all these constant companions of the Buddha were members of Dharmakaya Bodhisattvas, who just manifested themselves as monastic disciples of the Buddha to benefit the Buddha’s teaching.
Now they are to hear of the all-encompassing merits of the Pure Land, and gain the benefits of the supreme truth, so they can learn Buddha dharma more and reduce their delusions, and purify their own Buddha land in their mind. Thus they are called an appropriate audience for the occasion.
Now the sutra describes the group of Bodhisattvas in the assembly:
Also present were the Bodhisattvas Mahasattva: Manjusri, Prince of the Dharma, the Bodhisattva Ajita (the Invincible), and the Bodhisattva Gandhahastin, and Bodhisattva Nityodyukta (Constant Progress), and other such great enlightening beings.
“Bodhisattva-mahasattva” means a great enlightening being, pursuing great Buddha Dharma, and liberating all sentient beings. Their compassion and wisdom are operating in tandem to benefit both self and others.
Buddha is the King of the Dharma. Manjusri continued the vocation of teaching Dharma, so he is called the Prince of the Dharma. Among the assembly of Bodhisattvas, he is foremost in wisdom. Without fearless genuine wisdom, you cannot truly understand the Pure Land teaching, and so Manjusri is put first [in the assembly of Bodhisattvas hearing the Amitabha Sutra].
The Bodhisattva Ajita is Maitreya. In the future he will become a Buddha, but now he is at the highest stage of the Bodhisattvahood, Equal Enlightenment. Because he regards what the most important thing is doing the ultimate sublime and purification of Buddha land, he is listed as the second.
Next the sutra lists the Bodhisattvas Gandhahastin, the one who does not rest, cultivating practice for eons without ever stopping, and Bodhisattva Nityodyukta, the one who is making constant progress, tirelessly benefiting self and others.
These Bodhisattvas of high rank must all seek birth in the Pure Land, so that they will not be separated from seeing the Buddha and hearing the Dharma and giving offerings in person to the Sangha, in order that they may quickly achieve Supreme Enlightenment
Also present was Śakra devānām Indra, the king of the gods, along with countless numbers of heavenly beings, making up a great assembly.
The name “Śakra devānām Indra” means Sakra: able, devanam: heaven and Indra: king; he is the king of the Trayastrimsa Heaven, the Heaven of Thirty-Three. Below his heaven is the Heaven of the Four Deva-Kings. Above are the Heaven of Yama, the Tusita Heaven, the Nirmanarati Heaven, the Paranirmita Heaven, the heavens of forms, the formless heavens, and innumerable other heavens.
“Making up a great assembly” means that there were also other gods, asuras, and other non-human beings from all the worlds of the ten directions in attendance [to hear Buddha give forth the Amitabha Sutra], and that all had the potential to benefit from the Pure Land teaching.
Thus ends the general introduction to the sutra. Next the particular introduction comes.
The wondrous gate of the Pure Land is inconceivable, and no one was able to ask about it, so Buddha took it upon himself to begin by extolling the names of its Buddha and place. Moreover, given that the Buddha’s wisdom is able to evaluate the potentials of sentient beings unerringly, he saw that this great assembly ought to hear about the wondrous gate of the Pure Land so they could gain benefits. Therefore, he did not wait for questions, but began by himself. A similar example can be found in the latter part of The Sutra of Brahma’s Net, which is also classified with the similar meaning by Master Zhizhe.
At that time Buddha said to the Elder Sariputra: “West of here, past a hundred billion Buddha-lands, there exists a world called “Ultimate Bliss”. In this land there exists a Buddha called Amitabha, who is expounding the Dharma right now.
The Pure Land Dharma gate takes in all people, whether they are of low, medium, or high capacity. It is beyond all relativities, in perfect fusion. It is inconceivable: it is perfectly all-encompassing, and goes completely beyond all other Buddhist methods. It is very profound and hard to believe in. Therefore it is specially announced to those of great wisdom: without the highest level of wisdom, you cannot arrive directly at the stage where you have no doubts about the Pure Land teaching.
“West” signifies the place where the Pure Land appears, which is west of here. A “Buddha-land” is a whole great galaxy of worlds that are all taught by one Buddha. In terms of our world, there is a central polar mountain (axis), and four continents to the east, west, south, and north of it, illuminated by the same sun and moon, surrounded by a circular range of iron mountains: this is one world. A thousand of these makes a small world system, a thousand small world-systems makes a medium world system, and a thousand medium world-systems makes a great galaxy of worlds. West of a hundred billion of such Buddha-lands is the Land of Ultimate Bliss.
Question: Why is the Land of Ultimate Bliss in the west?
Answer: This is not a good question. If the Land of Ultimate Bliss were in the east, you would be asking why it is in the east. Isn’t this just playing with words? What’s more, if you look at the Land of Ultimate Bliss from the point of view of the hundred and one billionth Buddha land, it is in the east. What is worth creating doubts about?
“There exists a world called Ultimate Bliss.” This introduces us to the name of Amitabha’s environment, to his domain. In the temporal dimension, its time is reckoned in terms of past, present, and future. In the spatial dimension, its boundaries are reckoned in terms of the ten directions [the four cardinal directions, the four intermediate directions, the nadir and the zenith].
The Sanskrit name for the Land of Ultimate Bliss is “Sukhavati”. It is also called the Land of Peaceful Nurturing, the Land of Peace and Bliss, the Land of Pure Equanimity, and so on. The basic meaning is that it is utterly peaceful and secure, and forever removed from all forms of pain and suffering. This is explained at length below.
There are four kinds of Buddha Land, and each category is in turn subdivided in terms of purity or defilement.
In the Land Where Saints and Ordinary Beings Dwell Together, those who are with heavier five turbidities are polluted, and those who are with lighter five turbidities are clean. In the Land of Expedient Liberation with Incompleteness, those who are born here by analyzing void are impure and those who are born here by directly entering void are pure. In the Land of Real Reward, those who enter it through sequence of three contemplations are impure and those who enter it with one mind of unified three contemplations are pure. In the Land of Eternally Quiescent Light, those who have reached the land without completely breaking all ignorance delusions are impure, and those who have broken all delusions are pure. In the scripture, the Ultimate Bliss World is referred to the Land Where Saints and Ordinary Beings Dwell Together, and encompasses all the other three lands as well.
[三观是台宗之重要法门，即空观、假观、中观称“空假中三观”。依据‘菩萨璎珞本业经’卷上，贤圣学观品“从假入空二谛观、从空入假平等观、中道第一义谛观”而立为旨趣。 1.空观：又云从假入空观。空是离性离相义。观一念之心，不在内、不在外、不在中间，称为空；由观一念空故而一空一切空，无假无中而不空；此因空、假、中三观能荡除三惑，以空观荡除见思，以假观荡除尘沙，以中观荡除无明，即毕竟空为空观。换言之：自世俗常识(假)进入宗教认识真理(空)为空观。 2.假观：又云从空入假观。假是无法不备义。观一念心具足一切诸法称为假；即由观一念假，而一假一切假，无空无中而不假；此因空、假、中三观皆能立法，以空观立真谛法，以假观立俗谛法，以中观立中谛法，三法皆立为妙假观。换言之，不留滞于空而进入佛智遍照之世俗境界为假观。
The Buddha’s name is Amitabha for introducing the name of the Teaching Host in the land. Buddhas have three bodies, which are discussed in terms of singularity and multiplicity. The singular term of Dharma Body means the realized trueness. The singular term of Reward Body means the virtue and wisdom that can realize. The singular term of Response Body means the excellent manifested appearance and image. The plural term of Dharma Body means the self inner pure nature that every sentient being possesses and the Dharma nature that every Buddha has realized. The plural term of Reward Body means rewarded body benefiting self and rewarded body benefiting others. The plural term of Response Body means the body shows birth and death, the body responded to people’s requests, the body in the Buddha realm, and the body following various forms in the worlds.
Though there are singular, plural terms and the names of three bodies, they are actually not one, not three, and they are three and one as well. No conjunction, no differentiation, no discrimination, no forms, no words that can describe. It is inconceivable. The Amitabha that is said in the sutra is referred to the Response Body appeared in the Land Where Saints and Ordinary Beings Dwell Together; as explained previously, the body can also be regarded as the Reward Body and the Dharma Body.
When the sutra says “there exists a world called Ultimate Bliss” and “there exists a Buddha called Amitabha,” it is saying that both that world and that Buddha do actually exist. There are four meanings here.
1. It indicates that there is a real Pure Land, and make us joyfully seek it.
2. It gives us truthful instructions, to make us concentrate on the practice of Pure-Land teaching.
3. It states that the Pure Land is not a figment of the imagination or a mirage, that it is not a provisional manifestation or just a roundabout teaching for attracting people with low capacity, that it is not an empty falsity, and that it is not a land reached via the Hinayana vehicle.
4. It demonstrates that the Pure Land is part of our true nature, to enable us to have a profound realization that Amitabha is our self nature; and Pure Land is our own mind.
“Expounding the Dharma right now” shows that both the Pure Land and Amitabha exist — this is not a case of “the past is already gone, and the future has not yet taken shape.” We must make a vow to be born in the Pure Land, and to personally hear Amitabha’s teaching, so that we may quickly achieve true enlightenment.
The fact that the Pure Land and Amitabha Buddha are here in the present encourages us to have faith. The fact that Amitabha’s world is called the Land of Ultimate Bliss encourages us to vow to be born there. The fact that the Buddha in the Pure Land is called Amitabha encourages us to engage in the wondrous practice of invoking his name.
Furthermore, Amitabha introduces Buddha, “expounding Dharma” introduces Dharma and the present assembly introduces Sangha. The words of the sutra are concise, but the meaning is very profound. “Buddha, Dharma and Sangha” are holding the same Absolute Reality:
The introduction portion introduces the essence: give birth to faith, vow and practice. It introduces the principle: with the success of faith, vow and practice, people must be able to reach Pure Land to see the Amitabha and hear his teaching. It introduces application: the only thing to think about in every moment is the Pure Land, nothing else. It introduces the form of teaching: the words are concise, but the meaning is very profound.
living is wonderful when u can actually breath so freely…
living is wonder when u r like cloud..can b seen..yet nothing in this mandune world can cling onto u
living is wonderful when u r like peaceful water in the lake..
living is wonderful when u r like a gust of gentle wind…
living is wonderful when nothing can make u extremly sad or extremly happy..
living is wonderful when understand karma law..
living is wonderful when u can keep having a smile on ur face
living is wonderful when u understand u wun b trapping in a human body forever
living is wonderful when remember u came to this realm empty handed n leave empty handed..
living is wonderful when u understand those people u loved or related to doesnt belongs to u
living is wonderful when u understand hating someone is pure foolishness n self torture
living is wonderful whenu understand there is no eternal good luck or bad luck
living is wonderful whenu can laugh at ur own mistake
living is wonderful when u hv no secrets
ITS A WONDERFUL WORLD~~~~~~~~~~~~~~this is a good one…….
当然，佛还讲了以现代科学不能证实的客观事实，如六道轮回、因果循环、善有善报、恶有恶果等等，于是我们籍此知道了因 果。 知道因果，不一定相信因果。 所谓凡人都有一种偶然侥幸的心理，总觉得因果是别人的，好运总在自己这边， 于是因果在某些佛教徒嘴里，便有了一丝幸灾乐祸的看客的意味。 看到某人做了错事，于是大摇起头，因果啊，因果啊， 其不知，自己这种慨叹不也在因果中吗？
因果可怕吗？ 答案应该是否定的吧，不可怕！只要相信因果就不可怕了。 怕就怕不信因果，怕就怕有侥幸心理，怕就怕总以为自己是可以脱出因果，那就真真正正的可怕了。
对于因果的事实，楞严经里讲的很是明白。 六道凡圣一一列明，什么仙、什么鬼、什么人、什么鸟，什么因、什么果，做什么事发什么心得什么报，修行时以什么心态 得到什么结果，很是清晰。 所谓地狱、恶鬼、畜生、人、修罗、天、乃至一二三直至十地，如是因，如是果，客观规律如是如是。 我们若看清楚明白这个客观规律，按照因果的规律办事，诸恶莫作、众善奉行、自净其意， 也就做到真真正正、快快乐乐、清清静静的自我了 多么简单，多么干脆，多么方便的事情啊，有什么神秘和困难的。
◎佛菩薩告訴我們，眼前有福，將來沒有福，這個福報是假的；眼前快樂，將來不快樂，這個樂也不是真的。所以一般人看修行很苦，覺悟的人很明白，只有修行成就才是真實永恆的快樂。（節錄 淨空法師語錄）又是HAND PHONE 惹的祸。。。。。。。
were rather busy with my personal life and my day time job..totally no time for consultation..
and adding on to that…my handphone inbox gt corrupted..and all the appoinment list and data are gone…
so those who had sms me …for consultatiuon and i had not contacted you..guess if u still want me to do the analysis for u…u need to re sms me your name, gender, time and date of birth again……..
Acharn Boon Distinguishes the Two Major Lek Lai Families:
(1) Using for ingredients the minerals “Plaï Dhum“, “Khamin Kaew” and “Mae Perng” (note: these are ancient Thai names for unidentified minerals ), some forest monks can put at work their transcendent powers during special ceremony to purify and commingling these mineral bases, making them become extremely hard, then changing them into a kind of Lek Laï green in color, which will be indestructible, even by the master who brought them forth! (Note: this strongly brings to mind and ancient version describing the technique of makingMekkapat).
(2) The ancient Lek Lai, “Kod Lek Lai“, which one finds sometimes hanging from cliffs and which those who go deep into the jungle may find and bring back. If the person who finds has much merit and pure heart, he will be able to cut the lek lai from the cliff with an ordinary knife (note: Acharn Boon seems to be speaking here of a plant or at least some sort of organic substance, not mineral). This sort of Lek Lai can change color from black to dark green if one humbly so requests of it, and it will be able to carry and will always protect the one who is carrying it.WARNING: in no case ought the powers of Lek Lai to be put to the test!
How to seek out Lek Lai:
The ancient texts spell out that, if one wishes to find Lek Lai, one must take into account the following factors: a proper cave must be utterly free of bat droppings or those of any other of animal; its temperature should be cool (a rarity in Thailand!) and this cave must be in a deserted place, seldom or never intruded upon by humans. Take a gun and shoot at the area where you suspect the presence of Lek Lai – no bullet will issue forth no matter how many times you try! (Note: I was startled to find a reference to guns in a text set forth as ancient but, hey, I’m only the translator!)
After having found the place where the Lek Lai is, you will have to make offerings to the forest spirits, the spirit(s) of the cave and/or the local divinity who guards this place.
The offering should consist of the following:
– A pig’s head
– A duck
– A chicken
– A fish
– A piece of meat
– Two fresh coconuts
– Two bunches of bananas
– A desert bowl full of red and white sticky balls, and nuts (Note: only those who have been to Thailand will know what he’s talking about: a local desert, very special…)
A handful of assorted nuts
– Black sesame
– White sesame
– Other sorts of deserts
– White alcohol
– Betel wine
All this should be offered to the local spirits and divinities if one is sure they’re non-vegetarians. In the case of a vegetarian divinity, offer only vegetable offerings, vegetarian food, alcohol and cigarettes. (No, I’m not joking! Some local spirits are known vegetarians!)
It would be good to wrap the leftovers in banana leaves and leave them on the ground so that the lower spirits might also be fed…
You must place all this food atop a table in two equal heaps, then light nine incense sticks and nine white candles,
If there should occur a dispute over the possession of Lek Lai between monks and people of a high spiritual level, and they don’t know whom the Lek Lai spirits have decided to back, these people should take the following vows in a loud voice: “I, (name, first name), I want to have this Lek Lai and if you are the divinities protecting this Lek Lai say the word “hai” (in Thai, this word means “give”). The one must stand by and repeat “Hai” if one hears it. A person of
little merit will never be able to attract Lek Lai, not even be able to see it, not even an image!
How to protect oneself during the harvest of Lek Lai using Saï-Sin cord: (Note:Saï-Sin cord is made up of nine white cotton threads which Buddhists monks use, among other things, to make bracelets for their faithful and also to protect places from evil spirits.)
At the moment you want to call forth the Lek Lai from the stone in which it lives because sometimes the power of the spirit or of the divinities which inhabit theLek Lai an accident or problems during the ceremony. Sometimes this can even end up in deaths, thus one must be prudent and to the greatest extent possible, wear amulets and protective talismans. It is good to string Saï-Sin cord around the rock where one expects to find the Lek Lai and to keep oneself about two meters away from it.
How to place the Saï-Sin cord:
You will need 9 or 19 pieces of wood, which should come from this part of the forest and have the form of walking sticks. (Note: a little word play on a Thai phrase meaning “Can I have it?” which one can say in nine different ways.) The tenth stick should be bigger than the first nine and must absolutely be carved from a hard wood engraved with the Pali word “Lerh” (“to retain “), Then, taking in hand the biggest of the walking sticks (which signifies that this is the one who wants the Lek Lai),
The protective cord being in place, the Master in charge of the ceremony and all his helpers should be clothed in white, have a clear spirit and do a short meditation before the ceremony itself.
If the spirit of the master or the monk conducted the ceremony is higher and stronger than that of the spirits protecting the Lek Lai, then the Lek Lai will slowly melt and flow outside the rock toward the top of the cave (one can also use honey to attract more Lek Lai). When the Lek Laihas come forth from the rock and is in the midst of taking sustenance from the honey, but before the cutting, the monk must conduct a ceremony tying the Lek Lai to the base of the rock withSaï-Sin cord – or the Lek Lai will flow back into the rock!
While attaching the cord, one must have ritual knife Meedh Moh at hand。decisions….
decisions……….there r sooo many decisions to be make everyday…
there so many factors to consider when u need to make a decisions..
need to consider all macro n micro factors…
but many times.. 仁义两难全。。。
what see from my views ,i may think is right, but if i put myself in ur shoe…n see things from your view..im totally wrong…
what i think is right now…may be wrong many many years later when i look back..n it might be vice verser…
should i wait for the situation to take place then i make the decision…or should i be pro active..made the decision b4 i reach the situation…
will i be 无怨无悔？？or will i be 悔不当初？？
will my decision..liberate a soul or will my decision battered a soul??
Oh..wise one..i need a clue………….痛苦的容積
凡事总要存谦恭和蔼之心，不要有贡高我慢的思想，觉得人人都不如我，我是天老爷。这是不可以的。佛说阿弥陀经要解（Commentary on the Amitabha Sutra）
八供供养依六根识色声香味触法转化为清净六欲供。 在密续法本修持中经常会念颂到八供供养文时，应观想自心中放出八位供养天女，如是可令我们积聚更多功德。另外献曼达供养时，须观想卅七种供养。献曼达是四加行之第三加行，藉献曼达以聚功德。佛云：众生欲正觉，广聚无量粮。因此我们必须作供养，行资粮道。此乃佛为利益一切众生，而说之方便法门，并非佛菩萨需要这些实质的物质，各位定当明白。 为积聚福慧资粮，更应了解所们一切供养，皆是「空性」，究竟非实有，皆依因缘而生，故称空性。更一层体会大乘三轮体空之真谛，无施者、受者、所施物。如此方便行者积聚智慧资粮。若以空性见解行实质供养，所积聚的就是福慧二资粮。对未了解空性的众生而立，供养是一种心念转化的训练，可消除对诸法执著之概念，可清净遍计所执性。
四、八供 一般面对坛城的八供是由左到右（水、水、花、香、灯、涂香、食子、音乐），这种摆置是供养父续本尊。若坛城所供养的是母续本尊，八供就必须由右至左–水、水、花、香、灯、涂香、食子、音乐。假如坛城有父续母续本尊则可摆两套，或依较多佛像决定，只摆一套。 八供中的「食子」，可用果实代替。平常皆以「供养食子」为主，除非修特别本尊时才会更换。「食子」大致分慈悲与忿怒两种，修忿怒本尊如普巴金刚或大黑天时，则另有代表花和食子两种特别食子，食子有时亦作本尊坛城。供养八供可以实物供养，或仅以水供养。依据噶居巴传承，积聚功德最好的方法就是供水。因为水取得容易且经济，大概是噶居巴上师过去经年皆在山上，无力做太多物质的供养吧。其次水代表空性的特质，能显现一切，但本质是空，具有无常易变的特质。因此供水较不易生起执著。
水」之供养 (一) – 饮水
水」之供养 (二) – 浴水
至于「香」的供养方面又是如何呢？依材料的来源可分为纯粹自然的香，与合成的香；天然的香例如檀香、沉香、柏树叶子、樟木、甘香松、当归、稻壳、杜鹃花等。合成的香如： 1﹒红白檀香 2．五妙供 3．麝香 4.木棉花等洁净之材料合起来做成卧香；合成香成自然香来供养，全依每个人的能力而定，重要的仍是「发心」。
点着了油灯，以清净心来供养并且念供灯祈愿文 : 嗡阿吽！1﹒灯杯似珍宝美丽庄严。 2﹒清净芳香酥油满盈杯。 3﹒柔软灯心长直似天绳。 4﹒破除黑暗明灯为供养。 5﹒祜主上师三宝三根本。 6﹒无量归处大海圣众供。 7﹒智慧眼无晦亦无光然。 8﹒我等众生无边亦无际。 9﹒黑暗无明二障悉净除。 10﹒愿得殊胜清净智慧眼
所以我们在佛堂以三清净来供养 – 发心清净、正行清净以及回向清净，不论风吹小玲、大喇叭、哨钠、笛子、跋.…供养之后，都可能如小小个子的比丘一般，具足佛音六十支的美妙成就。为什么佛前供水、花、香、灯、涂、果、乐等八供呢？这是缘自印度的习俗，客人来到家中，先招侍人喝水、然后洗脚，再挂朵花在脖子上，以香熏一熏全身，然后亮起灯来，身上涂得否香来，并给予食物招恃，全部都具全之后，再弹琴给客人享受。