What is Faith? First, Faith in the power of Amitā[bha] Buddha’s [Āmítuófó] vows. Second, Faith in Śākyamuni Buddha’s spoken teachings. Third, Faith in the praises of [Āmítuófó by] all Buddhas of the six directions [everywhere: East, South, West, North, Below and Above]. With these, yet not having Faith, one truly cannot be saved [by Āmítuófó]. Thus, one should first give rise to deep Faith, and not give rise to doubt.
What is Aspiration [Vow]? At all times, loathe the suffering of birth and death in this Sahā World [with endurance of suffering], rejoice in and yearn for the bliss of enlightenment [Bodhi] in [Āmítuófó’s] Pure Land. Following all that is done, be it good or evil, for the good, thus dedicate it to seek birth in Pure Land, for the evil, thus repent it and vow to seek birth in Pure Land. Furthermore, without a second ambition [or intention], this is named Aspiration.
With Faith and Aspiration [Vow] already complete, [wholehearted (utmost sincere) mindful] recitation of the name of Buddha [Āmítuófó] is then called the ‘Main Practice’, while correction of evil and cultivation of good are all called ‘Supportive Practices’.
Faith, Aspiration [Vow] & Practice (1)
Attaining birth [in Āmítuófó’s Pure Land] or not, is all due to Faith and Aspiration [Vow] being present or absent. The grade [of birth] being high or low, is all due to [the Practice of] upholding [reciting] the name [of Āmítuófó] being deep or shallow.
The Pure Land Tradition’s
9th Patriarch Great Master Ǒuyì
Faith, Aspiration [Vow] & Practice (2)
The Dharma door [Buddhist Practice] of reciting the name of Buddha [Āmítuófó] emphasises on Faith and Aspiration [Vow]. With Faith and Aspiration, [but] yet to attain single-mindedness [in Practice, one] also can attain rebirth in Āmítuófó’s Pure Land. Having attained single-mindedness, if without Faith and Aspiration, [one] also cannot attain rebirth in Pure Land.
Common people who very much emphasise on single-mindedness, and do not emphasise on Faith and Aspiration already miss these essentials. Yet, again and again, giving rise to the one doubt with fear of not attaining rebirth in Pure Land since yet to attain single-mindedness, this is thus all opposite of true Faith and sincere Aspiration. This kind of thought, seems to be good thinking [but it is not].
In fact, from this, it is then beneficial to increase Faith and Aspiration, for the result of single-mindedness [as wholehearted (utmost sincere) Practice with Faith and Aspiration naturally leads to single-mindedness]. This thus is good thinking and mindfulness. If due to not attaining single-mindedness, constantly harbouring the one thought of not being able to be reborn in Pure Land, this thus becomes bad thinking and mindfulness. This cannot be not known!
The Pure Land Tradition’s
13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng
English text © Shen Shi’an (Recirculation with permission via purelanders.com/contact)