Is Your Faith & Aspiration (Vow) Resolute Enough?
There was a layperson by the name of Zhao Maolin, who once took the Three Refuges through Great Master Yinguang (the 13th Patriarch of the Chinese Pure Land tradition: 1861-1941) at Suzhuo’s Baoguosi (Monastery of Repayment to the Country). Master Yinguang encouraged him to make his Faith and Aspiration resolute by reciting Amituofo (Buddha’s name) properly. Two years later, together with his family, he returned to pay a visit to Master Yinguang, whose first sentence was to ask him, ‘Over these past two years, has your Faith and Aspiration (Vow) become resolute? Did you fix [regular] Practice [sessions] of reciting Amituofo?’
这位居士紧张得说不出话来，许久才结结巴巴地说, ‘我… 因为要管理饭店及工厂的事，非常繁忙，所以并没有定念佛功课。但是我对净土法门的信愿是深切坚定不移的。’
This layperson became nervous and unable to say anything. After a long time, he stammered, ‘As I… have to manage a hotel and factory’s matters, I am very busy, which is why I did not fix any regular Practice. However, my Faith and Aspiration (Vow) in terms of the Pure Land Dharma Practice is resolute and immovable.’
(释见文编述; 原文见《永思集续编: 追述学佛因缘并以纪念印公恩师》)
Having heard this, Master Yinguang’s expression turned stern and said, ‘Only with fixed [regular] Practice of reciting Amituofo, is to have truly resolute Faith and Aspiration (Vow) that is immovable; not having fixed [regular] Practice of reciting Amituofo, expresses Faith and Aspiration (Vow) in terms of reciting Amituofo that is not resolute yet. You will have to sincerely repent and recite Amituofo diligently!
(Edited by Shijianwen in Chinese, from the original text ‘Continued Collection of Articles in Eternal Remembrance: Past Records of Causes and Conditions in Learning the Buddha’s Teachings, in Commemoration to and Gratitude of Great Master Yinguang)
Notes: It is common, erroneous and even dangerous to assume one has resolute Faith and Aspiration (Vow) when one continually procrastinates regular Practice (of reciting Amituofo), by rationalising that one is too busy for Practice – as life is short and it can end abruptly. Regular Practice is the very crystallisation of Faith and Aspiration (Vow) in action. The more resolute one’s Practice is, the more resolute would one’s Faith and Aspiration (Vow) be; the more resolute one’s Faith and Aspiration (Vow) is, the more resolute would one’s Practice be. Checking whether we actualise our Practice regularly is how we can gauge how resolute our Three Provisions (Faith, Aspiration, Practice) are, how determined we are to be born in Pure Land, and how likely we are able to succeed.
Translated to English by Laila & Shen Shi’an, with notes by Shen Shi’an
Just Do It