On Repentance, Resolution & Wholeheartedness

You already know that you must confess your transgressions and practice repentance. This is very much in accord with the Pure Land method because “when the mind is pure, the Buddha land is pure.” However, once having repented, you should change your ways and practice wholesome deeds, lest your repentance consist of empty words bringing no real benefit. This is also true if you wish to be free of external attachments in order to concentrate on Buddha Recitation and reach one-pointedness of mind [wholeheartedness]. No extraordinary method is required: you should paste the single word “death” on your forehead or dangle it from your eyebrows, always keeping the following thoughts in mind:

Since time immemorial I have created untold, immeasurable evil karma; if such karma had form, the empty space of the ten directions could not contain it. Thanks to good conditions, I have been reborn in a human body and have, in addition, had the opportunity to hear the Dharma. However, given my evil karma, I must now recite the Buddha’s name singlemindedly, seeking rebirth in the Pure Land. Otherwise, when my breath has ceased, [I am bound to endure the sufferings of hells, hungry ghosts and animality]. After recovering a human body, I would lack intelligence and be deluded, prone to create evil karma, unable to perform good deeds readily. In no time, I would sink deeper into the evil realms. With my residual bad karma from previous lives still not repaid, I would commit new evil karma, constantly revolving along the Six Paths throughout eons as numerous as motes of dust – hopelessly lost in the immense sea of suffering, not knowing how to reach liberation.

If you always reflect on these points, your cultivation will be focussed. Take the example of the two notorious men [Zhang Shanhe and Zhang Zhongkuei] who – on the verge of death – witnessed the marks of hell appear, whereupon they recited the Buddha’s name several times with utmost sincerity and devotion. Immediately, they saw Amitabha Buddha coming to “receive and guide” them back to the Pure Land. This beneficial feature exists only in the Pure Land method, out of all the countless methods taught by Sakyamuni Buddha throughout His teaching career. Therefore, I have always said that “if the Nine Realms of sentient beings do not practice this method, they cannot easily perfect the fruits of Enlightenment, while if the Buddhas of the ten directions abandon this method, they cannot benefit the masses far and wide.”

If you have utmost Faith and cultivate earnestly, seeking escape from Birth and Death, then even though you still have not left the evil, deluded world, you will not remain long in the Saha World either. While you may not have reached the Pure Land yet, you will soon be a new guest in the Land of Ultimate Bliss.

From now on, when you meet virtuous persons, do your utmost to emulate them; when you encounter an opportunity to practice good deeds, do not hesitate. How can you have the heart to procrastinate, lest the error of one moment lead to ten thousand lifetimes of regret? Surely those with high aspirations cannot tolerate being “walking corpses,” running aimlessly while alive and simply decaying after death, along with the grass and trees. Redouble your efforts and exert yourself!

– Pure-Land Zen, Zen Pure-Land: Letters From Patriarch Yin Kuang (Letter 2.4)
Translated by Master Thich Thien Tam, et al : http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/yin_kuang.pdf

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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