Why Is It Easier To Reach Pure Land Than To Retain Human Rebirth?
Also, you, since [having] taken refuge [in the] Buddha’s teachings [to be] mindful [of] Buddha, should rely [on the] Buddha’s teachings and practise [accordingly. The] Buddha taught you [to] seek birth [in the] Western [Pure Land, yet] you [are] stubbornly not willing [to] seek birth [in the] Western [Pure Land], stubbornly wanting [to] seek [the] future life [as a human].
[Note 1: The central purpose of taking refuge in the Triple Gem is to emulate the Saṃgha in learning and practising of the Buddha’s Dharma teachings for the liberation of one and all.]
You [have] now lived for [a] few decades [already], not knowing [having] passed [through] how many rounds [of] wars, floods, droughts, famines, plagues [and] other disasters.
[Note 2: Such is the nature of prevalent suffering in this human realm, with increase of natural and human-made disasters in time to come, as this Dharma-Ending Age progresses, as the collective karma of humans worsen.]
If yet [to] encounter [the] Buddha’s teachings, [you will] not know [the] method [for] departure.
[Note 3: Practice of the Buddha’s teachings is for liberation of one and all. To learn, practise and share the Pure Land teachings is how this can both be done in this lifetime. To personally reach Pure Land is to be liberated. To encourage others to be reach Pure Land is how they can be liberated too.]
Then not having [a] way [out, you will] only have to bear your rebirth after death.
[Note 4: This rebirth refers to that in the rounds of rebirth as an ordinary being; not rebirth in Pure Land.]
Now, since [having] encountered [the] Buddha’s teachings, moreover again, [having] taken refuge as [the] Buddha’s disciple, [you are] deliberately contradicting, not believing [the] Buddha’s words, relying on oneself’s foolish views, recklessly considering [and] confusedly thinking, thinking [of in the] future life still becoming human.
[Note 5: The Buddha repeatedly urged all to seek rebirth in the Western Pure Land.]
You must know, [that in the] future life becoming human [again], compared [with when] approaching [life’s] end [being] reborn [in Pure Land, [the first is] even more difficult.
[Note 6: It is also increasingly easy in this Dharma-Ending Age, with limited Self-Powered (自力) practice, to break the Five Precepts in this life, the observation of which are necessary for securing a human rebirth. If the human rebirth is lost, there will be fall into the three lower realms of hell-beings, hungry ghosts and animals. Even in the Buddha’s time, he taught in the Nakhasikhā Sutta, that like the little bit of dirt in one of his fingernails representing the relatively very few beings reborn as humans, who are ‘next to nothing’, those reborn in non-human realms are much more, like the dirt on the rest of the great earth. Thus, as humans, we should make good use of this life to secure our next rebirth, in where liberation is guaranteed. This safest place is Āmítuófó’s Pure Land.]
Why [is this] thus? [A] human [in] all [of] one’s life within, [of] that created transgressive karma, not known [is] how much [there is]. Other [lives’] transgressions existent [or] non-existent moreover [are] not [yet] discussed.
[Note 7: All other transgressive karma created in many past lives are not taken into account yet.]
From young, [the] transgressions of eating meat [and] killing lives, [are] truly [so] many, [that they] cannot [be] completely [known].
[Note 8: These are just two common examples of how many transgressions have been created, as related to the First Precept. How the other four precepts have been and/or are being broken in the present and many past lives should be noted too, even if not remembered.]
[You] must give rise [to the] mind [of] great loving-kindness [and] compassion, [and] seek birth [in the] Western [Pure Land]. Awaiting [to] see [the] Buddha, after attaining [the] path, delivering [and] liberating these [and] other sentient beings.
[Note 9: To completely repent for the suffering caused to sentient beings through breaking of precepts, there should be seeking of rebirth in Pure Land, so as to most swiftly train to be Bodhisattvas through learning from the Buddha, for delivering them to liberation.]
Then relying on [the] Buddha’s loving-kindness’ power, then can [there be] not repaying [of] these [karmic] debts.
[Note 10: As rebirth in Pure Land is to attain liberation from all karmic rebirths, all karmic debts to other beings will be eliminated.]
If seeking [the] future life [as a human], then [is to be] without [the] great path’s mind.
[Note 11: To merely seek rebirth as a human is to not seek liberation of one and all, thus not being on the great path to Buddhahood.]
Even if cultivation [of] practice’s skills [is] good, such meritorious virtues [will] have [a] limit. With bound ordinary beings’ minds [of attachment to] person [and] self created, thus not having great meritorious virtues.
[Note 12: Even if there is aspiration to be reborn human to help other beings, one without substantial spiritual accomplishment in this lifetime will not be able to remember this aspiration in the next life, just as one cannot remember one’s immediate past life’s aspiration now. Not having realised non-self yet, meritorious virtues will naturally be limited.]
Moreover, you from immeasurable kalpas since, [do] not know [you have] created how much transgressive karma. Past karma if manifesting, [the] three realms’ evil paths, [will] definitely [be] difficult [to] escape [from]. Thinking [of] again becoming human, [is with a] thousand difficulties [and] ten thousand difficulties.
[Note 13: The first danger of not seeking rebirth in Pure Land is that there might be loss of the human rebirth. The second danger is that even if human rebirth is retained, there might be experience of more physical and spiritual dangers due to the regressive nature of the Dharma-Ending Age. The third danger is that after loss of the human rebirth, there will be fall into the three lower realms. The fourth danger is that after loss of the human rebirth, it will be extremely difficult to regain the human rebirth. The fifth danger is that after regaining the human rebirth, the whole cycle above might repeat, with liberation still afar, if not even further.]
Therefore, saying [that to] seek birth [in the] Western [Pure Land], compared [with] seeking [in the] future life [to] become human, [the first is] yet easier. With relying on [the] Buddha’s power [of] blessings thus, past lives’ evil karma [is] easily eliminated. Even if yet able [to be] eliminated completely, with [the] Buddha’s power thus, not leading to repaying [with] retribution.
[Note 14: With the Buddha’s great Other-Power (他力) too, it is easier to be reborn in his Pure Land, than to be reborn human. With sincere and diligent practice of mindfulness of Buddha in everyday life now, it will be naturally more difficult to break the precepts too, which connects to his blessings to eliminate transgressive karma now, not only when about to reach Pure Land or after reaching it. Reaching Pure Land surpasses the human rebirth and escapes the three lower realms. With its pure environment there, no precepts will ever be broken again, with swiftest progress towards Buddhahood enabled.]
Why Is Breaking Right Views Worse Than Breaking Precepts?
[The] Buddha said [that] in [this] world, [there] are two [kinds of] transgressors. First, are [those who] break precepts. Second, are [those who] break [right] views. [The] transgression of breaking precepts [is] yet [relatively] light[er, while the] transgression of breaking [right] views [is] extremely heavy.
[Note 15: Even though one transgression is relatively lighter than the other, there should be practice to create neither transgression.]
What [is] called [to] ‘break [right] views’? [It] is like that you [wrongly] said, [that it is better to] seek [human rebirth in the] future life, [to] not seek rebirth [in Pure Land].
[Note 16: Thus, to have and share the wrong view that it is better to seek human rebirth than rebirth in Pure Land is worse than to break precepts, although it is also breaking the Fourth Precept of communicating false speech, that contradicts the Buddha’s truths spoken.]
[This] exactly is evil attachment [to a] wrong view. [This] exactly is [an] evil view [that] breaks [and] destroys [the] Buddha’s teachings, and [mis]guides all people [to] give rise [to] evil attachment [to this] wrong view. Such [a] transgression [is] extremely great [and] extremely heavy. With such [a] mind and [the] Buddha’s [teachings] contradicting each other, [this] again, [is] able [to] misguide all people thus.
[Note 17: Wrong views should be renounced immediately when right views are learnt, sharing the latter with those whom wrong views were shared with previously, as practice of repentance. If the above wrong view was once shared, this article which corrects it should be shared as remedial action. Such a wrong view can lead many to be trapped in the cycle of birth and death indefinitely, to not most swiftly progress towards Buddhahood via Āmítuófó’s Pure Land. While breaking precepts generally might harm for a while, breaking right views can harm for a long time. Thus is this transgression extremely great and heavy.]
Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng
(Reply Letter [To] Mother Of Layperson Zhìzhèng)
Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an
To All Humans
Those Not Born In Pure Land Will Fall Into Evil Paths
Those Not Born In Pure Land Will Fall Into Hell
Be Born In Pure Land To Be Without Humans’ 20 Difficulties
What If You Are Reborn Here Again?
Are You ‘Recycling’ Yourself Every Three Lifetimes?
The ‘Human’ Word’s Hidden And Profound Meaning Elucidated
Nakhasikhā Sutta: The Tip Of The Fingernail