Translations

How Is Less Also More In Nianfo Practice? 为何念佛亦少亦多?

修学只为成就此事
Cultivating [And] Learning [Are] Only For Accomplishing This Matter

须知吾人欲了生死,实不在多,只一真信切愿,念佛求生西方足矣。

[It] must [be] known, [that if] we desire [to be] liberated [from the cycle of] births [and] deaths, [it] truly [does] not [depend] on much, [as to] only purely [be with] true Faith [and] sincere Aspiration, mindful [of] Buddha, [to] seek birth [in his] Western [Pure Land Of Ultimate Bliss is] enough [for Buddhahood to be attainable].

[Note 1: This is so as once born in the Pure Land, as one will not backslide to rebirth, while being bound for Buddhahood as swiftly as possible, one is already as if ‘liberated’.]

纵饶读尽大藏,亦不过为成就此事而已。

Even if [with] abundant study [that] exhausts [the] Great Treasury [Of Sūtras], [this is] likewise not more than for accomplishing this matter, [and] nothing more.

[Note 2: The ultimate collective purpose of all teachings in the Buddhist scriptures is to point towards the path to Buddhahood, which is complete liberation with full enlightenment.]

是则多亦归少,少亦归多。

[This] is then [with] much likewise returning [to] less, [and with] less likewise returning [to] much.

[Note 3: Much theoretical learning eventually leads to less here, in terms of having the one Main Practice (正行) of mindfulness of Buddha for definitive progress. It is sufficient as it leads to Buddhahood, which is in turn much, as all to be learnt will be realised fully then.]

多少同为成就此事而已。

[That] much [or] less [are] for accomplishing this matter, [and] nothing more.

[Note 4: Even if learning much, it should still lead to focused practice, to reach Pure Land, for progress towards Buddhahood. Thus, that less includes the essence of that much. In this sense, learning less should not be disparaged, as long as the Main Practice is embraced. Learning more should not lead to loss of focus, or the essence of that much will be lost. (Buddhahood accomplished will naturally lead to deliverance of all beings.)]

则多不为多,少不为少矣。

Then [is that] much not as [that] much, [and that] less not as [that] less.

[Note 5: With true learning and practice, that much leads to that less, which makes that much as if not that much, just as that less leads to that much, which makes that less as if not that less.]

净土宗十三祖印光大师
《复唯佛居士书》

Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng
(Reply Letter [To] Layperson Wéifó)

Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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