Q&A

Is Bodhicitta A Must For Birth In Amituofo’s Pure Land? 往生极乐世界须要发菩提心吗?

 问1: 什么是菩提心?

Q1: What is Bodhicitta (or the Bodhi Mind)?

答1: 菩提心包括’通途菩提心’,是愿上求佛道,下化一切众生都成佛的心。

A1: Bodhicitta includes ‘Common Bodhicitta’, which is the aspiration to seek Buddhahood, and to transform all sentient beings, to guide them to also attain Buddhahood.

问2: 如何真正发通途菩提心?

Q2: How do we truly give rise to Common Bodhicitta?

答2: 正发通途菩提心须要学戒后正式受持菩萨戒。也得修学普贤菩萨十大愿王,发愿行六度万行,以悲智引导自他成佛道。(发通途菩提心只是得生极乐上品其中因缘之一。欲知详情,请看《观经》。)

A2: It is to be done by studying and formally receiving to uphold the Bodhisattva Precepts. Also to be learnt and cultivated are Samantabhadra Bodhisattva’s Ten Great King Of Vows, aspiring to practise the Six Perfections’ ten thousand practices, to guide one and all with compassion and wisdom to Buddhahood. (Giving rise to Common Bodhicitta is just part of the criteria to be born in the higher grades of Pure Land. To know the details, do study the Contemplation Sutra.)

问3: 菩提心还有其他定义吗?

Q3: Does Bodhicitta have another definition?

答3: 因为净土法门,如净土宗十三祖印光大师所教,是’特别法门’,它设有‘特别菩提心’。如以下的三个定义,它也包括通途菩提心的精神。

A3: Since the Pure Land Dharma Door, as the Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yinguang taught, is the ‘Special Dharma Door’, there is ‘Special Bodhicitta’. As defined in three ways below, it also includes the essence of Common Bodhicitta.

3A: 依据昙鸾大师的《往生论注》: 【此无上菩提心,即是愿作佛心。愿作佛心,即是度众生心。度众生心,即摄取众生生净佛国土心。】

3A: According to Great Master Tanluan’s ‘Commentary On The Rebirth Treatise’: ‘This unsurpassable Bodhicitta, is the Aspiration to become a Buddha. This Aspiration to become a Buddha, is the Aspiration to deliver [all] sentient beings. This Aspiration to deliver sentient beings, is the Aspiration to gather sentient beings to be born in in [Amituofo’s] Pure Buddha Land.’

(In brief, Bodhicitta is defined here as – [1] To have Aspiration to be a Buddha, [2] to deliver all to Amituofo’s Pure Land [where they are bound for Buddhahood].)

3B: 依据净土宗二祖善导大师的《观经四帖疏》:【唯发一念厌苦,乐生诸佛境界,速满菩萨大悲愿行,还入生死普度众生,故名发菩提心也。】

3B: According to the Pure Land Tradition’s 2nd Patriarch Great Master Shandao’s ‘Commentary On The Contemplation Sutra In Four Fascicles’: ‘Only giving rise to the one thought of aversion to suffering, [and giving rise to] joy [of being] born in all Buddhas’ realm [i.e. as represented by Amituofo’s Pure Land], to swiftly complete Bodhisattvas’ great compassionate vows and practices, return to enter [the cycle of] birth and death to universally deliver [all] sentient beings, thus is this named giving rise to Bodhicitta.’

(In brief, Bodhicitta is defined here as – [1] To have aversion to suffering, with joyful Aspiration to be born in Amituofo’s Pure Land, [2] to swiftly complete Bodhisattva training, [3] to guide all to Buddhahood.)

3C: 依据净土宗九祖蕅益大师的《阿弥陀经要解》: 【深信发愿,即无上菩提。】

3C: According to the Pure Land Tradition’s 9th Patriarch Great Master Ouyi’s ‘Essential Explanation Of The Amitabha Sutra’: ‘With deep Faith giving rise to the Aspiration [to be born in Amituofo’s Pure Land, [this] is unsurpassable Bodhi[citta].’

(In brief, Bodhicitta is defined here as – [1] To have Aspiration with deep Faith to be born in Amituofo’s Pure Land.)

若能把通途菩提心包含在特别菩提心内,此’深信发愿’的愿更为无上,最为尊贵。

If able to include Common Bodhicitta within Special Bodhicitta, the Aspiration in such ‘deep Faith and Aspiration’ is even more unsurpassable, and is truly the most noble and precious.

3D: 三个特别菩提心的定义合来起简单说有四个阶段:
[1] 厌恶娑婆,愿离诸苦,
[2] 以深信乐,愿生极乐。
[3] 满菩萨行,速成佛道,
[4] 度诸众生,皆生极乐。

3D: Combining the three definitions, Special Bodhicitta is briefly defined here with four stages –
[1] With aversion to this Saha World, have Aspiration to depart from all of its suffering,
[2] and with deep and joyful Faith, have Aspiration to be born in Amituofo’s Pure Land.
[3] With swift completion of the Bodhisattva path to become a Buddha,
[4] deliver all beings to be born in Amituofo’s Pure Land.

前半[1]与[2]主要讲’深信发愿’,如何生净土。后半[3]与[4]讲到净土后,满菩萨道,度众生生净土。就算往生前未考虑后半,只要精神上不抗拒或违背上求下化,两者到净土后必定自然完成。

The first half [1] & [2] is mainly about reaching Amituofo’s Pure Land by giving rise to ‘deep Faith and Aspiration.’ After reaching Pure Land, is where the second half [3] & [4] of completing the Bodhisattva path to deliver all beings will occur. Even if yet to consider the second half before birth there, so long as there is no opposing or contradicting in spirit, both aspects of seeking Buddhahood and transforming sentient beings will definitely be accomplished naturally after reaching Pure Land.

可见,信愿往生极乐是发坚固菩提心的正因,而极乐附有最佳助缘,能助长菩提心的圆满绽放。所以,蕅益大师对特别菩提心最为简要的定义如同以上,所注重的核心标准为‘深信发愿’。能也发通途菩提心当然好,但必须发特别菩提心才能得生极乐。单发特别菩提心也可得生极乐。得生后,通途菩提心必能圆满大发。

It is thus clear, that giving rise to Faith and Aspiration to be reborn in Pure Land is the main cause that gives rise to stable Bodhicitta, while Pure Land provides the ideal supportive conditions, to nurture its full blossoming. This is why Great Master Ouyi most concisely defined Special Bodhicitta as above, with its core criteria being ‘deep Faith and Aspiration’ to reach Pure Land. Being able to also give rise to Common Bodhicitta is of course excellent, though Special Bodhicitta must be given rise to, and will be adequate, for reaching Pure Land, where Common Bodhicitta will blossom fully.

问4: 如何在极乐圆满发通途菩提心?

Q4: How does Common Bodhicitta blossom fully in Pure Land?

答4: 依据《观经》,未发者莲花化生后,闻观世音与大势至菩萨说法后必定发心。

A4: According to the Contemplation Sutra, when from lotus flowers born, those who have yet to give rise to it will do so upon hearing Guanshiyin (Avalokiteshvara) and Dashizhi (Mahasthamaprapta) Bodhisattvas’ teachings.

问5: 有多少得生极乐者曾发过通途菩提心?

Q5: How many who have attained birth in Pure Land had previously given rise to Common Bodhicitta?

答5: 经中没提,但九品往生者,唯有上三品者曾发通途菩提心,而其余中下六品未曾发。可说得生极乐的末法众生大多未真发通途菩提心,因为在末法时期最难发此心。

A5: The sutras have no mention of this. However, of the nine grades of birth there, only those of the three higher grades of birth did give rise to it, while the others of the six medium and lower grades (i.e. 66.67% of the 9 grades) did not. It can be said that beings who attain birth in Pure Land in this Dharma-Ending Age have mostly yet to truly give rise to Common Bodhicitta, as it is most difficult to do so in this era.

问6: 劝生极乐时,该强调发通途菩提心吗?

Q6: When encouraging birth in Pure Land, should the giving rise of Common Bodhicitta be emphasised?

答6: 对中下根的人说,可能导致他们失去得生信心。尤其已发通途菩提心者,更应该慈悲方便,不强求一切众生一定要发通途菩提心,因为大多数的末法众生难发此心。可以劝发,但不可强求。切记净土法门是摄受一切上中下根众生的法门,包括有或没有发通途菩提心的众生。

A6: Those of medium and lower spiritual roots who hear this might lose confidence to be born in Pure Land. Especially those already with Common Bodhicitta, they should all the more, as compassionate skilful means, not insist that all must give rise to Common Bodhicitta, as most beings in this Dharma-Ending Age will find it difficult to do so. There can be encouragement but not insistence, bearing in mind that the Pure Land Dharma Door is meant for gathering and receiving all beings – of lower, medium and higher spiritual roots, including those with or without Common Bodhicitta.

问7: 为了劝众生生极乐,但不知根性,该劝发通途菩提心吗?

Q7: For encouraging others to seek birth in Pure Land, but not knowing their spiritual roots, should they be encouraged to give rise to Common Bodhicitta?

答7: 在平时,可以广说九品各得生极乐的因缘,为善巧中道,让闻者各自决定。除非临终者是明显上根种性,只须劝发特别菩提心。临终时,也可能不够时间解说通途菩提心。对那些临终极痛苦,极恐惧与极恶又刚忏悔的众生,也难劝发通途菩提心。为避免导致临终者抗拒或违背菩提心,只该劝生以‘深信发愿’求生极乐而念佛的心。

A7: In normal times, there can be general explanation of the causes and conditions for the nine grades’ births, as a skilful Middle Path, to let them personally decide. Unless the dying persons are obviously of higher spiritual roots, there should only be encouragement to give rise to Special Bodhicitta. When approaching the end of life, there might be shortage of time to explain Common Bodhicitta too. To those approaching the end of life with great pain and suffering, great fear, and those who have done great evil but have just repented, it is also difficult to encourage them to give rise to Common Bodhicitta. To avoid leading these dying persons to oppose or contradict Bodhicitta, there should only be encouragement to give rise to ‘deep Faith and Aspiration’ to seek birth in Amituofo’s Pure Land by mindfulness of his name.

问8: 如果此生未发通途菩提心,但得生极乐,此人是否前世已发过?

Q8: Could those who have yet to give rise to Common Bodhicitta in this life, but attained birth in Pure Land, have given rise to it in a past life?

答8: 前世有没有发都不重要,因为今世记不起。要点是今世必须至少真发‘深信发愿’(的特别菩提心),用此心念佛才能得生。因以上答6与7所略的顾虑,切勿强迫临终者发通途菩提心。

A8: Whether they had given rise to it in a past life or not is unimportant as it cannot be remembered in this life. The crucial point is that in this life, they must at least truly give rise to ‘deep Faith and Aspiration’ (as Special Bodhicitta), using this to be mindful of Amituofo’s name to attain birth in his Pure Land. Due to the concerns stated in A6 and A7 above, there should not be insistence that the dying give rise to Common Bodhicitta.

问9: 如何总结往生极乐是否须要发菩提心?

Q9: How do we conclude if Bodhicitta is a must for birth in Pure Land?

答9: 依据阿弥陀佛的第十八大愿,得生极乐的最低准则是三资粮 – 以深信切愿持佛名号。’深信发愿’即是发特别菩提心。若愿得生上品,也要发通途菩提心。

A9: According to the 18th great vow of Amituofo, to attain birth in his Pure Land, the lowest criteria to meet are the Three Provisions – with deep Faith and sincere Aspiration powering the Practice of upholding the name of Amituofo. Having ‘deep Faith and Aspiration’ is to give rise to Special Bodhicitta. If aspiring to attain higher grades of birth, there must also be Common Bodhicitta.

问10: 是否有更详细却简要的总结?

Q10: Is there a more detailed but still concise summary?

答10: 以下有总结以上的偈子。

A10: Below are some verses to summarise the above.

特别与通途菩提心偈
Verses On Special & Common Bodhicitta

深信发愿,
求生极乐,
即是无上
菩提之心。(特别菩提心)

[With] deep Faith giving rise [to the] Aspiration,
[to] seek birth [in Amituofo’s Pure Land Of] Ultimate Bliss,
is unsurpassable [Special] Bodhicitta
[as it is the swiftest path to Buddhahood for one and all].

上求佛道,
下化众生,
即是无上
菩提之心。(通途菩提心)

[To] seek [the] path [to] Buddhahood above,
[and to] transform sentient beings below,
is unsurpassable [Common] Bodhicitta.

求生极乐,
又须深信,
也须发愿,
为菩提心。(特别菩提心)

[To] seek birth [in Amituofo’s Pure Land Of] Ultimate Bliss,
also needs deep Faith,
needing [to] give rise [to] Aspiration too,
[together] as [Special] Bodhicitta.

上品生前,
发菩提心。(通途菩提心)
下品生后,
发菩提心。(通途菩提心)

[Those of] higher grades, before birth [in Pure Land],
gave rose [to Common] Bodhicitta.
[Those of] lower grades, after birth [in Pure Land],
give rise [to Common] Bodhicitta.

无菩提心;(通途菩提心)
信愿持名,
亦可得生,
极乐世界。

[Those] without [Common] Bodhicitta,
[but with] Faith [and] Aspiration upholding [Amituofo’s] name,
[are] also able [to] attain birth,
[in his Pure] Land Of Ultimate Bliss.

莲花化生,
闻菩萨法,
必定大发,
菩提之心。(通途菩提心)

[From] lotus flowers’ transformed births,
[upon] hearing [the two] Bodhisattvas’ teachings,
[they] will definitely give rise
[to] great [Common] Bodhicitta.

Related Articles:

How Pure Land Aids Bodhicitta & Deliverance Of Beings
https://purelanders.com/2014/01/07/how-pure-land-aids-bodhicitta-delivering-of-beings
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https://purelanders.com/2016/08/10/how-to-further-assure-reach-of-pure-land
Giving Rise To Bodhicitta & Reaching Pure Land
https://purelanders.com/2014/07/25/giving-rise-to-bodhicitta-reaching-pure-land
The Three Provisions For Rebirth In Pure Land
https://purelanders.com/2015/12/30/%E5%BE%80%E7%94%9F%E5%87%80%E5%9C%9F%E4%B8%89%E8%B5%84%E7%B2%AE-the-three-provisions-for-rebirth-in-pure-land

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