Translations

Our Aspiration Should Be Neither Too Lofty Nor Lowly 志向莫太高尚或太下劣

印光大师:’年纪大了,赶快要念佛求生西方。’
某女居士:‘我不求生西方,我要生娑婆世界。’
印光大师:’汝的志向太下劣了。’
某女居士:’我要即身成佛。’
印光大师:’汝的志向太高尚了。’

Great Master Yinguang: ‘As your age is already old, you should quickly [learn and] practise Nianfo [i.e. sincere mindfulness of Amituofo] to seek birth in his Western Pure Land.’
Laywoman: ‘I do not seek birth in the Western Pure Land, as I want to be reborn in this Saha World [with “Endurance” of suffering, in Samsara, this cycle of birth and death].’
Great Master Yinguang: ‘Your ambition is too inferior [i.e. lowly].’
Laywoman: ‘I want to, in this body [and life], accomplish Buddhahood.’
Great Master Yinguang: ‘Your ambition is too lofty [i.e. high].’

‘何以那个清净世界,不肯往生,偏要生在此浊恶的世界。

‘Why is it that, [already] with that pure world [i.e. Amituofo’s Pure Land created for you, yet] not be willing to be reborn [there], insisting to be born in this defiled and evil world [instead]?

要知道,即身成佛的道理是有的,可是现在没有这样的人,亦非汝我可以做得到的事。

It must be known, that there is [the phenomenon of] “in this body [and life] accomplishing Buddhahood”, but now, [in this Dharma-Ending Age], there is no such person [who accomplished so]. It is also not a matter that you and me are able to accomplish.

像这样不明道理的女居士,竟毫不自量的口出大言,实在是自误误人的。’

Those who do not understand [such] reasoning, like this laywoman, who do not even have [proper] measure [of her own abilities], are truly able to mislead oneself and mislead others.’

– 净土宗十三祖印光大师
(由上海回至灵岩开示法语)

– Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yinguang
(Dharma words of guidance in reply letter, from Shanghai to Lingyan Monastery)

Notes:

When age is catching up, death also approaches. This is so – at any age; not only for the very old. Since death can occur at any time, there should be swift and sincere learning and practice of Nianfo. Without doing so, we will only be reborn in Samsara to suffer again, while forgetting ALL of the precious Dharma learnt but not yet mastered in this life. This is spiritual self-sabotage, that is neither wise nor compassionate for one and all – if we truly wish to liberate ourselves and others. However, in Pure Land, with maximum skilful means there for mastery of the Dharma, no spiritual obstacles from inner defilements and outer evils exist.

The actual attainment and full manifestation of Buddhahood in this lifetime in our era is not possible as it is not the Right Dharma Age, which is when Buddhas are able to arise to benefit many beings. Thus, to insist one and all to be able to completely realise and express Buddhahood in this lifetime, while neglecting the swiftest path to Buddhahood via Pure Land is a serious misgiving. The Buddha also clearly taught that in this Dharma-Ending Age, the Pure Land path is the most feasible one.

To be born in Pure Land is also to, ‘in this body [and life], accomplish Buddhahood’ – if one departs alive (instead of after death) to reach Pure Land, to continue seamless learning and practice till ready to manifest Buddhahood. Since reaching of Pure Land is attainable for all with the Three Provisions of Faith, Aspiration and Practice, despite being of high, medium or low spiritual capacities, this is a spiritual aspiration that is neither too high nor too low, but on the Middle Path for all. We should all be realistically practical thus, instead of being idealistically impractical.

Related Article:
修净土者能即身成佛吗?
Can Pure Land Practitioners Reach Buddhahood In This Lifetime?
https://purelanders.com/2015/12/02/can-pure-land-practitioners-reach-buddhahood-in-this-lifetime

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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