Translations

Why Is Amitābha Sūtra Named The Sūtra With All Buddhas’ Mindful Protection? 何故阿弥陀经名为一切诸佛所护念经?

丁二、征释经题

[经]: [释迦牟尼佛]:舍利弗,于汝意云何,何故名为一切诸佛所护念经?舍利弗,若有善男子、善女人,闻是经受持者,及闻诸佛名者,是诸善男子、善女人,皆为一切诸佛之所护念,皆得不退转于阿耨多罗三藐三菩提。是故舍利弗,汝等皆当信受我语,及诸佛所说。

D2: Inquiry [And] Explanation [Of] Sūtra’s Title

[Sūtra]: [Śākyamuni Buddha]: Śāriputra, what [do] you think? For what reason [is this] named as [the] ‘Sūtra With All Buddhas’ Mindful Protection’? Śāriputra, if [there] are good men [and] good women, who hear this sūtra, accept [and] uphold it, and hear all [these] Buddhas’ names, all these good men [and] good women [will], by all Buddhas, be mindfully protected, [and] all attain non-retrogression for Anuttarā Samyak Saṃbodhi. [This] is why, Śāriputra, you [and] all others should faithfully accept my words, and what all Buddhas say.

[Note 1: Although the Buddha asked Śāriputra the question for reflection and attention, of course the Buddha already knew the answer. He also knew that Śāriputra, though the foremost in wisdom among the Arhats, is not yet a Buddha, thus not able to answer. Therefore, the Buddha immediately replied to share the answer with all in the assembly, including us.

Note 2: The Amitā[bha] Sūtra’s full name, as earlier mentioned six times by all directions’ Buddhas in this sūtra, is the ‘Sūtra [With] Praises [Of] Inconceivable Meritorious Virtues [And] All Buddhas’ Mindful Protection’《称赞不可思议功德一切诸佛之所护念》. As some of these inconceivable meritorious virtues were already explained and praised, even earlier in this sūtra (in 4 main parts) by the Buddha, thus is the Buddha now teaching the meaning of the second half of the sūtra’s name.

Note 3: To truly hear this sūtra (闻是经), is to give rise to Faith (信). To truly receive (受) it is to give rise to Vow (愿: Aspiration to reach Āmítuófó’s Pure Land). To truly uphold his name (持名) is to have Practice (行) of mindfulness of Buddha (念佛). Thus should these Three Provisions (三资粮) be given rise to, to be truly good men (善男子) and good women (善女人).

Note 4: ‘All [these] Buddhas’ names’ (诸佛名) refer to the 38 names of the six-directional Buddhas in the six preceding sections of this sūtra. However, the main method of upholding this sūtra is to uphold the name of Āmítuófó, which represents all Buddhas names, as his name in its most basic form of ‘Amitā Buddha (阿弥陀佛)’ means ‘Immeasurable Buddhas (无量佛)’. Thus, to ‘hear all [these] Buddhas’ names’ (闻诸佛名) means to ‘hear Āmítuófó’s name’ (闻阿弥陀佛名) too, which actually suffices, even if many other Buddhas’ names are not heard. This also works as Āmítuófó is the Dharma Realm’s Treasury Body (法界藏身), that is the Dharmakaya (法身: Dharma Body) that universally encompasses all Buddhas as one, pervading all space and time.

Note 5: In a later section, the Buddha says, ‘as I now, praise all Buddhas’ inconceivable meritorious virtues, all those other Buddhas, also praise my inconceivable virtues.’ (如我今者,赞叹诸佛不可思议功德,彼诸佛等,亦称赞我不可思议功德) ‘All Buddhas’ (诸佛) first refers to Āmítuófó, as in this sūtra, his inconceivable meritorious virtues are those repeatedly praised, as it focuses upon him. Even the other Buddhas mentioned were praising him. The reciprocation of praise of Śākyamuni Buddha by ‘all those other Buddhas’ (彼诸佛等) for speaking this Dharma emphasizes that they represent Āmítuófó too.

Note 6: Thus, to be mindful of Āmítuófó’s name is to be mindful of all Buddhas in a focused way, without loss of any benefits. This is how mindfulness of him connects to, and receives the mindful protection of all Buddhas. As long as such mindfulness does not retrogress, progress for Buddhahood does not retrogress too. Since this is assured by all Buddhas, who are the best reference for truth, it should be believed in and upheld.]

[解]: 此经独诠无上心要,诸佛名字,并诠无上圆满究竟万德,故闻者皆为诸佛护念。

[Explanation]: [As] this sūtra uniquely explains [the] unsurpassable mind’s essence, all Buddhas’ names [mentioned], also explain [its] unsurpassable perfect, complete [and] ultimate ten thousand virtues. Thus [are] those [who] hear [them, are] all by all Buddhas mindfully protected.

又闻经受持,即执持名号,阿弥名号,诸佛所护念故。

Also, hearing [this] sūtra, [to] receive [and] uphold [it], is the same as [to] uphold [the] name. Āmítuófó’s [阿弥陀佛] name, [is] thus that [which] all Buddhas mindfully protect.

问:但闻诸佛名,而未持经,亦得护念不退耶?

Question: [If] only hearing all Buddhas’ names, and yet [to] uphold [this] sūtra, [does this] also attain mindful protection [for] non-retrogression?

答:此义有局有通。

Answer: These meanings have [that which is] partial, [and that which is] complete.

《占察》谓,‘杂乱垢心,虽诵我名而不为闻。

[The] ‘Sūtra [On] Divination [And] Observation [Of] Good [And] Evil Karmic Results’《占察善恶业报经》says, ‘[With] mixed, scattered [and] defiled mind, although reciting my name, [is] not yet [the same] as hearing [it].

以不能生决定信解,但获世间善报,不得广大深妙利益。’

With [this], not able [to] give rise [to] definitive faith [and] understanding, [it] only obtains worldly good rewards, not attaining broad [and] great, profound [and] wonderful benefits.’

若到一行三昧,则成广大微妙行心,名得相似无生法忍,乃为得闻十方佛名。

If reaching [the] Samādhi [Of] One Practice [by mindfulness of Buddha], thus accomplishes [the] mind [of] broad [and] great, subtle [and] wondrous practice, [that is] named [as] attainment [of the Stage Of] Resemblance [To Buddha’s] Dharma Forbearance [Of] Non-Birth, [this is] then as attainment [of] hearing [the] ten directions’ Buddhas’ names.

此亦应尔。故须闻已执持至一心不乱,方为闻诸佛名,蒙诸佛护念。此局义也。

This [sūtra’s teaching] also corresponds like that. Thus needing hearing, [to] already firmly uphold [Āmítuófó’s name] wholeheartedly without [being] scattered, [this is] then as hearing all Buddhas’ names, [to] receive all Buddhas’ mindful protection. This [is the] partial meaning.

通义者,诸佛慈悲,不可思议,名号功德,亦不可思议。

[On the] complete meaning, all Buddhas [have] loving-kindness [and] compassion, [that are] inconceivable, [with their] names’ meritorious virtues, also [being] inconceivable.

故一闻佛名,不论有心无心,若信若否,皆成缘种。

Thus, once hearing [a] Buddha’s name, regardless [of] with intention [or] without intention, if [with] Faith, or not, all [will] accomplish [the] seed [as] condition [for mindful protection].

况佛度众生,不简怨亲,恒无疲倦,苟闻佛名,佛必护念,又何疑焉。

Moreover, [as the] Buddhas deliver sentient beings, without discriminating [between] enemies [and] relatives, constantly [and] without weariness, if [there are those who] hear Buddhas’ names, [the] Buddhas [will] definitely mindfully protect [them]. Again, what doubt [is there]?

然据《金刚三论》,根熟菩萨为佛护念,位在别地圆住。

However, according to [the] ‘Vajra [i.e. Diamond Sūtra’s] Three Treatises’, Bodhisattvas [with good] roots mature by Buddhas’ mindfully protected, [are of the] Separate [Teachings’ Stage Of First] Ground (别教初地), [or the] Complete [Teachings’ Stage Of First] Abode (圆教初住).

盖约自力,必入同生性乃可护念。

[This] coverage [is] restricted [to those with only] Self-power, [who] must enter [the] Same Natural Disposition [of Buddhas]. Then can [they be] mindfully protected.

[Note 7: The opposite, which is Different Natural Disposition (异生性), is the nature of ordinary sentient beings.]

今仗他力,故相似位即蒙护念。

Now relying [upon the] Other-power [of Āmítuófó], thus [is with the] Stage [Of] Resemblance, [this] immediately receives mindful protection.

乃至相似位以还,亦皆有通护念之义。

And even [those] yet [to be] with [the Stage Of] Resemblance, [will] also all have [this] mindful protection as meant.

下至一闻佛名,于同体法性有资发力,亦得远因终不退也。

Down to [only] once hearing [a] Buddha’s name, [being] of [the] same body [of] Dharma-nature, [it] has power [as a] resource [for further] development, [thus] also attaining [the] distant cause [for] non-retrogression [towards Buddhahood].

[Note 8: As ordinary sentient beings (i.e. us) and fully enlightened beings (i.e. Buddhas) have the same Buddha-nature, with that of the first yet to be realised, and the latter’s fully realised, a Buddha’s name heard can serve as the seed of the path (道种) to Buddhahood, that when given more supportive conditions (助缘) for growth later, in the present life or a future life, is able to bear fruit eventually.]

阿耨多罗,此云无上。三藐三菩提,此云正等正觉。即大乘果觉也。

[On] ‘Anuttarā’, this [is] said [to be the] ‘Unsurpassable’. [On] ‘Samyak Saṃbodhi], this [is] said [to be] ‘Right Equal [And] Right Awakening’. [This] is the same as [the] Great Vehicle’s fruit [of] awakening.

圆三不退,乃一生成佛异名。

Complete [with the] Three Non-Retrogressions [of Stage (of Bodhisattvahood) Without Retrogression (位不退), Practice (of the Bodhisattva path) Without Retrogression (行不退), and Mindfulness Without Retrogression (念不退), this is] then ‘[in] one lifetime accomplishing Buddhahood’, [as] differently named.

[Note 9: It is possible to ideally depart for Pure Land without first dying, thus reaching Pure Land to realise the Three Non-Retrogressions, to directly progress towards and attain Buddhahood in this very same lifetime. It is however also possible to depart for Pure Land after death, in the intermediate (or bardo) state between death and rebirth, although more risky, as the wind of karma are then likelier to sweep one to be reborn back in the Sahā World.]

故劝身子等皆当信受。

Thus [is there] encouragement [of] Śariputra [and] all others, [who] should faithfully receive [this].

闻名功德如此,释迦及十方诸佛同所宣说,可不信乎!

Hearing [the] name’s meritorious virtues thus, that Śākya[muni Buddha] and all [the] ten directions’ Buddhas together proclaimed, how [can this] not [be] believed?

初劝信流通竟。

[The] first encouragement [of] Faith’s transmission [is now] complete.

– 净土宗九祖藕益大师
《佛说阿弥陀经要解》

– Pure Land Tradition’s 9th Patriarch Great Master Ǒuyì
(Essential Explanation [Of The] Sūtra [In Which The] Buddha Speaks [Of] Amitā[bha] Buddha)

相关要解:
Related Explanations:

下部分: 今发愿今往生的原理
Next Section: The Principle Of ‘Vow Now For Birth Now’
https://purelanders.com/2018/10/26/vow-now-for-birth-now
何故号阿弥陀佛?
Why Is Amituofo’s Name Thus?
https://purelanders.com/2017/12/01/why-the-name-of-amituofo-amita-buddha

Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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