Why Dedicate Only For Birth In Pure Land? 为何只回向往生西方?


Question: Why should we only dedicate meritorious virtues (i.e. merits) for birth in Pure Land?


Answer: Below is the answer by the Pure Land Traditionʼs 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng, in his letter to layperson Chén Xīzhōu, with extra explanatory notes on it.


Also, without exception, [for] prostration, study [with] recitation [of] Great Vehicle’s sūtras, and doing [of] all matters [that] have benefits for [the] world [and its] people, with all these [good (i.e. wholesome, skilful, good karmas] and meritorious virtues, they must be] dedicated [for birth in the] Western [Pure Land].

Note: All worldly and world-transcending good and purification practices done should be dedicated only for birth in Pure Land. Even after helping one or many for a worldly matter, the meritorious virtues from doing so should also be dedicated for all beings to reach Pure Land. This is a practice to increase compassion and generosity, while fortifying personal aspiration to reach Pure Land.


[There] must not [be] only with mindfulness [of the] Buddha [Āmítuófó (阿弥陀佛)], [for] dedication [of its meritorious virtues to be born in the] Western [Pure Land, with] the rest [of other] meritorious virtues, separately for dedication, [for] worldly blessed rewards, [as this] thus [is with] mindfulness [that is] not unified [as] one, [which] then [makes it] difficult [to be] reborn [in Pure Land].

Note: There must not be separation of dedication of meritorious virtues for the purpose of reaching Pure Land, versus for worldly purposes, as there cannot be two ultimate purposes in this life that are contradictory in nature, with the first being a world-transcending goal, versus the latter being many worldly goals. However, as below, dedication only for the world-transcending goal of reaching Pure Land can still encompass, and not compromise certain worldly goals.


[It] should [be] known [that to] truly [be] able [to be] mindful [of the] Buddha, not seeking worldly blessed rewards, yet [by] oneself attains worldly blessed rewards. (Such [as] long life without sickness, [the] family clan [being] peaceful [and] safe, [with] children [and] grandchildren flourishing, all conditions [being] as wished, [the] ten thousand matters [being] auspicious [and] others.)

Note: With the ultimate purpose in this life to reach Pure Land, and all meritorious virtues dedicated for this purpose, these meritorious virtues will also bear rewards in this life naturally, to lessen suffering and increase joy in worldly responsibilities, which facilitates smooth attaining of the ultimate purpose. As the purpose is clearly to reach Pure Land, these meritorious virtues will not ripen in ways that distract from it. Dedicating meritorious virtues only for worldly blessed rewards might squander them quickly, instead of using them skilfully, for the best benefits in this life, and for reaching Pure Land.

(There must be clear priority of personally [and with others] reaching Pure Land, as it is how everyone’s spiritual and worldly concerns can be truly resolved.)


If seeking worldly blessed rewards, not willing [to] dedicate [for] rebirth [in Pure Land], then [will] those attained worldly blessed rewards, instead be lowly [and] inferior.

Note: There should not be shortsightedness, to seek only worldly blessed rewards, which are not as lasting, blissful and pure, as the immeasurable rewards experienced upon reaching Pure Land, through which the supreme world-transcending reward of Buddhahood can be attained.


And [with the] mind not focused single-mindedly [i.e. wholeheartedly], rebirth [in Pure Land is] then difficult [to be] certain.

Note: There should be wholehearted sincerity in our thoughts, words and deeds, all ultimately dedicated for rebirth in Pure Land.

Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng
Letter For Layperson Chén Xīzhōu

Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.