Translations

Why Always Dedicate Merits To All Beings? 为何回向功德给一切众生?

但愿汝昆弟与阖(hé)家眷属,认真为汝母念佛,不但令母亲得益,实则比自己念佛之功德更大。

[I] only wish [that] your brothers and [the] whole family’s family members, earnestly for your Mother, [be] mindful [of Amitā(bha)] Buddha[‘s name: ‘Āmítuófó’, which will] not only enable [your] Mother [to] attain benefits, [this] truly thus, [is with] even greater meritorious virtues, compared [with only] your [personal] mindfulness [of] Buddha.

佛所以教人,凡诵经持咒念佛作诸功德,皆为法界众生回向。

[The] Buddha therefore taught people, [that] all meritorious virtues created [from] recitation [of] sūtras, upholding [of] mantras [and] mindfulness [of] Buddha, [should] all [be] for [the] Dharma realm’s sentient beings dedicated.

平时尚为无干涉之法界众生回向,况母殁(mò)而不至心为母念佛乎。

[If] in normal times, even for [the] Dharma realm’s unrelated sentient beings dedicating, what more [with your] Mother’s death, yet not [with your utmost] sincere mind, for [your] Mother [being] mindful [of Buddha]?

以能为一切众生回向,即与佛菩提誓愿相合,如一滴水,投于大海,即与大海同其深广。

With [being] able [to], for all sentient beings dedicate [meritorious virtues, this] is with [the] Buddha’s Bodhi[citta] vows conforming, like one drop [of] water, thrown into [the] great ocean, [it] is with [the] great ocean, [the] same, [in] its depth and breadth.

如未到海,则勿道一滴,即长江大河,固与大海天地悬殊也。

If yet [to] reach [the] ocean, thus not speaking [of] one drop, even [if it is the] great Chángjiāng [i.e. Yangtze] river, [it is] indeed, with [the] great ocean, [are like the] sky [and] ground, [still] far apart.

是知凡施于亲,及一切人者,皆属自培自福耳。

[This] is [it] known, [that] all those [with practices of] giving to [their] parents, and [to] all people, all [these] belong [to] self-cultivation [of] personal blessings.

知此义,有孝心者,孝心更加增长,无孝心者,亦当发起孝心。

Knowing [what] this means, those with filial hearts, [their] filial hearts [should] grow even more, [and] those without filial hearts, also should give rise [to] filial hearts. [Note: Remembering that all beings had been reborn as our Mothers and Fathers in our past lives can motivate even more filial piety.]

请僧念七七佛甚好,念时汝兄弟必须有人随之同念。

Inviting monastics [to] recite seven seven [days (i.e. 49 days) of] Buddha[‘s name is] very good, [but] when reciting, you [and your] brothers must have someone [to follow] accordingly, together reciting. [Note: This is to express sincerity in guiding your Mother to follow your example, to also sincerely recite and reach Pure Land.]

净土宗十三祖印光大师
(复周孟由昆弟书)
Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng
(Reply letter to Zhōu Mèngyóu’s brothers)

Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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