Translations

Why Are Those Who Return To Their True Nature Precious? 为何浪子回头金不换?

烦恼是妄,何可云不能断乎。

[As] afflictions are false, how can [they be] said [as] not able [to be] severed?

所言不能断者,乃系真性。

That said not able [to be] severed, [is] indeed connected [to] true nature.

真性在未证前,随恶缘则成烦恼,而仍不变。

True nature when yet [to be] realised, accords [with] evil conditions, [to] thus [be] become afflictions. Yet, [it] still [does] not change.

随善缘净缘而成菩提,亦不变。

[When] according [with] good conditions [and] pure conditions, then becoming Bodhi. Likewise, not changing [its nature].

譬如真金打做马桶夜壶,虽日盛粪,而金性仍然不变。

For example, genuine gold beaten [to] be toilet bowls [and] chamber pots, although daily containing excrement, yet [its] gold nature still [does] not change.

打做佛像菩萨像,虽极其贵重,而金性仍然不变。

[When] beaten [to] be Buddha [and] Bodhisattva images, although extremely precious, yet [its] gold nature still [does] not change.

世间人各具佛性,而常造恶业,如以金做马桶夜壶,太不知自重了。

[The] world’s people [are] each complete [with] Buddha-nature, yet often creating evil karma, like with gold making toilet bowls [and] chamber pots, [with] too [many] not knowing [how to have] self-respect.

若知此义,谁肯常作马桶夜壶之下作东西乎。

If knowing this meaning, who [is] willing [to] constantly be toilet bowls, chamber pots, [or as that] beneath being anything [else]?

然人争著做马桶夜壶。

However, people [still] compete [to] be toilet bowls [and] chamber pots.

百千万亿中,或有不肯作马桶夜壶,一意要作佛像菩萨像,连天帝大王之像亦不肯作者,盖甚少甚少也。

[Of a] hundred trillion within, perhaps [there] are [those] not willing [to] be toilet bowls [and] chamber pots, [who are] completely devoted [to] wanting [to] be Buddha [and] Bodhisattva ‘images’, even [of[ heavenly emperors’ [and] great kings’ ‘images’ also not willing to become. Yet, [they are] very extremely few.

净土宗十三祖印光大师
Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng
(复吕智明居士书)
(Reply Letter To Layperson Lǚ Zhìmíng)

Note: Our true nature is our Buddha-nature, which is more precious than all the gold in the universe. The swiftest way to realise its full potential is to practise mindfulness of the name of Amitābha Buddha (i.e. ‘Āmítuófó’), to align to our Buddha-nature with the Buddha’s blessings – to ‘wash away’ the defilements that cake upon it, and to reach his Pure Land, where there are no evil conditions that condition the rise of afflictions. There are only good and pure conditions there, that most skilfully condition our accomplishment of unsurpassable Bodhi, which is Buddhahood.

It does not make sense to, despite having our true nature, let it be polluted by defilements for an instant, or indefinitely. Even if it is always there, with its potential never realised, it is as if ‘not’ there, only constantly wasted.

Namo Amituofo : Translation and note by Shen Shi’an

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