[Excerpt From] Seventh Universal Exhortation [To] Cultivate Upholding [Of Name]: Encouragement [To] Advance Practitioners’ Meritorious Virtues’ Greatness
Therefore, [if] able [to] encourage one person [to] cultivate [to reach] Pure Land, with these good conditions, [for] dispelling transgressive evil, [this is] possible, [for] increasing honourable blessings [and] lifespan possible, [for] adorning rebirth [in Pure Land’s] meritorious virtues also possible, [and as] prayers [dedicated for helping the] deceased also possible.
[Note 1: As the meritorious virtues from encouraging others to reach Pure Land are so abundant, they can have many functions, such as the above.]
However, [there] must [be] utmost sincere giving rise [of] Aspiration, [then is it] without [those who do] not obtain its meritorious fruits.
[Note 2: For meritorious virtues to be created in the way above, there must be personal utmost sincere Aspiration to reach Pure Land, while encouraging others to have the same utmost sincere Aspiration too.]
Contemplating Fáng Zhù’s biography, [of] them briefly, [this] can [be] seen.
[Note 3: See the section below from the same text, on Fáng Zhù’s case.]
Furthermore, [if to] encourage one person and more, reaching five persons [to] ten persons. Also, furthermore, if those [who] receive encouragement, in turn with [it] encourage one another, progressively [in] continual succession, endlessly.
[Note 4: If more and more are encouraged to reach Pure Land, who in turn encourage more and more to do so too, there will be immeasurable meritorious virtues created.]
Thus then, speak of [the] Western [Pure Land] can pervade [the] whole world. [With this, the] sea [of] suffering’s sentient beings can [be] completely born [in] Pure Land.
[Note 5: The swiftest way to guide all beings to depart from suffering, and to attain the bliss of Buddhahood, is by encouraging them to reach Pure Land.]
Encouraging people [to walk the] good path, [is] named [as] Dharma-giving, [while] this Pure Land Dharma Door [is named] as that of [the] greatest [for] Dharma-giving. [With it] then, transcending [to] exit rebirth, [it is] not [with] other [kinds of] Dharma-giving of comparability. Thus [are] its blessed rewards inexhaustible.
[Note 6: As the Buddha taught, Dharma-giving is the unsurpassable giving (法施为无上施). This is while Pure Land Dharma-giving is the most unsurpassable of all kinds of Dharma teachings that can be given, as with the reaching of Pure Land, there will be immediate attainment of liberation, and swiftest attainment of the ability to guide all others to liberation too.]
Therefore, Great Loving-Kindness Bodhisattva’s ‘Verse [For] Exhortation [Of] Cultivation [For Reaching The] Western [Pure Land]’ says,
‘[If] able [to] encourage two people [to] cultivate,
[this is] more than personally [being] diligent.
[If] encouraging up to ten [or] more people,
[the] blessed virtues [are] already immeasurable.
[Note 7: If one encourages another person to cultivate diligently to reach Pure Land, one must also be motivated to cultivate diligently. Thus, together with oneself, there will be two persons encouraged to cultivate diligently, which is more than just oneself being diligent. If one encourages ten or more, who in turn encourage more to do the same, one’s meritorious virtues will become immeasurable.]
If encouraging [a] hundred and [a] thousand,
[one is] named as [a] true Bodhisattva.
Further able [to] exceed ten thousand [in] number,
[this] is the “same” [as] Āmítuófó.’
[Note 8: If one encourages a thousand or more to cultivate to reach Pure Land diligently, one is definitely functioning like a Bodhisattva. If encouraging more than ten thousand, one is functioning like a ‘manifestation’ of Āmítuófó, who is able to greatly assist him, in his efforts of gathering sentient beings to enter his Pure Land.]
Contemplating this, thus know [that] of those [who] speak [of the] Western [Pure Land], how can their minds not [be] vast, [to] enable everyone together [to] know this path, with [this] accumulating immeasurable blessed rewards?
[Note 9: As those who encourage many others to reach Pure Land must have great compassionate hearts, they will accumulate immeasurable meritorious virtues. Their encouragement of many others also enables them to accumulate immeasurable meritorious virtues, and to encourage many others to do the same.]
Compiled [by] Wáng Lóngshū
Lóngshū’s Pure Land Text: Third Scroll: Universal Exhortation [To] Cultivate Upholding [Of Name]
Táng [Dynasty’s] Fáng Zhù
Zhù [had a] sudden death, [and] reached [the] underworld [to] see King Yama.
[Note 10: Other than those truly bound for hellish rebirths, those with special or complex karmic conditions might see King Yama before taking actual rebirth elsewhere, for the purpose of sorting out karmic matters, with such discussions representing the expression of karma.]
[The] King said, ‘According [to the] case book [with karmic records], you once encouraged one old man [to be] mindful [of] Buddha, [who is] already born [in] Pure Land. You, bearing this [as a] blessing, [are] also fit [to be] born [in] Pure Land, therefore summoned [to] come [and] see me.’
[Note 11: Although Zhù had the negative karma to have sudden death, he also had the karmic conditions to reach Pure Land. Of course, he must give rise to the Three Provisions (三资粮) of Faith (信), Aspiration (愿) and Practice (行) to reach Pure Land. As we will see below, he lacked Aspiration at the moment.]
Zhù said, ‘First allow [me to recite] ten thousand scrolls [of the] Vajra [i.e. Diamond] Sūtra, [and to make a] pilgrimage [to the Mountain Of] Five Terraces, [as I have] yet [to] desire [for] rebirth [in Pure Land].’
[Note 12: As above, although Zhù had all the Three Provisions, which includes the Aspiration to reach Pure Land, his Aspiration was not to do so there and then, but later. Thus did he ‘bargain’ for more time, which he could, as he had enough meritorious virtues.]
[The] King said, ‘Reciting sūtras [and making] pilgrimage, admittedly [are] good deeds, [but are] not as good as [to be] earlier born [in] Pure Land.’
[Note 13: What the King said is true as upon reaching Pure Land, all that Zhù wanted to do can still be done, what more, with more ease and efficiency, also able to do much more good and pure deeds.]
[As the] King knew [that his] Aspiration[s] cannot [be] taken [away] by force, [he] thus released [him to] return [to the human world].
[Note 14: Zhù had two Aspirations then – to first fulfil his Dharma wishes of sūtra-chanting and having made pilgrimage in this world, AND thereafter to reach Pure Land. As these Aspirations were steadfast, and since he had the karmic conditions to choose, he could fulfil both of them, in the sequence he preferred.]
With this [is] known, [that] those [who] encourage people [to] cultivate [to reach Pure Land], not only [can be] reborn [in Pure Land, they can] also move [those in the] netherworld.
[Note 15: This case illustrates how encouraging even just one person other to reach Pure Land can support one’s ability to reach Pure Land – even if there are karmic obstacles that might surface, such as sudden death by sickness or accident. However, with more sincere and diligent practice of mindfulness of Buddha in everyday life, sudden death can be avoided.]
Compiled [by] Wáng Lóngshū
Lóngshū’s Pure Land Text: Fifth Scroll: Rebirth Deeds
Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an