[When the Pure Land Tradition’s 13th] Patriarch [Great Master] Yìn[guāng’s] refuge disciple Zhào Màolín reached Sūzhōu’s Bàoguó Monastery, [he] knocked at the gate, [and] sought to meet [the] Great Master.
Note 1: Before they last parted, the Great Master had urged him to make his Faith and Aspiration for reaching Pure Land resolute by arranging daily homework for practice session(s) of mindfulness of Āmítuófó’s name. Remembering this, upon meeting again, the Great Master immediately enquired as follows.
[The] Great Master asked [him, who had already] taken refuge, [of the] one to two years within, ‘How resolute [is your] Faith [and] Aspiration?’, [and ‘Is your] homework [for] mindfulness [of] Buddha fixed [or] not?’
Note 2: Zhào became nervous and was dumbfounded. After a long time, he stammered that as he had to manage a hotel’s and factory’s matters, he was very busy, which is why he did not arrange any homework. However, he claimed that his Faith and Aspiration for the Pure Land Dharma Door was resolute and immovable. Hearing this, the Great Master’s expression became stern.
Furthermore, [the Great Master] immediately [offered] guidance [by] saying, ‘[Having] arranged homework [for] mindfulness [of] Buddha, Faith [and] Aspiration [can] only then [be] regarded [as] resolute. Not [having] arranged homework [for] mindfulness [of] Buddha, Faith [and] Aspiration [is] yet [to be] resolute enough, [and you still] must, [with] remorse [and] sincerity, [be] diligent [in] mindfulness [of] Buddha.’ [Note 3: The way to do this is to arrange homework for practice, and to keep learning if unsure of how to practise well.]
Note 4: Although common, it is wrong and risky to assume one has resolute Faith and Aspiration when one continually procrastinates regular Practice, by rationalising that one is too busy – as life is short and can end abruptly. Regular Practice is the very expression of the continual presence and growth of Faith and Aspiration. The more resolute one’s Practice is, the more resolute will one’s Faith and Aspiration become. The more resolute one’s Faith and Aspiration is, the more resolute will one’s Practice become. Checking whether we actualise our Practice regularly is how we can gauge how resolute our Three Provisions of Faith, Aspiration, Practice are, how determined we are to reach Pure Land, and how likely we are to succeed.
Dharma Master Yìnguāng’s Annalistic Biography
Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an
Just Do It