C2: Citing [Of] Great Assembly Together Hearing
Divided [In] Three [Parts]: First, Voice-Hearer Assembly, Second, Bodhisattva Assembly, Third, Heavenly [And] Human [Beings’] Assembly.
[Explanation]: Voice-Hearers [are] those listed first, [as they are with] world-transcending forms thus, constantly following [the Buddha] thus, [as the] Buddha’s Dharma relies [upon the monastic] Samghā’s transmission thus.
Bodhisattvas [are] those listed [in the] middle, [as their] forms [are] not fixed thus, not constantly following [the Buddha] thus, expressing [the] Middle Path’s meaning thus.
Heavenly [and] human [beings are] those listed behind, [as they are with] worldly forms thus, [with] ordinary [and] noble [beings’] grades mixed thus, [with] external protection [as] duty thus.
D1: Voice-Hearer Assembly
Also [Divided In] Three [Parts]: First, Explanation [Of] Types [And] Stating [Their] Number, Second, Expression [Of] Positions [And] Praise [Of] Virtues, Third, Listing [Of] Foremost Elders’ Names
E1: Explanation [Of] Types [And] Stating [Their] Number
[Sūtra]: with [the] great Bhikṣus’ Saṃ[gha, one] thousand two hundred [and] fifty persons together,
[Explanation]: ‘Great Bhikṣus’, [are] persons [who have] received [the] complete precepts, [who have] left [the] household [life].
‘Bhikṣus’, [in the] Sanskrit language, contains three meanings:
First, [as] ‘Mendicants’, [with] one alms bowl supporting [the] body, without that stored, focused [on] seeking transcendence [as that] essential.
Second, [as] ‘Destroyers [Of] Evil’, [with] right wisdom examining, breaking afflictions [and] evils, not falling [to be] attached [to] views.
Third, [as] ‘Terrifiers [Of] Demons’, [with] giving rise [to the] aspiration [to] receive [the] precepts, [and] confessions [of transgressions] accomplished, demons [are] immediately terrified.
Those ‘Saṃ’, together [are] called [the] Saṃgha, [with] this translated [as the] ‘Harmonious Assembly’.
Together realising unconditioned liberation, [is] named [as in] principle [with] harmony; [with] bodies [in harmony] together abiding [身和同住], mouths [in harmony] without contention [口和无诤], minds [in harmony] together joyous [意和同悦], views [in harmony] together understanding [见和同解], precepts [in harmony] together cultivating [戒和同修], benefits [in harmony] together equal [利和同均], [is] named [as in] practice [with] harmony.
Those ‘[one] thousand two hundred [and] fifty persons’, [are the] three Kāśyapa teachers [and] students together [with a] thousand persons, Body’s Son’s [i.e. Śariputra] [and] Maudgalyāyana’s [as] teachers [and] students [with] two hundred persons, [and] Yaśa’s Son [and] others [with] fifty persons.
All [are, when the] Buddha accomplished [the] path, [the] first [to] attain deliverance [for] liberation, [thus] grateful [for the] Buddha’s deep kindness, constantly following [him].
E2: Expression [Of] Positions [And] Praise [Of] Virtues
[Sūtra]: All [of whom] are Great Arhats [in position, with their virtues by] many those known,
[Explanation]: ‘Arhats’, likewise contains three meanings:
First, ‘Worthy [Of] Offerings’, [the] same as [those with] Mendicants’ fruit.
Second, ‘Killer [Of] Thieves’, [the] same as [those with] Destroyers [Of] Evil’s fruit.
Third, ‘Without Birth’, [the] same as [those with] Terrifiers [Of] Demons’ fruit.
Moreover, having wisdom liberation, complete liberation, [and] doubtless liberation, [with these] three kinds not [the] same, [as they] now are [with] doubtless liberation, thus [are they] named [as] ‘great’.
Also, originally being [the] Dharma Body’s Great Beings, manifesting as Voice-Hearers, [to] realise this inconceivable Pure Land Dharma [Door], thus [are they] named [as] ‘great’.
Following [the] Buddha [to] turn [the Dharma] wheel, [to] widely benefit human [and] heavenly [beings], thus [are they ‘by] many those known’.
E3: Listing [Of] Foremost Elders’ Names
[Sūtra]: [the] Elders Śāriputra [This (is) called ‘Body’s Son’], Mahāmaudgalyāyana [Great Picker (Of) Beans], Mahākāśyapa [Great Drinker (Of) Light], Mahākātyāyana [Great Text Adornment], Mahākauṣṭhila [Great Knees], Revata [Star Constellation], Śuddhipanthaka [Short Path], Nanda [Joy], Ānanda [Bliss], Rāhula [Covering Obstacle], Gavāṃpati [Cow Rumination], Piṇḍola-Bhāradvāja [Immovable Sharp Roots], Kālodayin [Black Light], Mahākapphiṇa [Room Constellation], Vakkula [Good Appearance], Aniruddha [Without Poverty], such [and] other many great disciples.
[Explanation]: [With many] virtuous [monastic] years completely honourable, thus [are they] named [as] ‘elders’.
[The] honoured one ‘Body’s Son’, [of the] Voice-Hearer assembly within, [is with] wisdom foremost.
[The] honoured one ‘Maudgalyāyana’, [is with] supernormal [powers] foremost.
[The] honoured one ‘Drinker [Of] Light’, [with] body having golden light, transmitted [with the] Buddha’s mind seal as [the] First Patriarch, [is with] asceticism foremost.
[The] honoured one ‘Text Adornment’, [of the] Brahmin caste, [is with] debating foremost.
[The] honoured one ‘Great Knees’, [is with] answering [of] questions foremost.
[The] honoured one ‘Star Constellation’, [is with] not [being] inverted [and] scattered foremost.
[The] honoured one ‘Short Path’, due [to] roots [being] dull, [whom] even [with] upholding [of] one verse, [has] eloquence inexhaustible, [is with] meanings upheld foremost.
[The] honoured one ‘Joy’, [is the] Buddha’s blood brother, [with] appearance foremost.
[The] honoured one ‘Bliss’, [is the] Buddha’s younger male patrilineal cousin, also as [his] attendant, [with] much hearing [of the Dharma] foremost.
[The] honoured one ‘Covering Obstacle’, [the] crown prince of [the] Buddha, [is with] secret practice foremost.
[The] honoured one ‘Cow Rumination’, [due to a] past life’s evil speech, responding [with] this remaining retribution, [is with] receiving [of] heavenly offerings foremost.
[The] honoured one ‘Immovable’, long abides [in this] world, [to] accept future lives’ [sentient beings’] offerings, [is with the] blessing field foremost.
[The] honoured one ‘Black Light’, as [the] Buddha’s envoy, [is with] teaching [to] transform foremost.
[The] honoured one ‘Room Constellation’, [is with] knowledge [of the] stellar constellations foremost.
[The] honoured one ‘Good Appearance’, [is with] lifespan foremost.
[The] honoured one ‘Without Poverty’, likewise [is the] Buddha’s younger male patrilineal cousin, [with the] heavenly eye foremost.
These [and] others, [as the] constantly following assembly, originally [are the] Dharma Body’s Great Beings, manifesting as Voice-Hearers, as [the] influencing assembly.
Now hearing [how the] Pure Land gathers [and] receives meritorious virtues, attaining benefits of [the] First Principle Siddhānta, [for] augmenting [the] path, [to] diminish births [and deaths, to] self-purify [their] Buddha Lands, [they are] moreover named [as the] opportune assembly.
– Pure Land Tradition’s 9th Patriarch Great Master Ǒuyì
(Essential Explanation [Of The] Sūtra [In Which The] Buddha Speaks [Of] Amitā[bha] Buddha)
Namo Amituofo : Translation by Shen Shi’an
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Complete English Translation Of ‘The Essential Explanation On The Amitābha Sūtra As Spoken By The Buddha’