Translations

Afterword Of The Essential Explanation Of The Sūtra In Which The Buddha Speaks Of Amitābha Buddha《佛说阿弥陀经要解》之跋

蕅益大师跋

Great Master Ǒuyì’s Afterword

经云:「末法亿亿人修行,罕一得道,唯依念佛得度。」

[The Great Assembly (Mahāsaṃnipāta)] Sūtra《大集经》says, ‘[In the Period Of] Ending [Of The] Dharma, [when a] koṭi [of a] koṭi [of] people cultivate practices, rarely [will] one attain [the] path; only relying [upon] mindfulness [of] Buddha attains deliverance.’

[Note 1:

1 koṭi = 10 million
1 koṭi of 1 koṭi = 10 million × 10 million = 100 million
Probability of 1 out of 100 million = 1 ÷ 100 million × 100% = 0.000001%]

呜呼!今正是其时矣!

Alas! Right now is that period!

舍此不思议法门,其何能淑?

[If] renouncing this inconceivable [Pure Land] Dharma Door, how [will there be] those able [to become] pure?

旭出家时,宗乘自负,藐视教典,妄谓持名,曲为中下。

When [Zhì]xù left [the] household [life, with the] principal [i.e. Chán] vehicle, [being] conceited, [I] looked down [upon] teachings [in the] sūtras, [and] falsely spoke [on] upholding [the] name [of Āmítuófó], wrongly [assuming it as] for [those of] medium [and] low [roots only].

[Note 2: The Pure Land Dharma Door (净土法门) is for beings of all roots, including those of high roots (上根), such as the many great Bodhisattvas present in this sūtra’s assembly.]

后因大病,发意西归。

Later, due [to] great sickness [at the age of 28, I] gave rose [to the] intention [to] return [to the] West[ern Pure Land].  

[Note 3: This was when he realised that his Self-powered (自力) meditation skills were inadequate in the face of great pain and suffering, what more potentially so when dying later, if without Pure Land practice.

Even those not from Pure Land can speak of return to it, as to seek rebirth there represents the Aspiration, to return to the purity of their Buddha-nature.]

复研《妙宗》、《圆中》二钞,及云栖《疏钞》等书,始知念佛三昧,实无上宝王,方肯死心执持名号,万牛莫挽也。

Repeatedly studying [the] ‘Wonderful Principal’, [the] ‘Complete Middle’,[these] two transcripts, and [Most Venerable] Yúnqī’s [i.e. 云栖和尚] ‘Sub-Commentary’ [and] other books, only then knowing [that the] Samādhi [From] Mindfulness [Of] Buddha, truly [is the] unsurpassable Treasure King [Samādhi] [i.e. 宝王三昧], then [was I] willing [to] wholeheartedly, firmly [and faithfully] uphold [the] name, [with] ten thousand bulls not [able to] pull [me] back.  

[Note 4: ‘Wonderful Principal’《妙宗》is short for the ‘Contemplation Sūtra’s Commentary’s Wonderful Principal Transcript’《观经疏妙宗钞》by Sòng Dynasty’s (宋代) Tiāntái Tradition’s (天台宗) Great Master Fǎzhì (法智大师).

‘Complete Middle’《圆中》is short for the ‘Amitābha Sūtra’s Brief Explanation [On The] Perfect Middle [Path’s] Transcript’《阿弥陀经略解圆中钞》by Míng Dynasty’s (明代) Tiāntái Tradition’s Great Master Chuándēng (传灯大师).

‘Sub-Commentary’《疏钞》is short for the ‘Amitābha Sūtra’s Sub-Commentary’《阿弥陀经疏钞》by Míng Dynasty’s Pure Land Tradition’s 8th Patriarch (净土宗八祖) Great Master Liánchí (莲池大师).]

吾友去病,久事净业,欲令此经大旨,辞不繁而炳著,请余为述要解。   

My friend, [named] ‘Eliminating Sickness’ [i.e. 去病; 韩朝集居士: Layperson Hán Cháojí], [who had for a] long [time] practised pure karma, desired [to] enable this sūtra’s main points, [to be with] words not complex, yet clearly manifested. [He] invited [me, on the behalf of] others, for elaborating [with its] essential explanation.  

余欲普与法界有情同生极乐,理不可却。

Additionally, [as I] desire [to] universally, with [the] Dharma Realm’s sentient beings, [be] together born [in the Land Of] Ultimate Bliss, [this in] principle could not [be] declined.

举笔于丁亥九月二十有七,脱稿于十月初五,凡九日告成。

Raising [the] brush on Dīnghài’s [i.e. 1647 C.E.] ninth month’s [day] twenty with seven, completing [this] manuscript on [the] tenth [lunar] month’s fifth [day], altogether [in] nine days [was this] accomplished.

所愿一句一字,咸作资粮;

That wish [for, is that] each line [and] each word, all become provisions [for reaching Pure Land];

一见一闻,同阶不退。

[with all] once seeing [and] once hearing [this], together [attaining the] position [of] non-retrogression.

信疑皆植道种,赞谤等归解脱。

[May those who have] Faith [and] doubt all plant [the] path’s seed, [those who] praise [and] slander equally return [to the path for] liberation.

仰唯诸佛菩萨摄受证明,同学友人随喜加被。

Only looking up to all Buddhas’ [and] Bodhisattvas’ gathering [and] receiving, [to] confirm the truth [of this written, may] fellow students [and spiritual] friends rejoice, bless [and] protect [this].

西有道人蕅益智旭阁笔故跋,时年四十有九。

‘West Is’ practitioner Ǒuyì Zhìxù, putting down [the] brush thus [with this] Afterword, when aged forty with nine.

[Note 5:West Is‘ (西有) is the Master’s self-given name, that reminds us of the ‘two “is“‘ (二) in the opening of the sūtra’s Preface Section (序分) – ‘From here, [in the] western direction, passing ten [of] ten thousand [of] koṭis [of] Buddha Lands, [there] is [a] world named “Ultimate Bliss”. [In] that land, is [a] Buddha named “Amitā[bha]”, [who is] now speaking [the] Dharma.’「从是西方,过十万亿佛土,世界名曰极乐。其土佛,号阿弥陀,今现在说法。」]

– 净土宗九祖藕益大师
《佛说阿弥陀经要解》

– 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 and notes by Shen Shi’an

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Previous Section: How To Rejoice In & Faithfully Accept The Amitābha Sūtra?
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《佛说阿弥陀经要解》全英译
Complete English Translation Of ‘The Essential Explanation On The Amitābha Sūtra As Spoken By The Buddha’
https://purelanders.com/yaojie

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