A4: Explanation [Of] Function [And] Use
Fourth, [is] explanation [of] function [and] use.
This sūtra [is] with rebirth [to attain] non-retrogression as [its] function [and] use.
[Those] reborn [are] with Four Lands, each [to be] discussed [with] Nine Grades. Also briefly explaining, [are] forms of [those who] attain birth [in the] Four Lands.
If firmly upholding [the] name, yet [to] sever [Mistaken] Views’ [And] Thoughts’ [Confusions] [i.e. 见思惑], according [to] that, perhaps scattered or concentrated, [they are born] in [the] Together Dwelling Land’s divisions [of] three kinds [and] nine grades.
[Note: The causes, conditions and effects (因缘果) of these kinds and grades are detailed in the ‘Immeasurable Life Sūtra’《无量寿经》and ‘Contemplation Sūtra’《观经》respectively.]
If upholding until [with] Practice’s Wholeheartedness Without [Being] Scattered, [with Mistaken] Views’ [And] Thoughts’ [Confusions] allowed [to] naturally first fall [away], thus [are they] born [in the] Expedience With Remainder Pure Land.
If [upholding] until [with] Principles’ Wholeheartedness Without [Being] Scattered, clearing [and] destroying one grade [of] ignorance, and even forty-one grades, thus [are they] born [in the] True Reward’s Adornments’ Pure Land, also [in] part realising [the] Eternal Still Light Land.
If [with] ignorance severed completely, thus are [they born in the] highest [of the] high [grade’s] True Reward [Land, the] ultimate [Eternal] Still Light [Land].
Non-Retrogression has four meanings.
 First, [those with] Thought’s Non-Retrogression, destroy ignorance, reveal Buddha-Nature, [are are] directly born [in the] True Reward [Land, in] part realising [the] still light.
 Second, [those with] Practices’ Non-Retrogression, [have Mistaken] Views’ [And] Thoughts’ [Confusions] already fallen [away, and with] Dusts’ [And] Sands’ [Confusions] [i.e. 尘沙惑] also destroyed, [are] born [in the] Expedience Land, [to] diligently advance [to the] ultimate fruit.
 Third, [those with] Position’s Non-Retrogression, bringing [negative] karma [to be] reborn, in [the] Together Dwelling Land, [from] lotus flowers entrusted, forever depart [from] retrogression’s conditions.
 Fourth, [those with] After All [i.e. All In All] Non-Retrogression, regardless [of with the] sincere mind [or] scattered mind, with intention [or] without intention, [with] understanding or without understanding, only [with] Āmítuófó’s name, or [the] six directions’ Buddhas’ names, [or] this [Amitā(bha)] Sūtra’s name, once passing through [their] ears, [even] if ten million kalpas [i.e. world cycles of about 1.3 trillion years each] later, ultimately due to this, [will be] delivered [for] liberation.
Like hearing [a] poison-smeared drum, [with those] far [and] near [all] losing [their lives];
[like] swallowing [a] little vajra [seed, it] definitely will not [be] digested [to be eliminated].
Furthermore, those only bringing [negative] karma [to be] born [in the] Together Dwelling Pure [Land are] confirmed [to be with the] position [of] non-retrogression, all with [those of] Replacement position together, also all [in] one lifetime definitely [attaining the] Replacement [Of] Buddha’s position.
Those [with persons of] superior goodness [in] one place, are born [in the] Together Dwelling [Land, and are] immediately already horizontally born [in the] above three lands.
[Those in the position of] one lifetime [to] replace Buddhas, are [with] Position’s Non-Retrogression, immediately already complete [with] realisation [of the] Three Non-Retrogressions.
[That] like this [in] function [and] use, [is] indeed [in] thousands [of] sūtras [and] ten thousands [of] treatises, that never before had.
Compared [with] those [with] sudden awakening [as the] main cause, [who are] still with exit [from the] dusts [with] positions gradually [ascending, if with] life to life not retrogressing, can [they then] begin [to] hope [to reach] Buddha’s position. [These differences are so great that they] cannot [be on the] same day [completely] said!
Of persons [with] Chán [door’s and sūtras’] teachings, how [can they] not reflect [on this]?
– 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
Next Section: Amitābha Sūtra’s Teaching’s Forms
The Fifth Layer Of Profound Meaning
Complete English Translation Of ‘The Essential Explanation On The Amitābha Sūtra As Spoken By The Buddha’