A3: Explanation [Of] Principles
Third, [is] explanation [of] principles.
Principles are [for] cultivation [of] practice’s important path, [for] understanding Essential [Nature’s] pivot [or hinge (i.e. centre of power)] [and] trigger, and [as the] hawser [and] collar [i.e. guiding principles] of ten thousand practices.
Raising [the] hawser, thus [will the net’s] mesh open up.
[Note 1: ‘纲’ (hawser) is also short for ‘大纲’ (main points), and ‘目’ (mesh) short for ‘细目’ (detailed listing).]
Lifting [the] collar, thus [will the] lapel [and] sleeves arrive [in place].
Thus [with the] essence after, [there] should [be] distinguishment [of the] principles.
This sūtra [is] with Faith [and] Aspiration upholding [the] name as [the] essential principle of cultivating Practice.
[If] not [with] Faith, [it is] not enough [to] inspire Aspiration.
[If] not [with] Aspiration, [it is] not enough [to] guide Practice.
[If] not [with] upholding [the] name’s wonderful Practice, [it is] not enough [to] fulfil that Aspiration and realise that [with] Faith [in].
[The] sūtra within first states [the] Circumstantial [and] Direct [Rewards] for giving rise [to] Faith, next encouraging giving rise [to] Aspiration for guiding Practice, next showing upholding [of the] name for directly ascending [to] non-retrogression.
Faith thus [is] Faith [In] Self, Faith [In] Other, Faith [In] Cause, Faith [In] Effect, Faith [In] Practice, [and] Faith [in Principles].
Aspiration thus [is with] revulsed renunciation [of the] Sahā [World, and] joyfully seeking [of the Land Of] Ultimate Bliss.
Practice thus [is to faithfully and] firmly uphold [the] name [of Āmítuófó, with] wholeheartedness without [being] scattered.
 That [called] Faith [In] Self, [is to have] Faith [that] my presently manifested one thought of [the] mind, [is] originally not [this] meat lump, also not [a] conditioned image,
vertically without before [and] after, horizontally surpassing boundaries, all day according [to] conditions, all day not changing.
[The] ten directions’ empty space’s dust motes [of] lands, [are] originally [from] my one thought of [the] mind within that appears [with] objects.
I, although [am with] dullness [and] inverted confusions, if [with] one thought returning [to this] mind, definitely [can] attain birth [in one]self’s mind’s originally possessed [Land Of] Ultimate Bliss, without further doubts [and] misgivings.
[This] is named Faith [In] Self.
 That [called] Faith [In] Others, [is to have] Faith [that] Śākya[muni] Thus Come [One is] definitely without deceitful speech, Āmítuófó, [the] World-Honoured [One is] definitely without empty vows, [and the] six directions’ all Buddhas [who extend their] broad [and] long tongues [are] definitely without different speech.
Following all Buddhas’ true teachings [and] instructions, [to be] determined [in] seeking birth, without further doubts [and] confusions.
[This] is named Faith [In] Others.
 That [called] Faith [In] Cause, [is to have] profound Faith [that as with the] scattered mind reciting [the] name, [is] still with accomplishing [of] Buddhahood’s seed, moreover, [if] wholehearted without [being] scattered. How [can this] not attain birth [in] Pure Land?
[This] is named Faith [In] Cause.
 That [called] Faith [In] Effect, [is to have] profound Faith [that] Pure Land’s all good [persons who] gather [and] meet [there, are] all from Samādhi [From] Mindfulness [Of] Buddha [who] attained birth.
[Note 2: With Āmítuófó firmly connected to with wholehearted (i.e. utmost sincere) mindfulness of his name, thus with his blessings, this concentration will naturally arise.]
Like [how] planting melon [seeds] attains melons, [and] planting beans attains bean [sprouts], also like [how] shadows definitely follow forms, [and] echoes definitely respond [to] sounds, [it is] definitely without [those with Faith in] vain [and] abandoned.
[This] is named Faith [In] Effect.
 That [called] Faith [In] Practice, [is to have] profound Faith [that as this] presently manifested one thought cannot [be] exhausted thus, relying [upon this] mind [are] those appearing ten directions’ worlds, [that] likewise cannot [be] exhausted.
[There] truly is [the] Land [Of] Ultimate Bliss at ten [of] ten thousand [of] koṭis [of] lands beyond, [that is the] most ultimately pure [and] magnificent, [that is] not [the] same [as] Zhuāng Shēng’s allegories.
[Note 3: Zhuāng Shēng (庄生) is Zhuāngzi (庄子)，who used fictitious allegories to illustrate various principles he wished to explain.]
[This] is named Faith [In] Practice.
 That [called] Faith [In] Principles, [is to have] profound Faith [that] ten [of] ten thousand [of] koṭis [of] lands, [are] truly not outside my presently manifested [and even] utmost small one thought’s mind externally, with my presently manifested One Thought’s Mind-Nature truly without [that] external thus.
Also [with] profound Faith [that the] Western [Pure Land’s] Circumstantial [and] Direct [Rewards], Master [and] companions, all [are] my presently manifested one thought’s mind within that appear [with] images.
Complete Practice is the same as Principles, [the] completely false is the same as [the] true, complete Cultivated [Virtues] [i.e. 修德] is the same as Nature[‘s Virtues] [i.e. 性德], complete Other is the same as Self.
[With] my mind pervasive thus, [the] Buddha’s mind [is] likewise pervasive, [and] all sentient beings’ Mind-Nature [is] likewise pervasive.
For example, a room [with a] thousand lamps, [has each and every one of their] lights, one another pervading [it], layer [upon] layer intersecting [and] gathering, not obstructing one another.
[This] is named Faith [In] Principles.
Like this, [with] Faith already, thus [know that this] Sahā [World] is the same as [the] defilements of oneself’s mind, that induces [them], and [of] oneself’s mind’s defilements, [there] should [be] revulsed renunciation [of them].
[The Land Of] Ultimate Bliss is the same as [the] purity of oneself’s mind, that induces [it], and [of] oneself’s mind’s purity, [there] should [be] joyful seeking [of it].
Revulsed [renunciation of the] defiled must [have] renouncing [that] reaches [the] ultimate, then [is this] without [what] can [be] renounced.
Joyful [seeking of the] pure must [have] obtaining [that] reaches [the] ultimate, then [is this] without [what] can [be] obtained.
Thus [does the] ‘Wonderful Principles’ [Transcript]’ 《妙宗钞》say, ‘Obtaining [and] renouncing, if ultimate, with not obtaining [and not] renouncing, [are] also not [on different [wheel] tracks.’
If not with Practice obtaining [and] renouncing, but still not obtaining [and] not renouncing, [this] is the same as [being] attached [to] Principles [with] discarding [of] Practice.
Since [with] discarding [of] Practice, Principles [are] also not complete.
If understanding [that] complete Practice is the same as Principles, thus [is] obtaining likewise the same as Principles, renouncing likewise is the same as Principles.
[With] one obtained [and] one renounced, [is] without [that] not [of the] Dharma realm.
Thus next, [after] Faith, then explaining Aspiration.
Speaking [of] those [who] firmly uphold [the] name wholeheartedly without [being] scattered, with [the] name beckoning virtues, [with these] virtues [being] inconceivable, thus [is the] name likewise inconceivable.
[The] name’s meritorious virtues [are] inconceivable, thus enabling scattered recitation [of it] for [planting] Buddhahood’s seed, [and] firm upholding [of it for] ascending [to] non-retrogression.
However, many sūtras’ revealed Pure Land practices, [are with] ten thousand distinctions [and a] thousand differences.
Like contemplation [of] images, visualisation, prostration, making [of] offerings, [practice of the] Five Repentances, Six Mindfulnesses [and] others, [with] each [and] every [one] accomplished, all [can be] born [in] Pure Land.
Five Repentances (五悔):
(1) Confession [Of Faults And] Correction (忏悔)
(2) Request [of Buddha to abide in the world, to turn the Dharma Wheel (劝请: 请佛住世、请转法轮)
(3) Rejoice [In Meritorious Virtues] (随喜[功德])
(4) Dedication [Of Meritorious Virtues] (回向[功德])
(5) Giving Rise [To] Aspiration (发愿)
Six Mindfulnesses (六念):
(1) Mindfulness [Of] Buddha (念佛)
(2) Mindfulness [Of] Dharma (念法)
(3) Mindfulness [Of] Saṃgha (念僧)
(4) Mindfulness [Of] Precepts (念戒)
(5) Mindfulness [Of] Generosity (念施)
(6) Mindfulness [Of] Heavenly [Beings’ Virtues] (念天)]
Only upholding [the] name, [this] one Dharma [Door, is with the] gathering [of] capacities [the] most vast, [and with] starting [of practice the] most easy.
Thus [did] Śākya[muni Buddha, the] honoured [one with] loving-kindness, without asking self-spoke [this sūtra], specially towards [the] great wise [one] Śariputra, [for him] picking out [this teaching].
[It] can [be] called, [of] expedient [means] within, [the] foremost expedient means, [of teachings] definitive [in] meaning within, [the] unsurpassably definitive [in] meaning, [of] Complete [and] Sudden [Dharma Doors] within, [the] most ultimately Complete [and] Sudden.
Thus saying, ‘[When a] purification gem [is] thrown into defiled water, [the] defiled water cannot not purify. [When the] Buddha’s name [is] thrown into [the] scattered mind, [the] scattered mind cannot not [be one with the] Buddha.’
[With] Faith [and] Aspiration upholding [the] name, acts as [the] One Vehicle’s true cause.
[The] four kinds [of] Pure Lands, act as [the] One Vehicle’s wonderful fruits.
[Giving] rise [to the] cause, thus [will the] effect definitely follow it, thus with Faith [and] Aspiration upholding [the] name as [the] sūtra’s main principles.
[As the] forms of those four kinds [of] Pure Lands, [are] detailed in [the] ‘Wonderful Principles’ [Transcript]’《妙宗钞》and [the] ‘Brahma Net [Sūtra’s] Profound Meanings’《梵网经玄义》, [they are] here not completely elaborated.
Awaiting [for] later, [in the] explanation [of the] Circumstantial [and] Direct [Rewards’] main text within, [they] will [be] briefly shown only.
– 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 Function & Use
The Fourth Layer Of Profound Meaning
Complete English Translation Of ‘The Essential Explanation On The Amitābha Sūtra As Spoken By The Buddha’