[7] Significance Of Amitābha Sūtra’s Three Sections 《阿弥陀经》三分之义


Six: Main Explanation [Of] Sūtra [To Be] Explained

入文分三:初、序分,二、正宗分,三、 流通分。

Entry [Of] Text Divided [In] Three [Parts]: First, Preface Section, Second, Main Principles’ Section, Third, Transmission Section.


These three [sections are] named [in the] beginning good, middle good, [and] end good.  


[The] Preface [Section is] like [the] head, [with] five sense organs together existing.


[The] Main Principles’ [Section is] like [the] body, [with] inner organs without deficiency.


[The] Transmission [Section is] like [the] hands [and] legs, [that] move [and] walk without obstruction.


Thus [did Great Master] Zhìzhě explain [the] ‘Dharma [Lotus] Flower Sūtra’, [with its] beginning’s first chapter《序品》all as [the] Preface [Section, and the] end’s eleven [and a] half chapters all as [the] Transmission [Section].

[Note 1: Of the sūtra’s 28 chapters, the fifteen and a half chapters in between, from chapter 2 on ‘Expedient Means’《方便品》to verse 19 (第十九偈) of chapter 17 on ‘Differentiation (Of) Meritorious Virtues’《分别功德品》are all as the Main Principles’ Section. The last chapter 28 is titled ‘Universal Virtues (i.e. Samantabhadra) Bodhisattva’s Exhortation [To] Aspire’《普贤菩萨劝发品》.]    


Also, at the same time, [with] Signs’ [And] Source’s Two Doors, each divided [into] three segments, thus [with chapter ten on] ‘Dharma Teacher’《法师品》[and] other five chapters, all as Signs’ Door’s Transmission [Section].  

[Note 2: This is up to chapter 14 on ‘Peaceful [And] Blissful Practices’《安乐行品》.]


Because [the] Preface [Section] must carry [the] outline of [the] whole sūtra, [for the] Transmission [Section to] thus [be with the] Dharma given without obstruction, [their] relationship [is] not minor.

后人不达,见经文稍涉义理,便判入正宗,致序及流通,仅存故套,安所称初语亦善、 后语亦善也哉?

Later generations not clearly understanding [this], seeing sūtras’ text slightly relating [to] meaning [of the] principles, then classify [this as] entry [into the] Main Principles’ [Section], causing [the] Preface [Section] and Transmission [Section, to] only exist thus [as] covers. How [then can it be], that [there is] praise [of the] beginning’s words [to] also [be] good, [and of the] ending’s words [to] also [be] good?

– 净土宗九祖藕益大师

– 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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Complete English Translation Of ‘The Essential Explanation On The Amitābha Sūtra As Spoken By The Buddha’

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