Translations

How Long Is One To Ten Thoughts With Mindfulness Of Buddha? 一至十念佛有多长?

[7] 几时为一至十念佛?
How Long Is One To Ten Thoughts With Mindfulness Of Buddha?

[以下是《往生论注》下卷最后七则问答的第七题,附加标题,为容易参考。
Below is the seventh of the last seven questions and answers in the Rebirth Treatise’s Commentary’s Lower Scroll, as titled for easier reference.]

问曰:几时名为一念?

Question: How [much] time [is] named as one thought?

答曰:百一生灭,名一刹那。六十刹那,名为一念。

Answer: [A] hundred [and] one risings [and] fallings [of phenomena’ duration, is] named [as] one kṣaṇa [i.e. instant]. 60 kṣaṇas’ [duration is] named as one thought.

此中云念者,不取此时节也。   

This within [the practice of mindfulness of Buddha], that [is] called thought, [does] not cling [to] this duration.

但言忆念阿弥陀佛,若总相,若别相,随所观缘,心无他想,十念相续,名为十念。

Only speaking [of] recollection [of] Āmítuófó, perhaps [of his] overall form, or [a] special form, according [to] that contemplated condition, [with the] mind [being] without other thoughts, [with] ten thoughts successively continual, [they are] named as ten thoughts.

[For notes on Āmítuófó’s vow that speaks on ten thoughts, see Note 2 and Note 3 at https://purelanders.com/2020/01/09/who-can-attain-birth-in-pure-land, with Note 4 at https://purelanders.com/2020/01/09/how-to-understand-two-sutras-teachings-on-attainment-of-birth-in-pure-land.]

但称名号,亦复如是。  

Only reciting [Āmítuófó’s] name, [is] likewise thus.

问曰:心若他缘,摄之令还,可知念之多少。

Question: [The] mind, if [with] other conditions, [having] gathered it, [to] enable return, [one] can know of how many thoughts [there are].

但知多少,复非无间。

However, [to] know how many [thoughts, is to] repeatedly not [be with] non-interruption [due to thoughts of counting].

若凝心注想,复依何可得记念之多少?    

If focusing [the] mind [to] concentrate thought [on the Buddha], again, depending [on this], how [is one] able [to] attain noting of how many thoughts?

答曰:经言十念者,明业事成办耳,不必须知头数也。

Answer: That [the] sūtras speak [of on] ten thoughts, [should be] understood [as when the] karmic matter [of reaching Pure Land has been] accomplished, not needing [to] know [the] exact number [or to count it].

[Note 7: The ‘ten’ (十) in ‘ten thoughts’ is an arbitrary number that represents completion (十全十美) for connection, which can be accomplished with less or more thoughts (over more days). This is definitely so as in the Immeasurable Life Sūtra《无量寿经》, Śākyamuni Buddha taught that even with one thought (for proficient practitioners), it is able to completely connect to Āmítuófó for reaching his Pure Land — ‘All sentient beings, [who] hear that [Amitā(bha) Buddha’s] name [i.e. Āmítuófó], [with the] faithful mind [of] joy, even if [with] one thought, [with the] sincere mind dedicating, aspiring [to be] born [in] that land, [they will] immediately attain rebirth, [and] abide [upon] non-retrogression. Only excluded [are those with the] Five Heinous [Transgressions, who] slander [the] right Dharma.’ (诸有众生,闻其名号,信心欢喜,乃至一念,至心回向,愿生彼国,即得往生,住不退转。唯除五逆,诽谤正法。)]

如言蟪蛄(huìgū)不识春秋,伊虫岂知朱阳之节乎?知者言之耳。

[Just] like short-lived cicadas [do] not know spring [and] autumn [as they live and die in summer, of] yī worms, how [can they] know [the] season of autumn? [It is] those [who] know [them, who] speak of [this]. 

十念业成者,是亦通神者言之耳。

Those [with] ten thoughts’ karma accomplishing [reach of Pure Land], are likewise [by] those [with] supernormal powers [who know this, who] speak of [this].

但积念相续,不缘他事便罢,复何暇须知念之头数也。

Only accumulating thoughts successive continually, not conditioned [by] other matters, [with them] then dismissed, how again [is there] spare time [or] need [to] know [the] exact number of thoughts?

若必须知,亦有方便,必须口授,不得题之笔点。

If [the number] must [be] known [during everyday practice], likewise are [there] skilful means. [There] must [be with the] mouth [or silently] counting. [There] must not [be with] raising of [a] pen [to note for] counting.

《无量寿经优婆提舍愿生偈注 卷上》
(Immeasurable Life Sūtra’s Upadeśa’s Verses [On] Aspiration [For] Birth: Upper Scroll)

婆薮槃头菩萨 造
Written [by] Vasubandhu Bodhisattva
菩提流支 译
Translation [by] Bodhiruci
昙鸾大师 注
Commentary [by] Great Master Tánluán

Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an

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