Below is the second of the last seven questions and answers in the Rebirth Treatise’s Commentary’s Lower Scroll, as titled for easier reference.]
How To Understand Two Sūtras’ Teachings On Attainment Of Birth In Pure Land?
Question: [The] Immeasurable Life Sūtra says, [of] those [who] aspire [to be] reborn [in Pure Land], all [will] attain rebirth. ‘Only excluded [are those with the] Five Heinous [Transgressions, who] slander [the] right Dharma.’
[Note 4: According to the sūtra — ‘If I attain Buddhahood, [the] ten directions’ [sentient] beings, [with] (utmost) sincere hearts (i.e. minds) [and] joyful faith, desire birth [in] my land, and even [with] ten thoughts [of mindfulness], if they [should] not [be] born [there, I shall] not obtain right awakening. Only excluded [are those who with the] Five Heinous [Transgressions, who] slander [the] right Dharma.’ (设我得佛，十方众生，至心信乐，欲生我国，乃至十念，若不生者，不取正觉。唯除五逆，诽谤正法。)
[The] Sūtra [On] Contemplation [Of] Immeasurable Life [Buddha] says, [those who] do [the] ‘Five Heinous [Transgressions and] Ten Evil [Karmas], complete [with] all [that is] not good’, likewise [can] attain rebirth. [Of] these two sūtras, how can [they be] said [to] meet [in meaning]?
Answer: [The first] one sūtra [is] with [those] complete [with] two kinds [of] heavy transgressions. First, [are the] Five Heinous [Transgressions]. Second, [is] ‘slander [of the] right Dharma’. With these two kinds [of] transgressions thus, therefore not attaining rebirth.
[Note 5: Although the Five Heinous Transgressions are already heavy, as Note 6 explains, they are still repentable for reaching Pure Land, while it is with unrepented slander of the right Dharma too, that they together become too heavy to do so.]
[The second] one sūtra only speaks [of] doing [the] Ten Evil [Karmas], Five Heinous [and] other transgressions, not speaking [of] ‘slander [of the] right Dharma’, with not slandering [the] right Dharma thus, therefore attaining birth.
[Note 6: Although these transgressions together are heavy, they can be repented with Practice of the right Dharma Door of mindfulness of the Buddha in time, which is extremely meritorious with connection to the Buddha’s Other-power, thus being the main right Dharma teaching that should not be slandered. If even this Dharma is slandered, there would be no more hope of reaching Pure Land in this lifetime, while being karmically bound for a lower rebirth. With slander of this Dharma, it would be impossible to practise mindfulness of Buddha to reach Pure Land, as the First Provision of Faith needed would not even be present. If there was slander of this Dharma, but sincerely repented in time, with the slander ‘nullified’, it is still possible to practise accordingly.]
(Immeasurable Life Sūtra’s Upadeśa’s Verses [On] Aspiration [For] Birth: Upper Scroll)
Written [by] Vasubandhu Bodhisattva
Translation [by] Bodhiruci
Commentary [by] Great Master Tánluán
Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an
Previous Question: Who Can Attain Birth In Pure Land?
Next Question: Can Those Without Heinous Transgressions But With Slander Of The Dharma Attain Birth In Pure Land?
Immeasurable Life Sūtra’s Upadeśa