Below is the first of the last seven questions and answers in the Rebirth Treatise’s Commentary’s Lower Scroll, as titled for easier reference.]
Who Can Attain Birth In Pure Land?
Question: [In] Vasubhandu Bodhisattva’s dedication section within, [he] says, ‘universally together, [with] all sentient beings, [to be] reborn [in his] Land [Of] Peace [And] Bliss’. This referred [to as] ‘together [with’ are] which sentient beings?
[Note 1: This refers to the last two lines of the last verse of the treatise:
I, [having] composed [this] treatise [to] speak [these] verses,
vow [to] meet Amitā[bha] Buddha,
universally together, [with] all sentient beings,
[to be] reborn [in his] Land [Of] Peace [And] Bliss.]
Answer: According to that [at] Rājagṛha City’s spoken Immeasurable Life Sūtra, ‘[The] Buddha told Ānanda, “[The] ten directions’ Ganges river’s sands’ all Buddha Thus Come [Ones], all together praise Immeasurable Life Buddha’s awe-inspiring meritorious virtues’ inconceivability. All sentient beings, [who] hear his name, [with the] faithful mind [and] joy, and even [with] one thought, [with the] sincere mind dedicating, aspiring [to be] born [in] that land, [will] immediately attain rebirth, [to] abide [in] non-retrogression. Only excluded [are those with the] Five Heinous [Transgressions, who] slander [the] right Dharma.”‘
[Note 2: Five Heinous Transgressions: (1) killing Father, (2) Mother, (3) Arhat, (4) causing Buddha’s body to bleed (5) creating schism in Saṃgha. (五逆罪: 杀父，杀母，杀阿罗汉，出佛身血，破和合僧) Right Dharma: The Buddha’s teachings, especially the Dharma Door of mindfulness of Buddha. (正法: 佛法，尤其念佛法门)]
According to this then said, [of] all external ordinary persons, all [can] attain rebirth.
Also, like [the] Sūtra [On] Contemplation [Of] Immeasurable Life [Buddha] has nine grades [of] rebirth, ‘[On] those [of the] Lower Low Grade: If [there] are sentient beings, [who] do non-good [i.e. evil] karma, [the] Five Heinous [Transgressions and the] Ten Evil [Karmas], complete [with] all [that is] not good, [of] these such foolish persons, with evil karma thus, should fall [into the] evil paths, passing through many kalpas, receiving suffering without end. These such foolish persons, when approaching life’s end, [if] meeting good-knowing friends, [who offer] all kinds [of] comforting [i.e. consolations], for [them] speaking [the] wonderful Dharma, teaching [to] enable [them to be] mindful [of Amitā(bha)] Buddha, these persons, [if by] suffering compelled, too flustered [and confused, to be] mindful [of] Buddha, [a] good friend speaks [these] words, “If you [are] not able [to be] mindful [of] Buddha, [you] should recite [the name of] Immeasurable Life Buddha [i.e. Amitāyus Buddha], thus [with a] sincere mind, enabling [its] sound [to] not [be] interrupted, completing ten thoughts, [of] reciting ‘Námó [i.e. Homage to and refuge for life in] Immeasurable Life Buddha’ [i.e. Āmítuófó.]” Reciting [the] Buddha’s name thus, in thought [to] thought within, eradicates 80 koṭis [of] kalpas of births’ [and] deaths’ transgressions. When life [is] ending, [they will] see [a] golden lotus flower, just like [the] sun disc, abiding before these persons. As [if in] one thought moment, [they] immediately attain rebirth [in the] Land [Of] Ultimate Bliss. In [the] lotus flowers within, completing 12 great kalpas [i.e. 12 days in Sahā World’s time], [the] lotus flower then blossoms. Contemplator [Of The] World’s Sounds [i.e. Guānshìyīn] Bodhisattva [and] Great Power Arrived [i.e. Dàshìzhì] Bodhisattva, with great compassionate voices, [will] for them widely speak [of] all dharmas’ [i.e. phenomena] true nature, eradicating [their] transgressions [of the] Dharma. Hearing [this] already, [with] joy, [they] immediately give rise [to the] mind of Bodhi [i.e. Bodhicitta]. [These] are named [as] those [of the] Low Grade’s Low Birth.’
[Note 3: Ten Evil Karmas (Ten Unwholesome Deeds): (1) killing, (2) stealing, (3) sexual misconduct, (4) false speech, (5) double-tongued speech, (6) harsh speech, (7) useless speech, (8) covetousness (greed; attachment), (9) hatred (aversion) (10) false views (delusion; ignorance).]
With this sūtra’s confirmation, [it can be] clearly known [that of] lower grade’s ordinary beings, only [with the] cause [of] not slandering [the] right Dharma, [with] Faith [in the] Buddha’s cause [and] conditions, all [can] attain rebirth.
(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
Next Question: How To Understand Two Sūtras’ Teachings On Attainment Of Birth In Pure Land?
Be Mindful Of Buddha For One Thought For Immediate Rebirth
Verses On All Born In Ultimate Bliss
Immeasurable Life Sūtra’s Upadeśa