Mindfulness [Of] Buddha [Is] Without Use Of Energy In Vain
Of worldly mundane matters, [there are those] planned [for], yet not accomplished, thus [with] previous efforts completely invalidated.
Note : All ordinary matters can be elaborately prepared for, and with efforts exerted for over much time, or even over many lifetimes, but still not achieving the results yearned for. In this way, the energy spent goes to waste.
Only having mindfulness [of] Buddha, even though having [a] beginning, [it is] without [an] ending, and from [the] past, [with] that mindful [of, the effort is] likewise definitely not wasted [and] in vain.
Note : This contrasts with the spiritual practice of mindfulness of Buddha, which has endless benefits, from the moment it begins, until the accomplishment of Buddhahood. The pure affinity created with Buddha is like a vajra seed (金刚种子) planted, that is indestructible even over immeasurable lifetimes, only capable of further ripening with the right conditions available, to eventually blossom into the fruit of Buddhahood.
[In the] past was that woodcutter, [who] met [a] tiger [and] climbed [a] tree [to escape, with] one recitation [of] ‘Námó Fó’ [for protection, who] many lives [and] many kalpas later, also depending [on] it [as the cause], to leave [the] household [life, to] gradually reach accomplishment [of] Buddhahood.
Note : The woodcutter was mindful of a Buddha specifically or all Buddhas collectively. As all Buddhas are interconnected, being mindful of one Buddha is to be mindful of all Buddhas, and being mindful of all Buddhas is to be mindful of one Buddha. The name of ‘Āmítuófó’ (阿弥陀佛), although is that of one Buddha, also represents all Buddhas, as it also means ‘Immeasurable Buddha(s)’ (无量佛).
Note : Previously being a non-practitioner, even though the woodcutter recited in fear with scatter-mindedness, instead of in calmness with deep concentration, it was nevertheless sincere, thus attaining connection for protection, also sowing the seed of affinity, to encounter Śākyamuni Buddha and his teachings much later, to also join his monastic order, and progress spiritually towards Buddhahood.
What more, [if with] utmost sincerity [mindful for] one lifetime?
Note : If even the ‘extreme’ case of the woodcutter, with a single recitation, was able to create firm karmic connection for eventual Buddhahood, with sincere mindfulness of Buddha (Āmítuófó) diligently practised in this entire lifetime, his Pure Land will surely be reached at its end, for the swiftest progress towards Buddhahood, not needing many lives and kalpas.
Even if [in this] present life not able [to be] reborn [in Pure Land, in a] future life, definitely exiting [from the cycle of] births [and] deaths.
Note : Even though the woodcutter’s case did not state him being reborn in Pure Land in the life he met Śākyamuni Buddha, he should had learnt the Pure Land teachings from him, to practise accordingly, and reach Pure Land in his subsequent life. Even if not yet so, having deepened his connection with the Triple Gem, he should eventually do so in a further future life. With Pure Land reached, it is equal to liberation from rebirth.
[It is] not like worldly mundane studying of books [for examinations] not [being] successful, [with] wasting [of] energy in vain. [Not like] management not successful, instead [with] loss [of] capital.
Note : Unlike worldly endeavours that require much time and efforts, like studying for exams to pass them, and managing businesses for making profits, which might still all go to waste, even a single recitation of Buddha’s name is never in vain, what more if having much more sincere practice.
Note : Of course, we should ideally reach Pure Land to expedite progress to Buddhahood by the end of this life. Yet, once there is mindfulness of Buddha, even once, reaching of Pure Land for attaining of Buddhahood is a matter of time and effort. This guarantee offers tremendous encouragement and consolation for all new and long-time practitioners.
Layperson Zhōu Ānshì
Ānshì’s Complete Book: Western Return’s Direct Pointers
Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an
Āmítuófó’s Name As The Ultimately Non-Retrogressive Vajra Seed
Meaning Of Āmítuófó’s Name