[10] Biography Of The Chinese Pure Land Tradition’s Tenth Patriarch Great Master Jiéliú 净土宗十祖截流大师传

出家法名:释截流 / 行策(大师)
出生年:1628 | 往生年:1682

Monastic Dharma Name: Shì Jiéliú / Xíngcè (Great Master)
Status: Tenth Patriarch Of The Pure Land Tradition (School)
Family Name: Jiǎng (Surname) Mènghān (Given Name)
Place Of Birth: Today’s Jiāngsū Province, Yíxìng County
Year Of Birth: 1628 C.E. | Year Of Rebirth: 1682 C.E.
Best Known Works: Rules And Format For Giving Rise To Wholehearted Diligent Mindfulness Of Buddha During Seven-Day Retreats’ Period, Pure Land Admonitions, Exhortation To Give Rise To True Faith


Great Master Jiéliú was born in 1628 C.E, at Jiāngsū Province’s Yíxìng County, in a Jiǎng family. His father, Quánchāng, was well-versed in Confucianism and Buddhism, and was a friend of Great Master Hānshān. After Great Master Hānshān had manifested passing for three years, one night, Quánchāng dreamt of Great Master Hānshān entering his bedroom. Following after, Great Master Jiéliú was born. Due to this, Quánchāng named his son as Mènghān (i.e. ‘Dream of Hānshān’).


When Great Master grew up to become an adult, his parents passed away one after another. Thereupon, he sprouted the aspiration of cultivating the Buddhist path. That year, at the age of 23, he sought refuge at Wǔlín’s Lǐ’ān Monastery and renounced the household life through Chan Master Ruò’ān Tōngwèn. After his renunciation, he diligently cultivated. With his sides not reaching the mat (to lie down for sleep), he cultivated for five years, and awoke to the Dharma’s origin.


After Chán Master Tōngwèn passed away, while Great Master dwelt at Bào’ēn Monastery, he met fellow practitioner and spiritual friend Dharma Master Xī’ān Yīng, who encouraged Great Master to cultivate the Pure Land Dharma Door. He also met Dharma Master Qiántáng Qiáoshí, who guided Great Master to cultivate Tiāntái teachings and meditation practice. When Great Master and Dharma Master Qiáoshí shared the same room and cultivated Dharma Flower Samādhi, with past lives’ wisdom, Great Master suddenly understood thoroughly and completely penetrated the essence of the Buddha’s teachings.


Great Master did not have many written works. However, from what revealed in ‘Pure Land Admonitions’, Great Master emphasized on true cultivation and diligent practice. For all within practical Pure Land cultivation’s process, bestowing with rational pointers, with every word for seeing the truth, returning to the true, responding to opportunities giving medicine, truly then for the Dharma-Ending Age’s sentient beings, with the Dharma’s finest wonderful flavour. Now with the Great Master’s Pure Land thought, it can be briefly labelled to be with these three parts.

(1) 真信切愿,成办净业

大师于《劝发真信》一文中,将真信的内涵及无真信的弊端,和盘托出。大师云:「净业行人须具真实心,须具真实信心。苟无真信,虽念佛、持斋、放生、修福,只是世间善人,报生善处受乐。当受乐时,即造业,既造业已,必堕苦。正眼观之,较他一阐提、旃陀罗辈 *,仅差一间耳。如是信心,岂为真实?

(1) True Faith And Sincere Aspiration For Accomplishing Pure Land Practice

Great Master, in his text, ‘Exhortation To Give Rise To True Faith’ fully revealed the meaning of true Faith and the disadvantages of untrue faith. Great Master said, ‘Pure Land practitioners must be complete with true Faith’s mind. If without true Faith, although mindful of the Buddha, upholding purification precepts, liberating animals and cultivating blessings, one is only a worldly good person, whose reward is birth in a good realm to receive joy. When receiving joy, immediately creating evil karma. Since with created karma already, definitely falling into suffering. Looking directly with contemplating of this, comparing him with Icchantikas, and those of the Caṇḍāla* class, only differing by one gap. Of such faith, how can it be true?


So-called true Faith’s meaning has three aspects. First, there must be Faith that the mind, the Buddha and sentient beings are not two and not different in essence. I am a yet to be accomplished Buddha, and Amitābha is an already accomplished Buddha, with nature of awakening that is not two. I although am muddle-headed, inverted and confused, my nature of awakening has yet to be lost. I although have accumulated kalpas of rebirths, my nature of awakening has yet to move. Thus, do not slight those yet to awaken, whom with one thought, can return their light within, to then be with the same original nature attained.


Second, there must be Faith that I am a Principle Nature Buddha, a Name Buddha, and Amitābha is an Ultimate Buddha, with nature although not two, positions are then like the sky and abyss apart. If not with focused mindfulness of that Buddha, seeking birth in that land, I will definitely follow karma to be reborn, to receive suffering immeasurably. This so-called Dharma Body that is reborn in the five paths, is not named as a Buddha, but named as a sentient being.


Third, there must be Faith that I although have obstacles deep and negative karma heavy, and long dwelt in suffering’s land, am a sentient being in Amitābha Buddha’s mind within. Amitābha Buddha although has ten thousand meritorious virtues’ majesty, as far away as one hundred thousand koṭis of lands, he is the Buddha in my mind within. Since our mind-nature is not two, naturally will there be connection and response for mutual interaction. My this pressing sincerity is definitely able to connect, and the Buddha’s loving-kindness and compassion are definitely able to respond, like a magnet attracting iron, without that to doubt. This is so-called the Buddha being mindful of sentient beings, is like a Mother recollecting her child. The child if recollecting the Mother, like when the Mother recollects, the Mother and child, passing through life, will not be far apart from each other. If sentient beings’ minds recollect the Buddha, are mindful of the Buddha, now or in the future, they will definitely see the Buddha, with the Buddha not far away.


According to the above, those with true Faith, although with one fine hair of good, or one dust mote of blessing, all can be dedicated to be reborn in the Western Pure Land, to adorn the Pure Land. Moreover, with upholding of purification and holding of precepts, liberating animals and giving, studying and reciting the Great Vehicle’s sūtras, making of offerings to the Triple Gem, and all kinds of good practices, how can these be not enough to fulfil as Pure Land’s provisions? Only when these Faith’s aspects are not true, thereupon then sinking to be with outflows. From ancient times until now, for cultivation, there is no other essential method, than to only, in the two six periods within, be added with these three kinds of true Faith. Then with all practices carried out, without need to bother about changing track.’ Great Master’s analysis is insightful and detailed, according with principles and according with opportunities [to guide], with unique wisdom’s eye, that can be called the Dharma’s torch.

(2) 激扬行人的厌欣心


(2) Rousing & Raising Practitioners’ Revulsed & Joyful Minds

Great Master clearly understood that although some Pure Land practitioners practise mindfulness of Buddha all day, those who accomplish rebirth in Pure Land might be very few. With its reasons, he prescribed the right medicine for their illness, benevolently, eagerly and urgently. The reason for yet to guarantee rebirth is this — ‘With attachment’s post yet to be uprooted, by passions’ hawser still imprisoned. Only greedy attachment is able to drift and drown practitioners, and obstruct the Dharma to be reborn in Pure Land. However, if attachment is with one part thinned, then will Pure Land practice be with one part matured, so as to, from this shore of births and deaths, attain liberation.’


‘Now, those with wealth, honour and prestige, are perhaps with greed for coarse and shabby sounds and forms, not knowing this is suffering’s root, perhaps attached to a snail’s horn of honour and fame, not awakening to their illusoriness, perhaps repeatedly with attachment growing for goods and gain, accounting and managing. Now busying for all of this one life, in the future according with karma to be reborn.


Within that [Amitābha] Buddha’s Land, are circumstantial and direct rewards majestic, with immeasurable supremely wonderful and blissful matters, not hearing and not knowing about them, from birth until death, not yet giving rise to one thought of the mind yearning for it. They are instead not as good as those poor and foolish, suffering from disasters, with many able to be mindful of the Buddha, from darkness entering brightness, to be reborn in the supreme abode…


There must be the completely true Aspiration, to give rise to the mind of joyful [seeking of birth in the Land Of Ultimate Bliss: 欣求极乐] and revulsed [renunciation of the Sahā World: 厌离娑婆], seeing the three realms [of desire, form and formlessness] to be like prisons, seeing homelands to be like shackles, seeing music and beautiful forms to be like wine laced with poison, seeing fame and benefits to be like reins and chains, seeing several decades of poverty and prestige, ups and downs, to be like yesterday’s dream, seeing this Sahā World’s one lifetime’s retributive life to be like in an inn, staying over for two nights then departing, only with returning home as the mission. With those according to wishes satisfied, not according to wishes also satisfied, be willing to part in a very short period of time, with wholehearted mindfulness of the Buddha’s name [Āmítuófó: 阿弥陀佛]. If really able to do thus, if there are those not born in his Pure Land, all Buddhas would have all accomplished deceitful speech. May we encourage one another with this!’


Great Master’s teaching truly pointed out the common problems of the Dharma-Ending Age’s Pure Land practitioners. True Faith and Aspiration with the joyful and revulsed mind are complete within with the same composition. As without true Faith and Aspiration to be born, there is no arising of the mind of joyful Aspiration for Pure Land and revulsed renunciation of the Sahā World. Without the joyful and revulsed mind, they are not able to perfect the mind of true Faith and Aspiration. Great Master roused and raised practitioners’ joyous and revulsed mind, to enable them to strengthen and consolidate their Faith and Aspiration to accomplish their Pure Land practice. His diligent thoughtfulness can be said to be earnest indeed.

(3) 事理一心不乱之诠解


(3) Explanation Of Wholeheartedness Without Being Scattered In Practice And Principle

From the point of view of practice of seven-day diligent mindfulness of Buddha, Great Master elaborated on the form and state of wholeheartedness in practice and principle. Great Master said, ‘For seven-days’ upholding of the Buddha’s name, what valued is wholeheartedness without being scattered, being uninterrupted and not mixed, with no must to regard fast reciting and much reciting as superior. However, not sluggish and not hurried, closely upholding it, enable the mind within to have only one line of the Buddha’s name, distinctly and clearly. When wearing clothes, eating meals, walking, standing, sitting and lying down, with the one line of the great name recited finely, carefully and unceasingly, like breathing similar. Both not scattered, and not sunken in drowsiness, thus upholding the Buddha’s name, can be said to be in practice, those who are wholeheartedly diligent.’


‘If able to experience and investigate that the ten thousand dharmas are all thusness, not having two forms, that so-called sentient beings and Buddhas are not two, self and other are not two, cause and effect are not two, circumstantial and direct rewards are not two, suffering and bliss are not two, joyfulness and revulsion are not two, obtaining and relinquishing are not two, Bodhi and afflictions are not two, birth and death with Nirvāṇa are not two. All these dualistic dharmas, all are of the same one form, together pure, not needing to be forcibly differentiated and eliminated, only with ease experienced and investigated. With utmost of experiencing and investigating, with one’s original mind suddenly aligned, then knowing wearing clothes and having meals are all samādhi, playfully laughing and angrily scolding are with none not Buddhas’ practices. Wholeheartedness without being scattered in the end becomes frivolous discourse. Within the two six periods, seeking a fine hair with different forms is unattainable. Thus with understanding reached, then is it true practitioners’ wholehearted and diligent upholding of the name. The former wholeheartedness seems difficult yet easy, and the latter wholeheartedness seems easy yet difficult. Only able to have the former wholeheartedness, definitely can there be rebirth in Pure Land. Simultaneously with the latter wholeheartedness, can rank with a high grade’s rebirth. However, these two kinds of wholeheartedness, are all worldly ordinary beings’ side issues, as all those who have Aspiration can cultivate and learn them.’


To summarise the above stated, Great Master’s Pure Land thought emphasizes on putting effort into practical cultivation. Seriously and sincerely, he invariably desired Pure Land practitioners to accord with the Dharma’s principles in cultivation, to renounce the Sahā World’s suffering house, to be reborn in the country of Ultimate Bliss. For Great Master’s entire lifetime of personal practice and transformation of sentient beings, this is regarded as their main theme. Today, reading Great Master’s textual explanations, likewise stirs ‘soul’-stirring feelings, as worthy of a Pure Land Patriarch’s demeanour.


In the third year of Emperor Kāngxī’s reign, Great Master set up a monastery in Hangzhou’s Mount Fahua, within Xīxī River’s islet, which focused on cultivation of Pure Land practice. In Kāngxī’s ninth year, Great Master stayed at Mount Yú’s Pǔrén Court, where he founded a lotus society, with those who took refuge by the day becoming many. He also attempted to commence seven-day mindfulness of Buddha’s diligent retreats, with some practising for as long as three years. Great Master wrote ‘Rules And Format For Giving Rise To Wholehearted Diligent Mindfulness Of Buddha During Seven-Day Retreats’ Period’ with great detail and clarity. Not choosing between monastics and laypersons, it was for benefitting all sentient beings, to accomplish Pure Land practice. Great Master dwelt at Pǔrén Court for 12 years, and on the ninth day of the seventh lunar month in Kāngxī’s 21st year, he manifested passing away, then at 55 years old.


At that time, there was a man named Sūn Hàn who passed away due to sickness, who revived after a day and night. After he revived, he immediately told others, ‘I was by the nether world’s jailers arrested, and when I reached Yama Hall below, within the darkness, I suddenly saw bright light burning vigorously, as fragrance and flowers spread fully in space. King Yama hurriedly went down to the ground to prostrate, to welcome a Great Master’s return to the Western Pure Land. I asked who was the Great Master who returned to the Western Pure Land. The answer was Great Master Jiéliú (i.e. the style name of Great Master Xíngcè). I was fortunate to receive touch by the Great Master’s bright light, with it attaining release to return to the world of the living.’ On the same day, there was a son of the Wú family, who also died of sickness. After a night, he also revived, and described all that he saw in Yama Hall, which was with all that Sūn Hàn said the same.


From this, it can prove that Great Master’s true cultivation’s state is inconceivable, with his path flourishing and virtues profound. He was thus in recent times by Great Master Yìnguāng honoured as the Tenth Patriarch of the Pure Land Tradition, to likewise belong to those with unique wisdom’s eye.

完整中文原文 Complete Chinese text:
图片 Pictures: 任新宇《净土》

英译 English translation:

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[9] Biography Of The Chinese Pure Land Tradition’s Ninth Patriarch Great Master Ǒuyì

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[11] Biography Of The Chinese Pure Land Tradition’s Eleventh Patriarch Great Master Xǐng’ān

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