[The] Buddha’s Manifestation [As A] Parrot [To] Guide People [To Be] Mindful [Of] Buddha
Parthia country’s [i.e. today’s northeastern Iran] people, [who did] not know [the] Buddha’s teachings, dwelt [at a] border region, [and had the] temperament [of] foolishness.
Then, [there] was [a] parrot bird, yellow-gold [in] colour, [with] blue-white lines adorned, able [to] have human speech.
[Note 1: Āmítuófó is often, as described and manifested, golden in colour and with golden light. Manifesting as a splendid-looking and communicative bird, these are the Buddha’s first and second skilful means, to attract attention for the Dharma-sharing to follow.]
[The] country’s people [who] loved his body, [which was] plump [and with] strength great, asked [him], ‘You [are] with what as food?’
[Note 2: Appearing with significant size and strength, these are the Buddha’s third and fourth skilful means, to further attract attention and curiosity, to initiate dialogue.]
[The] bird said, ‘I hear [and] chant Āmítuófó’s name, immediately with [it] as food. If desiring [to] raise me, [you] only [have to] chant [the] Buddha’s name, [with] no need [to give me] other food.’
[Note 3: The answer was direct ‘temptation’ and invitation to begin focusing on practising recitation of the Buddha’s name. This is the Buddha’s fifth skilful means.]
All people hearing this, contended [to] chant [the] Buddha’s name. [The] bird immediately flew [and] soared, departed [and] returned, [and was] very tame.
[Note 4: Knowing the people will be eager to recite, and having recited already, taking to the sky magnificently to let them calm down before returning, this furthered their interest. This is the Buddha’s sixth skilful means.]
[The] bird said, ‘[Do] you all desire [to] see rich [and] fertile land or not?’
[Note 5: Although knowing the people were probably thinking in terms of a worldly paradise, thus enticing them with it, this is the Buddha’s seventh skilful means, to guide them to a vision of his transcendental paradise instead – his Pure Land.]
[They] answered, ‘[We] desire [to] see [it].’
[The] bird said, ‘If desiring [to] see [it, you] should ride [on] my wings.’
All [the] people rode [on] them, [yet he was still with] strength, as if [with] little weakness, [as the] bird encouraged [and] led [them to be] mindful [of the] Buddha’s [name, and] immediately flew [and] soared [into] empty space, towards [the] West then leaving.
[Note 6: There is amazement due to being able to ferry many easily. This further impresses upon the people to pay attention. This is the Buddha’s eighth skilful means. Motivating them to recite the Buddha’s name, perhaps to ‘give’ him extra strength, this is the Buddha’s ninth skilful means, to get them to continue practice.]
[The] country’s people exclaimed [at the] marvel [and] said, ‘This is Āmítuófó, manifesting as [a] parrot, [to] guide [and] gather [us at the] border region, [to in the] present life [be] reborn [in his Pure Land].’
[Note 7: Āmítuófó must have inspired the people to realise that the bird was his manifestation, and what his purpose was. This is the Buddha’s tenth skilful means.]
Immediately on their land, [they] erected [a] vihāra named Parrot Monastery, [where on] every purification day, [they] cultivated Samādhi [From] Mindfulness [Of] Buddha.
[Note 8: After the series of inspiring events above, the people were sufficiently learned and motivated in terms of the Three Provisions of Faith, Aspiration and Practice. Knowing the method and purpose of practice, they naturally set up the monastery for further long-term practice. This is the Buddha’s eleventh skilful means.]
Since then, [the] Parthia country’s people, [after] first knowing [about the] Buddha’s teachings, [had] those [who were] mindful [of the] Buddha [to be] reborn [in his] Pure Land, [who were] extremely many.
[Note 9: Even though the effects of manifestations might wear out after some time in our defiled land due to the nature of impermanence and sentient beings’ defiled nature, there are still maximised efforts to guide as many as possible to Pure Land, with all given conditions. This is the Buddha’s twelfth skilful means, which is his overall ongoing skilful means for all with appropriate karmic affinity and receptivity, who can include the foolish.]
([The] Triple Gem’s Responses’ Summaries)
Pure Land Noble Sages’ Record
三编 • 补遗第五
Third Compilation: Fifth [Section]: Addendum
Compiled [by Dharma] Master Désēn
Namo Amituofo : Translation And Notes By Shen Shi’an
How Āmítuófó Manifested To Guide To His Pure Land With Ten Skilful Means As Fishes