As Thrice Spoken On Two Sayings 三说二语 [5] This Mind Becomes Buddha, This Mind Is Buddha 是心作佛,是心是佛

Excerpt [From] ‘Original Narration’


[In The] Contemplation Sūtra, that said [on, ‘It] is [the] mind [that] becomes Buddha, [and it] is [the] mind [that] is Buddha’, [these] two sayings, [were] especially [by Great Master Chèwù] repeated, requesting [for] thorough [understanding], thrice devoting attention [to them in this collection, as highlighted in the three sections below].

([By] Triple Gem’s disciple Chéng’ān remembered clearly)


[5] [On the] Contemplation Sūtra’s ‘[It] is [the] mind [that] becomes Buddha, [and it] is [the] mind [that] is Buddha’, [these] two sayings, comparing [with that] of [the] Chán Tradition’s [saying], ‘directly pointing [at the] person’s mind, seeing [one’s] nature [to] accomplish Buddhahood’, [the first is] especially straightforward [and] joyfully [satisfying].


Why? With ‘seeing [one’s] nature’ difficult and ‘becom[ing] Buddha’ [with the mind] easy thus.


What is ‘seeing [one’s] nature’? Departing [from the] mind, thought [and] perception, [with Buddha-nature’s] spiritual light entered [and] revealed, then is ‘seeing [one’s] nature’, thus [is this] difficult.


What is ‘becom[ing] Buddha’? Upholding [the] Buddha’s name, [or] contemplating [the] Buddha’s circumstantial [and] direct [rewards], immediately is ‘becom[ing] Buddha’, thus [is this] easy.

[Note 1: Mindfulness of Buddha with his name and, with contemplation (i.e. visualisation) of his forms and Pure Land’s attributes, are different practices, not taught to be practised simultaneously. The first practice using his name is easier and safe, as generally recommended by the Pure Land Patriarchs, while the second practice is not only more difficult, but also potentially dangerous if practised wrongly, if not according to the strict and detailed teachings in the Contemplation Sūtra.]


[The Contemplation] Sūtra says, ‘when you [and] others [have] minds [with] thoughts [of the] Buddha, this mind is the same as [his] thirty-two forms, [and] eighty appearance-following excellences’.


How [is this] not with [the] thought of Buddha immediately as ‘becom[ing] Buddha’ [then]?

[Note 2: Even with only mindfulness of the Buddha’s name, it is also ‘becoming Buddha’, as in becoming one with the Buddha in essence, as represented by his name, with varying degrees of alignment, according to the depth of practice.]


Those [who] accomplish Buddhahood are Buddhas, [in] principle without two [who are not] identical.


Yet ‘seeing [one’s] nature’ [and] ‘becom[ing] Buddha’, [are with] difficulty [and] ease, greatly different [from] each other in this way [above].


How [is it] not [then, that] mindfulness [of] Buddha, comparing [with that] of [the] Chán [meditative] contemplation, [is] especially straightforward [and] joyfully [satisfying]?


One [tradition] is [based upon] Patriarchs’ words, [and the other] one is [based upon the] Buddha’s words [in the Contemplation Sūtra].

[Note 3: The first is the Chán Tradition (禅宗), that mainly uses its Patriarchs’ records for reference, as Patriarchs’ Chán (祖师禅) teachings, while the second is the Pure Land Tradition (净土宗), which also uses many other Pure Land sūtras for reference, as taught by the Buddha.]


Which [is] heavier [and] which [is] lighter [in weightiness]? Which [should be] obtained [and] which [should be] relinquished, [if having to choose one for practice, especially if due to lack of time in this life]?


Scholars only should [with their] utmost relinquish old habits [of theoretical speculation and such], humble their minds, calm their minds, [and] try [mindfulness of Buddha] once, ponder [its] subtleties, and examine it.  


[They] will definitely [with their] heads [nod in] approval, [as] this said is not erroneous.

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[19] [On the] Contemplation Sūtra’s ‘[It] is [the] mind [that] becomes Buddha, [and it] is [the] mind [that] is Buddha’, [these] two sayings, since raised, thus [also] say [that] outside of [these, ‘If the] mind [does] not become Buddha, [the] mind is not Buddha. [If the] mind becomes [the] nine realms, [the] mind is [the] nine realms. [If the] mind [does] not become [the] nine realms, [the] mind is not [the] nine realms.’ These other meanings [are] together evident.

[Note 4: The Ten Dharma realms (十法界) are the Six Ordinary (六凡) Dharma realms (法界) of hell-beings (地狱), hungry ghosts (饿鬼), animals (畜生), human beings (人), asuras (阿修罗) and heavenly beings (天人), with the Four Noble (四圣) Dharma Realms of Voice-Hearers (声闻), Pratyekabuddhas (辟支佛), Bodhisattvas (菩萨) and Buddhas (佛). The Nine Dharma Realms (九法界) are all the above without the Buddha realm (佛法界). In principle, when one realm arises in the mind, all other realms fall away in the moment. As the mind can only have a thought in each moment, when not mindful of Buddha, one is mindful of one of the lesser realms by default, just as when mindful of Buddha, one is not mindful of any of the lesser realms by default. This is why it makes great sense to be as mindful of Buddha as possible. Aligning to Buddha through his name sincerely also tunes to one’s Buddha-nature.]


Yes! If understanding this principle, [of] those yet still not mindful [of] Buddha, then [am] I certainly [with] no way [to] handle [them].


[20] [On the] Contemplation Sūtra’s ‘[It] is [the] mind [that] becomes Buddha, [and it] is [the] mind [that] is Buddha’, [these] two sayings, [are] not only [the] Contemplation Sūtra’s one sūtra’s guiding principles’ Dharma essence, [but] truly [also] is Śākya[muni] Thus Come [One’s] one lifetime’s teachings great Dharma [teachings’ main] guiding principle.


Not only [is it] Śākya[muni Buddha’s] one Buddha’s Dharma treasury’s [main] guiding principle, [but] truly [also] is [the] ten directions’ three periods’ all Buddhas’ Dharma treasury’s [main] guiding principle.


[With] this [main] principle since penetrated, what [other] principles [and Buddhist traditions are] not [also] penetrated?


[With] this Dharma [essence] since understood, what [other] Dharma [teachings are] not [also] understood?


[This is] so-called [with] learning although not [being] much, [yet being] able [to be] equal [to that of] superior virtuous [ones].

[By] disciples Huànxǐng [And] Liǎoruì Compiled [from the Pure Land Tradition’s 12th Patriarch Great Master Chèwù’s teachings]

Great Master Chèwù’s Bequeathed Collection

Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an

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The Meaning Of ‘This Mind Becomes Buddha, And This Mind Is Buddha’

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