‘Becomes’ And ‘Is’ As The Three Contemplations 作是三观 [11] This Mind Becomes Buddha, This Mind Is Buddha 是心作佛,是心是佛


[Of] that said [on] those [with] wonderful contemplation, [the] Contemplation Sūtra [with] no doubt [says], ‘All Buddhas’ right all-knowing ocean, from [the] mind’s thought arises.’

众生「心想佛时,是心即是三十二相、 八十种好。是心作佛,是心是佛。」

Sentient beings, ‘when [having] minds [with] thoughts [of the] Buddha, this mind is the same as [his] thirty-two forms, [and] eighty appearance-following excellences. [It] is [the] mind [that] becomes Buddha, [and it] is [the] mind [that] is Buddha.’


Only [within] these number [of] lines, precisely is Samādhi [From] Mindfulness [Of] Buddha’s secret essence, [and] all contemplation doors, [are] without [those that do] not from these flow out.

盖知「作」 而不知「是」,则堕在权小。

Because knowing ‘becomes’, yet not knowing ‘is’, then falls into [the] Expedient [and] Small [Vehicle].

[Note 1: Knowing about the possibility of becoming a Buddha, yet not knowing about Buddha-nature that guarantees this potential to motivate it, there might not be advancing to the Great Vehicle’s path to Buddhahood.]

知「是」而不知「作」, 必落魔外。

Knowing ‘is’, yet not knowing ‘becomes’, will fall [into] demonic external [paths].

[Note 2: Knowing one is with Buddha-nature, yet not cultivating to become a Buddha is to not practise the Buddha’s path, to stray away from it within.]


‘Becomes’ is the same as emptiness’ [and the] false[ly named’s] contemplations, [and] ‘is’ is the same as [the] Middle Path’s contemplation.

[Note 3: To ‘become’ is to be with emptiness (空) as it is the Absolute Truth (真谛) that allows change due to non-self. It is also to be with the falsely named (i.e. with form [色], by name or image) as it is from that with the Conventional Truth (俗谛) that there is transformation. ‘Is’ is to be with the Middle Truth (中谛) of the Middle Path (中道), as to be aligned to the Buddha is to be one with this path, that encompasses both truths, yet attached to neither.]

全「是」 而「作」,全「作」而「是」。

Completely ‘is’ yet ‘becomes’, [and] completely ‘becomes’ yet ‘is’.

「作、是」一念, 三观圆融。

[With] ‘becomes’ [and] ‘is’ [in] one thought, [is with the] Three Contemplations [of emptiness, the falsely named and the Middle Path interpenetrated in] perfect harmony.

[Note 4: As the Three Contemplations are how we should contemplate all correctly, to be with them is to be one with reality.]



Thus, [the] Great Collection Sūtra [has a] verse saying,

‘If [a] person [is] only mindful [of] Āmítuófó [by name or image], [this] is named [as the] unsurpassable profound [and] wonderful meditation. When [with the] sincere mind [reciting or] visualising seeing [the] Buddha, [this] is the same as [the] non-arising [and] non-ceasing Dharma.’

[Note 5: When the true Buddha is aligned to and seen with practice, since the Buddha represents non-arising and non-ceasing truth, this is synonymous with the essence of the Dharma.]



Chán Master Zhìjué said,

‘[With] one thought corresponding [is with] one thought Buddha,
[and with] thought to thought corresponding [is with] thought to thought Buddha.’

[Note 6: According to extant records, Master Zhìjué wrote the lines in black (in the featured quote above), while Master Ǒuyì used the first line in black but added the line in blue.]


[The] Buddha is [the] principle of original awakening, [and] mindfulness [of him] is the same as [the] wisdom of actualised awakening.

[Note 7: Original awakening (本觉) refers to our fundamentally enlightened nature, as we all naturally have Buddha-nature. However it has been corrupted by defilements, just as gold ore is found in nature, containing pure gold mixed with impurities. Actualised awakening (始觉) refers to the original awakening being realised, like when pure ore has been smelted to retrieve pure gold from impurities.]


Thus know [that] when [with] right mindfulness [of] Buddha, [the] actualised [and] original meet [and] merge, [as] principle [and] wisdom tacitly agree, [with the one with the] ability to transform and [the one] being transformed [to] both forgotten, Self [and] Other [become] not two.

[Note 8: This is when the wisdom of actualised awakening and the principle of original awakening become one, when the one being mindful, with Self-Power (自力) and the one being mindful of, with Other-Power (他力), also becoming one.]


Without [a] Buddha of thought external, as mindful [of], that [is] mindful [of]. Without [a] thought of Buddha external, able [to be] mindful of [the] Buddha.


Transcending passions [and] surpassing views, departing [from these] lines [having] less than [this, which is] straightforward, perfect [and] sudden, [it is] without that beyond this.

[Note 9: This state goes beyond emotions with attachment and aversion, and reasoning with delusion.]


Except nothing but mindfulness [of] Buddha, how [can] there [be] another [more] wonderful contemplation [that] can [be] accomplished?


Bodhisattva Bhikṣu Xíngcè Jiéliú,
Pure Land Tradition’s 10th Patriarch Great Master Jiéliú
(Pure Land Admonitions: Reply [To] Layperson Gù Zhàozhēn)

Namo Amituofo : Translation by Shen Shi’an

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