Translations

How To Better Eradicate Negative Karma With Mindfulness Of Buddha? 如何更好以念佛消除恶业?Pure Cause With Pure Effects 净因净果 [8] This Mind Becomes Buddha, This Mind Is Buddha 是心作佛,是心是佛

今之世道,乃患难世道。

Nowadays, of [the] ways of [the] world, [it is] thus [with] suffering [and] difficulties [as the] way [of the] world.

[Note 1: This is collectively and karmically the trend due to deeper entering of this Dharma-Ending Age.]

虽曰念佛能灭宿业,然须生大惭愧,生大怖畏。

Although daily mindfulness [of] Buddha [is] able [to] eradicate past [negative] karma, however, [there] must [be] giving rise [to] great [shame for] repentance, [and] giving rise [to] great fear [of negative karma’s retribution].

[Note 2: There has to be genuine moral shame for sincere repentance, to express remorseful regret for all remembered and forgotten evils done in the present and past lives. If not for such evils, we would not still be reborn in this Dharma-Ending Age. There also has to be dread of karmic retribution to motivate resolution to no longer do any such evil.]

转众生之损人利己心,行菩萨之普利众生行。

Transform [the] mind of sentient beings [to] harm people [and] benefit oneself, [to] practise practices of Bodhisattvas [to] universally benefit sentient beings.

[Note 3: The essence of Bodhisattvas’ Bodhi Mind (i.e. Bodhicitta: 菩提心) expressed, is to be as harmless to all as possible, and to be as helpful to all as possible.]

则若宿业若现业,皆被此大菩提心中之佛号光明,为之消灭净尽也。

Then if past [negative] karma, if [becoming] present karma [by ripening], all [will] by [the] Buddha’s name’s bright light within this great Bodhi Mind, by it [be] eliminated, [to be] completely gone.

[Note 4: Even though mindfulness of Buddha for oneself is already with great meritorious virtues (i.e. merits), able to eradicate negative karma, mindfulness of Buddha with Bodhicitta as the most noble Aspiration creates exponentially more merits, thus able to eradicate much more ‘demerits’ from heavier transgressions.]

若前生及昔日曾作大业,今虽止恶,未能力修众善,及但泛泛然念佛,则功过不相敌,固难免或罹恶报耳。非念佛之功虚弃也。

If [in] previous lives and past days [in this present life], previously [having] created great [negative] karma, now although stopping evil, [but] yet [to be] able [to] powerfully cultivate all good, and only [with a] floating [and] drifting [mind] mindful [of] Buddha, then [are the] merits [and] transgressions not [able to have the first] resist [the] other, certainly [being] difficult [to] avoid perhaps suffering [from] evil [karma’s] retribution. [This is] not [that] merits [from] mindfulness [of] Buddha [are] empty [and] abandoned.

[Note 5: Other than the teachings in this letter, another way to counter the floating and drifting mind is to remember that life is short and can end suddenly. This helps to give rise to a sense of urgency, to be more earnest in Practice with each recitation. With the power of the Buddha’s name, even if practising with a scattered mind and without Common Bodhicitta (通途菩提心), there is still some eradication of negative karma, although less efficiently.]

以未发菩提心,特以恶业广大,不能相掩耳。

With yet [to] give rise [to the] Bodhi Mind, especially with evil karma [being] extensive [and] great, [the previous is] not able [to] cover [the] other.

[Note 6: Mindfulness of Buddha without Bodhicitta is still powerful, but might not be adequate in creating much merits to eradicate much demerits in everyday life. However, when departing, one who is desperate yet utmost sincere is still able to eradicate karmic obstacles that obstruct rebirth in Pure Land. It is still safer to regularly eradicate demerits in everyday life now, lest karmic obstacles when departing are many, making mindfulness of Buddha challenging then.]  

倘能发大菩提心,则如杲日当空,霜露立消。

If able [to] give rise [to the] great Bodhi Mind, [this is] then like [the] morning sun up [in the] sky, [with] frost [and] dew immediately vanishing.  

[Note 7: Bodhicitta is powerful because it makes the Practice not just for oneself, but out of all-encompassing compassion for the sake of all beings now and in the long run. Even giving rise to Bodhicitta sincerely is already very powerful, what more if using it to be mindful of the Buddha’s name, which is also very powerful, together making the combination even more powerful.]

世人多有作恶半生,后乃改悔。

[The] world’s people have many [who] do evil [for] half [their] lifetimes, later then changing [and] repenting.

[Note 8: While it seems natural for many who are foolish, to regret their transgressions only halfway through their lives, it is surely wiser to have repentance to reform as soon as possible, especially since life is short and unpredictable, making it uncertain when half of life had already transpired.]

因未能全无恶报,遂谓佛法不灵,修持无益。

Because yet able [to] completely [be] without evil [karma’s] retribution, thereupon saying [the] Buddha’s Dharma [is] not effective, [this is for] Practice without benefit.

[Note 9: If not practising properly and adequately as above, yet claiming Practice is not efficacious, this not only does not benefit oneself, it might harm oneself and others by being slanderous, which creates even more negative karma. Losing Faith also loses the first of the Three Provisions (of Faith, Aspiration and Practice), effectively making Practice not efficacious. Bodhicitta is already the most powerful Aspiration to have, and the name of Buddha already the most powerful subject for mindfulness. If so, how can they together not be adequate for fruitful Practice?]

居士既不以光为外人,光固不得不与居士略陈所以,以期出迷途而登觉岸耳。

Layperson, since [you] not with [Yìn]guāng as [an] outsider, [Yìn]guāng certainly cannot but have to, with [you] layperson briefly explain so, with hope [that you] exit [from your] lost path, and ascend awakening’s shore.

[Note 10: As Pure Land practitioners, we should be compassionately frank with one another on these important pointers, so as to guide one another to the right path, for reaching the same goal.]

念佛法门,以信愿行三法为宗,以菩提心为根本。

Mindfulness [Of] Buddha’s Dharma Door, [is] with [the] three Dharma [teachings of] Faith, Aspiration [and] Practice as essentials, with Bodhi Mind as root.

[Note 11: The root of Faith and Aspiration already contains (Special) Bodhicitta ([特别]菩提心), as it is with profound Faith (深信), and sincere giving rise of Aspiration (发愿) to reach Pure Land, for attaining Buddhahood. However, being mindful of Bodhicitta more explicitly, in terms of clearly aspiring to help one and all with Practice of mindfulness of Buddha, makes it more firmly linked to Common Bodhicitta.

With heartfelt empathy, Bodhicitta can be easier to generate by reflecting on all the kinds of physical and mental suffering that one personally has, and will have in time, such as sickness, distress and death, and extending the wish for them to be eradicated, by sincerely wishing that all beings with similar or worse suffering have all their suffering eradicated too.

An example of expressing this is by practising mindfulness of Buddha with the motivation of guiding all beings suffering and not yet suffering, who see and hear this this practice, to reach Pure Land, and ending practice with dedication of merits to all for reaching the same goal, to end all suffering once and for all.]

以「是心作佛,是心是佛」,为因该果海,果彻因源之实义。

With ‘[it] is [the] mind [that] becomes Buddha, [and it] is [the] mind [that] is Buddha’, with [the] true meaning of [the] cause possessing [the] effect’s ocean, [and the] effect pervading [the] cause’s source.

[Note 12: As they are interconnected in nature, the essence of the pure cause of Practice (of mindfulness of Buddha’s name) already contains its immeasurable pure effects (i.e. fruits extensive and vast like an ocean), to be fully expanded later via reach of Pure Land, just as the pure effects of Practice permeate the pure cause in compressed ways.

Mindfulness of Buddha’s name, as the cause of Buddhahood, contains the essence of the effects of Buddhahood. Conversely, the effects of Buddhahood are essentially contained in mindfulness of Buddha’s name as the cause. Āmítuófó’s name is very powerful because it is a key fruit (i.e. effect) of Dharmākara Bodhisattva’s (法藏菩萨) Buddhahood, while also leading to our Buddhahood, by being its cause.]

以「都摄六根,净念相继」,为下手最切要之工夫。

With ‘gather[ing in the] six roots, [with] pure mindfulness [in] continuous succession’, as starting [Practice’s] most essential skill.

[Note 13: In short, to gather in all sense roots means to only focus on reciting and listening to the name of the Buddha wholeheartedly, using only the mind and ear roots, continually without interruption, without using any other sense roots for any other purpose.]

由是而行,再能以四弘誓愿,常不离心。

Following this then practising, [in] addition able [to], with [the] Four Great Vows, constantly not departing [from the] mind.

[Note 14: A brief way to express the essence of Bodhicitta is by reciting the Four Great Vows as follows sincerely, once before beginning Practice of mindfulness of Buddha. This is how Bodhicitta can merge with mindfulness of Buddha.

四弘誓愿

[1] 众生无边誓愿度。
[2] 烦恼无尽誓愿断。
[3] 法门无量誓愿学。
[4] 佛道无上誓愿成。

Four Great Vows

[1] Of sentient beings who are boundless, I vow to deliver them all.
[2] Of afflictions that are inexhaustible, I vow to sever them all.
[3] Of Dharma Doors that are immeasurable, I vow to learn them all.
[4] Of the Buddha path that is unsurpassable, I vow to accomplish it.]

则心与佛合,心与道合。

Then [is the] mind with Buddha merged, [and the] mind with [the] path merged.

[Note 15: With mindfulness of Buddha sincerely practised as above, and with Bodhicitta, which is the essential Aspiration of the Buddha, the mind and the Buddha, with the path to Pure Land and Buddhahood are more definitely all merged as one.]

现生即入圣流,临终直登上品,庶可不负此生矣。

[In this] present life immediately entering [the] noble stream, [at its] end directly ascending [a] high grade, so [that you do] not let down this life.

[Note 16: If the above is practised accordingly and unwaveringly now, without retrogression, one as if already enters the stream, to progress unceasingly towards liberation now, not just when in Pure Land. Due to having Bodhicitta, the grade of birth in Pure Land will be a high one too, which expedites progress to Buddhahood. This is the best way to fully utilise this life, without regrets.]

净土宗十三祖印光大师
《 复康寄遥居士书一》

Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng
(First Reply Letter [To] Layperson Kāng Jìyáo)

Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an

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净因净果

念佛法门,以信愿行三法为宗,以菩提心为根本。以「是心作佛,是心是佛」,为因该果海,果彻因源之实义。以「都摄六根,净念相继」,为下手最切要之工夫。

净土宗十三祖印光大师
《 复康寄遥居士书一》

Pure Cause With Pure Effects

Mindfulness [Of] Buddha’s Dharma Door, [is] with [the] three Dharma [teachings of] Faith, Aspiration [and] Practice as essentials, with Bodhi Mind as root. With ‘[it] is [the] mind [that] becomes Buddha, [and it] is [the] mind [that] is Buddha’, with [the] true meaning of [the] cause possessing [the] effect’s ocean, [and the] effect pervading [the] cause’s source. With ‘gather[ing in the] six roots, [with] pure mindfulness [in] continuous succession’, as starting [Practice’s] most essential skill.

Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng
(First Reply Letter [To] Layperson Kāng Jìyáo)

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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