Translations

Mindfulness Of Buddha Is Unsurpassable Śamatha & Vipaśyanā Meditation 念佛是无上止观禅修法

当念佛时,不可有别想,无有别想,即是止。

When mindful [of] Buddha[‘s name, one] must not have other thoughts. Without having other thoughts, then is [it] cessation [i.e. Śamatha: stopping, calming].

[Note 1: In mindfulness of Buddha’s name, cessation is to cease (i.e. stop) all thoughts that are impure, which are not with mindfulness of Buddha’s name. This is how calmness for concentration arises.]  

当念佛时,须了了分明,能了了分明,即是观。

When mindful [of] Buddha[‘s name, one] must understand [it] clearly. Able [to] understand [it] clearly, then is [it] contemplation [i.e. ‘Vipaśyanā’: seeing, insight].

[Note 2: In mindfulness of Buddha’s name, contemplation, (not to be mistaken as visualisation here), is to, when reciting his name clearly, verbally (aloud) or silently (in the mind), at the same time listening to it just as clearly. This also practises cessation at the same time. With connection of one’s unawakened Buddha-nature to the awakened Buddha’s blessings via his name, which helps to awaken the first, wisdom (or seeing of insight) naturally arises.]

一念中止观具足,非别有止观。

[In] one thought within [with] cessation [and] contemplation complete, not [with] other [thoughts, is] having cessation [and] contemplation.

[Note 3: Cessation and contemplation are essential components of Buddhist meditation, usually practised separately, using various other subjects and methods. For example, mindfulness of breathing in Ānāpānasati meditation is a cessation practice for gaining concentration. And mindfulness of thoughts, feelings and sensations in Vipassanā (or Vipaśyanā in Sanskrit) meditation is a contemplation practice for gaining insight (i.e. wisdom).

Note 4: It can be challenging to practise mindfulness of breathing when dying, possibly with great pain and suffering then from sickness, while gasping and running out of breath. Likewise, it can be challenging to practise mindfulness of possibly very disturbing fleeting thoughts, feelings and sensations unique to the dying process, that are unprepared for. Thus, only with Self-Power (自力) of personal efforts, without the Other-Power (他力) of the Buddha, it is difficult to direct oneself to the best rebirth or/for liberation.

Note 5: Mindfulness of Buddha is however with cessation and contemplation simultaneously, not with one practised after another separately. It is with the most spiritually powerful subject possible, for the most wonderful results of attaining great blessings instantly, and for swiftest progress to Buddhahood via Pure Land. These are some reasons why mindfulness of Buddha is ‘unsurpassable profound and wonderful meditation’ (无上深妙禅), as taught by Śākyamuni Buddha (释迦牟尼佛) in the ‘Great Collection Sūtra’《大集经》. It is definitely not ‘mere chanting’. It does not require extraneous subjects such as the breath or an unenlightened thought. It directly connects what needs to be connected – one’s Buddha-nature, to a Buddha, who represents all Buddhas, via his ‘ten thousand virtues’ great name’ (万德洪名).]

止即定因,定即止果,观即慧因,慧即观果。

Cessation then [is] concentration’s cause, [and] concentration then [is] cessation’s effect. Contemplation then [is] wisdom’s cause, [and] wisdom then [is] contemplation’s effect.

[Note 6: From cessation of stray thoughts through wholehearted recitation of Buddha’s name, since there is no scattered mind, concentration arises. From wholehearted contemplation of Buddha’s name, his blessings nurture the arising of intuitive wisdom within one’s Buddha-nature, along with wisdom shared by the Buddha.

Note 7: The path to liberation requires the Threefold Learning (三学) of precepts, concentration and wisdom (戒定慧). When mindful of Buddha purely, one naturally abides by the precepts too, avoiding evil in body, speech and mind, by directly purifying the mind as the root of body and speech. Thus, mindfulness of Buddha also skilfully fulfils all aspects of the Threefold Learning at the same time.]

一念不生,了了分明,即寂而照。

[With] one [other] thought not arising, understanding [the Buddha’s name] clearly, then [is having] stillness yet [with] illumination.

[Note 8: Having cessation of other thoughts, there is stillness with the Buddha’s name, (which expresses the passive nature of immeasurable life: 无量寿). Conventionally, stillness and illumination are cultivated separately, in terms of passive concentration and active contemplation meditation practices respectively, as in the examples above. However, when with mindfulness of Buddha, both aspects are cultivated simultaneously.]     

了了分明,一念不生,即照而寂。

Understanding [the Buddha’s name] clearly, [with] one [other] thought not arising, then [is having] illumination yet [with] stillness.

[Note 9: Having contemplation of the Buddha’s name, (which expresses the active nature of immeasurable light: 无量光), there is illumination.]   

能如是者,净业必无不成。

[Of] those able [to] thus [practise, their] pure karma will [be] without [those] not accomplished.   

[Note 10: Pure karma here refers to the karma created from Pure Land practice of mindfulness of the Buddha’s name, resulting in birth in Pure Land for complete purification of karma.]

如此成者,皆是上品。

Those in this way accomplished, all are [to be born in] high grades. 

[Note 11: As the Pure Land Tradition’s 9th Patriarch Great Master Ǒuyì (净土宗九祖偶益大师) taught in the ‘Essential Explanation (On The) Sūtra (In Which The) Buddha Speaks (Of) Amitā(bha Buddha)’《佛说阿弥陀经要解》, ‘Attaining birth (in Āmítuófó’s Pure Land) or not, (is) all due (to) Faith (and) Aspiration (being) present (or) absent. (The) grade (of birth being) high (or) low, (is) all due (to the Practice of) upholding (the) name of (Āmítuófó being) deep (or) shallow.’ (得生与否,全由信愿之有无。品位高下,全由持名之深浅。) Since to practise as above is to uphold mindfulness of the Buddha’s name more deeply, it will lead to a higher grade of birth.]

一人乃至百千万亿人,如是修,皆如是成就。

[Of] one person and even [a] hundred trillion persons, thus cultivating, all [will] thus [be] accomplished.

[Note 12: As the above teachings are universal in nature, one and all who practise accordingly will attain their results accordingly.]   

念佛者可不慎乎?  

[How] can those mindful [of] Buddha not [pay] attention [to this]?   

[Note 13: Thus, all mindful of Buddha should pay attention to this. In fact, all those not yet aware of the great benefits of mindfulness of Buddha, as above, should also pay attention to this.]

净土宗十二祖彻悟大师
门人唤醒了睿辑录  
《彻悟大师遗集》卷上  


Pure Land Tradition’s 12th Patriarch Great Master Chèwù
[By] Disciples Huànxǐng [And] Liǎoruì Compiled  
Great Master Chèwù’s Bequeathed Collection: Higher Scroll

Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an

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