When those mindful [of] Buddha [are] not able [to be] sincere, [this is due to] not knowing [the] Sahā [World’s] suffering, [and the Land Of] Ultimate Bliss’ bliss.
[Note 1: If aware of the great present and impending suffering of being trapped in the cycle of birth, ageing, sickness and death here, versus the great bliss of reaching Pure Land, also knowing that mindfulness of Buddha is the way to end such suffering, and to receive such bliss, there will naturally be sincere mindfulness of Buddha, thus connecting to the Buddha firmly.]
若念 (1) 人身难得，(2) 中国难生，(3) 佛法难遇，(4) 净土法门更为难遇，(5) 若不一心念佛，一气不来，定随宿生今世之最重恶业，堕三途恶道，长劫受苦，了无出期。如是则思地狱苦，(6) 发菩提心。
If mindful [that (1) this] human body [is] difficult [to] attain, [that (2) the] middle land [where the Dharma is centrally available is] difficult [to be] born [in, that (3) the] Buddha’s Dharma [is] difficult [to] encounter, [and that (4) the] Pure Land Dharma Door [is] even more difficult [to] encounter, [thus know that] (5) if not wholeheartedly mindful [of] Buddha, [when the next] one breath [does] not come, [we will] definitely accord [with the] most heavy evil karma of past lives [and] this life, [to] fall [into the] three [lower] realms’ evil paths, [for] long kalpas [to] receive suffering, completely without exit’s date. Thus then contemplate hell’s suffering, [and] (6) give rise [to the] Bodhi Mind [i.e. Bodhicitta].
[Note 2: To increase sincerity in mindfulness of Buddha, the above 6 numbered reflections should be contemplated sequentially. Although it is not definite that all will surely fall into the lowest of the evil paths (i.e. hell) for indefinite time if not born in Pure Land in the next life, it is skilful to contemplate this possibility, to most greatly motivate practice, as we are likely to have past karma that can facilitate such fall awaiting to ripen, even if not having created such karma in this life.]
That Bodhi Mind, [is the] mind of self-benefitting and benefitting others.
[Note 3: The Bodhi Mind is not just the aspiration for oneself’s awakening to Buddhahood, but the aspiration for facilitating the awakening of all other beings too. The first aspiration can be extended to include the second aspiration by relating that the 6 reflections are applicable to all other beings too, and that since most do not contemplate them, they will unfortunately suffer. Mindful of this, compassion for oneself should extend to become compassion for all. This is how the Bodhi Mind can be given rise to.]
This mind once given rise [to, is] like [an electrical] appliance receiving electricity, like medicine added [with] sulphur.
[Note 4: The Bodhi Mind energises and enhances sincerity in mindfulness of Buddha – because no longer is this practice done just for oneself, but for all other beings too. Each recitation of the Buddha’s name becomes more sincerely motivated and thus more powerful. Both quality and quantity of practice should increase, as the more sincere the practice is, and the more it is done, the more can it benefit one and all, offering guidance and meritorious virtues.]
Its power [is not only] extremely great, but also swift.
[Note 5: With the Aspiration to reach Pure Land for helping oneself and others most greatly ennobled with the Bodhi Mind to be the most noble spiritual aspiration possible, mindfulness of Buddha becomes very efficacious. As the Bodhi Mind given rise to properly is a powerful vow, this makes it easier to reach Pure Land as it strengthens the Aspiration to reach it, with reaching it no longer just a limited personal goal for self-benefit, but for benefitting all others too – by personally training through it for liberation, and to best facilitate others to train through it for liberation too. Giving rise to the Bodhi Mind in this way also attains a higher grade of birth for swifter spiritual progress towards Buddhahood. Even if giving rise to the Bodhi Mind in this way is challenging, one should at least be receptive to the truth that it will naturally be given rise to fully in Pure Land. If open to this, this is indirect yet still giving rise to the Bodhi Mind.]
Its eliminating [of] karmic obstacles, [and] increasing [of] blessings [and] wisdom, [are] not of that, [which] ordinary blessed virtues [and] good roots, [are] able [to be] compared [with].
[Note 6: As sincere mindfulness of Buddha with the Bodhi Mind is the most meritorious way to practise it, this create greater meritorious virtues, thus particularly effective in eliminating much negative karmic obstacles, while increasing much blessings. It also increases wisdom as it aligns the Buddha’s blessings to further awaken Buddha-nature’s innate wisdom. As other methods of practice are only self-powered, instead of being also other-powered, they only create ordinary blessed virtues and good roots, in contrast to mindfulness of Buddha’s specially boosted ones.]
Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng
(Reply Letter [To] Layperson Chén Huìchāo)
Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an
What Is Unsurpassable Bodhicitta?
Is Bodhicitta A Must For Birth In Amituofo’s Pure Land?