Translations

Foremost Wonderful Method For Departing From Suffering And Eradicating Negative Karma 出苦消业第一妙法

【诸佛以八苦为师,成无上道,是苦为成佛之本。】

(All Buddhas [are] with [the] eight sufferings as teachers, [to] accomplish [the] unsurpassable path. [It] is suffering as [the] root of accomplishing Buddhahood.)
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念佛要时常作将死,将堕地狱想。

When [practising] mindfulness [of] Buddha, [you] must often have [the] thought [that you] will die, [and] will fall [into] hell.

[Note 1: We are all certainly advancing towards death, although uncertain of when it will arrive – which might be the very next moment. Remembering this helps to cultivate a greater sense of urgency, to practise more diligently and regularly. Unless with extremely negative karma ripening upon death, we are not definitely falling into hell after death. However, thinking that this might be so in the worst-case scenario helps to cultivate a greater sense of the importance, of having more sincere mindfulness of Buddha. This helps as only mindfulness of Buddha when dying can prevent the ripening of otherwise hellish karma.]

则不恳切亦自恳切,不相应亦自相应。

Then, [if] not sincere [and] earnest, [you will] also naturally [become] sincere [and] earnest. [If] not corresponding [with the Buddha, you will] also naturally correspond [with the Buddha].

[Note 2: The above thinking helps to motivate us to have greater sincerity when practising mindfulness of Buddha, thus leading to connection to the Buddha with response.]

以怖苦心念佛,即是出苦第一妙法。

With [the] mind terrified [of] suffering [thus] mindful [of] Buddha, this is [for] departing [from] suffering, [the] foremost wonderful method.

[Note 3: This is not to focus on mindfulness of fear itself. It is to, due to fear of suffering, focus better on mindfulness of Buddha instead, all the more sincerely. (When there is truly wholehearted mindfulness of Buddha, there will be no room in the mind for mindfulness of fear or suffering.) Doing so eradicates suffering with maximum possible speed, as swiftly as we are sincerely mindful of Buddha. This works as mindfulness of Buddha creates immense blessings and meritorious virtues, that can dilute much negative karma, which is what gives rise to suffering, including from fear.] 

[Note 4: The more negative karma we have, the more should we practise sincerely. However, if there is much craving for quick results, we will not be very sincere, thus not having significant results quickly. Similar to the above, to motivate us to have greater sincerity when practising mindfulness of Buddha, we should think we do indeed have much extremely negative karma. If our karma is not very negative, we will not still be trapped in rebirth in this Dharma-Ending Age.]

亦是随缘消业第一妙法。

[It is] also, [when] according [with] conditions, [for] eradicating [negative] karma, [the] foremost wonderful method.

[Note 5: Whenever there is time, there can also be mindfulness of Buddha to eradicate negative karma, as much as possible. This is the most excellent method as it is easy to practise, able be done at any time and place without any equipment, while also having maximum efficacy. As above, this works as mindfulness of Buddha creates immense blessings and meritorious virtues.]
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【次则以病苦为药,以病为药者,以病作治念佛不恳切之药也,则病亦不为累矣(无爱即无娑婆,不苦不能成佛)。】

(Next, then with sickness’ suffering as medicine, those with sickness as medicine, [are] with sickness becoming [the] medicine [for] curing mindfulness [of] Buddha not [being] earnest [and] sincere, then not by sickness burdened. {Without attachment, immediately without [the] Sahā [World], not suffering, not able [to] accomplish Buddhahood.})

净土宗十三祖印光大师
Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng  
《复永嘉某居士书六》
(Sixth Reply [Letter To A] Certain Yǒngjiā Layperson)

Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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