Wide Deliverance Door
【 ◎ 隋 • 两位沙弥】
[Suí (Dynasty): Two Śrāmaṇeras]
[In] Wènzhōu [were] two Śrāmaṇeras, [not knowing what kinds of persons they were, but with the] same Aspiration [to be] mindful [of] Buddha.
Passing five years, [the] senior [one] first departed, reaching Pure Land. Seeing [the] Buddha, [he] said, ‘[There] is [a] junior Śrāmaṇera, [who] with me together cultivated. Can [he too] attain birth [or] not?’
[The] Buddha said, ‘Due [to] that [person having] encouraged you, you then gave rise [to the] mind [to be mindful of Buddha]. You now can return, [to] increase cultivation [of] pure karma. Three years later, [you] will together come here.’
[Note 1: As the senior already had proficient practice, he could return to this Sahā World (娑婆世界) to repay the kindness of his junior, as he would not spiritually backslide (retrogress), while still able to progress here, to upgrade his grade of birth upon return to Pure Land. As his junior has created enough meritorious virtues to deserve more inspiring motivation by his senior, and as he needed three years to catch up, thus was the later appointment made. This is an amazing case of resurrection after physical death, with normal living for three whole years, while also doubly ‘knowing in advances the time of arrival’ (预知时至) in Pure Land.]
至期，二人见佛与圣众，自西而来，大地震动，天华飘舞，一时同化。（佛祖统纪)【也记载于胡珽撰之 《净土圣贤录》：卷二 • 往生比丘第三之一】
Reaching [the] date, [the] two persons saw [the] Buddha with [a] noble assembly, from [the] West then coming. [As the] great earth shook, [and] heavenly flowers floated [and] danced [in the air, they at the] same time together departed. (Chronicles [Of] Buddhas [And] Patriarchs) [Also in ‘Record [Of] Pure Land’s Noble Sages: Scroll Two: First [Of] Third [Section On] Reborn Bhikṣus, compiled [by] Hú Tǐng]
Great Master Yōután said, ‘Learning [of the] Buddha’s [teachings has] many doors, [while] great compassion is Bodhisattvas’ right track. [As] benefitting others’ essential practice, encouraging advancement [to Pure Land is] thus pure karma’s supreme cause.
[Note 2: Giving rise to the Bodhi Mind (i.e. Bodhicitta: 菩提心) is the Dharma Door (法门) for entering the Bodhisattva path (菩萨道). Aspiring to personally reach Pure Land, and to return to better encourage others to advance towards Pure Land is expression of Bodhicitta, as all will realise Buddhahood through reaching it. The stronger such Bodhicitta is, the easier is it to reach Pure Land, as the sense of mission (or motivation) that powers Aspiration (愿) will be correspondingly stronger. Encouraging others to advance towards Pure Land now is also expression of Bodhicitta. As compassion and pure karma are most swiftly perfected via Pure Land, advancing towards Pure Land are their supreme causes.]
[The Great Prajñā] Sūtra says, ‘If [a] person with [the] four heavens below’s seven treasures offer [the] Buddha and Bodhisattvas, [those by] Conditions Awakened [and] Voice-Hearers, [with] attained blessings extremely many, [they are] not equal to [that of] encouraging [a] person [to be] mindful [of] Buddha [with] one utterance, [as] its blessings surpass that.’
[Note 3: This is so as even if a person has a single utterance of the Buddha’s name, the cause for reaching Pure Land is thus created. In time to come, with supportive conditions, the full effect of attaining Buddhahood will be realised. This person will also in turn guide others to Buddhahood.]
Sincerely with wealth giving then helps [those with] one life of poverty, [and with] food giving then helps [those with] one day of life. [With the] Dharma giving then enables people [to] transcend [the] world, [of] its meritorious virtues, how can [they be] comparable [and] equal?
[Note 4: Giving of the worldly can only help in limited worldly ways, while giving the supreme gift of the Dharma is unsurpassable as it offers the ultimate help, to advance towards Buddhahood.]
[With] wealth giving, [is] like light, stopping [at] illuminating one room. [With the] Dharma giving [is] then like [the] sun, everywhere illuminating [the] great thousandfold [world] [i.e. like the Buddha’s sun’s radiance (佛日光辉)].
[Note 5: Again, giving of the worldly only has measurable benefits, while giving the Dharma has immeasurable benefits.]
[Being] stingy [with the] Dharma and not encouraging cultivation, [for] continuous kalpas sinking in [the] black hells. [With] mindfulness [of] Buddha and practising transforming [and] guiding [of others, in the] present life, [one] is the ‘same’ as Āmítuófó.
[Note 6: Being stingy with the Dharma is the opposite of practising compassion, by being heartless or even cruel, thus possibly leading to rebirth in the hells. Being generous with the Pure Land Dharma, one is ‘similar’ to Āmítuófó, in terms of having the function of guiding others towards his Pure Land.]
Widely spreading loving-kindness’ clouds, give one another encouragement, praise this compassionate aspiration, [and] universally form pure conditions.
[Note 7: Out of compassion, we should urge one another to reach Pure Land, and praise one another for doing so, so that more will be continually urged to do the same.]
Pulling out [those] drowning in attachment’s river, [to] exit [the] bitter ocean of rebirth.
[Note 8: To guide others to Pure Land is to pull them out from the ongoing flow of worldly attachments, to depart from the cycle of birth and death.]
Equally ascending [the] Land [Of Ultimate] Bliss, together repaying [the] Buddha’s kindness.’
[Note 9: As the Buddha’s chief concern is that all swiftly attain Buddhahood, the easiest way to repay the Buddha’s kindness is to reach Pure Land, to train swiftly yet easily there, and return to guide others to reach Pure Land too, through which Buddhahood is guaranteed.]
[The] Path Within Paths And [The Most] Direct [Path]:
Proof [Of] Meaning’s Middle Scroll: Establishing Aspiration’s Method[s]
◎ 清 • 张师诚著
By Qīng [Dynasty’s] Zhāng Shīchéng
Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an