Q&A Quotes

Will All See The Buddha Receive Them With Lotus Flowers When Practising Mindfulness Of Him? 念佛者皆见佛以莲华接引吗?Verses For The General Person 一般偈

一般偈
Verses [For The] General [Person]

观经下下品,
五逆十恶者,
临终念佛时,
见金莲往生。

[In the] Contemplation Sūtra, [those] Lowest [of the] Low Grade’s [Birth, who are] those [who have done the] Five Heinous [Transgressions and the] Ten Evils, when approaching [the] end [of life with] mindfulness [of] Buddha, [will] see [a] golden lotus [flower and] attain rebirth [in Pure Land].

其余上八品,
无五逆十恶,
所以一般说,
念佛跟佛生。

[As] its other eight higher grades, [are] without [the] Five Heinous [Transgressions and the] Ten Evils, therefore generally saying, ‘[With] mindfulness [of] Buddha, follow [the] Buddha [to be] born.’

佛既发愿接,
若教一般人,
等金莲花到,
可乱众生心。

Since [the] Buddha gave rise [to the] vow [to] receive, if teaching general persons, [to] wait [for a] golden lotus flower [to] arrive, [this] can confuse [the] minds [of] sentient beings.
  
所以一般说,
一心念佛号,
见佛而跟佛,
可摄一般心。 

Therefore generally saying, ‘[With] wholeheartedness [be] mindful [of the] Buddha’s name, [with] seeing [of the] Buddha, then follow [the] Buddha’, [as this] can gather minds generally.


《观经》摘录:往生时
Contemplation Sūtra’s
 Excerpts: When Being Reborn

[1.1] 上品上生 High Grade’s High Births

见佛 See the Buddha + 金刚台 Vajra dais:

生彼国时,此人精进勇猛故,阿弥陀如来,与观世音、大势至、无数化佛、百千比丘、声闻大众、无量诸天,七宝宫殿。观世音菩萨,执金刚台,与大势至菩萨,至行者前。阿弥陀佛,放大光明,照行者身。与诸菩萨,授手迎接。观世音、大势至、与无数菩萨,赞叹行者,劝进其心。行者见已,欢喜踊跃。自见其身,乘金刚台,随从佛后,如弹指顷,往生彼国。

When being born in that land, these persons, with diligence courageous and powerful thus, Amitā[bha] Thus Come One, with Contemplator Of The World’s Sounds, Great Power Arrived, innumerable manifested Buddhas, a hundred thousand Bhikṣus, Voice-Hearers’ great assembly, immeasurably many heavenly beings, and seven treasures’ palace halls will appear. Contemplator Of The World’s Sounds Bodhisattva, holding a vajra dais, with Great Power Arrived Bodhisattva, will arrive before these practitioners. Amitā[bha] Buddha will emit great bright light, that illuminates these practitioners’ bodies. With all Bodhisattvas, extending their hands to welcome and receive them. Contemplator Of The World’s Sounds, Great Power Arrived, with innumerable Bodhisattvas, will highly praise these practitioners, to encourage progress with their minds. These practitioners, seeing this already, will be joyful and enthusiastic. Personally seeing their bodies, riding on vajra daises, following the Buddha from behind, like that within a fingersnap’s moment, they are reborn in that land.

Note 1: Generally, the greater the practitioner (修行者) is in cultivation (修行), the greater the noble assembly (圣众) that comes to receive and guide (接引) is, as an expression of his or her meritorious virtues (功德).

Note 2: The seven treasures’ palace halls (七宝宫殿) that appear serve to motivate the practitioners to aspire (愿) to reach the Pure Land (净土) even more strongly.

Note 3: The Buddha’s light (佛光) that envelopes the practitioners gives rise to the body and mind being gentle and soft (身心柔软), thus having peace and bliss (安乐).

Note 4: To encourage progress with their minds (劝进其心) is to motivate their continual (系念) sincere (至心) mindfulness of Buddha (念佛) with Faith and Aspiration (信愿) to reach his Pure Land.

[1.2] 上品中生 High Grade’s Middle Births

见佛 See the Buddha + 紫金台 Purple-gold dais:

行此行者,命欲终时,阿弥陀佛,与观世音、大势至、无量大众、眷属围绕,持紫金台,至行者前。赞言:『法子,汝行大乘,解第一义,是故我今来迎接汝。』与千化佛,一时授手。行者自见坐紫金台,合掌叉手,赞叹诸佛。如一念顷,即生彼国七宝池中。

For those practising these practices, when their lives almost end, Amitā[bha] Buddha, with Contemplator Of The World’s Sounds, Great Power Arrived, an immeasurable great assembly, and family members will surround, holding a purple-gold dais, arriving before these practitioners. Praising by saying, “Dharma disciple, as you practise the Great Vehicle, and understand the supreme truth, therefore I have now come to welcome and receive you.” With thousands of manifested Buddhas, at once extending their hands. These practitioners will personally see themselves seated on purple-gold daises, with joined palms and crossed hands, highly praising all Buddhas. As if in one thought moment, they will be immediately born in that land’s seven treasures’ ponds within.

Note 5: The family members (眷属) who also come to receive and guide the practitioners are past family members, who have already reached the Pure Land, thus coming to express support.

Note 6: The Great Vehicle’s (大乘) teachings are those that align with the Bodhi Mind (菩提心: Bodhicitta), for seeking Buddhahood (佛果) and widely delivering all sentient beings (广度众生).

Note 7: To understand the supreme truth (解第一义) is to comprehend the Prajñā Pāramitā (般若波罗蜜: Perfection Of Wisdom) teachings.

Note 8: The thousands of manifested Buddhas, at once extending their hands (千化佛,一时授手) are with the practitioners in the centre, surrounding them. This is done to motivate their continual sincere mindfulness of Buddha with Faith and Aspiration to reach Āmítuófó’s (阿弥陀佛) Pure Land, to cut out all distracting false thoughts (杂念).

Note 9: With joined palms and crossed hands (合掌叉手) is to place palms against each other and criss-cross the fingers for easier holding of the palms together, especially when very sick and weak. This gesture is to express reverence (恭敬) and refuge for life (皈命).

Note 10: Highly praising all Buddhas (赞叹诸佛) is most easily done with continual sincere mindfulness of Āmítuófó’s name, whose name also means ‘Immeasurable Buddhas’ (无量佛), and since mindfulness of him also connects to all other Buddhas.

[1.3] 上品下生 High Grade’s Low Births

见佛 See the Buddha + 金莲华 Golden lotus flower:

行者命欲终时,阿弥陀佛,及观世音、大势至、与诸菩萨,持金莲华,化作五百佛,来迎此人。五百化佛,一时授手。赞言:『法子,汝今清净,发无上道心,我来迎汝。』见此事时,即自见身坐金莲华。坐已华合,随世尊后,即得往生七宝池中。

When these practitioners’ lives almost end, Amitā[bha] Buddha and Contemplator Of The World’s Sounds, Great Power Arrived, with many Bodhisattvas, holding a golden lotus flower, manifesting as five hundred Buddhas, will come to welcome these persons. These five hundred manifested Buddhas, at once extend their hands. Praising by saying, “Dharma disciple, as you now are pure, and gave rise to the unsurpassable path’s mind, I have come to welcome you.” When seeing this matter, they immediately personally see their bodies seated on golden lotus flowers. Seated already, the flowers close, following the World-Honoured One from behind, they will immediately attain rebirth within seven treasures’ ponds.

Note 11: Purity here refers to being pure (清净) enough to reach the Pure Land. It is not perfect (圆满) purity, which is only attained as Buddhas. 

Note 12: The unsurpassable path’s mind (无上道心) is the Bodhi Mind.

[2.1] 中品上生 Middle Grade’s High Births

见佛 See the Buddha + 莲华台 Lotus flower dais:

临命终时,阿弥陀佛,与诸比丘,眷属围绕,放金色光,至其人所。演说苦、空、无常、无我。赞叹出家,得离众苦。行者见已,心大欢喜。自见己身,坐莲华台,长跪合掌,为佛作礼。未举头顷,即得往生极乐世界,莲华寻开。

When approaching their lives’ end, Amitā[bha] Buddha, with many Bhikṣus, and family members will surround, emitting golden coloured light, arriving at where these persons are. Expounding on suffering, emptiness, impermanence and non-self. Highly praising departure from the household life, to attain departure from all suffering. These practitioners, seeing these already, will have minds with great joy. Personally seeing their bodies, seated on lotus flower daises, long kneeling with joined palms, to the Buddha paying homage. Yet to raise their heads, just then, they will immediately attain rebirth in the Land Of Ultimate Bliss, with the lotus flowers soon blossoming.

Note 13: The expounding on suffering, emptiness, impermanence and non-self (演说苦、空、无常、无我) is to teach the Three Dharma Seals (三法印) or Three Universal Characteristics (of mind [心] and matter/body [身]), to motivate the mind of renunciation (出离心), that leads towards self-liberation (解脱). This will be attained in the Pure Land. (Emptiness [空] is the truth of the phenomena of mind and matter being empty of permanence [常] and self [我].) The Bodhi Mind will be given rise to in the Pure Land too, that leads towards complete liberation of one and all.

[2.2] 中品中生 Middle Grade’s Middle Births

见佛 See the Buddha + 七宝莲华 Seven treasures’ lotus flower:

如此行者,命欲终时,见阿弥陀佛,与诸眷属,放金色光,持七宝莲华,至行者前。行者自闻空中有声,赞言:『善男子,如汝善人,随顺三世诸佛教故,我来迎汝。』行者自见坐莲华上,莲华即合,生于西方极乐世界。

These practitioners, when their lives almost end, will see Amitā[bha] Buddha, with many family members, emitting golden coloured light, holding a seven treasures’ lotus flower, arriving before these practitioners. These practitioners will personally hear a voice within the sky, praising by saying, “Good man, as you are a good person, who accordingly follow the three periods’ all Buddhas’ teachings thus, I have come to welcome you.” These practitioners will personally see themselves seated on lotus flowers above, with the lotus flowers immediately closing, for birth in the Western Land Of Ultimate Bliss.

Note 14: The voice within the sky (空中有声) is that of Āmítuófó, with clear and loud surround sound.

Note 15: The three periods (三世) are the past period (过去世), present period (现在世) and future period (未来世).

[2.3] 中品下生 Middle Grade’s Low Births

* 即生 Immediately born [不提见佛见莲华 No mention of seeing Buddha or lotus flower]:

此人命欲终时,遇善知识,为其广说阿弥陀佛国土乐事,亦说法藏比丘四十八愿。闻此事已,寻即命终。譬如壮士屈伸臂顷,即生西方极乐世界

These persons, when their lives almost end, meet good-knowing friends, for them extensively speaking of Amitā[bha] Buddha’s Land’s blissful matters, likewise speaking of Dharma Treasury Bhikṣu’s forty-eight vows. Having heard these matters already, soon then with their lives ending. For example, like a strong man bending and extending an arm in a moment, they will be immediately born in the Western Land Of Ultimate Bliss.

Note 16: The past Dharma Treasury Bhikṣu’s forty-eight vows (法藏比丘四十八愿) are those of the present Āmítuófó, with the learning of which, motivates practitioners to aspire to reach his Pure Land.

Note 17: Like a strong man bending and extending an arm in a moment (譬如壮士屈伸臂顷) refers to the duration being extremely short, so much so that it seems immediate (即). This is similar to those with the High Grade’s High Births (上品上生), born within a fingersnap’s moment (如弹指顷).

[3.1] 下品上生 Low Grade’s High Births

见佛 See the Buddha + 宝莲华 Treasure lotus flower:

命欲终时,遇善知识,为说大乘十二部经首题名字。以闻如是诸经名故,除却千劫极重恶业。智者复教合掌叉手,称『南无阿弥陀佛』。称佛名故,除五十亿劫生死之罪。尔时彼佛,即遣化佛、化观世音、化大势至,至行者前。赞言:『善男子,以汝称佛名故,诸罪消灭,我来迎汝。』作是语已,行者即见化佛光明,遍满其室。见已欢喜,即便命终。乘宝莲华,随化佛后,生宝池中。

When their lives almost end, they meet good-knowing friends, for them speaking the Great Vehicle’s twelve divisions’ sūtras’ heading titles’ words. With hearing of such all sūtras’ names thus, eliminating a thousand kalpas of extremely heavy evil karma. Those wise again teach them to, with joined palms and crossed hands, recite “Námó Amitā[bha/yus] Buddha” [i.e. Námó Āmítuófó]. Reciting the Buddha’s name thus, eliminating fifty koṭis’ kalpas’ transgressions of births and deaths. At that time, that Buddha immediately sends a manifested Buddha, manifested Contemplator Of The World’s Sounds and manifested Great Power Arrived, to arrive before these practitioners. Praising by saying, “Good man, with your reciting of the Buddha’s name thus, with all transgressions eliminated, I have come to welcome you.” Having made this statement already, these practitioners immediately see the manifested Buddha’s bright light, everywhere filling their rooms. Seeing it already, with joy, immediately then, their lives end. Riding on treasure lotus flowers, following the manifested Buddha from behind, to be born within treasure ponds.

Note 18: Speaking the Great Vehicle’s twelve divisions’ sūtras’ heading titles’ words (大乘十二部经首题名字) is to express the essence of their teachings aligned to the Bodhi Mind. Mindfulness of the Buddha’s name has similar effects, with this being easier for focused practice.

Note 19: The twelve divisions’ sūtras are scriptures in the formats of (i) Sūtra (long lines; prose) (长行), (ii) Geya (restatements of sūtra teachings with verses) (重颂), (iii) Gātha (solitary-arising; verses) (孤起), (iv) Itivṛttaka (parables) (譬喻), (v) Nidāna (purposes, causes and conditions of propounding teachings and monastic precepts) (因缘), (vi) Udāna (that without being asked, as personally spoken by the Buddha) (无问自说), (vii) Jātaka (the Buddha’s past lives’ stories) (本生), (viii) Avadāna (others’ past lives’ matters) (本事), (ix) Adbhutadharma (that never before; rare; miraculous; marvellous matters) (未曾有), (x) Vaipulya (right and vast; extensive) (方广), (xi) Upadeśa (discussions and debates) (论议), and (xii) Vyākarana (predictions of disciples’ enlightenment) (授记).

Note 20: Recitation of the Buddha’s name once eliminates so much more transgressions than listening to the twelve divisions’ sūtras’ names as with suffering, the mind is adrift and scattered (浮散), thus with less eliminating of transgressions. This contrasts with mindfulness of the Buddha’s name, which is able to immediately gather the scattered mind.

Note 21: A koṭi (亿) is about 10,000,000, a unit of 10 million. A kalpa (劫) is an inconceivably long period of time; one world cycle: time for a world system to be formed and destroyed, about 1,334,000.000 (1.3 trillion) years.

[3.2] 下品中生 Low Grade’s Middle Births

见华上佛 See Buddhas above flowers:

遇善知识,以大慈悲,即为赞说阿弥陀佛十力威德,广赞彼佛光明神力。亦赞戒、定、慧、解脱、解脱知见。此人闻已,除八十亿劫生死之罪。地狱猛火,化为清凉风,吹诸天华。华上皆有化佛菩萨,迎接此人。如一念顷,即得往生七宝池中莲华之内。

Meeting good-knowing friends, with great loving-kindness and compassion, immediately for them praising and speaking of Amitā[bha] Buddha’s Ten Powers’ majestic virtues, extensively praising that Buddha’s bright light’s supernormal powers. Likewise praising precepts, concentration, wisdom, liberation and liberation’s knowledge with insight. These persons, having heard these already, will eliminate eighty koṭis’ kalpas’ transgressions of births and deaths. Hell’s fierce fires transform to be cool breezes, blowing many heavenly flowers. The flowers above all have manifested Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, welcoming and receiving these persons. As if in one thought moment, they will immediately attain rebirth within seven treasures’ ponds’ lotus flowers inside.

Note 22: The Ten Powers (十力) are (i) Knowledge of right aspects’ and wrong aspects’ wisdom’s power (知是处非处智力); Right aspects’ and wrong aspects’ power (是处非处力), (ii) Knowledge of past, present and future karmic recompenses’ wisdom’s power (知过现未来业报智力); Karmas’ different ripenings’ wisdom’s power (业异熟智力); Karma power (业力), (iii) Knowledge of all meditations’, liberations’ and samādhis’ wisdom’s power (知诸禅解脱三昧智力); Concentrations’ wisdom’s power (定智力); Concentration power (定力), (iv) Knowledge of all roots’ superiorities’ and inferiorities’ wisdom’s power (知诸根胜劣智力); Root power (根力), (v) Knowledge of all kinds of liberations’ wisdom’s power (知种种解智力); All kinds of desires’ wisdom’s power (种种欲智力); Desire power (欲力), (vi) Knowledge of all kinds of realms’ wisdom power (知种种界智力); (Habitual) nature’s wisdom’s power (性智力); Nature’s power (性力), (vii) Knowledge of all reached places’ and paths’ wisdom’s power (知一切至处道智力); Reached places’ and paths’ power (至处道力), (viii) Knowledge of past lives without outflows’ wisdom’s power (知宿命无漏智力); Past lives’ wisdom’s power (宿命智力), (ix) Knowledge from heavenly eye without obstructions’ wisdom’s power (知天眼无碍智力); Births’ and deaths’ wisdom’s power (生死智力); Heavenly eye power (天眼力), and (x) Knowledge from forever severing habits’ wisdom’s power (知永断习气智力); Outflows exhausted’s wisdom’s power (漏尽智力); Outflows exhausted’s power (漏尽力).

Note 23: Precepts, concentration, wisdom, liberation and liberation’s knowledge with insight (戒、定、慧、解脱、解脱知见) are together called the Five-Part Dharma Body (五分法身) of the Buddhas. The first three form the Threefold Learning (三学) for liberation (解脱) and liberation’s knowledge with insight (解脱知见), thus complete with practice (事) and principle (理). The first three form cultivation’s causes (修因) and the next two form the resulting fruits (结果).

Note 24: The easier way to eliminate eighty koṭis’ kalpas’ transgressions of births and deaths (除八十亿劫生死之罪) is as below, reciting the Buddha’s name (称佛名).

[3.3] 下品下生 Low Grade’s Low Births

* 见金莲华 See golden lotus flower:

称佛名故,于念念中,除八十亿劫生死之罪。命终之时,见金莲华,犹如日轮,住其人前。如一念顷,即得往生极乐世界。

Reciting the Buddha’s name thus, in thought to thought within, eliminating eighty koṭis’ kalpas’ transgressions of births and deaths. When their lives are ending, they will see golden lotus flowers, similar to the sun disc, abiding before these persons. As if in one thought moment, they will immediately attain rebirth in the Land Of Ultimate Bliss.

Note 25: For those with the Low Grade’s High Births (下品上生), it is taught that, ‘Reciting the Buddha’s name thus, eliminating fifty koṭis’ kalpas’ transgressions of births and deaths.’ (称佛名故,除五十亿劫生死之罪。) However, for those with the Low Grade’s Low Births (下品下生) here, it is taught that, ‘Reciting the Buddha’s name thus, in thought to thought within, eliminating eighty koṭis’ kalpas’ transgressions of births and deaths.’ (称佛名故,于念念中,除八十亿劫生死之罪。)

The difference of thirty koṭis’ kalpas’ more of transgressions being eliminated could be due to the latter having even more sincerity ‘in thought to thought’, as motivated by greater desperation. Such would be the power of thought transformation (转念), which lets great negative experiences become conditions for even greater pure practice. As the saying goes, ‘the dog who is anxious jumps over the wall’ (狗急跳墙). This offers great hope and motivation. However, profound Faith (深信) in the Buddha is needed. (Perhaps the above also ‘suggest’ that those with the Low Grade’s Middle Births [下品中生], being between the two grades mentioned, eliminate about sixty-five koṭis’ kalpas’ transgressions?)

If those of other higher grades have the same great sincerity, the amount of transgressions eliminated should be the same. This is a good reminder that we should always practise as sincerely as we can, so as to have more effective elimination of transgressions and accumulation of meritorious virtues.

Note 26: To be similar to the sun disc (犹如日轮) is to resemble the sun, suspended in the sky with brilliance and radiance.

Note 27: Although there is a variety of methods mentioned for attaining the nine grades above, including recollecting of Āmítuófó (忆佛), mindfulness of Āmítuófó’s name (念佛) by itself is equally applicable throughout, as the most easy skilful means for all.

念佛者皆见佛以莲华接引吗?
Will All See The Buddha Receive Them With Lotus Flowers When Practising Mindfulness Of Him?

Question: Will all see the Buddha come to receive them with lotus flowers when they practise mindfulness of Buddha as they approach the end of life?

Answer: The answer is in the Verses For The General Person (一般偈) above. A more universal answer is as explained below.

[1] Although the Contemplation Sūtra《观经》did not mention seeing of the Buddha (见佛) coming to receive and guide (接引) those with [2.3] Middle Grade’s Low Births (中品下生) with a lotus flower (莲华), the immediate lower [3.1] Low Grade’s High Birth (下品上生), which is supposed to have less meritorious virtues (功德) does mention seeing of the Buddha and flower. Likewise, the teaching on the immediate higher [2.2] Middle Grade’s Middle Births (中品中生) mentions the Buddha coming with a flower. This means that the Buddha should have omitted mention of seeing the Buddha and flower for briefer teaching, not to mean that neither will be seen, as all beings will be received and a vehicle of birth is needed for each. The immediate lower [3.2] Low Grade’s Middle Birth (下品中生) also mentions seeing of the Buddha and flower.

[2] Although the Contemplation Sūtra did not mention seeing of the Buddha coming to receive and guide those with [3.3] Low Grade’s Low Birth (下品下生), it also does not say that the Buddha did not or will not appear too, or that he will not be seen after seeing the golden lotus flower (金莲华). Perhaps the flower is first seen as it is the object manifesting nearest, as that most up close, although held by the Buddha, presented to the dying to swiftly relieve their great anxiety.

[3] In the Mindfulness Of Buddha’s Perfect Penetration’s Section《念佛圆通章》, Great Power Arrived Bodhisattva (大势至菩萨) taught clearly that, ‘With recollection or mindfulness of the Buddha, there will definitely be seeing of the Buddha.’ (忆佛念佛,必定见佛). This is a definitive, universal and assuring statement.

[4] In the Amitā[bha] Sūtra《阿弥陀经》, which can be regarded as a universal teaching, including for the average (or general) person, as chanted at all wakes for guiding the deceased, this is taught – ‘[W]hen these persons approach life’s end, Amitā[bha] Buddha, with many in his noble assembly will appear before them. When these persons’ lives are ending, their minds will not be inverted, and they will immediately attain rebirth in Amitā[bha] Buddha’s Land Of Ultimate Bliss.’ (其人临命终时,阿弥陀佛,与诸圣众,现在其前。是人终时,心不颠倒,即得往生阿弥陀佛极乐国土。) Note that the Buddha is stated to come to receive and guide.

[5] In the Immeasurable Life Sūtra《无量寿经》, in the Three Grades’ (三辈) system taught, all who practise to reach Pure Land will see the Buddha, even those of the Low Grade (下辈).

[6] In the Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng’s (净土宗十三祖印光大师) last teaching for the great assembly (致大众之遗教), ‘The Pure Dharma Door, is without any other unusual or special requisite. Only needing earnestness with utmost sincerity in mindfulness of Āmítuófó’s name, with which there is none not receiving the Buddha’s reception and guidance, to bring one’s negative karma to be reborn in his Pure Land… With mindfulness of Buddha and seeing the Buddha, one will definitely be born in his Western Pure Land…’ (净土法门,别无奇特。但要恳切至诚,无不蒙佛接引,带业往生。… 念佛见佛,决定生西。…) This also means that regardless of practitioners’ karmic obstacles (业障) and afflictions (烦恼), the Buddha will be seen.

[7] To conclude on the sūtra references and the Great Master’s teaching, it cannot be that the Buddha contradicts himself in different sūtras, or that the Great Master contradicts the Buddha – or we would not be able to safely rely on the Buddha’s words and the Patriarchs’ teachings (佛言祖语). If understood in the ways proposed here, there will be no contradictions, thus ‘reconciling’ any seemingly varying teachings.

[8] It is not easy to encounter a person who has created the Five Heinous Transgressions (五逆罪) and the Ten Evils (十恶) together. Even in the classic and very extreme case of Zhāng Shànhé (张善和), his main evil done was ‘only’ killing (of many cows), one of the Ten Evils. Despite having more than ten karmic creditors (冤亲债主) tormenting him, with him learning at the last minute to be mindful of the Buddha, he still saw the Buddha come to receive him. As it is not easy for the average person to do more more evil than him in one lifetime, there is no need to worry that the Buddha might not come to receive those with much less evil karma.

[9] Although there are seemingly different kinds of lotus flowers (莲华) mentioned in the Contemplation Sūtra, it can perhaps be said that each is a ‘purple-gold vajra seven treasures’ lotus flower dais’ (紫金金刚七宝莲华台), as expressed in slightly different abbreviated ways. This is so as all the lotus flowers are surely of the purest gold, thus purple-gold (紫金) in colour, indestructible, thus vajra (金刚), with many treasures, thus with seven treasures (七宝), and on daises (台).

[10] In the above sense, there is no non-golden lotus flower mentioned. Even vajra (金刚) should be gold (金). Even within the seven treasures, there is gold. This is so even if there is a ‘non-golden’ lotus flower mentioned in an account, for a supposed ‘lower grade’, such as that related to Táng Dynasty’s Táizhōu’s Monastic Huáiyù (唐台州僧怀玉). If the flower is golden even for the [3.3] Low Grade’s Low Births (下品下生), which are already of the lowest grade, how can there be non-golden flowers for an even ‘lower grade’?

[11] If suggesting the average person to look out for a lotus flower when approaching death, it can be more confusing than helpful, since the Buddha will come, due to the reasons above. It might accidentally lead to mindfulness of a lotus flower (念莲华) instead, which is not mindfulness of Buddha (念佛). Thus, instructing straightforwardly to, ‘Be mindful of Āmítuófó’s name, till you see Āmítuófó, to follow Āmítuófó.’ (念佛,见佛,跟佛) will generally do.

[12] If a genuine lotus flower is seen, Āmítuófó should ensure that it will be intuitively known to be safe for ‘boarding’. And if appeared, he is surely not far, and probably will be seen very soon with continual mindfulness (系念) of his name. Even when there are other auspicious signs (瑞相) experienced, all should continue mindfulness until his Pure Land is reached.

[13] A consolation perhaps, is that when there are genuine auspicious signs, those experiencing them will tend to ‘automatically’ continue mindfulness, as there is just no more appropriate response. This form of mindfulness is with gratitude (感恩心) and gladness with rejoice (庆幸心), which also includes profound Faith (深信) and sincere Aspiration (切愿).

[14] From the [1.1] High Grade’s High Grade (上品上生) to the [2.2] Middle Grade’s Middle Births (中品中生), in these five higher grades, there are mentions of personally seeing their (i.e. practitioners’) bodies (自见其身) seated (坐) and riding (乘) on lotus flower daises (莲华台). This manner of ascending lotus flowers should apply to the other four lower grades too, as there is no mention of otherwise.

[15] The flowers will thus come to the practitioners when their Three Provisions (三资粮) of Faith, Aspiration and Practice (信愿行) are adequate, instead of the latter needing to go towards them. This means there is no need to ‘follow and board’ lotus flowers, thus allaying uncertainties on how to go or ‘rush’ forward for ascent.

Thus, to conclude, it can be safely said that all will see the Buddha come to receive them with lotus flowers, which might also be offered by a Bodhisattva (as mentioned in the [1.1] First Grade), when they practise mindfulness of Buddha as they approach the end of life.

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