Are There Differences Between The Ten Thoughts In The Greater Sūtra And The Contemplation Sūtra?
With The Sincere Mind Of Joyful Faith, How Profound And Clear!
Question: [The] Greater Version’s ten [mindful] thoughts [or recitations, does] not speak [of when] approaching [life’s] end. This with [the] Contemplation Sūtra’s [ten thoughts (which speak of when approaching life’s end), is] as [the] same [or] as different?
[Note 1: The ‘Greater Version’ of the Amitā(bha) Sūtra《大阿弥陀经》(or the ‘Greater Sūtra’《大经》) refers to the Immeasurable Life Sūtra《无量寿经》, which says in Dharmākara Bodhisattva’s (法藏菩萨) (who became Āmítuófó [阿弥陀佛]) Eighteenth Great Vow (第十八大愿), ‘If I attain Buddhahood, of the ten directions’ sentient beings, with the sincere mind of joyful Faith, desiring birth in my land, and even with ten thoughts, if there are those not born there, I shall not obtain Right Awakening. Only excluded are those with the Five Heinous Transgressions, who slandered the right Dharma.’
[Note 2: The Contemplation Sūtra《观经》says, ‘For those of Low Grade’s Low Births (下品下生), perhaps are sentient beings, who did unvirtuous karmas, the Five Heinous Transgressions and the Ten Evil Karmas, complete with all the unvirtuous. These such foolish persons, with evil karma thus, should fall into evil paths, to pass through many kalpas, with receiving of suffering without end. These such foolish persons, when approaching their lives’ end, meet good-knowing friends, offering all kinds of comfort, for them speaking the wonderful Dharma, teaching to enable them to be mindful of Buddha. Those persons, if by suffering bothered, too flustered to be mindful of Buddha, a good friend speaks these words, “If you are those not able to be mindful of that Buddha, you should recite ‘Immeasurable Life Buddha’. Thus with the sincere mind, enable its sound to not be interrupted, to complete ten thoughts, reciting ‘Námó Āmítuófó’ (南无阿弥陀佛).” 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.’
Answer: [The] Greater Version says, ‘[with the] sincere mind [of] joyful Faith, and even [with] ten thoughts.’
[Note 3: Refer to Note 1 for the full teaching. ‘志心’ has the same meaning as ‘至心’, with ‘志’ also referring to ‘Aspiration’ and ‘至’ also referring to the ‘utmost’ and ‘sincere’, together referring to the ‘utmost sincere mind, that is with the Aspiration of reaching Pure Land.’]
Contemplating ‘[with the] sincere mind [of] joyful Faith’, how profound [and] clear! Not necessarily when at approaching [life’s] end, truly with [when] approaching [life’s] end, [the] same one powerfulness.
[Note 4: When there is this utmost sincere mind of joyful Faith with the Aspiration to reach Pure Land in the moment, be one sick and dying, or well and alive, this is when it can be reached. However, it is natural that most practitioners have the utmost sincerity to reach Pure Land when sick and dying, thus knowing that they are approaching life’s end then, more so than those having this same mind when well and alive.]
Later generations’ Patriarchs, because [of this] established Early Morning’s Ten Recitations’ Practice Door. [If for] all [of this] life not breaking [it], likewise [will there] definitely [be] rebirth [in Pure Land].
[Note 5: As taught by the Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng (净土宗十三祖印光大师), ‘In the Method Of Early Morning’s Ten Recitations, exhausting one breath is as one recitation. Regardless of the Buddha’s name’s number being many or few, this is with one line of the Buddha’s name as one recitation. That practised only in early morning for ten recitations, is thus suitable. If for twenty or thirty recitations, this thus harms the vitality (i.e. qì: 气) to become sickness. This thus is with reciting one line of the Buddha’s name, with the mind knowing it as one line. Reciting ten lines of the Buddha’s name, with the mind knowing them as ten lines.
From one reaching ten lines, from one reaching ten lines again, even if in one day reciting several tens of thousands of lines, all like this counting. Not only ridding false thoughts, this is most able to rest the mind. Accordingly fast and accordingly slow, without obstruction. From dawn till dusk, this is without when not suitable. Comparing that with those clutching beads to count, the benefits are as different as the earth from the sky. That thus, is with the body toiling and the mind moving. This thus, is with the body leisurely and the mind peaceful.
However, when doing matters, perhaps difficult to count then, then sincerely and directly recite. With doing of matters then finished, yet again gather in the mind with counting. Thus, of those continuously going and coming, friends can accompany one another with focused attention upon the one realm of the Buddha’s name within.’
If there is lifelong practice of the above, with the sincere mind, that is as ‘utmost’ as possible in each moment, readying for when approaching life’s end, whether it arrives gradually or suddenly, Pure Land will surely be within reach, sooner or later, as aspired.]
Pure Land Tradition’s 9th Patriarch Great Master Ǒuyì
Spirit Peak Tradition’s Treatise: First [Part] Of Scroll Three: First Answers [For] Questions /
Great Master Ǒuyì’s Pure Land Collection: 9th [Section]: Answers [For] Questions: Answers [For] Zhuō Zuǒchē’s Thirty-Two Questions [On The] Commentary [On The Sūtra In Which The Buddha Speaks Of A]mitā[bha Buddha] [#20]
Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an
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The Method Of Ten Recitations With Counting And The Method Of Early Morning’s Ten Recitations
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One Thought Powerful Surpasses Hundred Years’ Leisureliness
 How To Know In Advance The Time Of Arrival In Pure Land?
Those Not Valuing Advance Knowing Enable Their Minds To Not Be Inverted
 Why Did The Amitābha Sūtra Speak Of The Buddha Appearing At Life’s End Only?
With Faith, Aspiration And Practice Accomplished, Rebirth In Pure Land Is Naturally Without Doubt
 Why Speak Of Rebirth In Pure Land In A Future Life Too?
Those With True Mindfulness Of Buddha Are Definitely Without Those Not Born In Pure Land
 How To Transform Definite Negative Karma To Be Not Definite?
A Thousand Years’ Darkened Room With One Lamp Is Able To Be Destroyed