A Thousand Sūtras And Ten Thousand Treatises, Everywhere Point To Return To Pure Land 千经万论,处处指归净土 Dharma Words When Ascending The Hall (4) 上堂法语(四)

[(A) Thousand Sūtras (And) Ten Thousand Treatises, Everywhere Point (To) Return (To) Pure Land]

Dharma Words [When] Ascending [The Dining] Hall (4)


[All] should vow, vowing [to be] reborn [in Āmítuófó’s Pure Land, as this Five] Defilements’ Evil [Period’s] guests [on the] way [should] quickly set on [the] journey. Only because [it is] not ‘returned’ [to, with] ‘return’ then attained, [our] ‘homeland’s beautiful scenery has what [to] compete [with]?

[Note 1: The Five Defilements (五浊) are

[a] Kalpa’s Defilement (劫浊), (which is this period when defiled dharmas [i.e. phenemona of mind and matter, such as the below] gather),

[b] Views’ Defilement (见浊), (which has five sharp agents of wrong views, that make evil views increase and flourish – namely,

[i] Self View (身见) [of thinking there is self within the body],
[ii] Extreme View (边见) [of clinging to extremely wrong concepts],
[iii] Attachment To [False] Views (见取),
[iv] Attachment To Precepts (戒取) [as the complete path to liberation] and all
[v] Evil Views (邪见) [which are other wrong views, such as disregard of the karmic law of cause and effect (因果), which make us muddled, confused and sunken]),

[c] Afflictions’ Defilement (烦恼浊), (which has five dull agents that make afflictions and confusions increase and flourish – namely,

[i] greed [or attachment] (贪),
[ii] hatred [or aversion] (嗔),
[iii] delusion [or ignorance] (痴),
[iv] pride [or arrogance] (慢) and
[v] doubt (疑), [as afflictions that makes us troubled and disturbed]),

[d] Sentient Beings’ Defilement (众生浊), (by Views’ and Afflictions’ Defilements that induced confused and coarse Five Aggregates (五蕴) [of form, feeling, perception, volition and consciousness (色受想行识)] joined, falsely named as sentient beings, with forms and minds together all lowly and inferior), and

[e] Lifespan’s Defilement (命浊), (with cause and effect [i.e. karma] together lowly, lifespans are short and fleeting, and even not filling a hundred years).

The Evil Period (恶世) is this period when when the Five Defilements above increasingly gather. For more teachings on the above, see]

[Note 2: ‘”Returning” to Pure Land’ does not mean we were from Pure Land (or we should remember so), but that with ‘return’ to it is how we can swiftly return to our Buddha-nature (佛性) within, with it as the fundamental ‘Pure Land’. The Pure Land is thus our ‘homeland’, where we come home to our Buddha-nature fully. ‘Not returning here’ is not to forsake this land’s sentient beings, but to not return to be reborn, afflicted with its Five Defilements.]


[The] Great Awakened World-Honoured [One, with] sympathetic mindfulness [of] sentient beings, opened [the] Dharma door of Pure Land, [to] show [the] shortcut of returning [to the] fundamental.

[Note 3: The Pure Land Dharma Door (净土法门) is the swiftest path to Buddhahood. The fundamental to return to is our Buddha-nature.]

Gathering together [those of the] Three Vehicles [and] Five Natures, together ascending [to] Pure Land. Guiding [the] noble above [and the] ordinary below, [to] totally realise [the] true [and] constant.

[Note 4: The Three Vehicles (三乘) are the Voice-Hearer Vehicle (声闻乘), Those By Conditions Awakened Vehicle (缘觉乘) and Bodhisattva Vehicle (菩萨乘).] 

[Note 5: The Five Natures (五性) are the Voice-Hearer Seed-Nature (声闻种性), Those By Conditions Awakened Seed-Nature (缘觉种性), Bodhisattva Seed-Nature (菩萨种性), Indeterminate Nature (不定性) and Without Nature (无性). Those with Indeterminate Nature will incline towards the vehicle encountered, and those Without Nature lack the aspiration for liberation, at most aspiring for better human or heavenly rebirths, being of the Human And Heavenly Vehicle (人天乘).]


Therefore, [the] Thus Come [One] practised these difficult matters [of attaining Buddhahood and teaching the Pure Land Dharma Door here, for us to] quickly accomplish Bodhi.

[Note 6: As the Buddha taught in Amitābha Sūtra《阿弥陀佛》, ‘You should know that I, in this Five Defilements’ Evil Period, did these difficult matters, of attaining Anuttarā Samyak Saṃbodhi, and for all in the world spoke this difficult to believe [Pure Land] Dharma, which is extremely difficult.’ (当知我于五浊恶世,行此难事,得阿耨多罗三藐三菩提。为一切世间说此难信之法,是为甚难。)]


[In this] Dharma-Ending [Age], only [by] relying [on] mindfulness [of] Buddha, attains exit [from the cycle of] birth [and] death.

[Note 7: As the Buddha taught in the Mahāvaipulya Mahāsannipāta Sūtra《大方等大集经》, ‘In the Dharma-Ending Age, when 100 million of 100 million people practise the Dharma, it is rare that one will attain the path; only relying on mindfulness of Buddha, is there attainment of deliverance from the cycle of birth and death.’ (末法亿亿人修行,罕一得道;唯依念佛,得度生死。)]


[As in the] Flower Adornment [Sūtra]《华严经》encouraging advancement, [with] Mañjuśrī [Bodhisattva] giving rise [to] Aspiration [to reach Pure Land].

[Note 8: As one of the most voluminous and profound sūtras, it concludes with teachings on reaching Pure Land for the swiftest attainment of Buddhahood:]

[Note 9: Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva is an ancient Buddha (古佛) named Dragon Seed Supreme Thus Come One (龙种上如来), who remanifests as a Bodhisattva out of great compassion, also representing the perfect wisdom of all Buddhas. He was the ‘Teacher Of Seven Buddhas’ (七佛之师), when they were Bodhisattvas in this world system. Thus, his setting of a perfect example by aspiring to reach Pure Land personally is deeply significant, for all non-Buddhas to emulate.]


[As the] practice of [the] most supreme skilful means, [with] Aśvaghoṣa [Bodhisattva] showing [it] in [the Treatise For] Giving Rise [To] Faith [In The Great Vehicle《大乘起信论》].

[Note 10: For the Treatise’s teachings on this, see]


[As the] path of easy practice [to] swiftly reach [Buddhahood, with] Nāgārjuna [Bodhisattva] explaining [it] in [the Ten Abodes’] Vibhāṣa [Treatise《十住毗婆沙论》].

[Note 11: For the Treatise’s teachings on this, see]


[As] Śākyamuni [Buddha’s] later [manifested] body of [Great Master] Zhìzhě, speaking [the] Treatise [On] Ten Doubts [About Pure Land《净土十疑论》, to] then universally encourage rebirth [there]. 

[Note 12: For the Treatise’s teachings by the Tiāntái Tradition’s 1st Patriarch (天台宗初祖), see]


[As] Āmítuófó’s [i.e. Amitābha Buddha: 阿弥陀佛] manifestation of [Great Master] Yǒngmíng, composing [Chán And Pure Land’s] Four[fold] Explanations《禅净四料简》, [to] then focus [and] emphasize [on reaching] Pure Land.

[Note 13: See this teaching by the Pure Land Tradition’s 6th Patriarch (净土宗六祖) at]


Therefore, [of] former noble [ones and] past virtuous [ones], everyone inclined towards [it, as a] thousand sūtras [and] ten thousand treatises, everywhere pointed [to] return [to it].

[Note 14: Even the greatest Bodhisattvas eventually aspire to reach the Pure Land to expedite their attainment of Buddhahood.]


All people should, with [the] Buddha’s name [i.e. Āmítuófó: 阿弥陀佛], handle ordinary feelings [and] desires, [to] enable every root [and] every dust [to be] without [that] not [with] mindfulness [of] Buddha. [Then can they, with] numerous every Dharma [door of] every kind, all realise perfect penetration.

[Note 15: With practice of the Pure Land Dharma Door mastered, every other Dharma door will be interconnected to.]


One’s originally possessing mind-nature, from this thoroughly [and] completely [becomes] clear.

[Note 16: This mind-nature is Buddha-nature.]


[For actualising] all Buddhas’ original intention [for] arising [in the] world, [this] then can [be] ultimate [and] unimpeded, [fast and straightforward].

[Note 17: All Buddhas’ universal aspiration is to swiftly guide all beings to Buddhahood, which is why the Pure Land Dharma Door is indispensable for teaching them.]


([Tapping the] table staff saying): Picking up with [the] fingers, [the] treasure within [the] poor son’s clothes, [this] precisely is [the] gem above [the Dharma] Wheel[-Turning] King’s crown.

[Note 18: The treasure represents Buddha-nature, according to the Parable Of The Poor Son (穷子喻) in the Dharma [Lotus] Flower Sūtra《法华经》. The gem represents the same treasure, as what most precious, that can be realised with Buddhahood, being the peak of the Dharma.]

Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng

Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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