Translations

Four Superb Skilful Means That Distinguish Mindfulness Of Buddha From Immeasurable Dharma Doors 念佛特于无量法门之四出胜方便 Wholehearted Mindfulness Of Buddha Is Complete With The Six Perfections’ Ten Thousand Practices 一心念佛具足六度万行

念佛特于无量法门之四出胜方便
Four Superb Skilful Means [That] Distinguish Mindfulness [Of] Buddha From Immeasurable Dharma Doors


【序】:二、特于无量法门出胜方便者:入道多门,本无拣择,险夷曲直,难易攸分,则无量门中,念佛一门最为方便。略陈有四:一、不值佛世,得常见佛方便;二、不断惑业,得出轮回方便;三、不修余行,得波罗蜜方便;四、不经多劫,得疾解脱方便。  

[Preface]: Second, [are] those exceedingly superb skilful means distinguishing from immeasurable Dharma doors. Entering [of the] path [are with] many doors, originally without choices, [of those] dangerous [and] safe, winding [and] straight, difficult [and] easy far separated, thus within immeasurable doors, [the] one door [of] mindfulness [of] Buddha [is] as [the] most skilful. Briefly stating are four [skilful means]. First, not meeting [a] Buddha [in this] world, attaining constant sight [of a] Buddha’s skilful means. Second, not severing confusions [and negative] karma, attaining exit [from] rebirth’s skilful means. Third, not cultivating other practices, attaining pāramitās’ skilful means. Fourth, not passing many kalpas, attaining swift liberation’s skilful means.

【疏】:法门者,道体幽玄,从门始入,为门不同,故云无量。权巧接引,令得入门,名为方便。而言胜者,方便中方便也,即《观经》所谓异也。多门者,或谓门门可以入道,何必念佛往生?而有易有难,不妨无拣择中而说拣择。险者,崎岖难行;曲者,纡回难到,喻余门也。夷坦则易行,喻念佛人皆可为;直捷则易到,喻念佛速超生死,如韦提希亦遍观十方世界,而惟愿生极乐也。  

[Commentary]: Those Dharma doors, [are with the] path’s essence hidden [and] profound. From [the] doors then entering, as [these] doors [are] not [the] same, [they are] thus said [to be] immeasurable. [With] expedient [and] masterful [means] receiving [and] guiding, [to] enable attainment [of] entering [the] door, [is] named as skilful means. And that said [as] superb, [is] skilful means within’s skilful means too, [is] then [in the] Contemplation Sūtra, so-called different too. [As] those [with] many doors, perhaps say every door can enter [the] path, why must [there be] mindfulness [of] Buddha [for] rebirth? Then having [that] easy, [and] having [those] difficult, [we] might as well [from being] without choices within speak [of a] choice. Those difficult, rugged [and] difficult [for] travelling, [and] those winding, [with] twists [and] turns difficult [for] reaching, [are] explained [as] other doors too. [That] easy [and] level thus [with] easy practice, [is] explained [as] mindfulness [of] Buddha, [that] people can all do. Straightforward [and] thus easy [to] reach, explaining mindfulness [of] Buddha [to be for] quick transcending [of] birth [and] death, like Vaidehī likewise [having] completely contemplated [the] ten directions’ lands, yet only aspiring [for] birth [in the Pure Land Of] Ultimate Bliss too.

得常见佛者,《起信论》既示真如三昧及二门止观竟,复云:「有初学是法,其心怯弱,以娑婆不常值佛,惧谓信心难就。如来有胜方便摄护信心,谓专意念佛,即生佛土,常见于佛。如修多罗说,专念西方极乐世界阿弥陀佛,即得往生,终无有退。」此经则七日一心,佛现在前是也。故知灵山已过,龙华未来,无佛世中而得见佛,是名最胜第一方便。

[On] that attaining constant sight [of the] Buddha, [in the] Treatise [For] Giving Rise [To] Faith [In The Great Vehicle]《大乘起信论》, already [having] shown True Thusness Samādhi and [the] two doors [of] cessation [and] contemplation completely, [it] again says, ‘[There] are [those] beginning [to] learn this Dharma, whose minds [are] timid [and] weak, with [in the] Sahā [World] not constantly meeting [a] Buddha, fearfully speaking [of the] faithful mind [being] difficult [to] accomplish. [The] Thus Come [Ones] have [a] superb skilful means [to] gather [and] protect [their] faithful minds, speaking [of] focused mindfulness [of] Buddha, then born [in the] Buddha’s land, [to] constantly see [the] Buddha. As [the] sūtras say, focus [on] mindfulness [of the] Western [Pure] Land [Of] Ultimate Bliss’ Amitā[bha] Buddha, then attaining rebirth, [to the] end without having retrogression.’ This sūtra [is] then [with] seven days’ wholeheartedness, [with the] Buddha appearing before [them], is [precisely this]. Thus knowing [that the] Spirit Mountain[‘s assemblies have] already passed, [and that the] Dragon Flower [assemblies have] yet [to] come, without [a] Buddha within [this] world, yet attaining sight [of a] Buddha, [this] is named [the] most superb first skilful means.

得出轮回者,由惑起业,由业感报,往来六道,轮转无穷,依余法修,直至惑尽,始得出离,而托质世间,升沉未保,唯兹念佛,带惑往生,以己念力及佛摄受大神力故,一生彼国,即超三界,不受轮转,经云:「众生生者,皆是阿鞞跋致」是也,是为最胜第二方便。

[On] that attaining exiting [of] rebirth, due [to] confusions giving rise [to negative] karma, due [to negative] karma affecting retribution, coming [and] going [in the] six paths, reborn without end, relying [on] other Dharma [doors for] cultivation, until confusions exhaust, then attain renunciation [of rebirth], yet relying [on the] material world, [with] rising [and] sinking yet [to be] guaranteed. Only this mindfulness [of] Buddha, carries confusions [to be] reborn, with one’s mindfulness power and [the] Buddha’s gathering [and] receiving, [with his] great supernormal powers thus, once born [in] that land, immediately transcending [the] three realms, not receiving rebirth. [As this] sūtra says, ‘those sentient beings born, are all Avaivartikas’, is [precisely this], is as [the] most superb second skilful means.

得波罗蜜者,诸菩萨众有恒沙劫中修六度万行未能满足,而今一心念佛,万缘自舍,即布施波罗蜜;一心念佛,诸恶自止,即持戒波罗蜜;一心念佛,心自柔软,即忍辱波罗蜜;一心念佛,永不退堕,即精进波罗蜜;一心念佛,余想不生,即禅定波罗蜜;一心念佛,正念分明,即般若波罗蜜。推而极之,不出一心,万行具足,如《大本》法藏愿云:「若我成佛,国中有情不获神通自在波罗蜜多,不取正觉。」是为第三最胜方便。

[On] that [of] attaining [the] pāramitās, all Bodhisattva assemblies have [those in] Ganges’ sands [of] kalpas within cultivating [the] Six Perfections’ ten thousand practices, [who are] not yet able [to] fulfil [them]. Yet now, wholeheartedly mindful [of] Buddha, [with the] ten thousand conditions naturally renounced, [this] then [is] Generosity Pāramitā, wholeheartedly mindful [of] Buddha, [with] all evils naturally ceased, [this] then [is] Upholding Precepts Pāramitā, wholeheartedly mindful [of] Buddha, [with the] mind naturally gentle [and] soft, [this] then [is] Forbearance Pāramitā, wholeheartedly mindful [of] Buddha, [with] forever not retrogressing, [this] then [is] Diligence Pāramitā, wholeheartedly mindful [of] Buddha, [with] other thoughts not arising, [this] then [is] Meditative Concentration Pāramitā, wholeheartedly mindful [of] Buddha, [with] Right Mindfulness distinct [and] clear, [this] then [is] Prajñā Pāramitā. Advancing then, [to the] utmost of [these], not transcending wholeheartedness, [the] ten thousand practices [are] complete. As [the] Greater Version’s Dharma Treasury [Bodhisattva’s] vow says, ‘If I accomplish Buddhahood, [and my] land within [has] sentient [beings who do] not obtain supernormal [powers], ease [and] pāramitās, [I shall] not obtain Right Awakening.’ [This] is as [the] third most superb skilful means.

得疾解脱者,《智论》云:「有诸菩萨自念谤大般若,堕恶道中,历无量劫,虽修余行,不能灭罪,后遇知识教念阿弥陀佛,乃得灭障,超生净土。」

[On] that [of] attaining swift liberation, [the Great] Wisdom [Perfection] Treatise says, ‘[There] are many Bodhisattvas, [who are] personally mindful [of having] slandered [the] Great Prajñā, falling [into] evil paths, passing immeasurable kalpas, [who] although cultivate other practices, [are] not able [to] eliminate [their] transgressions. Later meeting [good-]knowing [friends, who] teach [them to be] mindful [of] Amitā[bha] Buddha, then attaining eliminating [of] obstacles, transcending [to be] born [in his] Pure Land.’

又《十住断结经》云:「是时,座中有四亿众,自知死此生彼,牵连不断,欲为之源,乐生无欲国土。佛言:『西方去此无数国土,有佛名无量寿,其土清净,无淫怒痴,莲华化生,不由父母,汝当生彼。』」

Also, [the] Ten Abodes’ Severance [Of] Fetters Sūtra say, ‘[At] this time, seated within are four koṭis [of] people, [who] personally knew [that of] death [in] this [place and] birth [in] that [place, being] implicated unceasingly, [is with] desire as its source, [and aspired for] blissful birth [in a] desireless land. [The] Buddha said, ‘[In the] Western direction leaving this [land], innumerable lands [away], is [a] Buddha named Immeasurable Life, whose land [is] pure, without lust, anger [and] delusion, [from] lotus flowers manifesting birth, not due [to] fathers [and] mothers, you should [be] born there.”‘

故《大本》云:「菩萨欲令众生速疾安住无上菩提者,应当起精进力。」

Thus, [the] Greater Version says, ‘Those Bodhisattvas desiring [to] enable sentient beings [to] quickly peacefully abide [on] Unsurpassable Bodhi. should give rise [to] diligence’s power.’

听此法门,是知蚁山风水,迟疾天殊,古谓欲得一生取办,便于是法留心,是名最胜第四方便。

Hearing this Dharma door, is [to] know [that with other Dharma doors, is like an] ant’s [ascending of a high] mountain, [and with mindfulness of Buddha reborn in Pure Land, is like with the] wind [in the sail raised in the current’s] water, [with their] slowness [and] swiftness [like the] sky [and earth] different. [As] ancient [virtuous ones] said, [if] desiring [to] attain [Buddhahood, in] one lifetime obtain accomplishment [of it], then of this Dharma, [there must be the] attentive mind, [as this] is named [the] most superb fourth skilful means.

[Note: Yuán Dynasty’s Most Venerable Yōután (元朝优昙和尚), who was Dōnglín Monastery’s Abbot (东林寺住持), taught this in the Lotus Tradition’s Treasure Mirror《莲宗宝鉴》, ‘(With) other (Dharma) doors learning (the) path, (is) like (an) ant’s ascending of (a) high mountain. (With) mindfulness (of) Buddha reborn (in Pure Land, is) like (with the) wind (in the) sail raised in (the) current’s water.’ (余门学道,似蚁子上于高山;念佛往生,如风帆扬于顺水。)]

净土宗八祖莲池大师
《佛说阿弥陀经疏钞》
Pure Land Tradition’s 8th Patriarch Great Master Liánchí
(Collected Writings [On] Commentary [On The] Sūtra [In Which The] Buddha Speaks [Of] Amitā[bha Buddha])


Namo Amituofo : Translation and note by Shen Shi’an

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