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

Four Superb Skilful Means [That] Distinguish Mindfulness [Of] Buddha From Immeasurable Dharma Doors


[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.


[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.


[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.


[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.


[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.


[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.’


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.”‘


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.’


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。)]

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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