Biographies

[13] Biography Of The Chinese Pure Land Tradition’s Thirteenth Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng 净土宗十三祖印光大师传

出家法名:释印光(大师)  
地位:净土宗十三祖  
俗名:赵(姓)绍伊(名),子任(字)
出生地: 陕西郃阳(今合阳)
出生年:1861年
往生年: 1940年
代表作品:《印光法师文钞》(正、续、三编); 《印光大师全集》七册、《印光法师嘉言录》(李圆净居士辑)、《上海护国息灾法会法语》等

Monastic Dharma Name: Shì Yìnguāng (Great Master)
Status: Thirteenth Patriarch Of The Pure Land Tradition (School)  
Family Name: Zhào (Surname) Shàoyī (Name), Zirèn (Style Name)
Place Of Birth: Shǎnxī Province (present Héyáng County)
Year Of Birth: 1861 C.E.  
Year Of Rebirth: 1940 C.E.  
Best Known Works: Dharma Master Yìnguāng’s Collected Writings (First, Second, Third Compilation); Great Master Yìnguāng’s Complete Collection (Seven Volumes), Record Of Dharma Master Yìnguāng’s Excellent Words (by Layperson Lǐ Yuánjìng compiled), Shànghǎi Dharma Assembly For Protection Of The Country And Cessation Of Disasters’ Dharma Words, and others

[一]
[Part One]

印光大师生于1861年,俗姓赵,名绍伊,陕西郃阳人。幼随兄读儒书,颇以传承儒家圣学自任,应和韩欧辟佛之议。后来,病困数载,始悟前非,顿革先心,出世缘熟,即投终南山南台莲华洞寺出家,礼道纯和尚剃染。次年受具足戒于陕西安康县双溪寺。

Great Master Yìnguāng was born in 1861, in Shǎnxī Province’s Héyáng County, in a Zhào family and was named Shàoyī. When young, he followed his brother to study Confucianism and was inclined to take on propagation of Confucianism as his personal responsibility, echoing the criticism of Hán and Ōu to refute Buddhism. Later, when by sickness besieged for several years, he began to awake to his past wrongdoings, as he suddenly reformed his former thoughts. With his world-transcending conditions matured, he renounced his householder life at Liánhuádòng Monastery at the southern peak of Mount Zhōngnán under Venerable Dàochún to become a monk. In the following year, he received full ordination at Shǎnxī Province’s Ānkāng County, in Shuāngxī Monastery.

大师出生六个月有眼疾,几近失明,后来虽痊愈,而目力已损,稍发红,即不能视物。出家后,于湖北莲华寺充照客时,帮着晾晒经书,得读残本《龙舒净土文》,而知念佛往生净土法门是即生了生脱死的要道。

When Great Master was six months old, he had an eye disease and was on the verge of losing his sight. Although he recovered later, his eyesight was already impaired. When slightly reddish, he would then be unable to see. After his renunciation, while at Húběi’s Liánhuá (Lotus Flower) Monastery, he served as its guest attendant. When he was helping to sun its sūtra books, he chanced upon an incomplete version of ‘Lóngshū’s Pure Land Text‘. He then came to know that the Dharma Door Of Mindfulness Of Buddha for rebirth in Pure Land is the essential path for liberation from the cycle of birth and death in this immediate life.

大师凡写字过多,眼睛发红如血灌。由此眼疾,深悟身为苦本,即于闲时专念佛号,夜众睡后,复起坐念佛;即写字时,亦心不离佛,故虽力疾力书,仍然勉强支持。后眼疾竟得痊愈。由此深信念佛功德不可思议,而自行化他,一以净土为归,便由此而始。大师修净土,久而弥笃。26岁时,到红螺山资福寺净土道场,入堂念佛,三载之中,念佛正行而外,研读大乘经典,妙契佛心,净业大进。

Whenever Great Master wrote too much, his eyes would turn red to become bloodshot. Due to this eye disease, he deeply awakened to the body as the root of suffering. Thus, whenever he had free time, he would focus on reciting the Buddha’s name (Āmítuófó: 阿弥陀佛). After the assembly went to sleep at night, he would again arise, to sit and recite the Buddha’s name. Even when writing, his mind also did not depart from the Buddha’s name. Therefore, although it was strenuous with the disease, he resolutely wrote on, and was still able to, with difficulty. The eye disease later completely healed. Due to this, he had profound faith that the meritorious virtues of reciting the Buddha’s name are inconceivable. Then was he with his personal practice transforming others, to first be with Pure Land as the destination for return, due to this, then beginning practice. Great Master cultivated the Pure Land path, over a long time and with complete sincerity. At 26, he arrived at the Pure Land’s practice centre at Mount Hóngluó’s Zīfú (Provision Of Blessings) Monastery to practise mindfulness of Buddha. Within three years, other than the Main Practice of mindfulness of Buddha, he studied the Great Vehicle’s sūtras. Through wonderful uniting with the Buddha’s mind, his cultivation of pure karma greatly advanced.

33岁时,应普陀山法雨寺化闻和尚请,护藏经南下,住法雨寺藏经楼闲寮,近20载,励志精修,深入经藏。间或受寺众坚请,乃为讲净土经典,讲毕,旋即闭关。斋房书“念佛待死”以自勉,学行倍进。大师出家30余年,始终韬晦,不喜与人往来,亦不愿人知其名字,长期昼夜持念阿弥陀佛名号,早证念佛三昧。

At 33, responding to the invitation of Venerable Huàwén of Mount Pǔtuó’s Fǎyǔ (Dharma Rain) Monastery to protect the treasury of sūtras, he went southwards and resided in an empty room in the sūtra repository tower of Fǎyǔ Monastery. For close to 20 years, he roused his resolve to diligently cultivate, and deeply entered the treasury of sūtras. Occasionally, perhaps receiving the monastery’s assembly’s strong invitation, he would then speak on the Pure Land sūtras. With speaking completed, he would soon after enter a solitary retreat. In his study room, he wrote, ‘With reciting of the Buddha’s name awaiting for death’. With this for self-encouragement, his learning and practice advanced by many folds. After Great Master’s renunciation, for more than 30 years, from the beginning to the end, he concealed to hide his talents. Not delighting in associating with many people, he also did not wish people to know his name. Over a long time, in day and night, he upheld Āmítuófó’s name, and soon attained Samādhi From Mindfulness Of Buddha.

晚年,大弘法化之余,于苏州报国寺方便闭关。1937年,于苏州灵岩山闭死关念佛,关中答一日本人的「近来动静」问题时,答云:「自到灵岩,任何名胜,均不往游,以志期往生,不以名胜介意故。」足证大师一生行化,以身弘法,但念无常,深心求生净土。

In his later years, other than greatly propagating the Dharma, he would at his convenience, have solitary retreats at Sūzhōu’s Bàoguó (Repayment Of The Country) Monastery. In 1937, at Sūzhōu’s Mount Língyán to have a mindfulness of Buddha retreat for a spiritual breakthrough, when Great Master replied to a Japanese person’s enquiry about his recent activities, he replied. ‘Since reaching Língyán, of whatever famous scenic place, of all, I will not go to visit them, with my aspiration hoping to be reborn in Pure Land, not with famous scenic places bothered thus.’ This was enough to prove that Great Master, with all of his life’s travels and teachings, and with his conduct propagating the Dharma, he was only mindful of impermanence, and resolutely sought rebirth in Pure Land.

1911年,大师52岁,高鹤年居士取大师文稿数篇,刊入上海佛学丛报,署名常惭。人虽不知为谁,而文字般若已足引发读者善根。徐蔚如、周孟由诸居士见之,一再搜集印祖文稿,刊为《印光法师文钞》,于商务印书馆、中华书局及佛学界内部广为制流通,印祖德名由此而腾誉海内外。

In 1911, when Great Master was 52, layperson Gāo Hènián obtained several of Great Master’s articles for publication in Shànghǎi Buddhist Studies Journal, with his signed name as Chángcán (Constantly Ashamed and/or Repentant). Although no one knew who he was, yet his words with Prajñā were already enough to inspire readers’ good roots to grow. When Xú Wèirú, Zhōu Mèngyóu and many other laypersons saw them, they repeatedly searched and collected Great Master’s articles, to be published as ‘Dharma Master Yìnguāng’s Collected Writings’, which was by the Commercial Press, Zhōnghuá Book Company and the Buddhist circle widely circulated. Great Master’s virtuous name, due to this, then became famous locally and overseas.

《文钞》实为大师弘法之缘起。由读《文钞》而倾慕大师道德,渴望列于门墙的善男信女,日益增多。或航海梯山而请求摄受,或鸿来雁往而乞赐法名,20余年,皈依大师座下者,不计其数。即依教奉行,吃素念佛,精修净业,得以往生西方净土的士女,不胜枚举。

With his ‘Collected Writings’, they truly marked the beginning of Great Master’s propagation of the Dharma. Due to reading of his ‘Collected Writings’, then greatly admiring the Great Master’s morality, good men and faithful women who desired to line up by his door and walls to be his disciples by the day increased to be many. Perhaps sailing by sea and climbing steps up mountains, then requesting to be accepted as disciples, or with letters to and fro then requesting to be given Dharma names. In more than 20 years, of those who took refuge through Great Master, their numbers cannot be counted. Thus, relying on his teachings for practice, of those eating as vegetarians, practising recitation of the Buddha’s name, and diligently cultivating pure karma, men and women who were able to attain rebirth in the Western Pure Land were too numerous to mention one by one.

凡乘愿再来的大菩萨,有应运与应劫之不同。值太平时代,是应运而生,乱世是应劫而生。净宗祖师中,慧远大师与印光大师是应劫而生。大师降生于清咸丰11年,正值英法驻军攻破北京。尔后,军阀混战,日寇侵华等等,在此华夏板荡,国人忧苦涂炭之际,大师高擎世法行善、出世法念佛求生净土的法炬,抚慰国人破碎的心灵,力敦信众明因慎果,急难苦厄时至诚持念南无观世音菩萨圣号,潜消厄难于未萌,以佛法挽狂澜于既倒,减轻民众的苦难,其难以言称的无形至德,较之于可见可闻的功德,亦难以比量。

All great Bodhisattvas who ride on their vows to come again, are different with those who respond to the occasion, and those who respond to disasters. Those encountering eras of great peace are those responding to the occasion then born. Those encountering chaotic periods are those responding to disasters then born. Within the Pure Land Tradition’s masters, Great Master Huìyuǎn and Great Master Yìnguāng were those responding to disasters then born. Great Master was born in the Qīng Dynasty’s Xiánfēng’s 11th year, just when the Anglo-French garrison troops attacked and broke through Běijīng. Thereafter, were incessant fights between warlords, Japanese bandits’ invasion of China and so on. At this time, with China in chaos and turmoil, and the country’s people at that time with worries, suffering and extreme distress, Great Master highly raised the Dharma torch of worldly Dharma for practising good, and the world-transcending Dharma of mindfulness of Buddha for seeking birth in Pure Land, to comfort the broken spirits of the country’s people, resolutely and sincerely urging devotees to understand causes, to be cautious of their effects, when in times of emergencies with difficulties, suffering and distress, to sincerely uphold the sacred name of Námó Guānshìyīn Púsà (Homage to and refuge in Contemplator Of The World’s Sounds [Avalokiteśvara] Bodhisattva), to latently eliminate distress and difficulties when they are yet to bud, with the Buddha’s teachings pull up those in raging waves already fallen, to reduce and lighten the suffering and difficulties of the people. It is difficult to, with words, speak of his formless and utmost virtues. Comparing them with meritorious virtues that can be seen, that can be heard, they are also difficult to be with them inferred.

大师除了以文字般若与讲经说法的形式弘扬念佛法门外,还建立灵岩山寺十方专修净土道场,亲自立定规约章程,诚为末法丛林之表范。大师还将自己的香俸捐出(加之劝募),广印经书流通,创办弘化社。20余年,所印各种佛书,不下4-500万部,佛像亦在100万余帧,法化之弘,滂溥中外。

Other than using the formats of words with Prajñā and teaching of sūtras to speak the Dharma for propagating the Pure Land Dharma Door, Great Master also established Mount Língyán (Spirit Rock) Monastery as a ten-directional practice centre for cultivation of the Pure Land path. Personally and definitively establishing the terms of its constitution, it was truly as this Dharma-Ending Age’s model monastery. Great Master even contributed his allowance to encourage others to donate, to widely print sūtra books for circulation, founding Hónghuàshè (Great Transformation Society). For more than 20 years, all kinds of Buddhist books that were printed numbered not less than 4 to 5 million, with more than 1 million pictures of Buddha images, with this propagation of the Dharma to transform, that was voluminous and widespread, in China and beyond.

大师一生刻苦俭仆,注重惜福。衣食住等,皆极简单粗劣,力斥精美。食唯充饥,不求适口;衣取御寒,厌弃华丽。有供养珍美衣食,非却而不受,即转送他人。如果是普通物品,便令交库房,与大家共享,决不自用。洒扫洗涤,事事躬自操作。受请外出讲开示,虽为准备轿舆,亦不肯坐,以为折福故。大师自奉节俭,待人却甚为慈厚。凡善男信女供养的香敬,悉皆代人广种福田。用于流通经籍,救济饥贫,凡闻何方被灾告急,必尽力提倡捐助。悲愍苦难众生,无以复加。

Great Master was hardworking and frugal all his life, paying attention to cherishing of his blessings. His food, clothing, lodging and others were all extremely simple and coarse, as he strongly rejected the exquisite. He ate only to allay hunger, not seeking that to suit his taste. With clothing chosen only to keep out the cold, he rejected the flamboyant. When having offerings of delicious food and beautiful clothing, not only declining and not accepting them, he would then transfer them, to give them to others. If the offered items are ordinary objects, he would then order them to be turned over to the storeroom, with everyone together shared, definitely not with them for personal use. Sprinkling water and sweeping to wash and clean his room, everything was by himself handled. When receiving invitations to go out to speak and teach, although for him preparing a sedan chair, he would also be not willing to sit on it, seeing riding on it as losing his blessings thus. Great Master personally practised thriftiness. However, when treating people, he was with extremely great kindness. For all good men and faithful women who made offerings to him, he would, all on their behalf, widely plant them in fields of blessings. Using them to circulate sūtra texts, and to supply relief for the hungry and poor. Whenever hearing of wherever encountering disasters and in states of emergency, he would do his best to promote donations. With compassion sympathising with sentient beings having suffering and difficulties, it was utmost, without that to be added.

大师的净土思想上承古佛祖师之血脉,下契近代众生之根机,言言归宗,字字见谛,诚为一大光明藏所流现的诚谛法语,允为当代众生亟须研讨服膺之宝藏。大师淹贯各宗,世出世间知识学问渊,念佛修持早臻三昧,故其文字摄受力极强。大师净土思想宏富,兹撷其要者,以下略示。

Great Master’s Pure Land thought, from the above, succeeded the blood lineage of ancient Buddhas and Patriarchs, for the below, agreed with the roots and capacities of recent times’ sentient beings, with word by word returning to the source, word by word for seeing the truth. Truly as a great treasury of bright light that flows to present sincere and true Dharma words, his teachings were granted as a treasure for the present era’s sentient beings, that must be urgently discussed and kept in mind. As Great Master knew each Buddhist tradition deeply and widely, his worldly and world-transcending knowledge and learning was deep, and with mindfulness of Buddha’s practice already having reached samādhi, thus are his words with the power to gather, receive and protect, that is extremely strong. As Great Master’s Pure Land thought is vast and rich, now gathering their essentials, they are as below, briefly presented.

细读大师文钞,随时可以感受到大师为度我等众生出离生死苦海之苦切婆心。从佛法与众生根机的对应角度,大师为我们提供了最佳的抉择。大师云:药无贵贱,愈病者良;法无优劣,当机则妙。在昔之世,人根殊胜,知识如林,随修一法,则皆可证道。

With attentive studying of Great Master’s ‘Collected Writings’, one can at any time feel Great Master’s mind, to be with painstaking sincerity and benevolence, for delivering us and other sentient beings, to depart from suffering’s ocean of birth and death. From the perspective of correspondence between the Buddha’s teachings and sentient beings’ roots, Great Master already provided the most excellent choice for us. According to Great Master, medicine is without the noble and lowly, as that which heals sickness is good. The Dharma is without the good and bad, with that suiting capacities then wonderful. In times of the past, humans’ roots were excellent, with knowledge abundant like forests, with the cultivating of any one Dharma teaching, all then were able to realise the path.

即今之世,人根陋劣,知识希少,若舍净土,则莫由解脱。净土法门普被上中下根,统摄律教禅宗,如时雨之润物,若大海之纳川。偏圆顿渐一切法,无不从此法界流;大小权实一切行,无不还归此法界。不断惑业得预补处,即此一生圆满菩提。九界众生离是门,上不能圆成佛道;十方诸佛舍此法,下不能普利群萌。

In this immediate world now, with humans’ roots coarse and inferior, the knowledgeable are rare and few. If abandoning the Pure Land path, one is then without cause for liberation. The Pure Land Dharma Door universally covers those of high, medium and low roots, unifying and gathering all teachings of the Vinaya, Sūtra and Chán traditions. It is like timely rain that moisturises all living beings, and like the great ocean that receives all rivers. Of the partial and complete, sudden and gradual, of all Dharma teachings, none do not from this Dharma realm flow. With the Great and Small Vehicles, skilful and true, of all practices, none do not also return to this Dharma realm. Not needing to sever confusions and evil karma, yet attaining in advance the position of one lifetime to replacement, immediately in this one life attain perfect Bodhi. If the nine realms’ sentient beings depart from this door, those above will not be able to completely accomplish the Buddhas’ path. If the ten directions’ all Buddhas abandon this Dharma teaching, for those below, they will not be able to universally benefit sentient beings.

净土法门最妙最玄,下手易而成功高,用力少而得效速,全仗佛力。普被三根,不论富贵贫贱,老幼男女,智愚僧俗,士农工商,一切人等,皆能修习,咸可往生。是以千经万论,处处指归;往圣前贤,人人趋向。

The Pure Land Dharma Door is the most wonderful and most profound, with starting of its practice easy, yet with its success rate high, with exerting of efforts little, yet with attaining of results swift, this completely relies on the Buddha’s power. Universally covering the three roots, regardless of the rich or honoured, poor or lowly, old or young, male or female, wise or foolish, monastics or laypeople, of scholars, farmers, artisans, merchants and all other people, as all are able to practise it, all can be reborn in the Pure Land. Thus is it with thousands of sūtras and ten thousand treatises, that everywhere point to it for return. Of former nobles and past virtuous ones, everyone inclined towards it.

净土法门诚乃如来普度众生之要道,众生即生出苦之妙法。当今之世,纵是已成正觉之古佛示现,决不另于敦伦尽分,及注重净土法门外,别有所提倡。使达摩大师现于此时,亦当以仗佛力法门而为训导,时节因缘,实有根本。

The Pure Land Dharma Door is thus truly the essential path of the Thus Come Ones, for universally delivering sentient beings, and the wonderful Dharma for sentient beings to, in this immediate life, exit suffering. In the world of the present, even if ancient Buddhas who have already accomplished Right Awakening manifest, they definitely will not separately, away from ‘having harmonious human relationships, to the utmost fulfilling responsibilities, and paying of attention to the Pure Land Dharma Door’, have other teachings that are promoted. Even if Great Master Bodhidharma is present in this period, he will also be relying on this Dharma Door with the Buddha’s power, for teaching and guiding, with this timing as the cause and condition, and with true existence (absolute reality) as the root.

[二]
[Part Two]

大师仰承永明大师《禅净四料简》的旨意,在现代详为发挥。大师切实觑破禅宗不适现代,难了生死之弊,详陈禅宗在当代的弊端。大师云:「参禅一法,非现今人所宜学,纵学亦只成文字知见,决不能顿明自心,亲见自性,何以故?一则无善知识提持抉择,二则学者不知禅之所以,名为参禅,实为误会。以古人机语,执为实法,致使后辈徒效其轻佛陵祖,拨果排因而已。」「故知今人于宗教两门,开眼尚难,何况实证?」

Great Master looked up towards and succeeded Great Master Yǒngmíng’s instructions of his ‘Chán And Pure Land’s Fourfold Explanations’, with it in modern times brought up in detail. He realistically saw through, that the Chán Tradition is not suitable for modern times, as there is the disadvantage of being difficult to be liberated from the cycle of birth and death with it. Great Master said, ‘Of Chán contemplation, this one Dharma Door, it is not that easy for nowadays’ people to learn. Even if learning, also only accomplishing words’ knowledge, definitely not able to have sudden understanding of one’s mind, to personally see self-nature, Why is this thus? First, thus without a good-knowing friend raising on upholding with what choice (of focus for contemplation). Second, thus with learners not knowing the purpose of Chán, naming this as Chán contemplation, this truly is a mistake. With the ancients’ timely words, attached to as the true Dharma, causing later generations’ disciples to imitate them, slighting the Buddhas and insulting the Patriarchs, is to pull out effects and expel causes only.’ ‘Thus knowing that today’s people, with Chán and Teachings, these two Dharma Doors, to open their eyes is still difficult, moreover to have true realisation.’

「其有慈悲愿深,生死心切者,宜随远公、智者、永明、莲池,专致力于念佛求生净土一门。」「良以一切法门,皆仗自力;念佛法门,兼仗佛力。仗自力,非烦惑断尽,不能超出三界;仗佛力,若信愿真切即可高登九莲。当今之人,欲于现生了生死大事者,舍此一法,则绝无希望。」此斩钉截铁之苦切语,实乃慈悲之极的诚谛语。

‘Those who have loving-kindness, compassion and aspiration profound, and those with the mind for liberation from the cycle of birth and death sincere, should follow Great Masters like Huìyuǎn, Zhìzhě, Yǒngmíng and Liánchí, to focus their devoted efforts on mindfulness of Buddha for birth in his Pure Land, this one Dharma Door.’ ‘It is really so, that with all Dharma Doors, they all rely on Self-power, while the Dharma Door Of Mindfulness Of Buddha relies simultaneously on the Buddha’s power. Relying on Self-power, if not with afflictions and confusions severed completely, one is not able to surpass, to exit the three realms. Relying on the Buddha’s power, if with Faith and Aspiration true and sincere, then able to highly ascend the nine lotus grades. Those people nowadays, desiring to, in this present life, end the great matter of birth and death, if renouncing this one Dharma Door, are thus absolutely without hope.’ These earnest and urgent words, that are resolute and decisive, are truly thus, sincere and truthful words, spoken with the utmost of loving-kindness and compassion.

大师扬净排禅,并非门庭之见,实乃悲度末法众生之婆心。大师于宗门消息亦甚熟谂,专弘净宗,亦是密护禅宗。诚能一心持念弥陀,念念相应,念到极处,无佛可念,即是曹溪风月。大师有言曰:「以观音反闻闻自性之功夫,修势至都摄六根净念相继之净业,即净而禅,禅与净土,理本无二。」而禅宗靠自力、净宗仰佛力出离生死之效用,则天壤之别。

That Great Master propagated Pure Land practice and pushed away the Chán contemplation is really not a sectarian view. It is truly thus, with the benevolent mind of compassion for delivering this Dharma-Ending Age’s sentient beings. Of the Chán Door, Great Master was well-informed, also extremely familiar and learned. With focused propagation of the Pure Land Tradition, he was also secretly protecting the Chán Tradition. If sincerely able to wholeheartedly uphold recitation of Āmítuófó’s name, from thought to thought corresponding, with mindfulness reaching its utmost point, without a Buddha to be mindful of, this then is Cáoxī’s scenery. Great Master once said, ‘With Contemplator Of The World’s Sounds (Avalokiteśvara) Bodhisattva’s skill of reversing hearing to hear self-nature, to cultivate Great Power Arrived (Mahāsthāmaprāpta) Bodhisattva’s pure karma of gathering in the six roots, for pure mindfulness in continuous succession, this then is Pure Land yet Chán practice, Chán with Pure Land practice, in principle originally without two.’ Yet, of the effectiveness of the Chán Tradition depending on Self-power, compared with the Pure Land Tradition relying on the Buddha’s power to depart from the cycle of birth and death, they are then as different as the sky from the earth.

有介于净宗简易当机之法益,故大师不愿充善知识,支持禅宗门庭,而以平实家风,广宣净土。大师之在家弟子多有曾受高等教育及留学欧美者,而大师决不与彼等高谈佛法之哲理,禅宗之玄妙,唯一一劝其专心念佛。彼弟子辈闻大师言,亦皆一一信受奉行,决不敢轻视念佛法门而妄生疑议。于中足见大师自行化他之盛德。

Having relied on the Pure Land Tradition’s Dharma benefits that are attained easily, promptly and opportunely, thus was Great Master unwilling to serve as a good-knowing friend to support the Chán Tradition, yet with a simple and unadorned style widely propagated the Pure Land Tradition. Great Master’s many lay disciples included those who received higher education with studies abroad in Europe and the United States. Yet, Great Master definitely would not with them and others have impractical discussions on the philosophy of the Buddha’s teachings, on the abstruse wonders of the Chán Tradition. He would only encourage each to have the focused mind with mindfulness of Buddha. Those disciples and contemporaries, having heard Great Master’s words, also all faithfully accepted to practise it, certainly not daring to slight the Dharma Door Of Mindfulness Of Buddha, to give rise to doubts and contentions. From this, it is enough to see Great Master’s abundant virtues of personal practice for transforming others.

大师生逢乱世,非孝非礼之说,甚嚣尘上。为挽回劫运,大师依据儒家教育,光大孝悌忠信礼义廉耻之八德,父慈子孝、夫妇相敬之人伦,俾令民德归于淳厚。在此基础上,大倡净土,宏兴佛法,令众生明本具之佛性,生极乐之莲邦。

Great Master was born in a chaotic world, which spoke of unfiliality and impropriety, with extreme clamour that raised the dust. For redeeming from disasters’ misfortunes, Great Master greatly promoted Confucian education’s eight virtues of filial piety, fraternal respect, loyalty, trustworthiness, propriety, righteousness, integrity and shamefulness, for human relations with fathers benevolent and children filial, husbands and wives mutually respectful, so as to lead the people’s virtues to belong to those pure and honest. On this foundation above, he greatly advocated the Pure Land Tradition, and greatly promoted the Buddha’s teachings, enabling sentient beings to understand the Buddha-nature that they originally possess, to be born in the lotus country of Ultimate Bliss.

大师在世间法的教化中,侧重于儒教的发挥,出世间法的弘扬中,偏赞净土法门。以儒学为基础的四句:「敦伦尽分,闲邪存诚,诸恶莫作,众善奉行。」欲学佛道以脱凡俗,若不注重于此四句,则如无根之木,期其盛茂;无翼之鸟,冀其高飞。以净土理念为核心的四句:「真为生死,发菩提心,以深信愿,持佛名号。」博地凡夫,欲于现生即了生死,若不依此四句,则成无因而欲得果,未种而思收获,万无得理。果能将此八句,通身荷担,决定可以生入圣贤之域,殁登极乐之邦。这八句话充分体现出大师儒佛二教并弘,世出世间法各彰的弘法特点,这种弘法特点是净宗在近代的本土化与当机化。

Great Master, within worldly Dharma’s education to transform, placed extra emphasis on bringing out the Confucian teachings, and within world-transcending Dharma, leaned towards praise of the Pure Land Dharma Door. With Confucian teachings as foundation are these four lines, ‘To be with harmonious human relationships, to the utmost fulfil responsibilities, end evil thoughts, maintain sincerity, of all evils not do, and of all good practise them.’ Desiring to learn the Buddha path for liberation from the ordinary and vulgar, if not emphasizing on these four lines, is thus like having a tree without roots, hoping it can flourish to be lush; like having a bird without wings, hoping he can fly high. With the Pure Land principal thought as its core are these four lines, ‘Truly for liberation from the cycle of birth and death, give rise to the Bodhi Mind, and with profound Faith and Aspiration, uphold the Buddha’s name.’ Thin Ground’s ordinary beings, desiring to in this present life, immediately be liberated from the cycle of birth and death, if not relying on these four lines, thus become those without the cause yet desiring the fruit, yet to plant yet thinking of harvesting, of ten thousand people, it is without reason for anyone to attain thus. If able to, with these eight lines, completely bear them, all definitely can be born to enter the land with noble and virtuous ones, in the end ascending on the country of Ultimate Bliss. These eight lines’ words fully embody and exemplify Great Master’s combined propagation of the two teachings of Confucianism and Buddhism, with worldly and world-transcending Dharma, each manifesting their special characteristics. This kind of Dharma propagation is the Pure Land Tradition’s prompt and opportune localisation in recent times.

大师生逢兵连祸结,外忧内困之际,而水旱天灾,亦交迫迭至。大师悲心凄恻,广倡因果报应之说,常语人云:「因果者,世出世间圣人,平治天下,度脱众生之大权也。当今之世,若不提倡因果报应,虽佛菩萨圣贤俱出于世,亦末如之何矣。」「因果之法,为救国救民之急务,必令人人皆知,现在有如此因,将来即有如此果。善有善报,恶有恶报,欲挽救世道人心,必须于此入手。」「如是则提倡因果报应,乃仰承天地圣人之心,以成全世人仁义之道德。」

Great Master’s life encountered a period of successive wars with misfortunes bound, with outer worries and inner difficulties, then with floods and droughts as natural disasters, simultaneously coercing and repeatedly arriving. Great Master, with his compassionate mind sorrowful, widely advocated speaking of karmic retribution. He often said, ‘That law of cause and effect (i.e. karma), is for worldly and world-transcending sages, to peacefully govern the world, and the great skilful means for delivering and liberating sentient beings. In the world nowadays, if not with promoting of karmic retribution, although the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and noble sages together arise in the world, they will also not know what else is that appropriate.’ ‘Promoting the law of cause and effect, is the urgent task for saving the country and saving its people. There must be enabling of everyone to all know, that if presently having such a cause, the future will then have such an effect. As doing good has good rewards, and doing evil has evil retribution, if desiring to rescue the ways of the world and the minds of its people, it must be from this starting.’ ‘Thus then with promoting of karmic retribution, then looking up towards and succeeding the minds of the heavens’ and earth’s sages, with this accomplishing completely the morality of the world’s people, to be with benevolence and righteousness.’

「约佛法论,从凡夫地,乃至佛果,所有诸法,皆不出因果之外。世法亦然。」《周易》、《尚书》发明因果之义,极其真切。「每见无知愚人,稍作微善,即望大福,一遇逆境,便谓作善获殃,无有因果,从兹退悔初心,反谤佛法。」岂知果报贯通过去现在未来三世,凡所作业,决无不报者。

‘Discussing on the Buddha’s teachings, from ordinary beings’ ground, and even to the Buddha fruit, all Dharma teachings are all not outside of cause and effect. Worldly Dharma teachings are likewise thus.’ The ‘Book Of Changes’ and ‘Book Of History’ are extremely truthful and sincere in bringing out the meanings of cause and effect clearly. ‘Often seeing ignorant and foolish people, having done slight good, then expecting great blessings, once encountering adversity, then saying doing good obtains misfortune, that there is no cause and effect, from this retrogressing and regretting their initial minds, slandering the Buddha’s teachings instead.’ How would they know that karmic effects’ rewards and retribution thread through the three periods’ past, present and future, that all created karma, is definitely without that not with reward and retribution?

同时,因果(命运)亦可由心转变。「譬如有人所作恶业,当永堕地狱,长劫受苦,其人后来生大惭愧,发大菩提心,改恶修善,诵经念佛,自行化他,求生西方净土,由是之故,现生或被人轻贱,或稍得病苦,或略受贫穷,与彼一切不如意事,先所作永堕地狱长劫受苦之业,即便消灭,尚复能了生脱死,超凡入圣。」袁了凡一生兢惕修业,改变定业,重铸命运,即充分体现出人对命运的主动性,所谓人定胜天,前因不足恃,以现因善力而消弥前因。祸福无门,惟人自招,真实不虚。

At the same time, cause and effect (i.e. karmic destiny) can also due to the mind be transformed. ‘For example, a person who has created evil karma, should for a long time fall into hell, for long kalpas receiving suffering. If that person later gives rise to great shame and the Great Bodhi Mind, changes his evil ways and cultivates good, recites sūtras and the Buddha’s name, with personal practice transforming others, seeking birth in the Western Pure Land, due to this thus, in this present life, perhaps by people slighted and scorned, perhaps slightly attaining sickness and suffering, perhaps briefly receiving poverty, with all those matters not according to wishes, those earlier created karma to long fall into hell for long kalpas receiving suffering, will immediately then be eliminated, and still again, be able to be liberated from the cycle of birth and death, to surpass the ordinary and enter the noble.’ Yuán Liǎofán warily and cautiously cultivated good karma for all of his life, and changed his ‘fixed’ karma, to recast his destiny. This then fully exemplifies humans’ nature of taking initiative with regard to destiny, that so-called ‘humans’ power is able to conquer nature’. With earlier causes not enough to be relied on, with present causes’ goodness’ power then eliminating earlier causes. That disasters and blessings are without doors, only by people personally attracted, this is true and not false.

大师痛诫世人,畏于恶果,则预弥恶因;勤修善因,而共得善报。并勉励众人凡所修善,莫求后世福报,唯以回向求生西方极乐世界,永脱轮回苦海,方为究竟。大师生前流通《安士全书》、《了凡四训》数百万册,足见大师力倡因果之悲心。

Great Master painstakingly warned the world’s people to have fear of evil karmic effects. Otherwise, they will have to be prepared, to be filled with evil causes (and their evil effects). Diligently cultivating good causes, then together attaining good rewards. Furthermore, encouraging all people, with all that cultivated good, to not seek future life’s blessed rewards (in the human and heavenly paths), only with them dedicating for seeking birth in the Western Pure Land Of Ultimate Bliss, to be forever liberated from rebirths’ ocean of suffering, then with this for completing practice. Great Master while living, distributed several million copies of ‘Ānshì’s Complete Book’, ‘Liǎofán’s Four Lessons’ (and many other books). This is enough to see Great Master’s compassionate mind for strong promotion of understanding cause and effect.

「诚与恭敬,实为超凡入圣了生脱死之极妙秘诀。」诚者专心一志,敬者心不浮乱。「竭诚尽敬,则定力日强,妄念日消,净业日长。」「若懒惰懈怠,毫无敬畏,虽种远因,而亵慢之罪,有不堪设想者。」

‘Sincerity and reverence are truly as the extremely wonderful secret for surpassing the ordinary and entering the noble, to be liberated from the cycle of birth and death.’ Those sincere will be with focused minds single-minded. Those reverent will be with minds neither drifting nor scattered. ‘With wholeheartedness utmost with reverence, thus will concentration’s power by the day strengthen, false thoughts by the day be eliminated, and pure karma by the day grow.’ ‘If lazy without the slightest reverence, although planting a distant cause, yet having the transgression of irreverent slighting, this has consequences which cannot be imagined.’

「欲得佛法实益,须向恭敬中求,有一分恭敬,则消一分罪业,增一分福慧;有十分恭敬,则消十分罪业,增十分福慧;若无恭敬而致亵慢,则罪业愈增,而福慧愈减矣。」

‘If desiring to attain the Buddha’s teachings’ true benefits, we must, with reverence within seek them. Having one part of reverence, thus eliminates one part of transgressive karma, increasing one part of blessings and wisdom. Having ten parts of reverence, thus eliminates ten parts of transgressive karma, increasing ten parts of blessings and wisdom. If without reverence, yet leading to irreverent slighting, thus will transgressive karma increase even more, and blessings and wisdom decrease even more.’

大师与吴璧华书云:「有一秘诀,剀切相告,竭诚尽敬,妙妙妙妙。」竭诚恭敬念佛,当知此人非娑婆之久客,已是极乐之嘉宾。

Great Master, for Wú Bìhuá, in a letter said, ‘There is one secret for success [to reach Pure Land], to earnestly inform one another. It is to have wholehearted sincerity and utmost reverence, which is wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!’ With wholehearted reverence mindful of the Buddha, it should be known that this person is no longer the Sahā World’s long-staying guest, and already is the Land Of Ultimate Bliss’ esteemed guest.

诚敬与惭愧具相互支持之效用,能自惭愧,生忏悔心,忏悔心生,诚敬随之,苟能日日惭愧,时时忏悔,则诚敬之心,沛然莫御,活泼现前,而真信切愿与勤行,必有不期而自集之势。以惭愧心,破无明欲;以智慧光,求回头路。大师对症投药,一生以身作则,自称常惭愧僧,悲心无极,允为末法众生之良谟。

With sincere reverence and shame, they have the effectiveness of mutually supporting each other. Able to personally have shame, giving rise to the repentant mind. With the repentant mind arisen, sincere reverence will follow it. If able to every day have shame, and constantly repent, then with the mind of sincere reverence abundant thus, none cannot be tamed. With it actively manifesting in the present, then with true Faith, sincere Aspiration and diligent Practice, without expectation, yet definitely with naturally gathered power. With the mind of shame, breaking ignorant desires. With wisdom’s light, seeking the return path. Great Master suited our sickness to prescribe the right medicine, with himself setting an example, he called himself Constantly Ashamed (and/or Repentant) Monk. With limitless compassion, granting this as a good plan for this Dharma-Ending Age’s sentient beings.

大师净土思想亦多具欣厌心:「愿离娑婆,如囚徒之欲出牢狱,绝无系恋之心;愿生西方,如过客之思归故乡,岂有因循之念。」全身心皈投阿弥陀佛。「阿弥陀佛有大势力,能拔娑婆无底厕坑不赦牢狱之人,直下出离其中,悉皆安置于极乐本有家乡,令其入佛境界同佛受用。」

Great Master’s Pure Land thought is also with much on having the mind of joy and revulsion, ‘With the aspiration to depart from the Sahā World, like a prisoner desiring to exit prison, absolutely without the mind of reluctance and attachment. With Aspiration for birth in the Western Pure Land, like a passing guest missing home, with the wish to return to one’s homeland, how can one have the thought of wasting time?’ Wholeheartedly with the body and mind taking refuge, relying on Āmítuófó. ‘Āmítuófó has great power, that is able to pull out the Sahā World’s bottomless cesspit’s unpardoned prisoners, to directly depart from within, with all resettled in the homeland of Ultimate Bliss, enabling them to enter the Buddha’s realm, with that the same as what the Buddha benefits from.’

大师的净土思想博大宏富,从中亦可窥知大师教化的平实家风,精粹扼要,不尚玄虚,虽博通三藏及世间学术,而由博返约,一以念佛为归。对近代净宗的中兴,厥功甚伟。大师集往昔祖师德业于一身,出兴于斯世,大弘法化,给劫难中的众生高擎永不熄灭的法炬。超过半个世纪的今天,其文钞法语、人格风范仍具深刻的教化摄受力。吾辈末法凡夫众生,亦应服膺大师教诲,念佛求生净土,庶不负大师乘愿再来之悲心。

Great Master’s Pure Land thought is extensive, great and rich. From within, it can be seen and known, that Great Master’s ordinary style of teaching and transforming is pure, concise and to the point, yet never unfathomable. Although extensively proficient in the Three Treasuries and worldly learning, yet from the extensive returning to the crucial, all with mindfulness of Buddha as refuge. With regard to recent generations’ resurgence of the Pure Land Tradition, his merits are extremely great. Great Master gathered past patriarchs’ virtuous conduct into his one body, arose in this world, to greatly propagate the Dharma to transform, giving sentient beings within disasters and difficulties, a raised and never-extinguishing Dharma torch. More than half a century later today, his Collected Writings’ Dharma words, character and demeanour still possess profound power to teach, transform and gather. We, this Dharma-Ending Age’s ordinary sentient beings, also should bear in mind Great Master’s instructions, to be mindful of the Buddha, for seeking birth in his Pure Land. Hopefully, not letting down Great Master’s compassionate mind, of riding upon his vows to come again.

大师一生淡泊名利,平实无奇,与人出入往来,不谈玄言妙语与神通异奇,皆是平常话多,名闻利养不介于怀。兹列数例。

Great Master was indifferent to fame and wealth for all of his life. He was simple and unadorned, with nothing unusual. When interacting with people coming and going, he would not discuss with abstruse and witty words, on supernormal powers, the unusual and special. All were with mostly ordinary words, with fame and gain not on his mind. Of examples numerous, here are some listed.

其一,1922年,大师62岁时,正当其任的徐总统题赐「悟彻圆明」匾额一方,赍送普陀山,香花供养,极盛一时。大师淡然处之,有恭贺者,大师答以虚空楼阁,自无实德,惭愧不已,荣从何来等语。日后更无一语谈及赐匾事。

First, in 1922, when Great Master was 62, the current President Xú inscribed and bestowed a horizontal plaque with the words ‘With Awakening Penetrative, Complete And Bright’, and officially sent it to Mount Pǔtuó, with incense and flowers making offerings. It was an extremely large-scale event at that time. Great Master handled it with detachment calmly. When having those congratulating, Great Master replied that, ‘It is like a pavilion in empty space. As I am personally without true virtues, and feel repentant endlessly, where did the glory come from?’ The day after, there was not again another word mentioned about the plaque.

其二,大师临往生前,致德森法师信札云:「光无实德,若颂扬光,即是敛大粪向光头上堆。祈与一切有缘者说之。」

Second, before Great Master approached life’s end for rebirth, he sent a letter to Dharma Master Désēn stating, ‘As Yìnguāng is without true virtues, if with praises eulogising Yìnguāng, this is then collecting excrement, on Yìnguāng’s head above piling it. I request that you with all those having affinity, to speak of this.’

其三,上海女高中生杨信芳梦中经观音菩萨点示,印光和尚是大势至化身。即赴苏州拜谒印祖,告以梦景。大师斥曰:「莫瞎说,莫瞎说,以凡滥圣,招人毁谤。此梦更不许汝对人说,否则非我弟子。」

Third, Shànghǎi Girls’ Senior Middle School had a student named Yáng Xìnfāng, who in a dream, experienced Contemplator Of The World’s Sounds Bodhisattva teaching, pointing out that Venerable Yìnguāng is Great Power Arrived Bodhisattva’s manifestation body. She immediately went to Sūzhōu to pay respects to him, to tell him about this dream. Great Master reproached and said, ‘Do not blindly speak! Do not blindly speak! With the ordinary abusing the noble, this attracts others’ slander. Of this dream, furthermore, I do not allow you to speak of it to others. Otherwise, you are not my disciple!’

上述三例只是大师一生淡泊平常无数事例之少分,于中可证知印祖之德操非一般人所企及,一代祖师的风范,于平淡中显出光彩。

The above-mentioned three examples are only a few of Great Master’s innumerable ‘ordinary’ examples of his indifference to fame and wealth for all of his life. From them, it can be proven and known that his virtuous conduct is not that average persons can hope to reach. With a generation’s patriarch’s model demeanour, within the ordinary, he expressed his brilliance.

1940年冬,大师略示微疾,促令办理妙真法师升座仪式,预知时至,多诸迹证。初三日晚,对大众开示:「净土法门,别无奇特,但要恳切至诚,无不蒙佛接引,带业往生。」初四日早一时半,由床上起坐说:「念佛见佛,决定生西。」言讫,即大声念佛,二时十五分,印祖坐床边呼水洗手毕,起立说:「蒙阿弥陀佛接引,我要走了,大家要念佛,要发愿,要生西方。」说完即坐椅上,端身正坐,口唇微动念佛。三时许,妙真和尚至。大师吩咐:「你要维持道场,你要弘扬净土,不要学大派头。」自后即不复语,只唇动念佛而已,延至五时,如入禅定,笑容宛然,在大众念佛声中,安详往生。世寿八十,僧腊六十。

On his knowing in advance, the time of his departure for Pure Land, there were many traces of evidence. In 1940’s winter, Great Master manifested slight illness. He quickly ordered to conduct the ceremony for Dharma Master Miàozhēn’s ascent to the Abbot’s seat. On the third day’s night, Great Master to the great assembly taught, ‘The Pure Dharma Door, is without any other unusual or special requisite. Only needing earnestness with utmost sincerity [in mindfulness of Āmítuófó name], with which there is none not receiving the Buddha’s reception and guidance, to bring one’s karma to be reborn [in his Pure Land].’ On the fourth day’s morning at 1.30 am, from his bed he arose and sat, saying, ‘With mindfulness of the Buddha, seeing the Buddha, one will definitely be born in his Western Pure Land.’ Having spoken completely, he immediately loudly recited the Buddha’s name. At 2:15 am, Great Master sat beside his bed and asked for water. After washing his hands, he stood up and said, ‘Receiving Āmítuófó’s reception and guidance, I am departing now. Everyone must be mindful of the Buddha, must give rise to Aspiration, and must be born in his Western Pure Land.’ After he finished, he then sat upright on a chair, and moved his lips slightly to recite the Buddha’s name. At around 3 am, when Venerable Miàozhēn arrived, Great Master instructed, ‘You must maintain this place for realising the path. You must propagate the Pure Land Tradition. Do not imitate those with exaggerated manners.’ Thereafter, not again speaking, only with lips moving to recite the Buddha’s name. This went on until 5 am. Like entering meditative concentration, as if smiling, within the great assembly’s recitation of the Buddha’s name, he was serenely reborn. Great Master was 80 years old, and had been ordained for 60 years.

次年2月15日,大师示寂百日,举行荼毗典礼,得五色舍利珠百余颗,精圆莹澈,又有大小舍利花及血舍利等,共千余粒。四众弟子奉灵骨塔于灵岩山石鼓之东南。

On the 15th day of the second month the next year, a hundred days after Great Master manifested departure, a cremation ceremony was held. More than a hundred five-coloured śarīras (relics) were obtained, which were refined, round, bright and clear, also having big and small śarīra flowers, blood śarīras and others, together with more than a thousand pieces. Disciples of the fourfold assembly enshrined them in a relic pagoda at the southeast of Mount Língyán’s Shígǔ.

大师一生精修净业,最后一著,既现生西瑞相以垂范,复留舍利以彰法身不坏之相。足证大师悲度众生,弘愿无尽,后被世人尊为净土宗十三祖。大师著有《印光法师文钞》正、续、三编,丙子《息灾法会法语》等流通于世。

Great Master was with diligent cultivation of pure karma for all of his life. His ‘last’ continuing action, having already appeared with birth in the Western Pure Land’s auspicious signs, with them bequeathing examples, was moreover to leave śarīras for revealing the Dharma Body’s indestructible forms. This is enough to prove that Great Master has great compassion for delivering sentient beings, with his inexhaustible great vows. He was later by the world’s people honoured as the Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch. Great Master’s writings include ‘Dharma Master Yìnguāng’s Collected Writings’ first, second and third compilations, the Bǐngzǐ year’s (1936) ‘Cessation Of Disasters’ Dharma Words’ and others, with them still circulating in the world today.

完整中文原文 Complete Chinese text: donglin.org
图片 Pictures: 任新宇 《净土》

英译 English translation: purelanders.com

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