Without Self-Benefits, How [To] Benefit Others?
Looking [at your] incoming letter, [it] can [be] said [that you have] given rise [to the] Great Bodhi Mind, with that hope [of having] self [and] others benefitted. However saying, ‘[With] self-benefits’ mind weak, [and with] benefitting [of] others’ mind sincere.’ [This] also has extremely faulty wording.
[Note 1: Bodhicitta (菩提心) is for both self-benefitting and benefitting of others (自利利他), not for any one side only, as oneself and others are interconnected as one ‘same body’ (同体). When there is self-denial, it is ironically with strong attachment to self, when one has yet to realise non-self (无我), while also having equally dualistic attachment to others.]
[If] not able [to] self-benefit, [one is] absolutely not able [to have] great benefitting of others. [It is with] these two, [that] should not [be] with separation [as] close [or] distant as right.
[Note 2: As an analogy, a person drowning in the suffering ocean of birth and death (生死苦海), far away from the shore of Pure Land (or liberation) cannot rescue another who is also drowning. However, those who know and practise the Dharma Door Of Mindfulness Of Buddha (念佛法门) can rescue themselves with the Buddha’s help, and with faith and compassion, also ‘shout’ to others drowning, to likewise practise mindfulness of Buddha. When we benefit ourselves with reaching of Pure Land for expediting spiritual training there, we can thereafter benefit all others most greatly as Great Bodhisattvas and Buddhas too.]
Thus, [for] benefitting [of] others, [this] sincere one aspiration only, [for] self-benefits then, [there] must [be] exhausting [of] utmost mental [and physical] efforts. Then [with] self-benefits [on] one side, how can [this be] weak, yet arrogantly learning [to be with] Great Bodhisattvas’ identity?
[Note 3: The sincere one aspiration to benefit others is one with that of benefitting oneself. When we first benefit ourselves well spiritually, we can then benefit others well spiritually. When we benefit others well, we also benefit ourselves well. It is delusional to romantically imagine that to be a Great Bodhisattva is to directly benefit others only. As the saying goes, ‘Mud Bodhisattvas crossing rivers are with themselves difficult to be protected’ (泥菩萨过江自身难保).]
Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng
Dharma Master Yìnguāng’s Collected Writings (Third Compilation): Reply Letter [To] Hú Zháifàn;
Record [Of] Great Master Yìnguāng’s Collected Writings’ Essence (162nd Short Section): 3rd [Chapter]: Guidance [On] Practice Methods: Fifth, Reviews [On] Practices’ Each Method (25th Short Section)
[Ref: #162 / 3.5.25]
Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an
Record Of Great Master Yìnguāng’s Collected Writings’ Essence
Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!