Unburnt Earthenware Vessels Yet [To Be] Heated, Passing [Through] Rain Then Dissolve
[In] past lives, [having] cultivated these wisdom roots, [this was] certainly not easy. If not [with] focused diligence devoting efforts, in order [to have] personal realisation, [you are] then like [an] unburnt earthenware vessel, yet [to be] heated, passing [through] rain then dissolving.
[Note 1: With whatever little or much good roots (善根) present, they were all not easily cultivated, as they are possible only with many past lives’ efforts too. Thus, there should be sincere and continual learning and practice (修学) to advance towards realisation, in order to become spiritually firm and strong, without retrogression (退转). The unburnt earthenware vessel represents our unrealised Buddha-nature (佛性), that is yet to be firmly realised.]
[Note 2: As it is not easy to attain realisation in this life directly, there should also be advance towards Pure Land (净土) with mindfulness of Buddha (念佛), where there will be swift and non-retrogressive (不退转) progress towards full realisation of Buddhahood.]
[As these] days [are] brief [and] fleeting, [in his] human life, how many [are there left? With] one breath not coming, immediately belonging [to the] afterlife.
[Note 3: With one breath not leaving (i.e. being exhaled) is death too.]
[Of] those persons yet [to] realise [the] path, from ‘awakening’ entering confusion, [of] ten thousand, [they] are [with] ten thousand. Those from awakening increasing [in] awakening, [of one] hundred million, [they are] without one [or] two.
[Note 4: As long as there is yet to be non-retrogression, any ‘awakening’ is not substantial enough yet, while it is not easy to increase in awakening in this defiled land (秽土). As mentioned in Note 2, this is a major reason why Pure Land should be reached.]
[How can you] bear [to] let [your] unsurpassable Dharma vessel’s unburnt earthenware, pass [through] rebirths’ rains, [to] yet again become dust [and] earth?
[Note 5: If not practising to reach Pure Land, not only is it difficult to progress towards non-retrogression in this defiled land, it is also easy to retrogress here, in this life, and life after life, possibly returning to ‘square one’ on the path to Buddhahood, or even veering off this path.]
Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng
Dharma Master Yìnguāng’s Collected Writings (First Compilation): First Reply Letter [To] Zhāng Yúnléi;
Record [Of] Great Master Yìnguāng’s Collected Writings’ Essence (173rd Short Section): 3rd [Chapter]: Guidance [On] Practice Methods: Sixth, Encouragement Of Practitioners To Strive Diligently (4th Short Section)
[Ref: #173 / 3.6.4]
Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an
Record Of Great Master Yìnguāng’s Collected Writings’ Essence