With True Faith [And] Sincere Aspiration Mindful [Of] Buddha, All Can [Be] Born [In The] Western [Pure Land To Be] Liberated [From] Rebirth
[The] Buddha’s Dharma’s Dharma Doors [are] immeasurable. Regardless [of the] Great, Small, Skilful [and] True, all Dharma Doors, equally need [to be] with [the] precepts, concentration [and] wisdom, severing greed, anger [and] delusion, enabling them [to be] completely ended without remainder, then can [there be] liberation [from the cycle of] birth [and] death. This [is] thus [as] difficult as ascending [to a] heaven, not that we completely bound ordinary beings, [are] able [to] hope [for].
[Note 1: Figuratively, the 84,000 Dharma Doors (八万四千法门) represent immeasurable Dharma Doors. Precepts, concentration and wisdom (戒定慧) form the Threefold Learning (三学) for liberation from greed, anger and delusion (贪嗔痴), which form the three poisons (三毒), that prevent liberation.]
If with true Faith [and] sincere Aspiration mindful [of the] Buddha [to] seek birth [in his] Western [Pure Land Of Ultimate Bliss (西方极乐世界), also regardless [of] skills [being] shallow [or] profound, meritorious virtues [being] great [or] little, all can rely [on the] Buddha’s loving-kindness’ power, [to be] reborn [in his] Western [Pure Land].
[Note 2: Faith, Aspiration and Practice (信愿行) of mindfulness of Buddha form the Three Provisions (三资粮) for reaching his Pure Land (净土).]
This [is] like riding [on a] fire[-powered] steamship [to] cross [the] ocean, only [with] willingness [to] board [the] ship, immediately can [there be] reaching of [the] other shore, thus [with this] belonging [to the] ship’s power, not [with] one’s ability. [With] Faith [and] Aspiration mindful [of the] Buddha, seeking birth [in his] Western [Pure Land, it is] likewise thus. [This] is completely [with the] Buddha’s power, not [with] one’s path’s power. However, once born [in the] Western [Pure Land], thus [from] birth [and] death already liberated, [and with] afflictions not arising, [this is] already with those in this place long using [their] skills, [to] sever afflictions [till they are] completely ended, [to be] liberated [from the cycle of] birth [and] death, [the] same [as] each other.
[Note 3: The ship represents the Buddha’s great ship of vows (大愿船), as a vehicle for helping us to cross the suffering ocean of births and deaths (生死苦海), to reach the other shore (彼岸) of his Pure Land (净土), where liberation will be attained. To board the ship represents connecting our limited Self-power (自力) to the Buddha’s power (佛力), which is his great Other-power (他力), by nurturing the Three Provisions. As those who have reached the Pure Land will be free from afflictions that power rebirth, they are equal to the liberated.]
Thus [with] mindfulness [of] Buddha, [there] definitely must [be] seeking [of] birth [in his] Western [Pure Land. There] must not [be] seeking [of] future lives’ human [and] heavenly blessed rewards. Those departing [from] Faith [and] Aspiration, with [this] teaching people, [to be] mindful [of the] Buddha [for] seeking awakening, must not [be] relied [on].
[Note 4: Aspiration (愿) of the Three Provisions is in terms of reaching Pure Land, not anywhere else, such as the human or heavenly paths (人天道), which are still within the cycle of birth and death. As awakening here in this Dharma-Ending Age (末法时期) is now impossible, there should be reaching of Pure Land for swift awakening there.]
[That] essential of mindfulness [of] Buddha, is in gathering [of] all six roots. When mindful [of the] Buddha[‘s name (Āmítuófó: 阿弥陀佛)], gathering [in the] ears [with] attentive listening, is thus [gathering [the] six roots’ starting point. [If] able [to, with the] sincere mind attentively listening, [compared] with not listening, then [with] scattered mindfulness, its meritorious virtues [are with] great forms [of] wide differences.
[Note 5: The six roots (六根) are the senses of eyes, ears, nose, tongue, touch and thought (眼耳鼻舌身意). When there is only wholehearted reciting (一心念) of the Buddha’s name and wholehearted listening (一心听) to the Buddha’s name, all roots will be gathered naturally. (Other than the ears and mind functioning at the same time, the other senses will not be focused on, thus gathering all of them together.]
[Of] this Dharma [Door], regardless [of] persons [with] high, medium [or] low roots, all can use [it, and] all can attain [its] benefits. Having advantages without disadvantages, [there] should [be] enabling [of] all persons [to] all rely [on] this [for] cultivation.
[Note 6: The Dharma Door Of Mindfulness Of Buddha (念佛法门) can and should be practised by all, be they good, average or poor practitioners, for liberation in this lifetime via reaching Pure Land.]
Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng
Dharma Master Yìnguāng’s Collected Writings (Second Compilation): Letter For Zhāng Jìngjiāng;
Record [Of] Great Master Yìnguāng’s Collected Writings’ Essence (185th Short Section): 4th [Chapter]: Discussion [On] Births’ [And] Deaths’ Great Matter: Second, Teachings [On] Focusing [On] Relying [On The] Buddha’s Power (1st Short Section)
[Ref: #187 / 4.2.1]
Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an
Record Of Great Master Yìnguāng’s Collected Writings’ Essence