Boundless Benefits [Are] From Hearing [The] Sūtras Attained
[The] Vajra Sūtra says, ‘If at places where this sūtra is, [they] are the same as having [the] Buddha, or [his] honourable disciples.’ Also saying, ‘At everywhere, if [there] is this sūtra, [it is] where all [of the] world’s heavenly [beings], human [beings and] asuras should [be] offered. [It] should [be] known [that] these places, are the same as pagodas. All should [with] reverence make prostrations [and] circumambulate, with many flowers [and] incense then scattering [at] these places.’
[Note 1: Where there is the Dharma for Buddhahood (佛果) also represents where the Buddhas and Saṃgha are, who will be protecting and practising the Dharma, thus being where the Triple Gem (三宝) should be honoured too. Pagodas enshrine bodily and Dharma relics for honouring, as further explained in Note 3.]
Why [are] there instructions like this? With ‘All Buddhas, and all Buddhas’ Anuttara Samyak Saṃbodhi’s Dharma, all from this sūtra arise’ thus. Yet, all [the] Great Vehicle’s sūtras, everywhere teach people [to have] reverence [for the] sūtras, not [with] one then enough [when counting them. This is] really because all [the] Great Vehicle’s sūtras, [are] thus [the] mothers of all Buddhas, [the] teachers of Bodhisattvas, [the] Dharma Body’s śarīras of [the] three periods’ Thus Come [Ones, the] compassionate ship of [the] nine realms’ sentient beings [for] exiting suffering.
[Note 2: Anuttara Samyak Saṃbodhi (阿耨多罗三藐三菩提) is Buddhahood.]
[Note 3: Dharma Body’s śarīras (法身舍利) are the Buddha’s essential relics in terms of the Dharma, in all its forms, that pervade all space and time, including the sūtras taught.]
[Note 4: The three periods (三世) are the past (过去), present (现在) and future (未来) periods.]
[Note 5: The sūtras’ Dharma (经法) is like the compassionate ship (慈航) for ferrying sentient beings across the suffering ocean (苦海) of the cycle of birth and death (生死), to the other shore (彼岸) of Pure Land (净土) or liberation (解脱).]
[Note 6: The nine dharma realms (九法界) are listed at Note 1 of https://purelanders.com/2022/03/19/1-the-one-vehicles-unsurpassable-great-teaching.]
Although [having] highly realised [the] Buddha fruit, [one] still needs reverence [of the] Dharma. Like repaying [a] debt [and] recollecting [the] distant, not forgetting [its] great kindness. Thus [does the] Parinirvāṇa Sūtra say, ‘[The] Dharma is [the] Buddhas’ mother, [with the] Buddhas from [the] Dharma born. [The] three periods’ Thus Come [Ones], all make offerings [to the] Dharma.’
[Note 7: Even the Buddhas continue to take refuge (皈依) in the Dharma after attaining Buddhahood. The Buddhas arise from learning (i.e. hearing), contemplation and cultivation (闻思修) of the Dharma, thus ‘born’ from it. To make offerings to the Dharma, it should be learnt, contemplated, cultivated and propagated (弘法).]
Moreover [for] barren ground’s ordinary beings, [with their] whole bodies [having evil] karma’s power, like heavily [sentenced] prisoners who [are] long restrained [in] prison, not [with the] cause [to] attain exit. What good fortune, [to] receive good roots of past lives, [to] attain sight [of the] Buddha’s sūtras. Like prisoners encountering documents [of] pardon, [having] rejoice without limit. [We] certainly will [have to] rely [on] them, with long bowing [in the] three realms, [to] forever exit [from] births’ [and] deaths’ prison. Personally realising [the] Three Bodies, directly reaching Nirvāṇa’s hometown.
[Note 8: Barren ground’s ordinary beings (博地凡夫) are those dwelling in the positions ofall suffering (苦) and confusions (惑), or those before the Ten Faiths’ (十心) stages on the path to Buddhahood.]
[Note 9: ‘With long bowing’ (长揖) means to keep learning and practising with reverence (恭敬).]
[Note 10: The three realms (三界) are the desire (欲), form (色) and formlessness (无色) realms.]
[Note 11: The Three Bodies (三身) of each Buddha are the Dharma Body (法身), which pervade all space and time, the Reward Body (报身), which is in his Pure Land (净土) with full meritorious virtues’ (功德) splendour, and the Manifestation Bodies (化身), which appear in defiled lands (秽土) to guide sentient beings to Pure Land(s) for Buddhahood. All these are realised with the Ultimate Nirvāṇa (究竟涅槃) of Buddhahood.]
Boundless benefits [are] from hearing [the] sūtras attained. How can [there be] relying on arrogant ‘knowledge’ [and] views, not retaining reverence, [which is the] same [as those with the] studying [and] reciting [of] worldly scholars, [with] abrupt actions [of] blasphemy?
Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng
Dharma Master Yìnguāng’s Collected Writings (First Compilation): Treatise [On With] Wholehearted Sincerity Then Obtaining True Benefits;
Record [Of] Great Master Yìnguāng’s Collected Writings’ Essence (217th Short Section): 5th [Chapter]: Encouragement [Of The] Mind [To] Dwell [In] Sincerity [And] Reverence (12th Short Section)
[Ref: #217 / 5.12]
Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an
Record Of Great Master Yìnguāng’s Collected Writings’ Essence