Rewards [And Retribution] Connected [Through The] Three Periods, [Are With] Transformations Due [To The] Mind
[A] sūtra says, ‘Bodhisattvas fear causes, [and] sentient beings fear effects.’ [As] Bodhisattvas fear encountering [of] evil effects, [with] advanced severing [to] eliminate evil causes, due [to] this, [they are with] transgressive obstacles eliminated, [and with] meritorious virtues perfected [and] completed, accomplishing Buddhahood then [at the] end. Sentient beings constantly creating evil causes, [while] desiring [to] avoid evil effects, for example, [are] like when [there is the] sun, avoiding shadows, [which is] futile, [even if] running [away] quickly.
[Note 1: As prevention is better than cure, it is better to fear the creating of evil causes, than to fear the reaping of their evil fruits. With no evil causes created, there is no fear of their evil fruits. With evil causes created, even if there is fear of their evil fruits, they will be challenging to avoid.]
Often seen [are] ignorant foolish people, [having] slightly created [a] little good, immediately expect great blessings. Once meeting adversity, then saying creating good obtains misfortune, not having cause [and] effect, from this retreating [and] regretting [their] initial minds, instead slandering [the] Buddha’s Dharma [teachings]. How [could they] know [the] profound implications of rewards [and retribution] connected [through the] three periods, [are with] transformations due [to the] mind?
[Note 2: A little good karma (善业) created in the present might not immediately bear great fruit, only bearing fruit later. Misfortune that occurs then is due to past evil karma (恶业) ripening, not due to the good karma. Their initial minds (初心) might be with the Bodhi Mind (菩提心), the aspiration to guide one and all to Buddhahood (佛果). The three periods (三世) are the (i) past period (过去世), (ii) present period (现在世) and (iii) future period (未来世). The creating of more good karma can magnify good fruits or mitigate evil fruits, while the creating of more evil karma can magnify evil fruits or mitigate good fruits.]
Those rewards [and retribution] connected [through the] three periods, [are with those in this] present life creating good [and] creating evil, [in this] present life obtaining blessings [and] obtaining misfortunes, calling them present rewards [and retribution. With those in this] present life creating good [and] creating evil, [in a] future life obtaining blessings [and] obtaining misfortunes, calling them future rewards [and retribution].
Those [in this] present life creating good [and] creating evil, [in the] third life, or fourth life, or tenth, hundredth, thousandth, ten thousandth life, or until immeasurable boundless kalpas later, then receiving blessings [and] receiving misfortune, calling them later rewards [and retribution]. Later rewards [and retribution are] thus [with] later [or] sooner [arrival] not definite, [while] all those created karmas, [are] definitely not those without rewards [and retribution].
Those [with] transformations due [to the] mind, for example, are people, those [who have] created evil karma, [who] should long fall [into] hell, [for] long kalpas receiving suffering. These people, later give rise [to] great repentance, give rise [to the] great Bodhi Mind, correct evil [and] cultivate good, recite sūtras [with] mindfulness [of the] Buddha, [with] personal practice transform others, [and] seek birth [in the] Western [Pure Land].
[Note 3: The most powerful methods to prevent falling into hell after having created much evil karma are as listed above. Mindfulness of Buddha (念佛) is one of the swiftest methods to express repentance (忏悔) and create much meritorious virtues (功德) to mitigate evil karma. With mindfulness of Buddha, his Pure Land will be reached, through which Buddhahood will most swiftly be attained.]
Due [to] this thus, [in this] present life, perhaps by people looked down on, or slightly attaining sickness [with] suffering, or briefly receiving poverty, with all those matters not according [to] wishes. That earlier created karma of long falling [into] hell, [for] long kalpas receiving suffering, [is] immediately then eliminated, [with them] still again able [to be] liberated [from the cycle of] birth [and] death, [to] transcend [the] ordinary [to] enter [the] noble.
[Note 4: With practice of the methods listed above Note 3, evil karma will be mitigated, as expressed with lessened suffering.]
[In the] Vajra Sūtra, [is] that saying, ‘If [there] are people [who] receive [and] uphold this sūtra, by people looked down on, these persons, [with their] earlier lives’ transgressive karmas, [who] should fall [into] evil paths, with [the] present life’s people looking down on [them] thus, [their] earlier lives’ transgressive karmas, [will] immediately be eliminated, [and they] will attain Anuttara Samyak Saṃbodhi.’ [This is] then [the] meaning of transformations due [to the] mind.
[Note 5: The principle taught in the Vajra Sūtra《金刚经》applies to the list of methods above Note 3 too. Anuttara Samyak Saṃbodhi (阿耨多罗三藐三菩提) is Buddhahood (佛果).]
Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng
Dharma Master Yìnguāng’s Collected Writings (First Compilation): Letter For Wèi Jǐnzhōu;
Record [Of] Great Master Yìnguāng’s Collected Writings’ Essence (226th Short Section): 5th [Chapter]: Encouragement [Of The] Mind [To] Dwell [In] Sincerity [And] Reverence (4th Short Section)
[Ref: #226 / 5.4]
Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an
Record Of Great Master Yìnguāng’s Collected Writings’ Essence