[8] The Dharma Door Of Mindfulness Of Buddha Is Common Through The Five Periods 念佛法门通五时

[8] [The] Dharma Door [Of] Mindfulness [Of] Buddha [Is] Common [Through The] Five Periods


Tracing back [the] origin of this Dharma [door, it] truly [is] at [the] Flower Adornment [Sūtra]’s《华严经》last assembly. Good Wealth, [who] everywhere travelled [to learn from good-]knowing friends, arrived [at] Universal Virtue Bodhisattva’s place, [to] receive Universal Virtue’s majestic supernormal [powers’] blessings [and] protection. [As] that realised [was] with Universal Virtue equal, [and] with all Buddhas equal, [he] was as [an] Equally Awakened Bodhisattva.

[Note 1: An Equally Awakened Bodhisattva (等觉菩萨) is the greatest Bodhisattva, about to manifest Buddhahood (佛果). That learnt and practised by Good Wealth is in the Universal Virtue Bodhisattva’s Practices’ And Vows’ Chapter《普贤菩萨行愿品》, as can be seen at]


Universal Virtue thus, for praising [the] Thus Come [One’s] supremely wonderful meritorious virtues, encouraged progress [of] Good Wealth and [the] Flower Treasury’s ocean[-wide] assembly [to], together with [his] Ten Great Vows’ King’s meritorious virtues, dedicate [for] rebirth [in the] Western [Pure] Land [Of] Ultimate Bliss, in order [to] perfect [and] complete [the] Buddha fruit.

[Note 2: Universal Virtue Bodhisattva’s (普贤菩萨) Tenth Great Vow is to dedicate all the meritorious virtues from his previous nine great vows for reaching the Pure Land, through which Buddhahood will be realised. As he is already an Equally Awakened Bodhisattva, he had already reached the Pure Land to attain this position, but continues to set an example for all others with his ongoing dedication. His Ten Great Vows’ King (十大愿王) can be seen at The Flower Treasury’s ocean-wide assembly (华藏海众) refers to the Flower Adornment Sūtra’s immeasurably great assembly.]


With [the] Flower Treasury’s ocean[-wide] assembly, all [those of the] Ten Abodes, Ten Practices, Ten Dedications, Ten Grounds, Equal Awakening, [these] forty-one positions’ Dharma Body’s Great Beings, already travel everywhere [in] dust [motes of] lands’ Buddha lands. [Of] those [A]mitā[bha Buddha’s] vows, [his Land Of] Ultimate Bliss’ realm’s conditions, rebirths’ causes [and] effects, [they are with] each [and every] one known, thus not needing [to] speak [of them].

[Note 3: The forty-one positions are above those of the Ten Faiths (十信). After Equal Awakening (等觉) is Wonderful Awakening (妙觉), which is Buddhahood. Together, they form the fifty-two positions of Bodhisattvahood. The Dharma Body’s Great Beings (法身大士) are Bodhisattvas already capable of manifesting as Buddhas to guide other beings.]


However, in [the] Flower Adornment [Sūtra’s] assembly, [it was] absolutely without ordinary beings, [those of the] Two Vehicles and provisional positions’ Bodhisattvas. Thus, although greatly propagating this Dharma, yet ordinary [beings and those of the] Small [Vehicle are] not [able to] follow, [for] receiving [and] practising [it].

[Note 4: Ordinary beings (凡夫) are those not enlightened at all, while noble beings (圣者) are those with various stages of enlightenment. Those of the Two Vehicles (二乘) are of the Small Vehicle (小乘), (learning and) practising to be Voice-Hearers (声闻) and Pratyekabuddhas (辟支佛). Provisional positions’ Bodhisattvas (权[且]位菩萨) are those not yet learning and practising the Complete Teachings (圆教) that lead to Buddhahood, thus still having shallow meritorious virtues and practices (功行), yet to be true Bodhisattvas (真菩萨).]


Thus, in [the] Right [And] Equal [Period’s] (方等时) assemblies, universally for all human [and] heavenly, ordinary [and] noble [beings], speaking [the] Immeasurable Life Sūtra, [to] clearly explain [A]mitā[bha Buddha’s] past causes’ practices [and] fruit’s virtues, [his Land Of] Ultimate Bliss’ all kinds [of] supreme wonders, practitioners’ cultivation [and] realisation, [their] grades’ [and] positions’ causes [and] effects.

[Note 5: The Right And Equal Period’s (方等时) assemblies are those for whom the Buddha spoke and praised the Great Vehicle’s teachings (大乘教) to encourage progress towards Buddhahood. The Immeasurable Life Sūtra《无量寿经》can be seen at]


This sūtra [is] thus said [to be, after the] Flower Adornment [Sūtra’s] end, [for] returning [to the] source, its one continuation. [Its] spoken period, although in [the] Right [And] Equal [Period, is with its] teachings truly belonging [to the] Flower Adornment [Period] (华严时).

[Note 6: To the Dharma Body’s Great Beings, as the Immeasurable Life Sūtra’s《无量寿经》teachings are already known, when learning the Flower Adornment Sūtra《华严经》, it is as if the Immeasurable Life Sūtra’s continuation and/or conclusion. For all other beings, when the Immeasurable Life Sūtra’s teachings are learnt, they are as if the Flower Adornment Sūtra’s continuation and/or conclusion.]

[Note 7: Of the Five Periods (五时) of the Buddha’s teachings as below, the Flower Adornment Period (华严时) is the first period, while the Right And Equal Period (方等时) is the third period.

(i) Flower Adornment (Avataṃsaka) Period (华严时)
(ii) Āgama Period (阿含时)
(iii) Vaipulya (Right And Equal) Period (方等时)
(iv) Prajñā Period (般若时)
(v) Dharma Flower And Nirvāṇa Period (法华涅槃时)]


[The] Flower Adornment [Sūtra’s assembly was] only limited [to the] Dharma Body’s Great Beings. This [Immeasurable Life] Sūtra[‘s teachings] everywhere gather [the] nine realms’ noble [and] ordinary [beings]. Then with [the] Flower Adornment [Sūtra] discussing, [it] still belongs [to that] special, moreover [during] other periods. If [the] Thus Come [One did] not open this Dharma [door], then [will this Dharma-]Ending [Age’s] sentient beings, [be] without one [of] those able [to be] liberated [from the cycle of] birth [and] death.

[Note 8: The ten dharma realms (十法界) are the realms of (i) hell-beings (地狱众生), (ii) hungry ghosts (饿鬼), (iii) animals (畜生), (iv) humans (人), (v) asuras (阿修罗), (vi) heavenly beings (天人), (vii) Voice-Hearers (声闻), (viii) Pratyekabuddhas (辟支佛), (ix) Bodhisattvas (菩萨) and (x) Buddhas (佛陀). The nine (dharma) realms (九[法]界) are all the above other than the Buddhas. Thus, they refer to all non-Buddhas.]

[Note 9: As the Pure Land teachings have special (特别) significance due to the above, also with more reasons, they are called the Special Dharma Door (特别法门), as explained at]

[Note 10: As the Immeasurable Life Sūtra was essentially already taught by the Buddha in the Flower Adornment Period in his very first sermon (which is the Flower Adornment Sūtra), the relevance of the Pure Land teachings extended from then, through all Five Periods, all the way to the end of the Dharma-Ending Age (末法时期), (which is when the Right Dharma [正法] gradually disappears), even extending by a hundred years beyond, as mentioned by the Buddha in the sūtra –

‘In the world of the future, when sūtras’ paths are destroyed completely, I, with loving-kindness, compassion and sympathy, will specially retain this sūtra, to remain and dwell for one hundred years longer. If there are sentient beings, who encounter this sūtra, accordingly as wished, with that aspired, all can attain deliverance.’ (当来之世,经道灭尽,我以慈悲哀愍,特留此经,止住百岁。其有众生,值斯经者,随意所愿,皆可得度。)

Along with that mentioned in Note 6, this means that the Buddha’s first teachings are connected to his most lasting teachings. In this currently deepening Dharma-Ending Age, other than the Dharma Door Of Mindfulness Of Buddha (念佛法门), there is no other feasible path for liberation.]

Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng

Dharma Master Yìnguāng’s Collected Writings (Second Compilation): Preface [For] ‘Immeasurable Life Sūtra’s Praises’;
Record [Of] Great Master Yìnguāng’s Collected Writings’ Essence (8th Short Section): 1st [Chapter]: Praise [Of The] Pure Land [Dharma Door Being] Transcendental [And] Supreme (8th Short Section)
[Ref: #8 / 1.8]

Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an

Related Texts:

Record Of Great Master Yìnguāng’s Collected Writings’ Essence

Universal Virtue Bodhisattva’s Practices’ And Vows’ Chapter

Immeasurable Life Sūtra

Amitābha Sūtra

The Pure Land Tradition’s Five Sūtras

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