[37] Immeasurable Life Sūtra’s Thirty-Seventh Chapter’s Summary & Explanation《无量寿经》第三十七品:小结与解释

The below is with reference to: Thirty-Seventh Chapter On Those Hearing This Sūtra Obtaining Benefits (Of Immeasurable Life Sūtra)《无量寿经》 闻经获益第卅七 at

Immeasurable Life Sūtra’s Thirty-Seventh Chapter’s Summary & Explanation

[1] The Buddha taught, ‘If there are those who attain hearing of that Buddha’s name (i.e. Āmítuófó: 阿弥陀佛), with joyful enthusiasm, and even if for one thought, you should know that these persons will be attaining great benefits, who are then complete with unsurpassable meritorious virtues.’ (其有得闻彼佛名号,欢喜踊跃,乃至一念,当知此人为得大利,则是具足无上功德。)

If there is mindfulness of Āmítuófó’s name (念佛) with joyful enthusiasm, which is with Faith (信) and ideally also Aspiration (愿) for birth in his Pure Land, the greatest benefit that can be attained is that the seed (or potential) for reaching his Pure Land would have been planted, thus guaranteeing Buddhahood through it, which is complete with unsurpassable meritorious virtues.

[2] The Buddha taught, ‘Therefore, Maitreya, if there is a great fire, that fully fills the three-thousandfold great-thousandfold world, there should be crossing of this, to hear this sūtra’s Dharma, with joyful faith, accepting, upholding, studying and reciting it, with as said cultivate practice. Why is that so? There are many Bodhisattvas, who desire to hear this sūtra, yet not able to attain it. If there are sentient beings, who hear this sūtra, of the unsurpassable path, they will to the end not retrogress. Therefore, you should, with a focused mind, faithfully accept, uphold, recite, speak and practise this.’ (是故弥勒,设有大火,充满三千大千世界,要当过此,闻是经法,欢喜信乐,受持读诵,如说修行。所以者何?多有菩萨,欲闻此经,而不能得。若有众生,闻此经者,于无上道,终不退转。是故应当专心信受,持诵说行。)

Even if this whole galactic system is ablaze, it should be bravely crossed for learning these teachings well, gladly and faithfully practising and propagating them. This is so as it offers the easiest (yet swiftest) path (易行道) to Buddhahood, that even many Bodhisattvas miss, thus struggling for many lifetimes along the Difficult Practice Path (难行道), with much spiritual backsliding too.

[3] These Pure Land teachings are relevant even to Maitreya Bodhisattva, despite him already being the next Buddha-to-be in this world 5.6 billions years later. As this world will still be a defiled land (秽土) when he attains Buddhahood, these Pure Land teachings are ‘handed’ to him, and will be taught by him too, to encourage his three assemblies to seek birth in Āmítuófó’s Pure Land. This would attest to Āmítuófó’s 17th Great Vow that all Buddhas will praise him. According to Universal Virtue Bodhisattva’s Practices’ And Vows’ Chapter《普贤行愿品》, Maitreya Bodhisattva is also in the Pure Land now, (other than in Tuṣita Heaven’s Inner Court [兜率内院]). In this sense, he already practised according to these teachings.

[4] The Buddha taught, ‘I now for all sentient beings, speak this sūtra’s Dharma, enabled sight of Immeasurable Life Buddha, and all that exists in his land. With that which should be done, all can seek it. You must not, with my Parinirvāṇa after, again give rise to doubts and confusions.’ (吾今为诸众生,说此经法,令见无量寿佛,及其国土一切所有。所当为者,皆可求之。无得以我灭度之后,复生疑惑。)

Approaching the end of these teachings, after enabling vision of Āmítuófó and his Pure Land, and instructing on how to reach it, the Buddha offered opportunities for all in the assembly, to answer their doubts and clarify their confusions, if any, before he relinquishes his body later. There were no questions. When we learn the Dharma, we too should raise doubts and confusions in time, to transform them to be firm faith and great clarity.

[5] The Buddha taught, ‘In this 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。)

The sūtras’ paths are destroyed during this Dharma-Ending Age (末法时期), and will be completely destroyed at its end, except for those in this sūtra, which will be extended for a century more by the Buddha. This is chosen because it will offer the last feasible path to liberation (via reaching of Pure Land). This does not mean this sūtra is only relevant in this age or a for the hundred years after (in the Dharma ‘Ended’ Age [无法时期]), as its relevance existed even before the Buddha taught it. If we do not heed its extra skilful teachings in this age, how else are we going to be liberated in this lifetime? Although its teachings will still exist for a short while after this age, our readiness to accept and practise them, if we are still here, might be even less then, if they are encountered again at all, depending on the quality of our karma. Thus, we should embrace them now.

[6] The Buddha said to Maitreya (佛语弥勒),

[i] ‘The Thus Come Ones’ arisings in the world (如来兴世),
     [a] are difficult to encounter (难值),
     [b] and difficult to see (难见).

[ii] All Buddhas’ sūtras’ paths (诸佛经道),
     [a] are difficult to attain (难得),
     [b] and difficult to hear (难闻).

[iii] Of Bodhisattvas’ surpassing dharmas, and all pāramitās (菩萨胜法,诸波罗蜜), to attain hearing of them is likewise difficult (得闻亦难).

[iv] [a] Encountering good-knowing friends, to hear the Dharma (遇善知识,闻法)
      [b] and be able to practise it, this likewise is difficult (能行,此亦为难).

[v] If hearing this sūtra, with joyful faith accepting and upholding it (若闻斯经,信乐受持), this is the difficulty of difficulties within, without that surpassing this difficulty (难中之难,无过此难).’

There must be much meritorious virtues to be able to hear this sūtra. Now that so many great difficulties (i.e. five primary difficulties with eight secondary difficulties) have been overcome by hearing this sūtra, to not waste this golden opportunity, we should with joyful faith accept and uphold it. Doing so, there will be reaching of Āmítuófó’s Pure Land, where he and all other Buddhas can be seen, for learning and cultivating all Dharma teachings completely, thus overcoming all the difficulties once and for all.

[7] In [6] [iii], ‘all Pāramitās’ (诸波罗蜜) are the Six Perfections (六度), which can be cultivated by mindfulness of Buddha too. As taught by the Pure Land Tradition’s 9th Patriarch Great Master Ǒuyì (净土宗九祖蕅益大师) in Guidance On The Dharma Door Of Mindfulness Of Buddha《示念佛法门》,


[i] With true ability to be mindful of the Buddha, letting go of body, mind and the world, is then great Generosity.
[ii] With true ability to be mindful of the Buddha, not again giving rise to greed, anger and delusion, is then great Upholding Of Precepts.
[iii] With true ability to be mindful of the Buddha, not being attached to rights and] wrongs of others and oneself, is then great Patience.
[iv] With true ability to be mindful of the Buddha, not having slight interruption with mixed thoughts, is then great Diligence.
[v] With true ability to be mindful of the Buddha, not again by deluded thoughts driven and not chasing after them, is then great Meditative Concentration.
[vi] With true ability to be mindful of the Buddha, not by those other divergences confused, is then great Wisdom.

It is perfectly natural that with mindfulness of Buddha, the Buddha’s qualities perfected from his cultivation of the Six Perfections will grow in those mindful of him too. As these qualities grow, they will also be more naturally practised in everyday life, beyond the practice of mindfulness of Buddha. If not so, unless there are practical limitations, mindfulness of Buddha might not be truly practised yet.

 The Buddha taught, ‘Therefore, this is my Dharma (我法),

[i] thus undertaken (如是作) (with mindfulness of Buddha, as personally practised,
[ii] thus spoken (如是说) (with mindfulness of Buddha, as spoken), and
[iii] thus taught (如是教) (with mindfulness of Buddha, as taught).

You should faithfully comply, by according with this Dharma to cultivate practice (应当信顺,如法修行).’ This is so as all Bodhisattvas and Buddhas practise(d) mindfulness of Buddha to attain Buddhahood. This can be seen in the following teachings.

From this same Sūtra In Which The Buddha Speaks Of Immeasurable Life《无量寿经》at the opening, ‘Moreover with the Great Vehicle’s assembly of Bodhisattvas together, are Universal Virtue Bodhisattva, Wonderful Virtue Bodhisattva, Maitreya Bodhisattva and others, ALL Bodhisattvas within this Virtuous Kalpa.’ (又与大乘众菩萨俱,普贤菩萨、妙德菩萨、慈氏菩萨等,此贤劫中一切菩萨。) All have come to receive teachings on mindfulness of Buddha. That all Bodhisattvas practise, we should practise too.

From the Sûtra In Which The Buddha Speaks Of The Oceanlike Samādhi From Contemplation Of Buddha《佛说观佛三昧海经》, the Buddha said,  ‘I, and this Virtuous Kalpa’s ALL Great Bodhisattvas, due to this power of Samādhi From Mindfulness Of Buddha thus, attained all-knowing wisdom, majestic supernormal powers and ease. Thus did the ten directions’ ALL immeasurable Buddhas, all by this Dharma accomplished [Anuttarā Samyak] Saṃbodhi (i.e. Buddhahood). (我与贤劫诸大菩萨,因是念佛三昧力故,得一切智,威神自在。如是十方无量诸佛,皆由此法成三菩提。) That all Buddhas practised, we should practise too.

[9] Having completed the teachings,

[i] immeasurable beings gave rise to aspiration for Unsurpassable Right Awakening (无上正觉之心) (i.e. Buddhahood [佛果]),
[ii] 12,000 nayutas (那由他) of persons attained the pure Dharma eye (清净法眼) (i.e. First Fruit [初果] as Srotaāpannas [须陀洹]),
[iii] 22 koṭis (亿) of heavenly and human people (诸天人民) attained the Anāgāmin fruit (阿那含果) (i.e. attained the Third Fruit [三果]),
[iv] 800,000 Bhikṣus (比丘) are with outflows ended (漏尽) (which is to no longer have the Three Poisons (三毒) of greed, anger and delusion [贪嗔痴] flowing out) and minds liberated (意解) (i.e. attained the Fourth Fruit [四果], the self-liberation of Arhathood [阿罗汉果]), and
[v] 40 koṭis of Bodhisattvas attained non-retrogression (不退转). With great vows’ meritorious virtues then self-adorning. In future lives, they will accomplish Right Awakening.

Related Teachings:

Where To Meet Amitābha Buddha & Maitreya Bodhisattva Together

Guidance On The Dharma Door Of Mindfulness Of Buddha

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