Explanations Of Terms And Stages On How To Attain Birth In Āmítuófó’s Pure Land According To The Amitābha Sūtra 如何依《阿弥陀经》得生阿弥陀佛净土 (术语和阶段的解释)

How To Attain Birth In Āmítuófó’s Pure Land According To The Amitābha Sūtra


Amitābha Sūtra (Śākyamuni Buddha): ‘Śāriputra, one cannot, with few good roots and blessed virtues, as cause and condition, attain birth in that land. Śāriputra, if there are good men and good women, who hear this said about Amitā Buddha, firmly uphold [mindfulness of his] name [i.e. Āmítuófó], if for one day, if for two days, if for three days, if for four days, if for five days, if for six days, if for seven days, wholeheartedly without being scattered, when these persons approach life’s end, Amitā Buddha, with many in his noble assembly will appear before them. When these persons’ lives are ending, their minds will not be inverted, and they will immediately attain rebirth in Amitā Buddha’s Land Of Ultimate Bliss.’

Explanations Of Terms And Stages

善根: ‘good roots’: Spiritual foundations of being (relatively) free from the Three Poisons (三毒) of attachment, aversion and delusion (贪嗔痴), for cultivation of blessed virtues (福德).

福德: ‘blessed virtues’: Blessings (福) (positive; wholesome; good karma) arising from virtuous (德) deeds of body, speech and mind (身口意).

因缘: ’cause and condition’:
 What needed is understanding of these teachings for giving rise to the Three Provisions (三资粮) of Faith, Aspiration (Vow) and Practice (信愿行) (of wholehearted mindfulness of Āmítuófó’s name) (一心念佛).


To be without Faith and Aspiration mindful of Buddha, is to be ‘with few good roots and blessed virtues as cause and condition.’ To be with Faith and Aspiration mindful of Buddha, is to be with much good roots and blessed virtues as cause and condition.

善男子、善女人: ‘good men and good women’: 
Those who practise accordingly to nurture the Three Provisions. Those who do not, or do the opposite, are not ‘good’ enough, though even deathbed practitioners might become good enough in time. However, do not sabotage yourself, by doing great evil now, that might create karmic obstacles (业障) which make last-minute practice more difficult.

闻说阿弥陀佛,执持名号: ‘hear this said about Amitā Buddha, firmly uphold [mindfulness of his] name’: ... vocally or silently – starting from today, in everyday life, with sincere, regular and diligent practice, including when it is time to depart.

To be able to hear, accept and practise mindfulness of Buddha requires much (i.e. not few) ‘good roots and blessed virtues.’ However, all our Self-Powered (自力) ‘good roots and blessed virtues’ alone will never be enough to reach Pure Land, as non-Buddhas do not karmically deserve to experience Pure Land, which is a Buddha’s realm.

However, when we ‘[faithfully and] firmly uphold [mindfulness of his] name’, with his Other-Power (他力) connecting to our Self-Power, Āmítuófó can share his immeasurable meritorious virtues (功德) with us and guide us to enter his Pure Land. The more connected we are to him through mindfulness of Buddha, the more meritorious virtues and guidance (引导) there will be.

若一…七日: ‘if for one… seven days’: … or more if needed, even after physical death. The duration needed can be as short as within 1 day, 10 thoughts or even 1 thought when dying or after death too.

一心不乱: ‘wholeheartedly without being scattered: … by being distracted by other aspirations. When truly wholehearted (一心), one will not be scattered (不乱) in mind. To be ‘wholeheartedly without being scattered’ is to be with utmost sincere Faith in Āmítuófó and unwavering Aspiration to reach his Pure Land, thus naturally becoming as focused (concentrated; single-minded) as possible. It is not the other way round, of being concentrated only, which might not have wholeheartedness (至诚恳心), being half-hearted or ambivalent (三心两意) instead.

The heart (mind) with utmost sincerity is the binding agent (embodiment and expression) of the Three Provisions. With ‘wholeheartedness’ (一心) in mindfulness of Buddha as the cause (因), not ‘being scattered’ (不乱) will be the effect (果). We should simply fasten our hearts (minds) on Āmítuófó’s name continually (系念) to be ‘not scattered’ (不乱), until Āmítuófó arrives and receives us. This is to muster the Three Provisions together.

‘Wholeheartedly without being scattered’ (一心不乱) does not demand deep meditative concentration (samādhi; dhyāna), though it is alright if there. Samādhi From Mindfulness Of Buddha (念佛三昧) arises after connection to Āmítuófó, who lifts the mind ‘up.’

The Self-power to generate is to be ‘wholehearted without being scattered’ via mindfulness of Buddha, with which Āmítuófó will be connected to, who arrives to share his Other-Power, to enable our ‘minds to not be inverted’ (心不颠倒), so as to reach his Pure Land.

其人临命终时, 阿弥陀佛,与诸圣众,现在其前: ‘when these persons approach life’s end, Amitā Buddha, with many in his noble assembly will appear before them’: … as Āmítuófó and company are always on standby, eager to connect, protect, receive and guide us to his Pure Land.

是人终时,心不颠倒: ‘When these persons’ lives are ending, their minds will not be inverted’: To have an inverted mind is to have ‘upside-down thinking’ by entertaining the Three Poisons (三毒) of attachment, aversion and delusion (贪嗔痴), which veers away from the Buddha and our Buddha-nature (佛性).

On the deathbed, the average person without mindfulness of Buddha dies with confused (deluded) thoughts (instead of Right Views: 正见), thus suffering from afflictions (烦恼) of attachment and aversion. Such is attachment to the saṃsāric life (贪生) about to expire and aversion (怕死) of death due to delusion.

As this state of the ‘mind not being inverted’ (心不颠倒) arises after connecting to Āmítuófó, it is a higher spiritual state than the mind of ‘wholeheartedly without being scattered’ (一心不乱). This further affirms that ‘wholeheartedly without being scattered’ (一心不乱) does not require very high concentration. If it does, most will not be able to reach Pure Land. Yet, mindfulness of Buddha is supposed to be the Easy (Easiest) Practice Path (易行道) to liberation for all. We should simply do our best to be mindful of Buddha sincerely, which is to be ‘wholehearted without being scattered’ now and when departing.

即得往生阿弥陀佛极乐国土: ‘and they will immediately attain rebirth in Amitā Buddha’s Land Of Ultimate Bliss.’

Related Teachings:

What Are Good Roots And Blessed Virtues For Birth In Āmítuófó’s Pure Land? :
Good Roots And Blessed Virtues As Explained In The Essential Explanation On The Amitābha Sūtra As Spoken By The Buddha

Why Wholeheartedness Matters More Than Single-Mindedness
Having Faith And Aspiration, Yet To Attain Single-mindedness, One Also Can Attain Birth In Pure Land

How Do Niànfó Practitioners Reach Āmítuófó’s Pure Land?
(The True Meaning Of Wholeheartedness Without Being Scattered)

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