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Изображение The Infinite Life Sutra (Xia Lianju)

The Infinite Life Sutra (Xia Lianju)

Артикул: FS9101951
Because of the special importance of the Infinite Life Sutra, Shakyamuni promised that in the Dharma-Ending Age, after all other Sutras have become extinct, he will preserve the Infinite Life Sutra in the world for one hundred more years. Shakyamuni Buddha ends his discourse with a description of the spiritual benefits received by people who hear the Infinite Life Sutra. The Mahāsamghāta Sutra says: “In the Dharma-Ending Age, while millions of cultivators are practicing the Dharma, only a few will achieve enlightenment; the only way to liberation is Amitabha name-recitation.” If the Buddha’s teachings were of no use to sentient beings, wouldn’t his appearance in this world be for nothing? From this we can see the inconceivable merit of “Namo Amituofo.” The people who live after the Dharma-ending Age will be able to attain liberation by relying on “Namo Amituofo.” Today, we have a better chance. Of the forty-eight vows, which vow is number one? The eminent monks said that the eighteenth vow is number one. Why did they say so? The eighteenth vow says that through mindful chanting of “Amituofo” ten times at the end of one’s life one can attain rebirth in the Western Pure Land. This illustrates the inconceivability of the merit of the name of Amitabha Buddha. This is why the name of Amitabha Buddha is “the virtues and merits of all dharmas.” When the name of Amitabha Buddha is elaborated on, we have the forty-eight vows. When the forty-eight vows are elaborated on, we have the Infinite Life Sutra. When the Infinite Life Sutra is elaborated on, we have the Avatamsaka Sutra. When the Avatamsaka Sutra is elaborated on, we have all the sutras from Sakyamuni Buddha’s forty-nine years of teaching.
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The

Infinite Life Sutra

The Way of Buddha Mindfulness 


First Edition, 2021

ISBN: 9798505178751

Translation copyright © John Walker

an English translation of

佛說大乘無量壽莊嚴清淨平等覺經 (會集本) 

Contents

Foreword

1. The Dharma Assembly of Great Nobles

2. The Virtues of Samantabhadra

3. The Origin of the Great Teaching

4. The Genesis of Dharmakara

5. Utmost Focus and Determination

6. Setting Forth the Great Vows

7. Assured Achievement of Sambodhi

8. Accumulation of Spiritual Virtues

9. Complete Perfection

10. All Vow to Become Buddhas

11. A World Adorned and Purified

12. A Light Shining Upon All Things

13. Infinite Lifespan, Infinite Followers

14. Jewel Trees, Far and Wide Throughout the Land

15. The Seat of Enlightenment

16. Lecture Halls, Meditation Chambers & Observation Towers

17. The Blessings of Springs and Pools

18. World-Surpassing and Extraordinary

19. Complete Fulfilment

20. Virtuous Wind, Raining Flowers

21. Jewel Lotuses and Buddha Light

22. Assured Realisation of the Supreme Fruit

23. Praised by Buddhas in the Ten Directions

24. The Three Classes of Reborn Beings

25. The True Cause of Rebirth

26. Pay Homage, Make Offerings and Hear the Dharma

27. Singing in Praise of the Buddha's Virtues

28. The Divine Light of the Great Ones

29. The Power of the Vow, Immense and Profound

30. The Self-Cultivation of Bodhisattvas

31. True Virtues

32. Limitless Longevity and Happiness

33. Encouraging Words, Spurring Advancement

34. Seeing the Light

35. The Evils and Sufferings of an Impure World

36. Repeated Instruction and Exhortation

37. A Poor Man Given Precious Jewels

38. Homage to the Buddha's Light

39. Maitreya Recounts His Visions

40. The Borderland and the Citadel of Doubt

41. No More Doubts, The Buddha is Seen

42. The Rebirth of Bodhisattvas

43. This is Not the Lesser Vehicle

44. The Prophecy of Sambodhi

45. A Teaching Imparted for a Special Reason

46. Devoted Practice, Firmly Grasped

47. With Merit and Wisdom, the Dharma Can Be Heard

48. Blessings Gained From Hearing the Dharma

Foreword

In May 2020, I received a most welcome surprise. A talented translator of Classical Chinese texts, Mr John Walker, the author of this translation, contacted me via my blog and asked me to suggest a suitable Chinese Pure Land Buddhist text to translate. I immediately recommended the Mahayana, Infinite Life, Adornment, Purity, Impartiality and Enlightenment Sutra (佛說 乘無量壽莊嚴清⼤淨平等覺經). This sutra is the flawless compilation of the five main extant versions of the Infinite Life Sutra. It was compiled and masterfully combined into one consolidated edition by the eminent sage, Upasaka Xia Lianju (夏蓮居), during the early to mid decades of the 20th century, without discarding or changing a single character. It is now the main Pure Land Scripture, available everywhere in Asia. Moreover, all Pure Land Associations recite it daily as part of their main practice.

This sutra has been praised by the Venerable Master Chin Kung as the most relevant sutra of our era, and will guide countless sentient beings to attain Pure Land rebirth and release from samsara. As it is the perfect antidote to the karmic weaknesses and dispositions of sentient beings of our world, it is a sutra and dharma gateway all must study.

However, a full translation of this text was impossible to find in the West. It was essentially unknown, until now. Three days ago, Mr Walker emailed me a fully completed English translation of this sutra, the first complete translation in history. No words can describe my happiness when I saw this completed work, and I could not have imagined a year ago that a full translation would become a reality so speedily. Eloquent, poetic, and concise, Mr Walker’s work is a most wonderful translation. I consider it the greatest honour of my life to be able to write the foreword for this groundbreaking translation, and I hope that the birth of this translation will mark the beginning of a worldwide renaissance for Chinese Pure Land Buddhism.

Brian B. Chung

purelandsutras.wordpress.com

May 12 2021

One

                                          The Dharma Assembly of

Great Nobles

 

 

Thus have I heard,

Once, when the Buddha lived upon Vulture Peak

near the city of Rajagriha

he held an assembly with many great bhiksus monks

twelve thousand in total


All were great nobles

already in possession of supernatural powers

among those present presiding as elders, were,

the Venerable Kaundinya

the Venerable Sariputra the Venerable Maudgalyayana

the Venerable Kasyapa

and the Venerable Ananda 


Alongside,

Bodhisattva Samantabhadra

Bodhisattva Manjusri

Bodhisattva Maitreya and every other bodhisattva of the era

they all came together on this day

Two

                                                 The Virtues of

                                                 Samantabhadra

 

 

Present too, among those presiding as elders

were the Sixteen Upright Adepts, namely,

Bodhisattva Worthy Protector

Bodhisattva Deft Comprehension

Bodhisattva Eloquent Wisdom

Bodhisattva Unveiling Impermanence

Bodhisattva Supernatural Splendour

Bodhisattva Radiant Nobility

Bodhisattva Jewelled Banner

Bodhisattva Supreme Wisdom

Bodhisattva Serene Root

Bodhisattva Unshakable Wisdom

Bodhisattva Devoted Wisdom

Bodhisattva Fragrant Elephant

Bodhisattva Treasure Blossom

Bodhisattva Middle Way Abiding Bodhisattva Restrained Conduct and Bodhisattva Liberation


All abided by and emulated the virtues of the great Samantabhadra perfectly observing

his incomparable vows of conduct recorded in the Avatamsakasutra

remaining firmly                                                

within the dharma of his virtues


They wandered freely in every direction using whatever means they could they penetrated the Buddha’s dharma treasury and reached the other shore


They vowed to visit infinite realms and achieve perfect sambodhi                complete enlightenment they left behind Tusita Heaven 4th heaven of the Desire Realm and descended into the royal palace they abandoned status and home to practise asceticism and study the way they did these things for the sake of men


With the power of concentration and wisdom

 they vanquished Mara demon, the maker of death

they grasped the subtle dharma subtle and mysterious and achieved supreme, perfect sambodhi


Beings heavenly and human turned to them and worshipped them and begged them to turn the dharma wheel


They broadcast unceasingly the sound of the dharma awakening all worlds

they tore down the citadel of afflictions and drained the moat of desire


They wiped clean all filth revealing the pure they created harmony among beings revealing the profound and subtle truth


They performed good deeds producing fields of merit

they used a variety of remedies the suffering of pain, impermanence to cure the three sufferings & inherent suffering of conditioned existence

They ascended to the stage of anointed one and were given the prophecy of sambodhi they served as spiritual masters, instructing bodhisattvas training them unceasingly in countless practices allowing their countless virtuous roots to flourish


Watched over by infinite buddhas with the power to appear in any buddha land

like skilled illusionists they could appear in any form such forms were indeed illusory Moreover they accomplished the following,


They penetrated the intrinsic nature of all dharmas and the origination of conditioned things they made offerings to all buddhas opening the way for all living things


They changed form in a flash like lightning they rent asunder Mara's net unravelling all entanglements

they went far beyond sravakas  disciples and pratyekabuddhas  buddhas enlightened by their own efforts


They entered the dharma gates of emptiness, formlessness and non-desire they devised skilful means of demonstrating the three vehicles sravaka, pratyekabuddha & bodhisattva 

They explained nirvana to those of low and average ability they obtained the many forms of neither rising nor ceasing samadhi concentration as well as every method of dharani  formula for memorising texts


They entered flower garland samadhi perfect samadhi as they pleased they mastered the technique of holding firm the many thousand forms of samadhi dwelling firmly in deep meditation they encountered infinite buddhas in the span of a single thought they travelled far and wide to every buddha land


They acquired a buddha's eloquence they adhered to Samantabhadra’s vows they used the myriad tongues of beings to enlighten them revealing the true nature of reality they transcended worldly dharmas and fixed their mind unceasingly upon the path that goes behind this world


Yet they were at ease and in control of all wordly things they extended the hand of friendship to the great multitude of beings


They accepted and firmly grasped the Tathagata’s profound dharma treasury epithet for the Buddha, they preserved the seed of buddhahood  lit. Thus Come One endeavouring always to keep it alive.


Within them arose great compassion they grieved for sentient beings they preached to them with eloquence and loving-kindness


They gave them the gift of the dharma eye they stopped them from going down evil paths non-human rebirth, e.g. animal, they laid open the gates of virtue ghost and hell denizen


They viewed others as no different from themselves they carried them on their backs and brought them to the other shore where they all acquired the Buddha’s infinite virtues becoming wise and intelligent to an unimaginable degree


Thus were the many great bodhisattvas limitless and uncountable, they gathered on this day


Present too were five hundred bhiksunis nuns seven thousand upasakas  lay disciple (male) five hundred upasikas lay disciple (female)

the divinities of the realm of desire the divinities of the realm of subtle form

and the divinities of the Brahma worlds  the highest three heavens of the subtle form realm

Three

                                          The Origin of the Great

Teaching

 

 

On this day,

The Blessed One was radiant  epithet for the Buddha and awe-inspiring like molten gold like a bright mirror his inner radiance shone outwards in the form of a great ever-transforming light

The Venerable Ananda thought to himself,

Today the Blessed One's every faculty is purified and tranquil his countenance radiant and majestic reveals a land adorned with jewels such as never seen before

With joy and wonder, Ananda gazed upwards. He rose and bared his right shoulder. Kneeling tall with palms together, he addressed the Buddha,

Today the Blessed One entered a state of great tranquillity he dwells within a dharma wondrous and unique the state within which all buddhas dwell the way of the leader, a path without equal

Buddhas past, present and future are mindful of one another were you thinking of buddhas, past and future or present buddhas from other realms?

Why so gloriously majestic?

Why so exquisitely radiant?

I beg you, please explain

Thereupon, the Blessed One proclaimed to Ananda,

Wonderful! Wonderful!

It is thanks to your compassionate desire to aid all sentient beings that you are able to ask a question so profound

What you asked surpasses

the offerings made to every arhat  one who has cast aside and pratyekabuddha in the world  all afflictions and the alms given for successive aeons to all beings   from the heavenly and human                        down to the crawling, flying and wriggling

by a hundred-thousand-fold ...why is this so?


Because heavenly, human and living beings yet to come as a result of your question will attain salvation


Ananda, the Thus Come One has limitless compassion and sympathy for all living

in the three realms  the desire, subtle form

it is for this reason & formless realms he appeared in our world      

He illuminated and explained the teachings of the way the common folk, he strove to save bestowing upon them the gift of truth

like the udumbara flower blooms once every 3000 years rarely emerging, rarely encountered    

          

Your question has enriched us Ananda, you should know the wisdom of the Tathagata's sambodhi cannot be measured, it is limitless

He can dwell within a single thought for infinite aeons

nothing can be added to or subtracted from

his body and its faculties ...why is this so?

Because the concentration and wisdom of the Thus Come One are limitless and all-encompassing thus he possesses unsurpassed mastery of every dharma

Ananda, listen with care and keep what I say in mind for your sake I shall explain

Four

                                                 The Genesis of

                                                    Dharmakara

 

The Buddha proclaimed to Ananda,

An uncountable and inconceivable number of aeons ago there emerged a buddha named Lokesvararaja Tathagata known as the Worthy One, the Fully Enlightened the One Perfected in Wisdom and Conduct the Well-Gone One, the World-Knowing the Unsurpassed, the Subduer of Men Master of Heavenly and Human Beings Lord of the World

For forty-two aeons he preached in the world unceasingly he taught the dharma and preached the way to all heavenly and human beings

There was a ruler of a large country known as the World Abundance King when he heard the Buddha's dharma he felt great joy and saw the light

He set his mind upon the supreme and genuine way he abandoned his kingdom and throne he became an ascetic and took the name Dharmakara devoting himself to the bodhisattva path

His lofty genius and daring insight far surpassed the abilities of mortals

as for faith, comprehension and sharpness of memory none were his match

Moreover, his conduct and aspirations were unrivalled so too was the power of his mindfulness and wisdom he was master of his own mind firm and unyielding he practised with such energy that none could surpass him

He approached the seat of the Buddha and prostrated. Kneeling tall with palms together, he praised the Buddha with these verses and set forth his expansive vows,

The exquisite appearance of the Thus Come One

is elegant and dignified it finds no equal in any realm

his infinite light beams in the ten directions obscuring the light of suns, moons, flames and pearls

With a single sound the Blessed One saves each and every type of living thing in a wondrous form he appears for everyone to see

I wish to obtain the pure sound of a buddha and broadcast the dharma across limitless realms

making known the methods of discipline, concentration and energy and penetrate the profound and subtle dharma

With knowledge and wisdom as vast as the ocean and an inner mind purified, cleansed of all defilements I shall transcend the limitless gateways to evil destinies and swiftly reach the distant shore

Free from ignorance, greed and enmity with the power of samadhi afflictions are vanquished and all faults disappear

Like infinite past buddhas I shall serve as a great leader for the multitude of beings

I shall liberate every being of every realm from the afflictions of birth, old age, sickness and death unceasingly cultivating generosity, discipline, patience vigour, concentration and wisdom: the six perfections

I shall help the unsaved crossover and help the saved become buddhas offerings as numerous as grains of sand in the Ganges are no match for steadfast and courageous pursuit of sambodhi

I vow to abide firmly in samadhi eternally shining a light upon all things conjuring a vast and purified field with adornments, extraordinary and unsurpassed

Every kind of being

on samsara's every path the cycle of rebirth shall be swiftly reborn in my land peaceful and happy

I shall uplift the sentient with a heart of loving-kindness and rescue limitless numbers of suffering beings

The power of my practice is resolute and unwavering only the noble wisdom of buddhas can directly apprehend it even if my body suffers pain of every kind my mind's resolve shall forever remain unshaken

Five

                                                Utmost Focus and

                                                    Determination

After reciting these verses, Dharmakara Bhiksu addressed the

Buddha,

Now a follower of the bodhisattva path

I have developed a sambodhi mind a mind fixed on sambodhi and taken up the vow to become a buddha and lead all others to become buddhas too

I would like the Buddha to teach me the dharma

I shall reverently uphold it and conduct myself according to it I shall uproot the cause

that makes beings toil on samsara's wheel quickly shall I attain supreme and perfect sambodhi

Were I to become a buddha the light of my wisdom my land and my name would be known to all in the ten directions

I hope that all beings the heavenly and human the creeping, crawling and wriggling shall be reborn in my land becoming bodhisattvas

Can it be that these vows I have set forth surpass those that created countless buddha fields?

Thereupon Lokesvararaja expounded the dharma for the sake of

Dharmakara,

If one were to measure the ocean with a ladle it would take many aeons to reach the bottom those with minds fixed on pursuit of the way and inexhaustible determination shall reap its fruit, with no wish unfulfilled Consider the means by which you shall accomplish the adornment and purification of a buddha field this is something you already know and by yourself alone must it be done

Dharmakara addressed the Buddha,

You speak with vast profundity the meaning of which is far beyond my sphere of understanding

I hope the Tathagata, the Worthy and All-Knowing

can describe to me in detail the wondrous lands of infinite buddhas

If I hear this dharma and comprehend it and put what I have learned into practice I shall surely fulfil my vows

Lokesvararaja appreciated the lofty insight of this request and so was willing to elaborate.

He spoke of twenty-one hundred million buddha fields

their virtues, their adornments, their purity their vastness and total perfection it was all that Dharmakara had hoped for

During the revelation of this dharma ten billion years had passed hearing the Buddha's words and seeing all that he revealed

Dharmakara developed his unique and unparalleled vows

He examined the good and evil in beings heavenly and human and the positive and negative aspects of different kingdoms he fixed his mind upon and selected the elements he most desired

thus were his great vows formed zealously sought after and reverently upheld

For five aeons he meditated upon their virtues and was thus was as familiar with the virtues and adornments of twenty-one hundred million buddha fields as intimately as he was one in such a manner he conjured a land surpassing all others

As soon as this was done, he returned to the seat of Tathagata Lokesvararaja. He prostrated at his feet. Thrice he encircled him, and then, standing before him with his palms together, he informed the Blessed One that his task of purifying and adorning a land was complete.

The Buddha proclaimed,

Excellent! Now is the time for you to proclaim your vows in full and bring joy to all sentient beings let the people hear this dharma and receive its great blessings so that they may be reborn in your land where they shall observe and practise thus bringing your incomparable vows to fruition

Six

                                                    Setting Forth

                                                   the Great Vows

Dharmakara addressed the Buddha,

I hope that the Blessed One of great benevolence may lend his ear


Were I to realise supreme bodhi  Vows 1-2

and become a buddha my buddha field would be replete with an immeasurable and unimaginable array of virtues and adornments there would be no denizens of hell no hungry ghosts, no birds, no beasts no crawling, flying and wriggling creatures all beings, including those

ensnared in Yama's realm lord of death within the three evil paths                            

would be reborn in my land and be transformed by my dharma all would achieve perfect sambodhi never again descending into evil destinations if this vow is fulfilled, I have become a buddha if it remains unfulfilled

I have not attained supreme sambodhi


Were I to become a Buddha   Vows 3-5

all beings in the realms in the ten directions

reborn in my land

would possess bodies of pure gold

and the thirty-two marks of a great man i.e. of a buddha a uniform appearance, upright and pure so long as there are differences in form and appearance and the concepts of beauty and ugliness still exist I have not attained sambodhi


Were I to become a buddha       Vows 6-8

beings reborn in my land

would be aware of the good and evil actions committed in their past lives over innumerable aeons every being would possess piercing vision and penetrating hearing

knowing the past, present and future affairs of all in the ten directions if this vow is not fulfilled, I have not attained sambodhi


Were I to become a buddha                                                      Vow 9

all beings reborn in my land would possess the ability to read the minds of others if they cannot read the minds of the sentient beings of one trillion buddha lands then I have not attained sambodhi


Were I to become a buddha                                           Vows 10-11

all beings reborn in my land would have mastery of supernatural powers and every perfection see Six Perfections above

if in the duration of a single thought they cannot travel far and wide throughout one trillion buddha fields making offerings to all buddhas then I have not attained sambodhi


Were I to become a buddha                                                      Vow 12

beings reborn in my land would abandon false distinctions and remain serene in every faculty if they are not guaranteed to achieve complete sambodhi and realise great nirvana the nirvana of a buddha then I have not attained sambodhi


Were I to become a buddha                                           Vows 13-14

my infinite light would shine upon all in the ten directions and surpass the light of all buddhas a trillionfold times brighter than suns and moons if sentient beings were to see my light

and its rays were to touch their bodies each without exception would experience peace and happiness and develop a heart of loving-kindness with a desire to do good and be reborn in my land

if this is not so, I have not attained sambodhi


Were I to become a buddha                            Vows 15-16

life would be everlasting my land would possess a countless number of sravakas and beings heavenly and human

all with infinite lifespans

      

Were the sentient beings of the trichiliocosm a universe of one to all become pratyekabuddhas           billion world systems yet within one hundred thousand aeons their number could be measured then I have not attained sambodhi


Were I to become a buddha                                                      Vow 17

yet infinite buddhas of infinite realms in the ten directions

do not extol my name nor praise the qualities of my land then I have not attained sambodhi


Were I to become a buddha                                                      Vow 18

the sentient beings in the ten directions

who hear my name

would develop utmost sincerity and resolute faith their virtuous roots would be fixed wholly upon and directed toward the desire to be reborn in my land if even those who have practised buddha mindfulness as few as ten times were not reborn then I have not attained sambodhi

The 5 Great Misdeeds: This does not apply to those 1-3. killing mother, father, arhat who commit the five great misdeeds 4. spilling a Buddha's blood or slander the true dharma 5. creating disorder in the samgha* *the Buddhist community


Were I to become a buddha                                          Vows 19-20

beings in the ten directions who hear my name would develop the aspiration to attain bodhi they would cultivate spiritual virtues and practise the six perfections resolute and unwavering they would unceasingly direct their virtuous roots toward the desire to be reborn in my land day and night they would fix their minds upon me when they reach the end of their lives I shall appear alongside an assembly of bodhisattvas to receive them within the span of a split second they shall be reborn in my land as never-retrogressing bodhisattvas              

if this vow is not fulfilled, I have not attained sambodhi


Were I to become a buddha                                                      Vow 21

beings in the ten directions who hear my name would fasten their minds upon my land and develop the aspiration to attain bodhi

resolute and unwavering they would plant virtuous roots and fix their minds upon and direct themselves toward

the desire to be reborn in Sukhavati the Pure Land and all without exception would succeed  lit. Ultimate Bliss

If those who, in past lives, committed evil deeds hear my name and immediately repent and vow to do good in service of the way and uphold the teachings and the precepts and desire to be reborn in my land then, at the end of their lives they shall never again enter the three evil paths instead they shall be reborn in my land if this is not so, then I have not attained sambodhi

 

Were I to become a buddha                             Vows 22-24

there would be no women in my land

if, after hearing my name obtaining purity of faith and developing a bodhi mind

women feel loathing and distress in the female form and desire to be reborn in my land when their end comes they shall be transformed immediately into male form and be reborn there

Every being in the ten directions who comes to my land shall be transformed and reborn within a lotus flower

in a pond of seven jewels see Chapter 14

if this is not so

then I have not attained sambodhi

Were I to become a buddha Vows 25-27

beings in the ten directions who hear my name would become joyous and resolute in faith they would show reverence and bow before me with purity of mind they would devote themselves to the way of the bodhisattva all heavenly and human beings would pay them homage after hearing my name and reaching the end of their lives they shall be reborn into a respectable household and possess flawless physical and mental faculties they shall unceasingly devote themselves to a distinctly pure form of practice if this is not so, then I have not attained sambodhi


Were I to become a buddha                                         Vows 28-31

even the concept of non-good would not exist in my land all beings reborn there would be of one mind together united on the straight path eternally detached from anguish with minds becalmed

they would experience joy like a bhiksu cleansed of all defilements             i.e. an arhat

If discriminative thought still arises within them or attachment to bodily form then I have not attained sambodhi


Were I to become a buddha                                            Vows 32-34

those reborn in my land would possess infinite roots of virtue all would attain bodies as hard as diamond and as strong as Narayana a powerful divinity moreover, a bright light would shine from the top of their crowns


All would achieve perfection                                              

in every form of wisdom and limitless eloquence all would be talented at explaining the esoteric and essential elements of every dharma all would preach the dharma and follow the way their words would ring like bells if this is not so, I have not attained sambodhi


Were I to become a buddha                                            Vows 35-36

beings reborn in my land would ultimately be assured

of attaining buddhahood in a single lifetime except for those who take on the Primal Vow unique to Dharmakara for the sake of all sentient beings   and don the armour of the Universal Vows   shared by all bodhisattvas to edify each and every being                             

so that they develop faithful hearts and cultivate the path to bodhi and follow the way of Samantabhadra even if they are reborn in other worlds they shall remain detached from evil paths whether they enjoy preaching the dharma hearing the dharma or developing psychic powers whatever they desire, they may practise at will assured of attaining perfection therein if this is not so, I have not attained sambodhi


Were I to become a buddha                                           Vows 37-38

food, clothing and every item of worship required by those reborn in my land would appear when so desired all buddhas in the ten directions would receive these offerings as soon as they so wished if this is not so, I have not attained sambodhi


Were I to become a buddha                    Vow 39

all things in my land would be purified and adorned radiant and beautiful, of singular appearance the absolute pinnacle of elegance and refinement entirely without equal if beings, even though they possess the divine eye are still capable of distinguishing and enumerating the varieties of beauty and radiance in my land and describing in full their qualities then I have not attained sambodhi


Were I to become a buddha                                           Vows 40-41

there would be an infinite variety of coloured trees in my land standing several hundred or thousand leagues tall

and bodhimanda trees   "place of enlightenment" trees four million miles in height from which all bodhisattvas even those with inferior roots of virtue would gain perfect understanding

Those wishing to see the adornments of every purified buddha field would see them within the jewelled trees like looking in a mirror and seeing their own face if this is not so, I have not attained sambodhi


Were I to become a buddha                                                        Vow 42

my buddha field would be vast, adorned and purified as bright and lustrous as a mirror illuminating the immeasurable, innumerable and indescribable buddha worlds in the ten directions seeing this, the hearts of beings shall be filled with wonder if this is not so, I have not attained sambodhi


Were I to become a buddha                                                        Vow 43

from the ground up to the void there would be palaces and pavilions ponds and streams, flowers and trees all things in my land would be infused with an immeasurably exquisite fragrance permeating all realms in the ten directions all beings who experience this fragrance shall devote themselves to way of the Buddha if this is not so, I have not attained sambodhi


Were I to become a buddha                                          Vows 44-45

the great many bodhisattvas of the realms in the ten directions upon hearing my name would attain the purified and liberating samadhi of universal impartiality

as well as every method of profound dharani remaining within samadhi until they reach the stage of buddhahood

Within samadhi they shall unceasingly make offerings to each and every innumerable buddha never losing concentration if this is not so, I have not attained sambodhi


Were I to become a buddha                                           Vows 46-48

the great many bodhisattvas of other realms

upon hearing my name would realise the dharma of detachment from rebirth and acquire dharanis they would be purified and joyful capable of abiding in equanimity they would devote themselves to the way of the bodhisattva and perfect their roots of virtue if, at once they do not attain

the three forms of acceptance                                      see Chapter 15

or are incapable of realising the state of non-retrogression then I have not attained sambodhi

Seven

Assured Achievement

of Sambodhi

The Buddha proclaimed to Ananda,

When Dharmakara Bhiksu had finished setting forth these vows he continued by reciting these verses:

I have set forth my world-surpassing vows assuring my ascent to the path supreme be these vows unfulfilled may I not achieve perfect sambodhi

As the Great Benefactor

I shall relieve all deprivation and suffering so that all living beings

may endure the long night without anguish

giving birth to virtuous roots reaping the fruits of bodhi

If I achieve sambodhi

I shall be known as Amitayus     Infinite Life when beings hear my name they come to my land with golden bodies like the Buddha exquisite and perfect in every way

They too with hearts of great compassion shall bring blessings to every kind of being detached from desire, deep in right-mindfulness pure in wisdom and devoted to pure practice

I wish my wisdom were radiant

shining upon every realm in the ten directions eradicating the murk

of the three impurities desire, hatred, delusion with a light that ends all misery

For every being

the suffering of the three paths are left behind

the darkness cast by its afflictions shall be no more

the wisdom eye is opened a radiant body is acquired

I shall obstruct the evil paths and clear the path to the good

I shall open the dharma treasury for all beings and share widely its precious blessings

With unimpeded wisdom like the Buddha always practising loving-kindness always acting as a teacher for the heavenly and human I shall be known as Lord of the Three Realms

I shall preach the dharma with a lion’s roar and rescue beings far and wide my prior vows shall be fulfilled so that all beings become buddhas

If these vows are brought to fruition their impact shall be felt by a great-thousandfold and every divine being of the void shall rain down exquisite and wondrous flowers The Buddha proclaimed to Ananda,

After Dharmakara Bhiksu recited these verses the entire earth shook with six earthquakes wondrous flowers rained down from the sky and scattered on the ground

Then, from the sky came voices singing words of praise announcing that he was certain to achieve supreme sambodhi


Eight

                                                    Accumulation

                                                 of Spiritual Virtues

Ananda, Dharmakara stood before Lokesvararaja amid the great assembly of heavenly and human beings having set forth his extensive vows he dwelt in a state of true wisdom

With fierce courage and energy he fixed his mind upon the adornment of a wondrous land a land of immense vastness

a transcendentally and singularly wondrous land a land to be established for all eternity neither waning nor declining

For countless aeons he ingrained in himself the habit of virtuous practice never giving rise to notions sensuous, malicious or delusional never clinging to the dharmas of visible form, sound, odour, taste and physical sensation

Instead he took pleasure in practising mindfulness of past buddhas recalling how they cultivated their virtuous roots tranquil in conduct, detached from unreality taking refuge in the ultimate truth he planted many virtuous roots paying no mind to the many forms of suffering he scorned desire and mastered contentment

He fixed his mind on the pursuit of the pure white dharma for the benefit of all beings

and with tireless aspiration and the strength of endurance he succeeded

Unceasingly patient toward sentient beings he showed them loving-kindness with a pleasing countenance and kind words he persuaded them and urged them forward

He honoured the Three Jewels     1. Buddha 2. dharma 3. samgha

and served masters and elders with a heart free of falseness and flattery he adorned all practices, he was a perfect model viewing all dharma as ever-changing and impermanent he was eternally serene in samadhi

Skilled at safeguarding verbal karma never deriding others for their faults skilled at safeguarding physical karma never falling into dissipation skilled at safeguarding mental karma pure and free of all defilement

Bound not to town nor village loved ones or precious jewels unfailingly he practised the six perfections generosity, upright conduct, forbearance vigour, meditative concentration and wisdom to edify beings and establish them firmly upon the supreme and genuine way

As a consequence of the virtuous roots he cultivated wherever he was reborn there appeared a limitless treasury

sometimes he became a householder family chief or noble of high birth sometimes he became a warrior

emperor or wheel-turning king ruler of an entire universe
a ruler of the six realms of desire
or even a Brahma king see Brahma worlds above

He showed reverence to buddhas worshipping them unceasingly, eternally mere words cannot do justice to his virtues

His mouth and his body perpetually emanated a fragrance of immeasurable exquisiteness somewhat like sandalwood 

or the fragrance of the utpala flower blue lotus

permeating everywhere throughout infinite realms


Wherever he was born

his appearance was elegant and dignified
replete with the thirty-two marks of a buddha


and eighty minor marks

from his hands emerged inexhaustible treasures ornamented items of worship everything that one may require the very best of things bringing aid and joy to sentient beings

This is why he was capable of causing countless beings to develop minds set upon complete and perfect sambodhi


Nine

                                             Complete Perfection

The Buddha proclaimed to Ananda,

Dharmakara Bhiksu devoted himself to the way of the bodhisattva

he accumulated virtues, countless and immeasurable he achieved mastery of every dharma beyond the scope of word and thought

Great vows set forth, accomplished to perfection were now established firmly in reality in the form a purified buddha land perfectly adorned of awe-inspiring power and vastness

After listening to the Buddha's words, Ananda asked the Blessed

One,

When the bodhisattva Dharmakara achieved bodhi did he become a past buddha, a future buddha or a present buddha of an other world? The Blessed One proclaimed,

This buddha, thus come, thus gone

comes to no such place and goes from no such place neither born nor dying neither of the past, present nor future

To fulfil his vow of saving all beings Dharmakara emerged in the west trillions of buddha fields beyond Jambudvipa  one of the 4 continents that in a world named Sukhavati  surround Mt. Sumeru

After becoming a buddha

he became known as Amitabha  Infinite Light

ten aeons have passed from then until now and there he remains still preaching the dharma

surrounded and worshipped by countless bodhisattvas and sravakas 


Ten

All Vow

to Become Buddhas

As the Buddha spoke of Amitabha of the time when he sought his vows as a bodhisattva Prince Aja and five hundred householders listened with joy each holding a cluster of golden flowers they came together before him and paid him homage

They offered their flowers and sat to one side as they listened to his dharma they vowed in their hearts that if they were to become buddhas they wished to be like Amitabha

The Buddha perceived this and proclaimed,

In the future, the prince and his retinue

shall all become buddhas

in past lives they remained for countless aeons on the bodhisattva path

making offerings to four billion buddhas at the time of Kasyapa Buddha they were my disciples

and now today they pay me homage and we meet again once more

Hearing the Buddha's words, great joy was shared among all bhiksus.


Eleven

A World Adorned

and Purified

The Buddha told Ananda,

Infinite are the virtues of the world called Sukhavati adorned to perfection free of suffering and hardship unknown are the evil paths and the afflictions of Mara

There there are no seasons no contrast between coldness and warmth no rain, no darkness no hills, no oceans  Cakravada: iron ring of mountains

large or small  that surrounds Sumeru no mountains like Cakravada and Sumeru

no mountains made of earth and stone  Sumeru: mountain at

 nothing  centre of universe only the seven kinds of natural jewels and a ground of pure gold

Vast and uniformly level its boundaries are unreachable exquisite and extraordinarily beautiful its purity and adornments are unmatched anywhere in the ten directions

After hearing this, Ananda addressed the Blessed One,

If this land has no Mount Sumeru how could the Heaven of the Four Great Kings and the Heaven of the Thirty-Three Divinities exist? the lowest two heavens of desire realm

The Buddha proclaimed to Ananda,

The divinities of Yama, Tusita  the 4th/3rd highest and even those                 heavens of the desire realm of the realms of form and formlessness

how could they exist?

Ananda replied,

Through the inconceivable power of karma

The Buddha explained to Ananda,

Inconceivable karma is this something you can fathom? your retribution body is inconceivable the karmic retribution of beings is inconceivable

the virtuous roots of sentient beings are inconceivable

the noble power of buddhas and buddha fields is inconceivable the beings of this land the beneficent power of their spiritual virtues dwells within the stage of action and retribution this, in addition to the supernatural power of buddhas is therefore likewise inconceivable

Ananda replied,

Action and retribution are inconceivable regarding this dharma I have no doubts but in order that future sentient beings tear asunder the web of doubt I have asked this question


Twelve

                                                  A Light Shining

                                                 Upon All Things

The Buddha proclaimed to Ananda,

The majestic light of Amitabha is revered above all others throughout the ten directions no buddha's light compares

He illuminates all buddha fields in the west as numerous as grains of sand in the Ganges those in the south, the west and the north in the four intercardinal directions all above and below he illuminates them too

Some buddhas have atop their crown a circular light that shines for several leagues others have a light that shines for hundreds, thousands and millions

The light of some buddhas shines upon one or two buddha fields the light of some buddhas shines upon hundreds and thousands of buddha fields but only the light of Amitabha can shine universally upon infinite, limitless, incalculable buddha fields

The distance of a buddha's light is determined by their vows and virtues acquired in prior lives from the time they sought the way up until the time they became buddhas

This is accomplished as a matter of course and cannot be estimated in advance the grace of Amitabha Buddha's light surpasses by a trillionfold the radiance of suns and moons

his light is revered above all others among buddhas he is king

Thus he is known as the Buddha of Infinite Life the Buddha of Infinite Light the Buddha of Limitless Light the Buddha of Unimpeded Light the Buddha of Incomparable Light the Light of Wisdom the Eternal Light the Light of Purification the Light of Joy the Light of Emancipation the Light of Well-Being the Light That Surpasses Suns and Moons the Light That Cannot Be Fathomed

Shining upon every realm in the ten directions to encounter it is to have impurities cleansed and the good arise within supple in body and mind

If those afflicted with utmost suffering on the three paths encounter this light

they shall attain tranquillity and liberation at the end of their lives

 

If beings hear of this light and its glorious blessings they shall exalt it night and day they shall fix their minds unceasingly upon it then, when they so wish, they shall obtain rebirth in this land


                                                       Thirteen

                                                  Infinite Lifespan,

                                                  Infinite Followers

The Buddha told Ananda,

The lifespan of Amitayus is so long it cannot be measured surrounded by an assembly of countless sravakas he has penetrating supernatural wisdom and mastery of awe-inspiring powers he can hold every world in his hand

Among my followers, none can match the supernatural powers of Maudgalyayana

in the span of a single day he can calculate all beings

in the lunar mansions of a trichiliocosm

 

If all beings in the ten directions became pratyekabuddhas

and were they to live for a trillion years and possess Maudgalyayana's powers and spend their whole lives exhausting all intellectual strength in calculating the number of those in Amitabha's assembly at the range of one hundred billion still they would not come close to even a single percent of the total

Imagine an ocean boundlessly deep and wide suppose one were to take a single hair and split it into hundreds of pieces fragmented as small as atoms if one were to take a single atom and soak up one drop of the ocean which do you think is largest the drop of water on this fragment or the ocean?

Ananda,

the likes of Maudgalyayana

who know the total number are like a drop of water on a fragment of hair those who know it not are like the ocean's water the lifespan of the Buddha and his bodhisattvas and sravakas

and his heavenly and human beings

are all like this too

unknowable through calculation and analogy


Fourteen

Jewel Trees,

Far and Wide Throughout the

Land

In the land of the Thus Come One there are jewel trees of many kinds made of pure gold and pure silver beryl, quartz and amber fine jade and carnelian

Some are formed solely from one jewel without mixture whatsoever others are formed from two or three or as many as seven mixed and merged together

Their roots, branches and trunks are formed from a selection of the seven jewels and their flowers, fruits and leaves are formed from others

Some have roots of pure gold and trunks of silver beryl branches with tips of quartz amber leaves, fine jade flowers and carnelian fruits

Others have the seven jewels

as roots, branches, leaves, flowers and fruits each type merged together as one

Each kind is divided into rows row by row positioned straightly trunk by trunk aligned perfectly branches and leaves facing perfectly flowers placed in perfect position luxuriant colours and dazzling radiance more than the eye can behold

From time to time a fresh breeze blows issuing forth the five musical tones   corresponding to the five subtle earth and autumnal tones  elements and seasons come naturally together in harmony  e.g. earth = late summer jewel trees like these are found far and wide throughout the land


Fifteen

                                         The Seat of Enlightenment

At the seat of enlightenment there is a bodhi tree four million miles in height with a trunk five thousand leagues in circumference its branches and leaves stretch out in the four directions for two hundred thousand miles

Naturally formed from every type of precious stone its flowers and fruits are luxuriantly arrayed bright and dazzling, shining far and wide

Mani jewels of red, green, blue and white the most regal of gemstones they form a garland, linked together adorning the trunks of the jewel trees

Bells of gold and pearl hang between branches and wondrous and exquisite jewel nets are spread out, covering the treetops

Hundreds and thousands of colours reflect and beautify each other an infinite blazing light shines forth without limits

Every adornment appears when desired a gentle breeze drifting slowly touches the leaves and branches creating the infinitely wondrous dharma sound reaching each and every buddha land pure and all-encompassing mournful and resonant subtle and exquisite harmonious and refined a sound unequalled in the ten directions

If beings behold the bodhi tree and hear its sounds if they smell its fragrance and savour its fruits if they encounter its radiance and reflect upon its blessings they shall attain purity

and clarity of the six faculties    the five senses free from anguish and vexation           & mental consciousness

Never regressing they shall reach the path of buddhahood

after seeing this tree they shall acquire the three forms of acceptance the acceptance of the message the acceptance of compliance the acceptance of unborn dharma

The Buddha proclaimed to Ananda,

In this buddha field the flowers, fruits and trees perform for beings a buddha's deeds

This is all thanks to Amitayus his awe-inspiring supernatural powers the power of his Primal Vow as fully described in

the perfect nature of his vows      48 parts above the clarity of his vows his devotion to these vows and his completion of these vows


Sixteen

                                         Lecture Halls, Meditation

Chambers and Observation

Towers

The lecture halls and meditation chambers of Amitayus and the railings of observation towers too are all naturally formed from the seven jewels above are nets of crystal mani jewels unrivalled in radiance and exquisiteness

The same is true of the palaces where a great many bodhisattvas reside inside stand bodhisattvas lecturing on and reciting the sutras while others take it in there are bodhisattvas too practising sitting and walking meditation reflecting on the way

In the air too are bodhisattvas lecturing on and reciting the sutras while others take it in in the air too are bodhisattvas practising sitting and walking meditation reflecting on the way

Some attain the rank of stream-enterer   entering buddha path others become once-returners   reborn once more before nirvana non-returners and arhats   never reborn in the desire realm those yet to reach the stage of non-retrogression soon attain it all are mindful of the way they preach it and practise it

all without exception are full of joy and gladness


Seventeen

The Blessings

of Springs and Pools

To the left and right of the lecture halls are criss-crossing springs and pools of equal length, breadth and depth some are ten or twenty leagues large others hundreds and thousands  Eight virtues: sweet, cool sedate and fragrant soft, light, clear, odourless they are blessed with eight virtues      drinkable & harmless

On their shores are countless sandalwood fragrance trees and auspicious bilva trees with fruits and flowers eternally fragrant, of dazzling radiance tapering branches dense with luxuriant foliage overlap and hang over the water nothing in our world can compare to their fragrance a breeze permeates the air with a rich aroma following the course of the water it spreads its sweet smells

Seven jewels adorn the pools golden sands line their beds utpala, padma, kumuda and pundarika flowers an assortment of colours, in bloom and radiant are spread far and wide across the water's surface

If sentient beings, passing through or bathing in the water wish for it to reach their feet or their knees, waist, armpits or neck if they wish for it to submerge their entire body if they wish it to be cold or warm if they wish its flow be calm or quick the water adapts itself accordingly enlarging the spirit and relaxing the body

so pure it is invisible with jewelled sand so radiant from no depth does it fail to shine

Imperceptible ripples sedately alter course and collide creating unimaginably exquisite sounds

sometimes one hears the sound of the three jewels

the sound of the perfections  i.e. the Six Perfections

the sound of tranquillity and stillness the sound of non-birth and non-cessation the sound of the ten powers and fearlessness  a Tathagata's sometimes one hears powers

the sound of the absence of nature, being and self the sound of great loving-kindness compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity the sound of initiation and sweet dew sprinkled on the crown

After hearing such sounds their mind is purified free from discriminative notions with a mind upright and in equilibrium their virtuous roots flower having heard what they heard they are at one with the dharma hearing whatever they want to hear no longer hearing what they dislike

Never regressing, their mind is fixed upon perfect and complete sambodhi beings from the ten directions are reborn there within a lotus flower in a pond of seven jewels spontaneously transformed and born anew they acquire a body, pure and empty a body without limitations

The agonies and vexations the sufferings and hardships of the three paths are to them unheard of such ideas cannot be conceived let alone experienced instead they enjoy these sounds natural and pleasant

this is why this land is known as Sukhavati  Ultimate Bliss


Eighteen

World-Surpassing

and Extraordinary

In the land of Sukhavati all beings are exquisite in appearance world-surpassing and extraordinary they are all of one kind, without the slightest distinction but for the sake of adapting to the customs of others they are given the names heavenly and human

The Buddha proclaimed to Ananda,

Picture the impoverished, the suffering and destitute people of the world standing side by side emperors and kings would their appearances be comparable?

Emperors and kings would seem as ignoble in comparison with a wheel-turning king as the destitute would by their sides

The majesty of a wheel-turning king is unrivalled but compared with the King of Trayastrimsa     i.e. Sakra they too would seem lowly and unsightly

If Sakra were compared

with the sixth heaven divinities the highest of the

he would be outclassed  desire realm heavens by more than a hundred-thousand-fold

If the king of the sixth heaven   i.e. Mara

were compared with the radiant countenances of the bodhisattvas and sravakas of Sukhavati he would be outclassed by a trillionfold

The palaces and clothes they own the food and drink they enjoy can be compared with what is owned and enjoyed by the King of the Sixth Heaven No being, heavenly or human can compete with the majesty of their powers nor their rank

nor their mastery of supernatural transformations they are outmatched by a hundred, thousand, million-fold by an immeasurable degree

Ananda, you ought to know that Sukhavati, the land of Amitayus is adorned with inconceivable virtues


Nineteen

                                             Complete Fulfilment

In the world of Sukhavati sentient beings already reborn as well as those to be reborn in the present life or in a future life all gain wondrous bodies elegant and dignified in appearance blessed with infinite merits and virtues wisdom and perfect comprehension mastery of supernatural powers they enjoy great variety and an abundance of all things

palaces and clothing, garlands and fragrant flowers canopies and items for adornment all appear at will when required within the span of a single thought

When one desires food

an alms-bowl and utensils formed of seven jewels spontaneously appear before them food and drinks of one hundred flavours spontaneously overflow in abundance but although there is food there is nothing to be eaten its form is seen its fragrance is smelled using their minds they consume it increasing the strength of the body without the unpleasantness of waste they are supple in mind and body without attachment to taste when finished eating, the illusion ceases when the time comes again, it reappears

Marvellous jewelled clothing enjoyed in abundance caps, sashes and gemstone necklaces of infinite radiance

in hundreds and thousands of exquisite colours perfect in every way appear spontaneously on their bodies

Their dwellings match their appearances above are canopies made from nets of jewels from which hang bells made of unique and wondrous precious stones criss-crossing, they adorn all far and wide

The brilliant radiance of these lights and colours are unrivalled in beauty and splendour the railings of observation towers the eaves of palaces, their wings and galleries are sometimes wide, sometimes narrow sometimes square, sometimes round sometimes they float in the air sometimes they rest on the ground purified and tranquil they inspire joy and wonder appearing before them in accordance with their wishes all of which are satisfied to perfection


                                                           Twenty

                                                     Virtuous Wind,

                                                    Raining Flowers

In this buddha land whenever it is time to eat a virtuous breeze sedately arises brushing the nets and many jewel trees it produces wondrous voices which speak of suffering, emptiness, impermanence non-self and the perfections    i.e. the Six Perfections and emanates ten thousand kinds of gentle, refined and virtuous fragrances causing impurities and predispositions in the listener to no longer arise

Touched by the breeze they are peaceful and contented like a bhiksu who has attained cessation of perception and sensation

As a breeze stirs the trees of seven jewels fallen flowers collect on the ground below so that the buddha land is suffused all over with a great variety of colour and light

They are arranged according to colour without disorder, soft and gentle immaculate and smooth like cotton

When a foot treads upon them it submerges to the depth of four toes when the foot is raised they return to their original state

When the time for eating is complete the flowers vanish of their own accord and when the whole earth is purified fresh flowers rain down once more at particular times of the day spreading all over, far and wide just as before without the slightest deviation six times every day


                                                      Twenty-One

                                                     Jewel Lotuses

                                                   and Buddha Light

A great many jewel lotus flowers are spread across the land each possessing hundreds, thousands and millions of leaves and infinite colours

A blue flower's light is blue a white flower's light is white and same goes too for all other colours the darks, the yellows, the reds and purples

The dazzle of an infinite number of exquisite jewels and one hundred thousand mani jewels serve to enhance their uncommon beauty as luminous and radiant as the sun and moon

Some lotus flowers are as large as half a league others are as large as one, two or three or even as large as hundreds and thousands from within each flower emerges thirty-six trillion lights from within each light emerges thirty-six trillion buddhas with bodies of pure gold and every distinctive major and minor mark

Each and every buddha shines forth hundreds and thousands of lights filling everywhere in the ten directions with the teachings of the profound and subtle dharma

In this way these buddhas establish firmly upon the path an infinite number of beings


                                                         Twenty-Two

        Assured Realisation

        of the Supreme Fruit

Ananda, in this buddha land there is no darkness of dusk nor the light of fire, suns and moons nor the sparkling of stars nor the phenomena of day and night

There are no concepts like years and aeons no attachment to household no designation given to place nor discrimination between them instead there is only joy pure and unrivalled

If good sons and daughters those already reborn and those to be reborn in the future remain upon the straight path they are sure to attain perfect and complete sambodhi

Why is this so? because if one is on the wrong path

or in a state of indecision they cannot know how this is accomplished


                                                   Twenty-Three

Praised by Buddhas

in the Ten Directions

Ananda, within the realms of the east as numerous as grains of sand in the Ganges are buddhas as numerous as grains of sand in the Ganges with long, broad tongues that emit infinite light and speak words that are truthful in praise of the inconceivable virtues of Amitayus

He is also praised by the buddhas within the worlds of the north, south and west as numerous as grains of sand in the Ganges and the buddhas of the worlds in the four intercardinal directions as well as above and below as numerous as grains of sand in the Ganges

Why is this so? because they hope that beings of other realms will hear the Buddha’s name and become purified in mind

Recollecting, accepting and upholding his name they take refuge in it and worship him thus are they capable of developing a faith that is pure within the span of a single thought

in which all virtuous roots are directed toward the desire to be reborn in this land in accordance with their wish they shall be born anew and thereafter reach the stage of non-retrogression and ultimately achieve perfect and complete sambodhi


                                                     Twenty-Four

The Three Classes

of Reborn Beings

The Buddha proclaimed to Ananda,

Heavenly and human beings of the ten directions with minds fixed upon rebirth in this land belong to three distinct classes the superior class leave behind their homes and cast their desires aside they live ascetically and develop a mind set on bodhi directed toward and fixed upon Amitabha Buddha they cultivate virtues and vow to be reborn in his land

When such beings approach the end of their lives Amitabha Buddha appears before them alongside an assembly of nobles in a split-second they go with him to be reborn in his land thereupon they are transformed and born anew within a lotus flower formed of seven jewels acquiring wisdom, vigour and mastery of supernatural powers

It is for this reason, Ananda that beings who desire to see Amitabha in this present life must develop a supreme bodhi mind they must fix it upon Sukhavati they must accumulate virtuous roots they must maintain these roots and direct them forward by doing so they shall see the Buddha and be reborn in his land

where they shall reach the stage of non-retrogression and ultimately achieve supreme bodhi

Although those of the intermediate class are incapable of living ascetically if they make great efforts in cultivating virtues they can develop a mind fixed upon supreme bodhi directed toward and fixed upon Amitabha Buddha

If they practise according to their abilities and virtues reverently uphold the precepts of purity

 erect stupas and icons  a monument housing relics

and feed wandering monks hang silk fabrics and light lanterns scatter flowers and burn incense directing the merit accrued through these actions toward their desire to be reborn in this land

then, at the end of their lives Amitabha's emanation body

with the radiance, marks and characteristics of the real Buddha shall appear before them surrounded by his great assembly to receive and guide them

thereupon they shall be led by his emanation to be reborn in his land where they shall remain within the stage of non-retrogression and achieve supreme bodhi in terms of spiritual virtues and wisdom they are inferior to those of the superior class

As for those of the inferior class if they are incapable of undertaking virtuous works they must develop the aspiration to attain supreme bodhi and a mind directed toward and fixed upon Amitabha Buddha

if they are joyous and resolute in faith not giving rise to uncertainty with a heart of perfect sincerity and the desire to be reborn in his land they shall, at the end of their lives see the Buddha in a dream and attain rebirth in terms of spiritual virtues and wisdom they are inferior to those of the intermediate class If beings abide in the Great Vehicle with minds purified and directed toward Amitayus then, even if they have practised buddha mindfulness as few as ten times desiring to be reborn in this land they shall hear the profound dharma and be liberated by faith and ultimately acquire purity of mind within the span of a single thought from which emerges a mind of single thought a mind solely mindful of the Buddha

At the end of their lives they shall see him as if it were a dream and be assured of rebirth in his land where they shall reach the stage of non-retrogression and achieve supreme bodhi


Twenty-Five

                                         The True Cause of Rebirth

Ananda, if good sons and daughters after hearing this sutra grasp it firmly, recite it, transcribe it and make offerings day and night, unceasingly seeking rebirth in this land if they develop a bodhi mind if they uphold the rules and precepts if they stand firm without transgressing if they bring blessings to all beings devoting their virtuous roots to their peace and happiness mindful of Amitabha, the buddha of the west and his land then, at the end of their lives

they shall acquire the form and characteristics of a buddha as well as many kinds of adornment they shall be reborn in a land of jewels where they shall immediately hear the dharma and remain forever at the stage of non-retrogression

Ananda, if there are beings who desire to be reborn in his land even though they are incapable of exerting great effort in meditation

and upholding to the utmost the teachings and precepts then, they must be virtuous in conduct they must not kill living beings they must not steal

they must not succumb to sensual desire they must not tell lies they must not engage in artful talk they must not engage in malicious talk they must not engage in double talk they must not covet they must not succumb to rage they must not engage in foolish behaviour

If they adhere to these rules both night and day while reflecting upon the many blessings and adornments of Sukhavati, the realm of Amitabha and resolve in their minds to take refuge in him

to prostrate themselves before him and worship him

then, at the end of their lives they shall not feel startled or panicked their minds shall be free from turmoil they shall attain immediate rebirth in his land

If there are people burdened with many affairs incapable of leaving home and possessing not the time to uphold the precepts and achieve a purified single mind then, when time permits they must remain upright in body and mind they must cut themselves off from desire casting all worries aside

they must develop a heart of loving-kindness and vigorous energy

They must not succumb to anger and envy they must not succumb to greed and miserliness they must not succumb to remorse halfway          along the path

they must not succumb to hesitation and doubt they must obey their parents

they must possess utmost sincerity and wholehearted faith they must truly believe in the profound nature of the Buddha’s words they must truly believe that good deeds accrue merits they must reverently and unfailingly uphold this dharma they must contemplate and reflect upon

their desire for salvation day and night, unceasingly

they must be mindful of their desire to be reborn in the purified land of Amitabha for ten days and nights, or even as little as one if so, at the end of their lives they shall be reborn in this land

Those among the reborn who follow the bodhisattva path shall reach the stage of non-retrogression and acquire golden bodies

replete with the thirty-two marks of a buddha

All shall become buddhas and serve in a buddha land of their choosing when this is accomplished depends on their efforts but, in tirelessly seeking the way all shall achieve it, thus fulfilling their wishes

Ananda, this is why the Buddha Tathagatas from immeasurable and innumerable inconceivable, incomparable and limitless realms join together to extol and acclaim the spiritual virtues of Amitayus


Twenty-Six

Pay Homage, Make Offerings

and Hear the Dharma

Ananda, when the great many bodhisattvas of the realms in the ten directions wish to pay homage to Sukhavati, the land of Amitayus they bring mandarava flowers, victory banners and parasols bedecked with jewels to the Buddha’s abode and there they show him reverence they make offerings and are instructed in the dharma thereafter they edify beings by proclaiming the way and extolling the blessings and adornments of his land

Thereupon the Blessed One recited these verses,

In the buddha fields of the east as numerous as grains of sand in the Ganges bodhisattvas as numerous as grains of sand in the Ganges come to pay homage to Amitayus

alongside the bodhisattvas of the north, south and west and the four intercardinal directions

Reverently they offer precious and exquisite gifts euphorically they sing the praises of the Most Honoured One in elegant and harmonious tones he who attained supernatural wisdom and passed through the profound dharma gateway

When they hear the Buddha's sacred name they acquire with ease the great blessing with devotion they practise every form of worship without succumbing to weariness they contemplate his extraordinary land so exquisite it is impossible to imagine entirely adorned with spiritual virtues it is impossible for other lands to compare

Once they develop a mind supreme

and desire to instantly achieve bodhi a smile appears on the golden face of the Infinite Honoured One and from his mouth emerges a radiant light that illuminates every realm in the ten directions

The light returns and encircles the Buddha thrice rotating before entering his crown when bodhisattvas see this light

they immediately realise the state of non-retrogression all present thus celebrate and rejoice together

The sacred words of the Buddha               

resound like a thunderbolt the Buddha's voice is spoken in the all-encompassing resonant, penetrating, pure, and exquisite sounds of the eight tones gentle, mournful, clear,harmonious & elegant

Upright adepts who have come i.e. bodhisattvas

from the ten directions their desires, I know them all they are devoted to adorning the Pure Land and receiving the prophecy of buddhahood awakening to the knowledge that all dharmas are nothing but dreams, illusions and echoes by fulfilling every wondrous vow they are certain to form such a field

Knowing that this land is but a reflection their minds are unceasingly fixed upon the universal vows reaching the end of the supreme bodhisattva path they possess the roots of every spiritual virtue devoting themselves to the ultimate path of bodhi they receive the prophecy of buddhahood comprehending the intrinsic nature of every dharma the emptiness of all things and the truth of non-self devoting themselves to the purification of a buddha land they are certain to form such a field

Hearing the dharma they are joyous in practice acquiring a state of utmost purity

they are certain to receive from the Infinitely Respected One the prophecy of achieving complete sambodhi

Such a field is boundless and extraordinary this is the power of the Buddha’s primal vow hearing his name they desire to be reborn and achieve with their own efforts the state of non-retrogression

The ultimate desire of bodhisattvas is that their own buddha field be no different ever mindful of the salvation of all beings they hope that all will develop a bodhi mind

Leaving behind their samsara bodies leading all to the other shore serving one hundred billion buddhas flying over and transforming every buddha field and then, with feelings of reverence and joy they depart, returning to the land of peace and sustenance

Twenty-Seven

Singing in Praise of the Buddha's Virtues

The Buddha told Ananda,

Bodhisattvas in this land are blessed by the power and glory of the Buddha within the duration of a meal they can travel to and fro between infinite pure lands in the ten directions and make offerings to every buddha

Flowers, incense, banners every item of worship as soon a notion for them occurs instantly they appear within their palms exquisite and singular like nothing this world has known to be presented to every buddha and the multitude of bodhisattvas

Scattered petals in the air form and make a single flower downwards they fall in a perfect circle becoming a canopy of hundreds and thousands of radiant colours colour after colour, each unique in fragrance permeating far and wide

Small canopies stretching as far as ten leagues transform again and again until they cover the whole trichiliocosm in order of old to new they transform and disappear

if no more offerings of scattered petals are made those offered last remain in place

 

In the void, heavenly sounds are made

exquisite voices, they sing in praise of the virtues of the Buddha then in a flash they all return to his land to gather in the lecture hall of seven jewels where Amitayus lectures on the Great Teaching and expounds the wondrous dharma leaving all without exception in a state of joy with faith and understanding they find the way

Thereupon a fragrant breeze blows through the trees of seven jewels producing the five musical tones infinite numbersof exquisite flowers are blown and scatter in the four directions spontaneous offerings like these are made unceasingly

From each divinity is offered a hundred thousand kinds of flowers and incense and ten thousand types of musical performance in homage to buddhas

and the great multitude of bodhisattvas and sravakas from first to last they come and go in high spirits and full of cheer

This is thanks to the power of the primal vow of Amitayus past offerings made to tathagatas and the continuous flow of virtuous roots    through unceasing

free from imperfection                             mindfulness in addition to skilful practice

assimilation and attainment  of virtues/adornment of Sukhavati


                                                   Twenty-Eight

The Divine Light

of the Great Ones

The Buddha proclaimed to Ananda,

This buddha land's many bodhisattvas possess piercing vision and penetrating hearing in the eight directions, above and below of matters done, yet to come, and those just now unfolding of beings of all kinds, from the heavenly and human down to the crawling, flying and wriggling their thoughts both good and evil their words before they leave their mouths the moment they shall attain salvation the moment they shall find the way and be reborn all of it they know

Moreover, the light from the bodies of the sravakas of this buddha land shines as far as eight feet the light of bodhisattvas shines for hundreds of leagues among them, two reign supreme with majestic light that shines upon an entire trichiliocosm

Ananda asked the Buddha the names of these two bodhisattvas, and the Buddha answered,

One is Guanyin the other is Mahasthamaprapta

they devote themselves within the world of men    to the bodhisattva way reborn in this land they are often at the side of Amitabha Buddha they appear at will in any of the infinite abodes of the ten directions at present they reside in this realm bringing about great blessings and happiness worldly good sons and daughters if in peril or fright

need only entrust themselves to Bodhisattva Guanyin and without exception they shall be saved


                                                   Twenty-Nine

                                             The Power of the Vow,

                                             Immense and Profound

Ananda, bodhisattvas of this buddha land both present and future

shall ultimately attain buddhahood in a single lifetime excepting those who take on the great vows and enter the realm of birth and death for the sake of saving the living using the lion's roar, donning the great armour adorning themselves with the virtues of the universal vows even when born into the world    5 corruptions:  degeneration of of evil and the five corruptions             views, afflictions, beings, these wonders remain with them    their lifespans & the aeon itself

until they reach buddhahood never experiencing the evil destinies no matter where born, remembering their past lives

Amitabha Buddha, wishing to save all beings living in the worlds of the ten directions leads them to rebirth in his land upon the path to nirvana as bodhisattvas, he leads them to buddhahood once buddhas they give others instruction and bring others salvation this process ever-ongoing is impossible to measure

The number of sravakas bodhisattvas and beings within the realms of the ten directions who are born into his buddha land upon the path to nirvana, becoming buddhas is impossible to measure

His buddha land is eternally in harmony with the one dharma, never changing ...why is this so?

The great ocean governs the water all waters flow toward it and enter it how could it be that this ocean as a consequence expands or shrinks?

In the eight directions, above and below are countless buddha lands the land of Amitabha is immensely vast it is radiant and beautiful and full of joy it is supreme and without equal

This is a consequence of the time when as a bodhisattva he desired to seek the way and the virtues he accumulated he graciously bestowed

upon all in the eight directions, above and below inexhaustible and limitless immense, profound and immeasurable impossible to express in words


Thirty

The Self-Cultivation

of Bodhisattvas

Ananda, every bodhisattva in this buddha field their meditative concentration their knowledge and wisdom their supernatural powers and the power of their majesty are all without exception in a state of complete perfection

Possessing complete comprehension of the Buddha's esoteric teachings

 

they have tamed every faculty

  7 branches of awakening:

they are flexible in body and mind

    1. mindfulness

thus they penetrate true wisdom

    2. investigation of states

with no more lingering bad habits

    3. energy    4. bliss     

they follow in the footsteps

    5. tranquillity

of the Buddha, taking the noble path

    6. concentration

with its seven branches of awakening

    7. equanimity

 

They develop five eyes which illuminate the truth and penetrate beyond the profane the flesh eye examines the divine eye penetrates the dharma eye purifies the wisdom eye sees the truth the buddha eye does it all

Awakened to the nature of dharma eloquent and self-possessed without constraint or obstruction skilfully they reveal the limitless expedient means existing within the world

Sincere and truthful in speech they reach the very essence of things saving all beings by teaching the true dharma

beyond form and conditioning beyond attachment and freedom beyond all conception detached from delusion they receive and enjoy without grasping they travel to buddha fields far and wide without feelings of partiality and loathing nor do they entertain the notion of desiring non-desire nor do they feel enmity and resentment due to notions of the self and the other ...why is this so?

Because bodhisattvas have great compassion and loving-kindness for every being and the desire to bring them the benefits which come from casting aside every attachment

and acquiring infinite virtues and unimpeded wisdom that comprehends the ultimate reality beneath all dharmas perceiving origination and extinction

Speaking with skilful expedience never revelling in profane talk they take joy in discoursing upon the truth knowing that every dharma is empty and still the mental and physical afflictions of the body these two lingering factors are entirely no more

Within the three realms, they practise with impartiality upon the one vehicle, until they reach the other shore tearing asunder the web of doubt realizing that there is nothing to be obtained

Through expedient wisdom, they grow in knowledge always, from the very start, abiding firmly within the use of supernatural power they attain the path of the one vehicle

It was never due to any other that they were awoken


                                                    Thirty-One

                                                  True Virtues

Vast and deep is their wisdom like the ocean

lofty and expansive is their bodhi like Mount Sumeru majestically radiant are their bodies surpassing the sun and moon immaculately white are their minds like the Himalayas enduring like the earth entirely level and even purifying like water washing away all dirt blazing like fire burning the fuel of affliction never clinging like the wind free from obstruction the dharma resounds like a thunderbolt awakening the unconscious raining down droplets of sweet dharma

refreshing all beings their great loving-kindness as vast as the void like an unblemished lotus flower untainted by dirt like a banyan tree providing shelter for many like a diamond cutter severing all attachments to delusion like the Cakravada mountains a horde of demons and heretics cannot shake them

Upright in mind, skilful and resolute they discourse upon the dharma without weariness they seek the dharma without fatigue their morals are like the beryl stone clear and transparent, both inside and out their words make beings

submit themselves joyfully beating the dharma drum erecting the dharma banner revealing the sun of wisdom eradicating the darkness of delusion pure and gentle

serene in concentration and perceptive as great leaders taming themselves and others helping all living beings cast aside every attachment that they may be eternally detached from the three impurities free to indulge in their supernatural powers

As a result of the power of his vows and the virtuous roots they developed they vanquish the troops of Mara they honour and serve every buddha a bright lamp for the world creating a field of merit, unsurpassed a truly extraordinary fortune, worthy of reverence majestic and joyous, bold and fearless their appearance, their marks and characteristics their virtues and their eloquence are perfectly adorned and without equal unceasingly they are praised by all buddhas possessing a bodhisattva's every perfection abiding eternally in samadhi neither arising nor ceasing travelling to dharma sanctuaries far and wide leaving those on the two vehicles far behind i.e. sravakas &  pratyekabuddhas

Just now, Ananda

I have merely provided a sketch of the virtues of reborn bodhisattvas in this realm of Sukhavati

if I were to speak of them extensively I would not get through them all even after hundreds and thousands of aeons


                                                     Thirty-Two

Limitless Longevity

and Happiness

The Buddha proclaimed to Maitreya Bodhisattva and the heavenly and human beings present,

Inexpressible are the virtues and wisdom of the sravakas and bodhisattvas of the land of Amitayus his land is wondrous and peaceful pure and full of joy

Why then, do you not strive to do good and be naturally placed upon the path of mindfulness

Coming and going making offerings gaining insight from the sutras following the way delighting in persistent cultivation

Able, valiant, wise with minds that do not deviate determined, never slacking on the outside unhurried on the inside charging forward capacious as the void reaching its centre the outer and inner are in harmony and in order, as a matter of course when one is self-restrained and upright mind and body are immaculate

Without craving and greed one's vows remain unshaken without increase or decrease seeking the way in harmony with what is right never turning toward heresy acting in accordance with the sutras complying with instruction never daring to overstep the line all for the sake of the path esteemed devoid of other thoughts

Free from anxiety naturally effortless empty, creating nothing peaceful and contented

Free from desire undertaking virtuous vows wholeheartedly seeking their fulfilment full of pity and compassion fully in accord with ritual and duty embracing the external and internal going beyond and gaining release naturally safeguarding their true immaculate whiteness

With unsurpassed ambition pure concentration, peace and joy like the breaking of dawn the way is cleared

illuminating the real within the real the very root of reality its true lights and appearances permeate one another producing magnificent transformations

As the seven jewels emerge in Uttarakuru    1 of the 4 continents from the void emerges myriad things     that surround Mt. Sumeru the radiant, the sublime, the luminous excellent and extraordinary, without comparison revealing that which has neither highs nor lows penetrating that which has no limits

Each of you ought to strive with great effort to seek this for you are certain to attain the transcendent dharma

and rebirth in the buddha land of Amitabha a land of immeasurable purity escaping the five destinies, blocked from evil paths

The path supreme and limitless

is easy to reach but there, there are none or few

not because people are contrary to this land but because their nature drags them from it

Cast aside ambition and be like the void strive in seeking the way and its power obtain life of utmost longevity and happiness without limit why cling to worldly things

fighting and fussing over that which is fleeting


                                                  Thirty-Three

                                             Encouraging Words,

                                            Spurring Advancement

The worldly contend among each other over matters of little urgency in this world of extreme wickedness and intense suffering they strain their bodies with hasty exertion in pursuit of what brings them profit

Regardless of status, wealth, age and gender everyone frets unceasingly piling up worries slaves to their own hearts

Those with land, fuss over land those without, fuss over that with or without, worries are the same having one thing, they desire something else yearning to be like others

Even if they possess little still they fret over its impermanence by floods and fires robbers and thieves enemies and creditors it could be burnt set adrift or seized wiped out, gone forever

The heart is hard, the mind is inflexible incapable of letting go yet when life ends all is left behind nothing leaves here for both rich or poor worries and agonies come in many forms

People of the world father and son, brother and brother husband and wife, parents and relatives all should share in mutual love and respect instead of hating and envying one another

Those who have, should share with those who have nought without greed or attachment always gentle in word and bearing never untoward or contrary

A quarrelsome mind full of passion and fury grows fiercer as time passes until at last it turns to hatred thus in worldly matters injury leads to more injury even if it comes not instantly you must urgently consider putting a stop to this cycle

In the midst of craving and desire people are born alone and die alone a solitary entrance, a solitary exit your joys and sorrows are made for you alone no one can take your place the ever-evolving manifestations of good and evil actions follow you through rebirth if paths diverge there is no hope of meeting again so why not, while time is ripe strive to do good

...what exactly are you waiting for?

The worldly cannot perceive good and evil omens ill or otherwise portending fortune or disaster each compete in deeds the body knows not what it does

the spirit is mired in darkness thus they embrace other teachings and delusions beget more delusions impermanence is at their root enveloped in darkness they are in denial with no faith in the dharma lacking foresight, chasing pleasure led astray by enmity coveting material wealth and beautiful things all their lives without rest ...what a pity

Their ancestors were evil thus they fail to recognise the way and its power for none have told them for this they can hardly be blamed

The rebirth destinies the good and evil paths in this they have no faith they say no such thing exists but what they see of others they shall soon see for themselves fathers weeping over sons sons weeping over fathers brother and brother, husband and wife weep and shed tears for one another passing away and being reborn longing for one another bound by worry and attachment no time to attain release

With love and affection they remain stuck to desire incapable of deep contemplation they cannot even consider following the way yet in no time at all

life comes to an end from this there is no escape

The way bewilders many the awakened are few they harbour a deadly poison and an evil aura enshrouds them in the deepest dark they commit deeds based on falsehood defying heaven and earth wilfully they commit the utmost evil

until in an instant their life is snatched away from there they fall into the evil paths with no hope of escaping

You must consider casting evil aside and choosing what is good and practising it for the things you crave and desire the glorious, the beautiful cannot be preserved forever they all shall vanish in that you will find no pleasure

You must make the effort to be reborn in the land of peace and happiness where you can cultivate wisdom and insight virtues that cannot be rivalled do not fall pray to your desires do not betray the teachings and rules lest you fall behind the progress of others


                                                      Thirty-Four

                                                 Seeing the Light

Maitreya addressed the Buddha,

The Buddha speaks of the teachings and precepts with such depth and brilliance

we are all enveloped in his compassion and beneficence liberated from worry and pain

The Buddha is the Dharma King pre-eminent among nobles with a radiance that illuminates and penetrates limitless depths

The Buddha is master of every heavenly and human being and today we meet him and hear his teaching of infinite life every one of us is filled with joy our minds have seen the light

The Buddha proclaimed to Maitreya,

Reverence shown to buddhas this is the greatest good

truly you must practise buddha mindfulness and put an end to doubts uproot all cravings and block all sources of evil so you can wander freely through the three realms without entanglements

opening and revealing the path that is true and saving those yet unsaved

You must understand that people in the ten directions have, for endless aeons     5 paths of rebirth:

gone back and forth  heavenly, human, animal

between the five paths  ghost & hell denizen

their anxiety and suffering never ending they suffer when born they suffer when old they suffer intensely in sickness they suffer intensely in death foul-smelling and defiled in this there is no happiness

Therefore you must resolve to cleanse your mind of impurity to speak and act with faith and devotion with the outer and inner in perfect harmony such people can save themselves and uplift others carrying them to the other shore with total focus upon their aspiration they accumulate virtuous roots although one strives lifelong it amounts to a mere instant compared with the hereafter in the land of Amitayus where one experiences joy and happiness without limits where the cause of rebirth and death is forever uprooted where suffering and vexation are never more where one lives for a great many million aeons free to do as one wishes

Therefore each of you must strive and be beyond all doubt for those who commit such an error are reborn on the borderlands within walls formed of the seven jewels in state of disconnection for five hundred years

Maitreya addressed the Buddha,

For our sake, the Buddha has shone light upon his teachings thus we must focus solely upon study and practice and do so with reverence in accordance with his doctrine never daring to doubt


Thirty-Five

The Evils and Sufferings of an

Impure World

The Buddha proclaimed to Maitreya,

In this world, to be capable of rectifying your mind and doing no evil is truly the greatest virtue ...why is this so?

In all worlds in the ten directions good is abundant, evil is scarce to open the way and edify is easy

 

 

only in this world of five evils is suffering so intense

I now serve here as buddha to instruct and edify all living beings to help them abandon the five evils to depart from the five agonies to detach from the five burnings to subdue and reform their thinking

 

see below

to make them embrace the five goods and acquire their merits and virtues

 

see below

What are these five?

 

evils

The first:

Every kind of being in the world wishes to commit many evils to do others harm the strong oppresses the weak and in turn is oppressed by those even stronger

They hurt, they injure they wound, they kill they devour one another they do not know how to be good in consequence they receive a punishment most dire

Thus they are deprived and lonely deaf, blind and mute stupid and hateful

physically infirm and mentally deranged

all because in past lives they had no faith in the way and its power thus they were unwilling to do good

Those who are distinguished the nobles, the wealthy and powerful the worthy, the wise, the elders the intelligent and the brave the gifted and the insightful are the way they are due to the loving-kindness and filial piety practised in past lives

and the good they did and the virtues they acquired this reality unfolds in the world right before our eyes

When their lives end they enter the netherworld reborn once more, they receive a body changing form and switching paths as a consequence there exist denizens of hell birds and beasts crawling, flying and wriggling creatures like the wordly dharma of imprisonment

there is intense suffering a punishment most dire

Spirit and heavenly essence follow in the direction of one's crimes when receiving a lifespan, short or long they go along together and are reborn together where retribution leads to further retribution

Yet the misfortune caused by evil

has not ended when their end comes they cannot leave

to and fro they pass within these paths for aeon after aeon exit is impossible salvation is impossible ...an unspeakable sadness between heaven and earth it is naturally this way even if retribution comes not instantly good and evil deeds will return to the doer

The second:

People of the world are contrary to the dharma and the precepts they are profligate and dissolute arrogant and reckless they indulge themselves in whatever takes their fancy occupying high rank but lacking wisdom possessing authority but lacking uprightness they entrap others with false allegations bringing woe to the good and loyal what they think and what they say are not the same they use every kind of trickery and falsehood

People noble and lowly both here and overseas cheat and deceive each other due to ill-will and ignorance they desire to enrich themselves always craving more

Gains and losses result in rage and animosity destroying families and causing death heedless of the consequences the rich are miserly, unwilling to give clinging to desire, weighed down by greed the heart is vexed, the body suffers thus they are until their end

In the hereafter nothing comes with them but good and evil deeds the weal and woe they have created follows them through rebirth to a joyful place or one of bitter suffering

Moreover, when they see one who does good they despise them they speak ill of them they do not think of emulating them and measuring up to them

Perpetually they think of taking what is not theirs wishing to take advantage of others to benefit themselves and when all is gone they do it again to someone else

The divinities take note of this and so, in the end they enter the evil destinies as a matter of course upon the three paths of infinite troubles to and fro they pass for aeon after aeon exit is impossible ...an unspeakable sadness

The third:

People of the world are reliant on each other in their short lives lacking goodness are those neither upright in body nor mind perpetually full of wickedness perpetually full of illicit thoughts anxiety and vexation

Their perverse frame of mind reveals itself visibly they squander their family's wealth they engage in illegal affairs averse to that which they ought seek

Moreover, some of them get together they start wars and fight each other they assault and they pillage they wound and they slaughter they intimidate and they take by force and what they have taken they give to wives and children they exhaust themselves in making merry

Thus the masses feel hatred for them resulting in misery and suffering such evil is apparent to both man and spirit

The divinities take note so naturally they enter the evil paths of infinite suffering and vexation to and fro they pass for aeon after aeon exit is impossible ....an unspeakable sadness

The fourth:

People of the world never think of doing good they use double talk and malicious words they tell lies and use artful language they despise and envy the good they destroy the worthy and wise they disobey mother and father they pay no heed to elders and teachers there is no trust between friends seldom are they honest they glorify themselves and claim to possess the way they act like tyrants with no respect for others yet they want to be admired they feel no shame they can neither be taught nor tamed

ever full of pride yet they rely upon past lives protected by the fortune and virtues there accrued they do evil in this life until their fortune runs dry and their life expires thereupon, they are surrounded confronted by their evil deeds

Moreover, in the book of names they are recorded by divinities they are drawn toward calamity with no way of escaping instead they must advance and enter the boiling cauldron where mind and body are dashed to pieces the most intense suffering of consciousness and form at this point, repentance has come too late The fifth:

People of the world are wavering and hesitant indolent and apathetic they are unwilling to do good or discipline themselves and pursue a vocation

They turn their backs on and disobey the instruction of their parents treating them like enemies their parents would have been better off had they never been born they betray their kindness they fail in their duties in no way returning what they owe

Dissolute and self-indulgent drunkards and gluttons boorish and belligerent insensible to human feeling unprincipled and uncivilised no admonishment can help in making them see the light

They spare no thought for the material well-being of family and friends never do they consider the kindness of their parents never are they mindful of their duty to friends and teachers from their minds, mouths and bodies not the slightest good emerges

In the Buddha's teachings they have no faith in rebirth, in good and evil they have no faith

they desire to harm the worthy to create disorder within the samgha witless and benighted they believe themselves wise they know not where they came from in birth nor where they are heading in death

They are unkind and intractable yet they yearn for longevity of the things they have been taught with great loving-kindness they are unwilling to believe

Of the things they have been told at painstaking effort to them it has no benefit their hearts are sealed their minds are closed to understanding at the time ordained, their end shall come feeling remorse and fright they did no good ahead of time and only now do they repent ...what is the use in that?

Between heaven and earth are five distinct paths the recompense for good and evil borne together are fortune and misfortune to be confronted on one's own no one can do it for them

The good do good by way of joy they partake in joy by way of wisdom they partake in wisdom the evil do evil by causing suffering they partake in suffering in a benighted state

they experience darkness

Who comprehends this? only the Buddha comprehends few are those with faith few are those who practise his revealed words of instruction

Endlessly dying and being reborn never leaving the evil paths thus are the people of the world it is hard to get through them all

As a consequence the three paths exist as a matter of course where people experience infinite suffering and affliction where endlessly they pass to and fro for generation after generation for aeon after aeon with no hope of escaping release is impossible ...an unspeakable sadness

Thus are the five evils, pains and burnings like a great fire scorching the body however, if one existing within them can

focus their mind and control their thoughts                           1st good

discipline their body and practise right-mindfulness              2nd good

make word and action correspond                                          3rd good

act with total sincerity                                                             4th good

do only good and no evil                                                           5th good

then, they alone shall attain liberation and acquire the fortune and blessings therein attaining longevity upon the path to nirvana these are the five goods


Thirty-Six

Repeated Instruction

and Exhortation

The Buddha proclaimed to Maitreya,

I told you that the five evils, pains and burnings give birth to one another those who still dare to commit them shall experience the evil paths

For some it begins in this life with sickness and calamity in a state neither alive nor dead for all to see

For some, when the time comes they enter the three evil paths their faces ablaze with misery and cruelty

Together with their enemies they wound and kill each other the insignificant and imperceptible turn into difficulties of great severity

All because of greed and attachment to material wealth and alluring things an unwillingness to show generosity each only out to satisfy themselves not caring whether their actions are upright or crooked

Driven by foolish desire to enrich themselves they compete for profit, for wealth and rank for glory, splendour and momentary pleasure

Incapable of forbearance they do not devote themselves to doing good their power and prestige in no time at all

turns to dust and vanishes

The way of heaven unfolds delivering justice as a matter of course alone they stand in trepidation of the place they shall soon enter thus has it been from antiquity to the present day such misery... truly lamentable

You have heard the Buddha's teaching now consider it with care each of you upright and observant lifelong, never slacking

Venerate the noble and good extend to all your loving-kindness seek to go beyond this world uproot the origins of samsara and every kind of evil leave the three paths behind the way of trouble, fear and pain

Of your good actions, what shall be first?

You must rectify mind and body ears, eyes, mouth and nose physically and mentally purified in harmony with what is good

You must not succumb to craving and desire commit no evil deeds be gentle in word and bearing single-minded in conduct

vigilant in every action calm and composed for hurried action ends in regret and a lack of care undermines effort


                                                   Thirty-Seven

A Poor Man Given

Precious Jewels

You must extensively cultivate virtuous roots you must not transgress the prohibitions of the way

To have patience and effort a heart of loving-kindness, singly focused purified by the precepts for one day and one night surpasses a hundred years of good deeds in the land of Amitayus ...why is this so?

Because this buddha land possesses every accumulated virtue every good not a single iota of evil

To do good here in our world

for ten days and nights

surpasses a thousand years of good deeds in other buddha lands ...why is this so?

In other buddha lands

people naturally possess blessings and virtues for them, there is no situation where evil can be committed only in this world of little good and abundant evil where bitterness is swallowed and poison eaten is there never a taste of tranquillity

I have pity for you all and so I take great pains in instructing through analogy and imparting the dharma for all to uphold and consider and reverently practise senior and junior male and female loved ones and friends imparting to each other the words of instruction cautious and restrained in bearing in harmony with what is right and true cheerful in their filial devotion when they transgress in their deeds they admit their own error they leave behind evil and head toward the good hearing admonishment at dawn they have rectified by dusk holding fast to the teachings and precepts like a poor man given precious jewels

Amend past errors and cultivate for the future cleanse your mind make a change in behaviour and nature yields in response all that is desired shall be obtained

Where the Buddha's words are put into effect in cities and villages none are not edified everything under heaven is in harmony the sun and moon are bright and clear wind and rain come at the right season disasters and plagues never arise countries flourish, the people are at peace weapons are obsolete virtue and fellow-feeling are exalted courtesy is practised by all the land is free of robbers and thieves

free of all injustice the strong oppress not the weak and each person gets their due

I have pity for you all surpassing the fondness parents have for their children in this world I serve as buddha curing evil with goodness

uprooting the misery of rebirth and death leading all to acquire the five virtues practice of the and ascend to the ease of the non-conditioned 5 Goods above

After my final nirvana the way of my teachings shall gradually vanish the people will be false they will be flatterers once again they will do evil the five burnings and pains in the future, will exacerbate

Therefore you must impart to one another the teachings and precepts

live in accordance with the Buddha's dharma never transgressing it

Maitreya Bodhisattva, with palms together, addressed the Buddha,

Such are the evils and sufferings of the people of the world just so, just so

The Buddha has compassion for all and all shall he save

I have received the Buddha's repeated instruction this, I dare neither transgress nor disregard


Thirty-Eight

                                        Homage to the Buddha's Light

The Buddha proclaimed to Ananda,

If you wish to see the land where the Buddha of Immeasurable, Pure and Impartial Sambodhi and his many bodhisattvas and arhats reside you must arise and face the west toward the place where the sun sets prostrate with reverence and acclaim aloud

              Homage to Amitabha Buddha           Chinese: Namo Amituofo                                                                                     Japanese: Namu Amida Butsu

Ananda immediately arose. As he faced the west with palms together, he prostrated and announced,

I wish to see Sukhavati the world of Amitabha Buddha I wish to pay homage and serve him and plant many virtuous roots

Between his prostrations, he suddenly witnessed Amitabha

Buddha,

His large and broad countenance his elegant and dignified appearance like a mountain made of gold rising above every world

Moreover, he heard the Buddha Tathagatas of every world in the ten directions praise the myriad virtues of Amitabha Buddha. Their praise was unimpeded and uninterrupted. Thereupon, he addressed the Buddha,

This buddha's purified field... never has such a thing been seen I wish to enjoy a life in this land The Blessed One proclaimed,

Those reborn have already drawn near    in past lives to infinite buddhas and have already planted many virtuous roots

If you desire to be reborn in this land

you must be of one mind you must take refuge in him and worship him

As this was spoken,

Within the palm of Amitabha shone forth infinite light upon every buddha land so at that moment all were clearly visible as if an arm's length away due to extraordinary radiance and supreme purity of Amitabha Buddha

Within this realm

the Black Mountains   Kalaparvata the Snow Mountains    Himalayas the Diamond Mountains Vajraparvata

                the Iron Ring Mountains                                 Cakravada (see above)

all mountains large and small rivers, groves and the palaces of divinities of every realm were illuminated just as the rising sun illuminates the world

Even such places as the murky and dark chasms and creeks, the hidden and unseen all were revealed

               and all were of one colour                            i.e. gold

Just as the end-of-aeon floods engulf the world submerging all things beneath a vast, boundless deluge leaving nothing visible but a great body of water so too did the radiance of this buddha obscure the light of every sravaka and bodhisattva so that only his light could be seen

luminous and majestic bhiksus, bhiksunis,

The fourfold assembly  upasakas, upasikas

the eight legions of devas and nagas non-humans of desire realm the human-yet-non-human and so on horse/bird-men of all beheld the world of Sukhavati the eight legions   

its myriad adornments                                                         

and Amitabha Buddha upon his high seat awe-inspiring and majestic

his marks and characteristics shining brightly surrounded and worshipped by sravakas and bodhisattvas

Like Sumeru, king of mountains rising from the surface of the ocean clearly visible and shining brightly pure and upright free from all manner of impurity without any incongruous element solely adorned by myriad jewels the abode of the noble and worthy

Ananda, alongside the bodhisattvas and the other members among the masses joyously and eagerly paid homage touching his head to the ground and acclaiming aloud:

Homage to Amitabha the complete and perfect enlightened one

When everyone from the heavenly and human down to the crawling, flying and wriggling witnessed this radiant being their maladies and miseries

without exception vanished released from all anxiety and vexation thereafter they were able to perform good deeds with hearts of loving-kindness experiencing joy and happiness

The sounds of instruments bells, chimes, zithers and harps unplayed, came naturally producing the five musical tones

all heavenly and human beings of every buddha land scattered flowers in the void as offerings

Thereupon,

as a consequence of the Buddha's awe-inspiring power the world of Sukhavati beyond millions of lands to the west appeared as if right before their eyes just as the pure divine eye perceives an object eight feet away thus too did they see this land and so too did all observe the world of men and Sakyamuni Tathagata surrounded by a multitude of bhiksus as he preached the dharma


                                                    Thirty-Nine

                                               Maitreya Recounts

                                                      His Vision

Thereupon, the Buddha proclaimed to Ananda and Maitreya

Bodhisattva,

You saw the world of Sukhavati its palaces and pavilions its springs, pools and many trees were they not perfectly exquisite purified and adorned?

Did you not see every divinity from the realm of desire

up to the highest heaven of the realm of subtle form rain down a great many fragrant flowers upon buddha lands far and wide?

Ananda replied,

Indeed, I saw

The Buddha continued,

Did you not hear the great voice of Amitabha Buddha proclaim throughout every world, edifying all beings?

Ananda replied,

Indeed, I heard

The Buddha continued,

Did you not see the pure practitioners of this land

who wander freely within the void their palaces accompanying them without obstruction, far and wide throughout the ten directions make offerings to every buddha?

And did you not witness their unceasing buddha mindfulness?

Again, did you all not see such transformations as multitude of birds dwelling in the void produce a great many sounds

Maitreya addressed the Buddha,

We saw them all exactly as the Buddha said

The Buddha proclaimed to Maitreya,

Did you not see too that among the people of this land were the womb-born?

Maitreya addressed the Buddha,

Blessed One, I saw the people of Sukhavati who dwell within wombs

just as the divinities of the Yama Heaven dwell within palaces

Moreover, I saw beings within lotus flowers

sitting in the lotus position        cross-legged,

                 spontaneously transformed                             soles of feet facing upward

For what reason are people of this land womb-born and spontaneously reborn?


Forty

The Borderland

and the Citadel of Doubt

The Buddha proclaimed to Maitreya,

There are sentient beings who cultivate spiritual virtues with a doubtful mind yet they desire to be reborn in this land

They cannot comprehend the Buddha's wisdom his inconceivable wisdom his indescribable wisdom his vast Great Vehicle wisdom his supreme, unequalled and unrivalled wisdom

In this wisdom they have doubts

and little faith yet they believe in punishment and reward so they cultivate virtuous roots and wish to be reborn in this land

There are also sentient beings who accumulate virtuous roots and seek the Buddha's wisdom his universal wisdom his unequalled wisdom his inconceivable wisdom of awe-inspiring power and vastness

But regarding their own virtuous roots they cannot generate faith so regarding rebirth in the pure land their determination wavers for they have nothing to solely rely upon yet with the practice of unceasing buddha mindfulness formed as the root of their virtuous desire they can go on to attain rebirth

Such people, although reborn in this land cannot approach the place of Amitayus they reach only so far as the borderland inside walls formed of the seven jewels

This is not the Buddha's doing but the consequence of their own conduct and their mind's orientation

There are also those who spontaneously acquire a body within a lotus flower in a pond of jewels the food and drink they enjoy can be compared with what is enjoyed in the Trayastrimsa heaven    see Heaven of the Thirty-Three above

Within these walls they cannot leave their dwellings are rooted to the ground they cannot make them larger at will

For five hundred years they cannot see the Buddha or hear the dharma

nor can they see the bodhisattvas, sravakas and nobles of the samgha

They are not illuminated in wisdom and their knowledge of the sutras is slim their hearts are closed to understanding and their minds experience no joy

for this reason those who exist here are called the womb-born

If sentient beings with clear-seeing faith

in the Buddha's wisdom his supreme wisdom have eradicated all doubts have faith in their own virtuous roots and perform many virtuous deeds with mind focused and directed ahead they shall be spontaneously transformed and reborn within a flower formed of the seven jewels there they shall sit in the lotus position and in a mere instant, their bodies shall become radiant

with wisdom and virtue like bodhisattvas, perfect and complete

Maitreya, you should know that transformative rebirth is the result of superior wisdom

and that for five hundred years the womb-born do not see the three jewels do not know the ways of bodhisattvas and do not acquire the virtues of their practice thus they have no way of serving Amitayus Buddha

You should know that this is because in past lives they lacked wisdom and harboured doubts


                                                      Forty-One

                                                 No More Doubts,

                                                The Buddha is Seen

Imagine the prison of a wheel-turning king formed of the seven jewels where rule-breaking emperors are locked inside with towers and elegantly adorned palaces jewelled canopies and beds made of gold ornate windows and benches adored exquisitely with rare and precious stones

They enjoy the same food and clothing as the wheel-turning king but golden manacles bind their feet ...could these lesser kings be happy there?

Maitreya addressed the Buddha,

Blessed One, they cannot be! throughout the time they are imprisoned and constrained their minds are not at ease

In vain, they devise many skilful means seeking their escape they seek out their closest servants but alas, there is nothing they can do only when the wheel-turning king is happy can they be set free

The Buddha proclaimed to Maitreya,

There are sentient beings like this too sinking into doubt and remorse they seek the Buddha's wisdom his supremely vast and great wisdom but they have no faith in their own virtuous roots yet when they hear the Buddha's name

faith grows in their heart they are reborn in this land within a lotus flower from which they do not emerge To be a lotus-womb dweller is like being in a garden or palace ...why is this so?

On the inside all is purified devoid of all impurity and evil yet they remain there for five hundred years they cannot see the three jewels they cannot make offerings to buddhas they cannot serve them they are detached from all extraordinary, virtuous roots for this reason they suffer and experience no happiness

If these beings recognise the root source of their misdeeds if they practise deep self-reflection and seek to depart from this place only then can they leave when retribution for past errors has come to an end

Thereupon, they go instantly to the place of Amitayus and hear the dharma gradually they see the light and feel great joy able to make universal offerings to innumerable buddhas and cultivate spiritual virtues

Maiteya, you should know that to have doubts about bodhisattvas is to cause great harm and forfeit a great blessing therefore, you must have clear-seeing faith in the supreme wisdom of buddhas Maitreya addressed the Buddha,

Why is it that beings of this type do not seek rebirth although they do good deeds?

The Buddha proclaimed to Maitreya,

Beings of this type have shallow understanding having determined that the land in the west

is no match for the world of divinities   i.e. rebirth as they believe it brings no joy  heavenly being therefore they do not seek rebirth there

Maitreya addressed the Buddha,

If beings of this type due to misunderstanding do not seek rebirth in this buddha land how can they avoid the wheel of samsara?

The Buddha explained,

The virtuous roots planted by beings of this type cannot be detached from form they do not seek the Buddha's wisdom they are deeply attached to wordly pleasures and worldly karmic rewards although they cultivate merit they seek the outcome of man and divinity

They obtain their reward, an abundance of all things yet from the prison of the three realms they cannot escape

their parents and wives, children and dependents may wish to help them

but they cannot relinquish their heterodox views the very king of bad karma

thus they remain upon samsara's wheel in a state of unease

Behold the witless and benighted who do not plant virtuous roots using worldly knowledge and clever words their hearts are led further astray how can they possibly escape the great hardship of death and rebirth

Moreover, there are beings who plant virtuous roots and cultivate great fields of merit yet they cling to form and conceptual thinking sentimental attachments, deep-rooted, weigh them down they seek escape, but in the end, it is unattainable

If those with wisdom without form plant many virtuous roots purify body and mind abandon all conceptions seek birth in a purified field and hasten toward buddhahood they shall be reborn in this buddha land liberated for all eternity

                                                       

                                                       Forty-Two

The Rebirth

of Bodhisattvas

Maitreya Bodhisattva addressed the Buddha,

Presently in the this world of men and every other buddha land how many non-retrogressing bodhisattvas are there who shall be reborn in the land of Sukhavati?

The Buddha proclaimed to Maitreya,

In this world, there are seventy-two trillion bodhisattvas who have already made offerings to countless buddhas and planted many virtuous roots who shall be reborn in this land

Of the great many bodhisattvas on the lesser path    i.e. on the first 10 of 52 stages of who practise meritorious deeds         the Bodhisattva path who shall be reborn their number is immeasurable

Not only are the multitude of bodhisattvas in our world reborn in this land but those of other buddha lands too

From the Buddha land of Far-Reaching Illumination there are eighteen million great bodhisattvas who shall be reborn in this land

From the north-eastern Treasure Storehouse buddha land there are nine trillion non-retrogressing bodhisattvas who shall be reborn in this land

From the buddha land of Immeasurable Sound

the buddha land of Glorious Light the buddha land of Nagas and Devas the buddha land of Supreme Power the buddha land of the Lion the buddha land of Transcending Impurity the buddha land of Highest Virtue the buddha land of the Benevolent King the buddha land of the Flower Canopy the non-retrogressing bodhisattvas who shall be reborn in some cases

number from one to ten trillion in some cases number from one hundred to a thousand trillion and even as much as ten thousand trillion

The twelfth buddha land is named Supreme Flower it possesses a countless number of bodhisattvas who have reached the stage of non-retrogression

Wise and courageous they have already made offerings to innumerable buddhas with great effort they set forth intently upon the path of the one vehicle within the span of seven days they can acquire the firm and secure dharma cultivated by great beings for hundreds, thousands and millions of aeons all bodhisattvas of this type shall be reborn

The thirteenth buddha land is called No Fear possessing seventy-nine million great bodhisattvas

and an immeasurable number of lesser bodhisattvas, bhiksus and so on all of them shall be reborn

Of the buddhas and bodhisattvas in the worlds of the ten directions who shall be reborn one could spend an entire aeon merely stating their names and not get through them all


Forty-Three

                                      This is Not the Lesser Vehicle

The Buddha proclaimed to Maitreya,

Behold these many great bodhisattvas skilled at acquiring blessings

If there are good sons and good daughters who, upon hearing the name of Amitabha Buddha develop a loving mind with a single thought take refuge in him, pay him homage

and practise in accordance with what has been taught you should know that these people because they have acquired the great benefit shall obtain the virtues I have spoken of

In their hearts they do not feel inferior nor do they hold themselves in high regard

The virtuous roots they have acquired are fully grown and developed

You should know that these people are not of the lesser vehicle

Within my dharma they have earned the reputation of being my number one disciples

For this reason, I tell you

that the universe's divinities, humans and demigods must joyfully practise with a heart of wonder within this dharma they must develop the aspiration to lead innumerable sentient beings to swiftly and securely attain the state of non-retrogression as well as the desire to see

this vast and adorned buddha field its extraordinary power of assimilation its perfected spiritual virtues they must exert great effort

and heed this dharma gateway i.e. method

In order to seek this dharma they must not develop a submissive, yielding heart of falseness and flattery even if they were to pass through a great inferno they must not succumb to doubt and regret ...why is this so?

These countless numbers of bodhisattvas who seek this subtle dharma gate they listen with respect they never transgress yet there are many bodhisattvas

who wish to hear this dharma but cannot  see Chapter 44 for this reason, you must seek it


                                                          Forty-Four

The Prophecy of Sambodhi

If, in the coming world up to the moment the true dharma disappears there are beings who plant many virtuous roots and make offerings to countless buddhas it shall be a consequence of the awe-inspiring power of the Thus Come One that they can acquire a dharma method so vast

Adopting it and holding it fast obtaining extensive knowledge of all knowledge feeling great determination and joy toward this dharma preaching widely for others' sake always cheerful in conduct

Good sons and good daughters if they have already sought are presently seeking or in the future shall seek this dharma then they shall obtain its blessings

You must be unshakeable, free from doubts plant many virtuous roots always cultivating unobstructed by misgivings never setting foot within prisons formed of precious jewels

Maitreya, beings with great awe-inspiring powers are capable of practising this vast and unique gateway of the Buddha dharma yet because they have not heard it there are ten million bodhisattvas now turning back from complete and perfect sambodhi

Maitreya, beings with great awe-inspiring powers

are capable of practising the vast and diverse gateways of the Buddha dharma

yet because they have not heard of this method there are ten million bodhisattvas now turning away from complete and perfect sambodhi

If there are sentient beings who in light of this teaching transcribe it and pay it homage hold it fast and recite it aloud if for but a moment they preach for others' sake encouraging them to listen that they may no longer give rise to anxiety and vexation and even begin to contemplate this land, day and night and the spiritual virtues of the Buddha

upon the supreme path all the way to the end never regressing then, these people when they reach the end of their lives would be able even if the trichiliocosm were engulfed in flames to pass through it and be reborn in this land

They have already come face to face with past buddhas they have received the prophecy of sambodhi and the unanimous praise of every tathagata

Thus you must devote yourself to faith and acceptance hold fast and recite preach and practise


Forty-Five

                                          A Teaching Imparted for a

Special Reason

Today, for the sake of the multitude of sentient beings I discoursed upon this dharma causing all to see Amitayus Buddha and all that his land possesses

That which must be done can be sought by everyone

After my extinction you must not succumb again to doubt

In the world yet to come the way shall vanish

With loving-kindness and compassion I specifically leave you this teaching for one hundred years

Sentient beings who encounter this teaching in accordance with their wishes may all attain salvation

The Thus Come One appearing in this world such a thing is rarely encountered and rarely seen

The way of all buddhas such a thing is difficult to acquire and difficult to hear

To meet a good friend to hear the dharma and be able to practise it these are difficult too For one who hears this teaching to have joyous faith in it and to hold fast to it is the most difficult of all difficulties nothing surpasses it

There are sentient beings who, when they hear the sound of the Buddha develop a purified heart of loving-kindness they become so overjoyed their hairs stand on end some even shed tears all because in past lives they followed the Buddha's path thus they are beyond the ordinary

Some hear the Buddha's name but in their hearts they are hesitant they have no faith in the Buddha's teachings they have come from evil paths not yet through with misfortune incurred in former lives they shall not be saved because they doubt because they have no faith because they have turned their backs


Forty-Six

                                                Devoted Practice,

                                                  Firmly Grasped

The Buddha proclaimed to Maitreya,

The supreme dharma of every Buddha Tathagata possessing the ten powers and fearlessness without obstruction, without attachment is a dharma so profound

the dharma of a bodhisattva's perfections see Chapter 4 such a thing is rarely encountered even those capable of preaching the dharma struggle to explain it

Deep and unshakeable faith is now rarely encountered

Today I have proclaimed the truth about this vast and subtle dharma gateway praised by every buddha

I entrust you to serve as its protector to aid sentient beings through the long night never allowing them to sink into the five destinies where one encounters great peril and pain

You must zealously practise in accordance with my teachings loyal and obedient to the Buddha always mindful of the master's kindness

You must help this dharma long endure without disappearing

you must uphold it, never harming it

or letting it fall to ruin

you must not falsify it, add to it or subtract from it

by always being mindful acquire the shortcut of the path

Thus is my dharma and thus have I spoken

the practice of tathagatas this you must follow cultivate merit and do good seek rebirth in the Pure Land


Forty-Seven

                                           With Merit and Wisdom,

                                          the Dharma Can Be Heard

Thereupon, the Buddha delivered these verses,

If no prior merit and wisdom has been cultivated then this true dharma cannot be heard if offerings have been made to tathagatas then joyous faith can be had in this dharma

With the evils of arrogance indolence and heterodox views faith in the Tathagata's subtle dharma is impossible

It is impossible for a blind man eternally in darkness to guide others upon the path

Only by developing a multitude of virtues side-by-side with the Buddha can one practise the world-saving way

After you have heard this teaching hold fast to it and transcribe it recite it and sing its praises demonstrate it through your conduct and make offerings to buddhas

Thus, with single-minded pursuit

of a land that is pure and determination to attain rebirth in Sukhavati even if an inferno were to engulf the entire trichiliocosm borne along by the Buddha's awe-inspiring power one can pass beyond it

Only buddhas can comprehend the Thus Come One's vast and deep ocean of wisdom were a sravaka to meditate upon it for a million aeons exhausting all their supernatural power in the process still they could not fathom it

Only buddhas can comprehend the spiritual virtues of the Thus Come One and only the Blessed One can explain it

A human body is hard to obtain and a buddha is rarely encountered to listen to the dharma and acquire faith and wisdom this is the most difficult of all difficulties

Such beings shall become buddhas in conduct they shall surpass Samantabhadra and set foot upon the other shore thus the erudite and intellectual ought have faith that what I teach here is true

Now that you have had the fortune to hear a dharma so subtle and wondrous you must always practise buddha mindfulness

and thus give birth to joyfulness you must hold fast to it and rescue far and wide those drifting within the cycle of rebirth and death


Forty-Eight

Blessings Gained From Hearing

the Dharma

After the Blessed One proclaimed this dharma, twelve hundred trillion sentient beings, of the heavenly and human worlds, were cleansed of all dust and impurity, and acquired the purity of the dharma eye.

Two trillion beings were rewarded with non-returner status.

Six thousand eight hundred bhiksus were cleansed of all defilements, acquiring liberation of mind.

Four trillion bodhisattvas, upon the path to supreme bodhi, remained firmly in the state of non-retrogression, self-adorned with the virtues of the Universal Vows.

Two trillion five hundred billion sentient beings acquired non-retrogressing forbearance.

Four hundred thousand trillion sentient beings, for the very first time, set their minds on supreme bodhi. By planting many virtuous roots, and aspiring to be reborn in Sukhavati, where Amitabha Buddha can be seen, all were guaranteed rebirth in the land of the Thus Come One. Every one of them, no matter where they came from, shall in turn become buddhas and share the title of Wondrous Sound Tathagata.

Moreover, from each buddha field in the ten directions, there were eight hundred thousand trillion people guaranteed rebirth in the present or a future life, who saw Amitabha Buddha, who acquired the prophecy of sambodhi, who attained acceptance of the dharma and who ultimately achieved supreme bodhi.

This was all a result of Amitabha Buddha's prior vow, to help all sentient beings attain rebirth in the land of Sukhavati.

Thereupon, the entire trichiliocosm experienced six great tremors and a myriad of extraordinary and miraculous transformations. A great light shone upon all in the ten directions.

Moreover, from every divinity in the void came exquisite melodies and sounds of rejoicing. This was heard, even by the divinities of the realm of subtle form. They praised this miraculous event.

A stream of countless wondrous flowers fell from the sky.

The Venerable Ananda, Maitreya Bodhisattva, as well as every bodhisattva, sravaka and the eight legions of devas and nagas—everyone in attendance heard the Buddha's dharma and experienced tremendous joy. They faithfully accepted it and reverently upheld it.

END