Of the two Dharma schools,
Samsara is the most challenging,
and Pure Lands the most skilful.
The Dharma of Pure Land [path] can assist people of three different potentials [high, average and low roots; everyone] to attain liberation, and may be accepted and upheld by practitioners independent of their mental capacities. However, the Pure Land practice is [especially] more relevant to the laity. Lay people have to make a living or take care of their families and it is not easy for them to find the time needed for the study of sutras or for the practice of Ch’an [Zen]; only the method of reciting ‘Buddha’ can harmonize both with the theory and with the potential. Those reciting “Amituofo [Amita(bha) Buddha]” sincerely and single-mindedly until their obstacles and [negative] karma have come to a halt will see their original face the way it was before they were born, and the true nature of Tathagata Garbha [Buddha-nature]. Between now and the end of this life, the superior class must be attained in the Pure Land in the West. Perhaps the practitioner cannot bring his/her karma to a halt and cannot abandon attachment because of some inferior root. Assisted by the Buddha and supported by true faith and a sincere vow, the adept can elicit the way to enlightenment and obtain rebirth in Pure Land regardless of his/her karma. The wonderful Dharma of Pure Land is like this.
A Ch’an adept who studies the teachings but does not understand the meaning and has not relinquished the obstacles of ignorance and karma must be reborn in the cycle of birth and death and cannot leave samsara. One should not be presumptuous, lest one be pitied by those countless worldings who were reborn in the Western Pure Land in spite of their karma. How unfortunate that those who benefit the most are usually average. The clever ones most often quit [Pure Land practice] because they prefer to be self-reliant rather than surrender to Buddha['s compassion]. That view costs them their liberation; unable to leave the Saha world, they repeatedly return to transmigration. What a pity.
Many sages of antiquity who have followed in the footsteps of the compassionate Buddha advocated Pure Land practice and wrote commentaries to that effect… The Dharma of Pure Land is the Dharma Ocean to which all the other Dharmas return. Those who believe in this teaching and practice accordingly can attain rebirth in Pure Land in this life: They will enlighten themselves and others, thereby attaining perfect enlightenment. Should anyone have a problem with this statement, that is not my responsibility; it is the responsibility of Shakyamuni Buddha and of Amita Buddha.
The Direct Approach To Buddhadharma: An Exhortation To Be Alert To The Dharma
Preface Above By 13th Pure Land Patriarch Great Master Yin Guang (Yin Kuang)
Text By Elder Yuan Chin Lee
Understanding Amituofo Via The Amitabha Sutra (11th Run)