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净土十疑论
The Treatise On Ten Doubts About Pure Land

隋天台智者大师著
Written by Sui Dynasty’s Tiantai Tradition’s Great Master Zhizhe (538–597 CE)
优婆塞沈时安英译
Translated to English by Upāsaka Shen Shi’an (2014 CE)
[This improved version replaces previous versions]

疑: 舍此求彼疑
The Second Doubt: Doubt Renouncing Here And Seeking There

问曰: 「诸法体空,本来无生,平等寂灭。

Question: All dharmas28 are essentially emptiness,29 originally of non-birth,30 equal and still.31

今乃舍此求彼,生西方弥陀净土,岂不乖理哉?

Now then, to renounce here and seek there, for birth in the Western Pure Land of Amitā[bha] Buddha [Amituofo], how can this not contradict reason?

又经云:『若求净土,先净其心。心净故,即佛土净。』此云何通?」

Moreover, a Sūtra32 says, ‘If seeking Pure Land, first purify that mind. [With that] mind purified thus, is the Buddha Land33 purified.’ How is this to be understood?

答:「释有二义。一者,总答。二者,别答。

Answer: The explanation has two meanings. The first, is the general answer. The second, is the distinct answer.

总答者,汝若言:『求生西方弥陀净土,则是舍此求彼,不中理者』,汝执住此。不求西方,则是舍彼著此。此还成病,不中理也。

For the general answer, if you say, ‘Seeking birth in the Western Pure Land of Amitā[bha] Buddha [Amituofo], is thus to renounce here and seek there, which does not accord with reason’, you are attached to abiding here. Not seeking the West[ern Pure Land], is thus to renounce there, and be attached to here. This still becomes a sickness, which does not accord with reason.

又转计云:『我亦不求生彼,亦不求生此者』,则断灭见。

Moreover, after reconsideration, to say, ‘I neither seek birth there, nor seek birth here’, is thus the view of nihilism.34

故《金刚般若经》云:『须菩提,汝若作是念,发阿耨菩提者,说诸法断灭相,莫作是念。何以故?发菩提心者,于法不说断灭相。』

Thus, the Vajra Prajñā Sūtra35 says, ‘Subhūti,36 if you give rise to this thought, that “those who aspire for Anut[tarā Samyak Saṃ]bodhi,37 speak of all dharmas as cessation of forms”, do not give rise to this thought. Why is this so? Those who give rise to Bodhicitta, when regarding dharmas, do not speak of [them as] cessation of forms.’

二,别答者,夫不生不灭者,于生缘中。诸法和合,不守自性。求于生体,亦不可得此生。生时,无所从来。故名不生。

Second, for the distinct answer, that of non-birth and non-cessation,38 are within conditions39 of birth.40 All dharmas harmonise, without attachment to [any] self-nature.41 Seeking within for the essence of birth, likewise unattainable is this birth. When born, it comes from nowhere. Thus is it named non-birth.

不灭者,诸法散时,不守自性。言我散灭,此散灭时,去无所至,故言不灭。

For that of non-cessation, when all dharmas disperse, they are without attachment to [any] self-nature. Speaking of ‘I’ dispersing, when this dispersing occurs, as it goes to nowhere, thus is it said to be non-cessation.

非谓因缘生外,别有不生不灭。亦非不求生净土,唤作无生。

This does not mean that other than the rising [and falling] of causes and conditions, there is another [essence] of non-birth and non-cessation. Likewise, it is not that not seeking birth in Pure Land is called non-birth.

为此,《中论》偈云:『因缘所生法,我说即是空,亦名为假名,亦名中道义。』

Due to this, a verse in the Middle Treatise42 says, ‘Dharmas born of causes and conditions, I say is emptiness, likewise named as false names,43 likewise named the meaning of the Middle Way.’44

又云:『诸法不自生,亦不从他生,不共不无因,是故知无生。』

Moreover, it says, ‘All dharmas are not self-born, likewise not from others born, not together with or without causes [and conditions], they are thus known as non-birth.’

又《维摩经》云:『虽知诸佛国,及与众生空,而常修净土,教化诸群生。』

Moreover, the Vimalakīrti Sūtra says, ‘Although knowing that all Buddha Lands and their sentient beings are emptiness, yet constantly cultivate the Pure Land [practice], for teaching and transforming all groups of beings.’45

又云:『譬如有人,造立宫室。若依空地,随意无碍。若依虚空,终不能成。』

Moreover, it says, ‘For example, there is a person building a palace. If relying on open land, one can build as wished, and without obstruction. If relying on empty space, in the end, it cannot be accomplished.’

诸佛说法,常依二谛,不坏假名,而说诸法实相。

All Buddhas, when speaking the Dharma,46 constantly rely on the Two Truths,47 not destroying false names, and yet speaking of all dharmas’ true nature.

智者炽然求生净土,达生体不可得,即是真无生。此谓『心净故,即佛土净。 』

Wise ones diligently seek birth in [the] Pure Land [of Amitā(bha) Buddha (Amituofo)], understanding that the essence of birth is unattainable, which is true non-birth. This is the meaning of ‘[With that] mind purified thus, is the Buddha Land purified.’

愚者为生所缚。闻生,即作生解。闻无生,即作无生解。不知生者即是无生,无生即是生。

Deluded ones are by birth bound. Hearing of birth, they give rise to the [mis]understanding of [actual] birth. Hearing of non-birth, they give rise to the [mis]understanding of no-birth. They do not know that birth is non-birth, that non-birth is birth.

不达此理,横相是非,嗔他求生净土。几许误哉!此则是谤法罪人,邪见外道也。」

Not understanding this reasoning, they give rise to much discord with one another, and are displeased48 with others who seek birth in [Amitā(bha) Buddha’s (Amituofo)] Pure Land. How grave a mistake this is! They are thus slanderers and transgressors of the Dharma, with evil views of external paths.49

Notes

28 Phenomena of mind and matter
29 Being empty of permanence and self in the aggregates of mind and matter
30 Unborn; without birth; non-origination; non-arising (independently)
31 Peaceful or tranquil
32 Vimalakīrti Nirdeśa Sūtra 维摩诘所说经: Discourse On Teaching Spoken By Vimalakīrti
33 World a Buddha resides or manifests to teach
34 An extreme wrong view that there are neither (useful) forms (nor law of cause and effect)
35 Vajracchedikā Prajñā Pāramitā Sūtra 金刚般若波罗蜜经: Discourse On The Adamantine (Cutter) Perfection Of Wisdom (Diamond Sūtra 金刚经)
36 Śākyamuni Buddha’s Arhat disciple foremost in realisation of emptiness
37 阿耨多罗三藐三菩提 Unsurpassable Equally Perfect Enlightenment; Buddhahood
38 … or ‘non-arising and non-falling (death)’
39 … which interdependently arise (and fall)
40 … and cessation (death)
41 Unchanging and thus substantial nature
42 Mūla Madhyamaka Kārikā 中观论/中论颂/中观根本论: (Treatise On) Fundamental Verses On The Middle Way
43 … or ‘conventionally/provisionally named’ (for teaching)
44 … of functioning balanced with form/emptiness without attachment or aversion to either
45 … by encouraging oneself and others to reach Pure Land to most swiftly attain Buddhahood
46 The Buddhas’ teachings of truth that lead to Buddhahood
47 Conventional Truth(s) about forms and Ultimate Truth about emptiness
48 … or ‘angry’
49 … that lead away from the path to Buddhahood

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