Home » Excerpts » [6] How Is There Non-Retrogression In Pure Land?

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: 生彼不退疑
The Sixth Doubt: Doubt Of Non-Retrogression Upon Birth There

问:「设令具缚凡夫得生彼国,邪见、三毒等常起,云何得生彼国,即得不退,超过三界?」

Question: If bound ordinary beings attain birth in that [Western Pure] Land [of Amitā(bha) Buddha (Amituofo)], with evil views, the three poisons94 et cetera constantly arising, how can they, having attained birth in that [Pure] Land, immediately attain non-retrogression, and transcend the three spheres?

释曰:「得生彼国,有五因缘不退。云何为五?

Answer: Having attained birth in that [Pure] Land [of Amitā(bha) Buddha (Amituofo)] , there are five causes and conditions for non-retrogression. What are the five?

一者,阿弥陀佛大悲愿力摄持,故得不退。

First, as Amitā[bha] Buddha’s [Amituofo] great compassionate power of vows gathers and protects, thus is there attainment of non-retrogression.

二者,佛光常照故,菩提心常增进不退。

Second, as the Buddha’s light95 constantly illuminates, Bodhicitta thus constantly advances with non-retrogression.

三者,水鸟、树林、风声、乐响,皆说苦空。闻者常起念佛、念法、念僧之心,故不退。

Third, the waters, birds, groves, sounds of winds and music all speak [truths] of dissatisfaction, emptiness, [impermanence and non-self]. As listeners constantly give rise to minds with mindfulness of the Buddha[s], mindfulness of the Dharma, and mindfulness of the Saṅgha,96 thus is there non-retrogression.

四者,彼国纯诸菩萨,以为良友,无恶缘境。外无神鬼魔邪,内无三毒等,烦恼毕竟不起,故不退。

Fourth, that [Pure] Land is purely with all Bodhisattvas as good friends,97 without the environment of evil conditions. As it is externally without evil gods, ghosts and demons, and internally without the three poisons et cetera, with afflictions not arising at all, thus is there non-retrogression.

五者,生彼国即寿命永劫,共菩萨、佛齐等,故不退也。

Fifth, as birth in that [Pure] Land is to immediately have lifespans of unlimited kalpas, together equal to that of Bodhisattvas and Buddha[s], thus is there non-retrogression.

在此恶世,日月短促。经阿僧祇劫,复不起烦恼,长时修道,云何不得无生忍也?此理显然,不须疑也。」

In this evil period, the days and months are brief and pressing. Passing asaṃkheya98 kalpas [in that Pure Land], not again giving rise to afflictions, and with [such] long time to cultivate the path, how can the Patience Of Non-Birth not be attained? As this reasoning is evident, there is no need for doubt.

Notes

94 Three roots of evil (and suffering): Greed (attachment), hatred (aversion) and ignorance (delusion)
95 … of blessings
96 See Note 82 on Page 47
97 Spiritual companions; good-knowing (spiritual) friends
98 Innumerable (The path to Buddhahood is swiftest via Pure Land, which also offers as much time as needed.)

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