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

The Treatise On Ten Doubts About Pure Land

Written by Sui Dynasty’s Tiantai Tradition’s Great Master Zhizhe (538–597 CE)
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


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?


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?


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


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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