Home » Excerpts » [7] Why Not Seek Birth In Tusita Heaven?

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: 易生弥勒
The Seventh Doubt: Doubt Of Ease Of Birth To Be With Maitreya Bodhisattva

问:「弥勒菩萨,一生补处,即得成佛。上品十善,得生彼处,见弥勒菩萨。

Question: Maitreya Bodhisattva is in the Stage Of One Life To Replacement99 [of Śākyamuni Buddha], soon to attain Buddhahood. Practising the higher grade of the Ten Good Deeds100 will attain birth in that place,101 to see Maitreya Bodhisattva.

随从下生三会之中,自然而得圣果。何须求生西方净土耶?」

Accompanying his descent [for birth]102 within his three assemblies,103 naturally attained are the fruits of sagehood.104 Why is there need to seek birth in the Western Pure Land [of Amitā(bha) Buddha (Amituofo)]?

答:「求生兜率,一日闻道见佛,势欲相似。若细比校,大有优劣。且论二种。

Answer: Seeking birth in Tuṣita, within one day, one can listen to teachings of the path and see the future Buddha. These conditions and desires seem similar [to seeking birth in the Western Pure Land of Amitā(bha) Buddha (Amituofo)]. However, if finely comparing, there are great differences of superiority and inferiority. We shall just discuss two kinds.

 一者,纵持十善,恐不得生。何以得知?

First, even if the Ten Good Deeds are upheld, as feared, this does not attain birth there. How is this known?

《弥勒上生经》云:『行众三昧,深入正定,方始得生。』

The Sūtra On Maitreya’s Ascent105 says, ‘With practice of many kinds of samādhis, to deeply enter Right Concentration, then can there be attainment of birth [there].’

更无方便接引之义。不如阿弥陀佛本愿力、光明力。但有念佛众生,摄取不舍。

Further, there are no expedient means of receiving and guiding meant. This is not equal to Amitā[bha] Buddha’s [Amituofo] power of his fundamental vows, and the power of his bright light. As long as there are sentient beings mindful of [Amitā(bha)] Buddha [Amituofo], they will be gathered and not be forsaken.

又释迦佛说九品教门,方便接引,殷勤发遣,生彼净土。但众生能念弥陀佛者,机感相应,必得生也。

Moreover, Śākyamuni Buddha spoke about teachings of the nine grades,106 as expedient means for receiving and guiding, enthusiastically and thoughtfully sending107 sentient beings for birth in that Pure Land [of Amitā(bha) Buddha (Amituofo)]. As long as sentient beings are able to be mindful of Amitā[bha] Buddha [Amituofo], there will be correspondence of potential and response, and they will definitely attain birth there.

如世间慕人,能受慕者,机会相投,必成其事。

As an admirer in this world is able to receive the admired when an opportunity agrees with each other, that matter of attaining birth will definitely be accomplished.

二者,兜率天宫是欲界,退位者多。无有水鸟、树林、风声、乐响。众生闻者,悉念佛发菩提心,伏灭烦恼。

Second, Tuṣita’s heavenly palace is in the sphere of desire,108 where those who retrogress are many. It is without waters, birds, groves, sounds of winds and music, with which sentient beings who hear them, are all mindful of [Amitā(bha)] Buddha [Amituofo], and give rise to Bodhicitta, to subdue and extinguish their afflictions.

又有女人,皆长诸天爱著五欲之心。又天女微妙,诸天耽玩,不能自勉。

Moreover, there are women, every one able to increase all gods’109 minds of attachment to the five desires.110 Moreover, the goddesses111 are subtle and wonderful, with whom all gods deeply take pleasure, and are not able to encourage themselves [to progress spiritually].112

不如弥陀净土,水鸟、树林、风声、乐响。众生闻者,皆生念佛发菩提心,伏灭烦恼。

This is not equal to Amitā[bha] Buddha’s [Amituofo] Pure Land, with waters, birds, groves, sounds of winds and music, with which sentient beings who hear them, all give rise to mindfulness of [Amitā(bha)] Buddha [Amituofo] and Bodhicitta, to subdue and extinguish their afflictions.

又无女人,二乘之心,纯一大乘,清净良伴。为此烦恼恶业,毕竟不起,遂至无生之位。

Moreover, it is without women or those with aspirations of the two vehicles,113 purely with those of the one Great Vehicle,114 as pure companions with the same goal. Due to this, afflictions and evil karma cannot arise at all, while advancing until the Stage Of Non-Birth.115

如此比校,优劣显然,何须致疑也?

Thus comparing, the differences of superiority and inferiority are evident. Why is there need to doubt?

如释迦佛在世之时,大有众生见佛,不得圣果者如恒沙。弥勒出世亦尔,大有不得圣果者,未如弥陀净土。

As when Śākyamuni Buddha was in this world, there were many sentient beings who saw the Buddha, although those who did not attain the fruits of sagehood were like the number of grains of the Ganges River’s sand. When Maitreya Buddha appears in this world, it is likewise so, that there will be many who do not attain the fruits of sagehood, as this world will yet to be equal to Amitā[bha] Buddha’s [Amituofo] Pure Land.

但生彼国已,悉得无生法忍。未有一人退落三界,为生死业缚也。

So long as born in that [Pure] Land already, all will attain the Patience Of Non-Birth. There is yet to be one person who retrogresses and falls into the three spheres, to still be bound by the karma of birth and death.

又闻西国传云:『有三菩萨。一名无著、二名世亲、三名师子觉。

Moreover, as known from Records Of The Western Land,116 which says, ‘There are three Bodhisattvas. The first is named Asaṅga. The second is named Vasubandhu. The third is named Buddhasiṃhá.

此三人契,志同生兜率,愿见弥勒。若先亡者,得见弥勒,誓来相报。

These three persons agreed, on the goal together, for birth in Tuṣita, with the aspiration to see Maitreya. If one dies first, and attains sight of Maitreya, he must vow to return, for informing the others.

师子觉前亡,一去数年不来。后世亲无常临终之时,无著语云:「汝见弥勒,即来相报。」世亲去已,三年始来。

Buddhasiṃhá died first. Once gone, for a number of years, there was no return. Later, when Vasubandhu was approaching the end of life due to impermanence, Asaṅga said to him, “When you see Maitreya, immediately return to inform me.” Vasubandhu, after leaving for three years, then returned.

无著问曰:「何意如许多时始来?」

Asaṅga asked, “Why did you take such a long time to return?”

世亲报云:「至彼天中,听弥勒菩萨一坐说法,旋绕即来相报。为彼天日长故,此处已经三年。」

Vasubandhu replied, “Upon arriving within that heaven, after listening to Maitreya Bodhisattva speak the Dharma in one seating, and circumambulating117 him, I immediately returned to inform you. As that heaven’s days are long, in this place, it has already been three years.”

又问:「师子觉今在何处?」

Asaṅga further asked, “Where is Buddhasiṃhá now?”

世亲报云:「师子觉为受天乐,五欲自娱,在外眷属。从去已来,总不见弥勒。」』

Vasubandhu replied, “Buddhasiṃhá, for receiving heavenly pleasures, is amusing himself with the five desires, like an external relative.118 Since his departure, he has not seen Maitreya after all.”’

诸小菩萨,生彼尚著五欲,何况凡夫?为此愿生西方,定得不退,不求生兜率也。」

All minor Bodhisattvas born there are still attached to the five desires, moreover ordinary beings? Due to this, aspire for birth in the West[ern Pure Land of Amitā(bha) Buddha (Amituofo)] for certainty of attaining non-retrogression, and not seek birth in Tuṣita.

Notes

99 Eka-jāti-prati-baddha: Bodhisattva in the stage of one life to Buddhahood, to ‘replace’ the preceding Buddha, to guide sentient beings to Buddhahood
100 Ten Wholesome Actions: Abstention from [1] killing [2] stealing [3] sexual misconduct [4] false speech [5] divisive speech [6] harsh speech [7] idle speech [8] covetousness [9] ill will [10] false views (with cultivation of their opposite; wholesome qualities)
101 Tuṣita Heaven’s inner court’s heavenly palace
102 … in this world to manifest his Buddhahood
103 … for Dharma sermons
104 Attainments towards/of liberation of self and/or others
105 观弥勒菩萨上生兜率天经 Discourse On Contemplation Of Maitreya Bodhisattva’s Ascent To Tuṣita Heaven
106 … of lotus birth in Amitā(bha) Buddha’s (Amituofo) Pure Land based on quality of practice
107 … by teaching and encouraging
108 … where the five desires (See Note 110 below) are strong
109 Devas
110 … for wealth, sex (including sensual pleasures), fame, food and sleep
111 Devis
112 … towards Buddhahood
113 … for self-liberation of Arhathood and/or Pratyekabuddhahood
114 … that leads to Buddhahood
115 See Note 10 on Page 15
116 Ancient India
117 Circumambulation: To meditatively walk around clockwise to express reverence
118 … of Maitreya Bodhisattva, being somewhat ‘related’ but outside his heavenly palace, as distracted by his new worldly relations

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