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]
The Fourth Doubt: Doubt Of Particular Seeking Of One Land
Question: Equal to mindfully seeking birth in one Buddha’s Pure Land, why not, within the ten directions’ Buddha Lands, as wished, be mindful of any one Buddha’s Pure Land, to accordingly attain rebirth there? Why is there need to be particularly mindful of the Western [Pure Land’s] Amitā[bha] Buddha [Amituofo]?
Answer: Ordinary beings without wisdom should not dare to act arbitrarily on their own. Focusing on following the Buddha’s words, thus should there be particular mindfulness of Amitā[bha] Buddha [Amituofo].
How should we follow the Buddha’s words? Our Great Teacher Śākyamuni Buddha, for all his life, spoke the Dharma, giving sagely teachings everywhere, only encouraging sentient beings to focus their minds on particular mindfulness of Amitā[bha] Buddha [Amituofo], to seek birth in his Western [Pure] Land Of Ultimate Bliss.65
As the Immeasurable Life Sūtra,66 Contemplation Sūtra,67 Rebirth Treatise68 et cetera, numbering more than ten sūtras,69 treatises,70 essays et cetera enthusiastically and thoughtfully guide and teach, encouraging birth in the West[ern Pure Land], thus is there this particular mindfulness.
Moreover, Amitā[bha] Buddha [Amituofo] specially has forty-eight great compassionate vows, to receive and guide sentient beings.
Moreover, the Contemplation Sūtra says, ‘Amitā[bha] Buddha [Amituofo] has eighty-four thousand forms. Each form has eighty-four thousand excellences. Each excellence radiates eighty-four thousand bright lights, which universally illuminate the Dharma realm.71 Sentient beings mindful of [Amitā(bha)] Buddha [Amituofo] will thus be gathered and not be forsaken. If there are those mindful, there will be correspondence of potential and response,72 and they will definitely attain birth [there].’73
Moreover, the Amitā[bha] Sūtra,74 Great Immeasurable Life Sūtra,75 King Of The Sound Of Drum Dhāraṇī Sūtra76 et cetera say, that when Śākya[muni] Buddha spoke these sūtras, there were all Buddhas of the ten directions, numerous as grains of sand in the Ganges River, who extended their forms of tongues, that covered the three-thousand-great-thousand worlds77 everywhere, bearing testimony that all sentient beings who are mindful of Amitā[bha] Buddha [Amituofo], thus riding on the Buddha’s great compassionate power of his fundamental vows, will definitely attain birth in his [Pure] Land Of Ultimate Bliss.
It should be known that Amitā[bha] Buddha [Amituofo] and this world have particular[ly great connections of] causes and conditions.78 How is this known?
The Immeasurable Life Sūtra says, ‘When it is the last period of the Dharma-Ending Age,79 [I80 will] specially retain this sūtra, for one hundred [more] years in this world, to receive and guide sentient beings, for rebirth in that [Pure] Land [of Amitā(bha) Buddha (Amituofo)].’ Thus is it known that Amitā[bha] Buddha [Amituofo] and this world’s extremely evil sentient beings have particular[ly great connections of] causes and conditions.
On the rest of all other Buddhas, and all their Pure Lands, although one sūtra or two sūtras briefly encourage rebirth in them, this is not equal to Amitā[bha] Buddha’s [(Amituofo) Pure] Land, that sūtras and treatises everywhere, enthusiastically and thoughtfully instruct, carefully and repeatedly, encouraging rebirth there.
65 Sukhāvatī: Amitā(bha) Buddha’s (Amituofo) Pure Land
66 Amitāyus Sūtra: Discourse On Immeasurable (Infinite) Life
67 Amitāyur Dhyāna Sūtra 观无量寿佛经: Discourse On Contemplation Of Amitāyus (Buddha)
68 Amitāyus Sūtra Upadeśa (Instructions) 无量寿经优波提舍
69 About 290 sūtras currently archived in the Tripiṭaka mention Amitā(bha) Buddha (Amituofo)
70 Śāstras or commentaries
72 Alignment of our Buddha-Nature (potential for Buddhahood) with Buddha’s compassionate protection and wise guidance
73 … in his Pure Land
74 Discourse On Immeasurable (Light); On Amitā(bha) Buddha (Amituofo)
75 Amitāyus Sūtra: Discourse On Immeasurable (Infinite) Life
76 Amitā Dundubhi Svara Rāja Dhāraṇī Sūtra 阿弥陀鼓音声王陀罗尼经: Discourse On The King Of The Sound Of Amitā’s Drum Dhāraṇī
77 Great trichiliocosm with 1,000,000,000 world-systems
78 Karmic affinity
79 This period of 1,500 to 11,500 years after Śākyamuni Buddha’s Parinirvāṇa, when the quality of the Dharma taught, learnt, practised and realised generally declines due to increasing defilements of sentient beings.
80 Śākyamuni Buddha
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