The small-minded fail to appreciate
the vast skilful means of the Buddha –
while they cling to only one means,
or even reject all of them.
The Sutra Resolving Doubts Regarding the Period of Imitative Dharma states that if practitioners of the threefold discipline [Noble Eightfold Path] of the precepts, meditation and wisdom defame each other, they will fall into hell faster than an arrow flies. The Great Commentary on the Perfection of Wisdom also teaches that even a practitioner who observes the Buddhist precepts will not escape agony in hell if, out of deep attachment to his own school, he criticizes people who are followers of other schools. Master Shan-tao [Second Chinese Patriarch of the Pure Land tradition] thus stated [in the Hymns of the Nianfo (Buddha Mindfulness) Liturgy]:
‘At the very moment when the World-Honored One [Buddha] was coming to the end of his sermon [on Pure Land], he entrusted with great care the name of Amida [Amitabha] Buddha to Ananda. With the passage of time, after the parinirvana of Buddha Sakyamuni, the five defilements proliferated, and many people began to slander the teaching of nembutsu [mindfulness of Amituofo; Amita(bha) Buddha]. Monastics and lay people alike began to dislike the teaching of nembutsu and ceased listening to it. This gave rise to the poison of anger, and when they saw nembutsu practitioners, they struggled to incite intrigue and create grudges. Such people seem blind by nature and have no intrinsic goodness. Destroying the teaching designed for instantaneous realization of enlightenment, they will sink into the three lower realms for a long time…’
Practitioners of nembutsu must not vilify practices other than nembutsu. This would counter to the compassionate vow of Amida Buddha. By the same token, followers of practices other than nembutsu should also refrain from vilifying nembutsu. Such an act would be counter to the vows of various Buddhas [as the Buddhas of all directions praise and encourage Buddha mindfulness, as stated in the Amitabha Sutra].
The Promise of Amida Buddha: Honen’s Path to Bliss
Translated by Joji Atone & Hayashi