Amituofo’s Pure Land, being the best Dharma school in the universe,
presided by the best principal (Amituofo) and teachers (Bodhisattvas),
guarantees graduation of its inhabitants towards Buddhahood.
What is the wish for rebirth in the Pure Land [of Amitabha Buddha; Amituofo]? Why should we want to be reborn in the Pure Land? Progress in the Path [to Buddhahood] is difficult when we cultivate in this world, the Saha World [of endurance of suffering]. Although we can cultivate here, it is very difficult to make constant, daily progress. But once we have been born in that land, the Land of Ultimate Bliss, becoming a Buddha is easy. “When the [lotus] flower blooms, we see the Buddha, and awaken to the patience in which no phenomena arise.” Because cultivating is easy there in the Pure Land, we can be successful in a single lifetime. Because it is difficult here in the Saha world, many kalpas have passed and we still have not accomplished our goal. Therefore, each and every sage and worthy of the past has taken the path that leads to this land. All the patriarchs and worthies of the past sought to be reborn in the Pure Land. And passage after passage in all the thousands of sutras [scriptures] spoken by the Buddha and myriads of shastras [commentaries] written by the patriarchs, as well as all Vinaya texts, points in this direction. The main import of these texts is to instruct us to seek to be reborn in the Pure Land. For cultivators in the Dharma Ending Age, like us now, nothing surpasses this method. The Pure Land method is the easiest and most direct of all the Dharma doors.
The Amitabha Sutra says, however, that we cannot be reborn there if our good deeds are few. The Amitabha Sutra says, “Shariputra, one cannot have few good roots, blessings, virtues, and causal connections to attain birth in that land.” Only through many acts deserving of blessings can we be successful. You need to do more good deeds to gain more blessings. They say that none of the many acts deserving of blessings equals maintaining mindfulness of Amitabha Buddha’s name [Amituofo]. How can you do more blessed deeds? Simply by reciting the Buddha’s name, you can be doing blessed deeds and increasing your blessings and virtue. They say that none of the many good deeds equals a great resolution of the mind. How can you do good deeds? Simply by making the great resolve upon Bodhi [Bodhicitta: the aspiration for Buddhahood, and for guiding all beings to it]. Therefore, reciting the Sage’s, Amitabha Buddha’s name, even briefly is superior to practicing giving for a hundred years. Reciting the Buddha’s name for a short while is better than making gifts of the seven kinds of jewels for a hundred years. And by simply making the great resolve, we transcend kalpa after kalpa, kalpas as many as particles of dust, of cultivation.
Thus, we may practice mindfulness of the Buddha with the hope of becoming Buddhas, but if we fail to make the great resolve, our mindfulness will not be sincere [enough]. The reason we are mindful of the Buddha is that we wish to become Buddhas. If you don’t want to become a Buddha, you don’t need to be mindful of the Buddha. But if you don’t make a great resolve to attain Bodhi, you won’t have any [ideal] reason to be mindful of the Buddha, and your mindfulness and recitation will be aimless. We may be determined to cultivate, we may be determined to practice, but retreat is easy, despite our resolve, unless we are reborn in the Pure Land. Therefore, plant a Bodhi seed by making a vast, great resolve. Till with the plow of mindfulness of the Buddha, like tilling the soil, and the fruits of the Path will naturally grow. As you recite, a lotus will sprout in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss. Sail the ship of great vows to enter the ocean of the Pure Land. Then we will certainly be reborn in the West, by being mindful of Amitabha Buddha. This is the ninth cause and condition for making the resolve to attain Bodhi [according to Great Master Xing An: the 11th Patriarch of the Pure Land tradition].
Exhortation to Resolve Upon Bodhi: The Ultimate Commitment of a Buddhist
An Essay by Great Master Xing An, with Commentary by Master Hsuan Hua
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