Why We Should Vow To Reach Pure Land

若有众生,If there are beings
闻是说者,who hear this [teaching],
应当发愿,they should vow [aspire]
生彼国土。to be born in that land.

– 阿弥陀经 (释迦牟尼佛)
Amitā[bha] Sūtra (Śākyamuni Buddha)

Amitā[bha] Sūtra (Śākyamuni Buddha): ‘Śāriputra, if there are those who have already vowed [aspired], are now vowing [aspiring], or will be vowing [aspiring], with desire to be born in Amitā Buddha’s land, all of them will attain non-retrogression for [attaining] Anuttara Samyak Sambodhi. In that land, they have already been born, or are now being born, or will be born. This is why, Śāriputra, all good men and good women, if they have faith, should vow [aspire] to be born in that land.’ [阿弥陀经 (释迦牟尼佛):‘舍利弗,若有人已发愿、今发愿、当发愿,欲生阿弥陀佛国者,是诸人等,皆得不退转于阿耨多罗三藐三菩提,于彼国土,若已生、若今生、若当生。是故舍利弗,诸善男子、善女人,若有信者,应当发愿,生彼国土。’]

Commentary (Ninth Pure Land Patriarch Great Master Ouyi): Those who have vowed to be born in the Pure Land in the past have already been born there. Those who are now vowing to be born in the Pure Land will be born there at the end of this lifetime. Those who in future lives vow to be born in the Pure Land will be born there in the future. Here, the Buddha is demonstrating that vows that are made on the basis of pure faith are sure to come true. Without faith, we cannot make vows. Without vows and faith, rebirth cannot occur. That is why the Buddha says, ‘if they have faith, [they] should vow [aspire] to be born in that land.’ Vows are a token of faith, and the key link for practice. Making vows is then a most crucial component. When the Buddha mentions vows, we must understand that faith and practice are included. That is why he repeatedly urges us most earnestly to make vows.

When we vow to be born in Amitābha Buddha’s [Amituofo] Pure Land, we are demonstrating our disgust with the mundane world, and our joy in the Pure Land. In feeling aversion to the mundane world, we are relying on the first two Noble Truths [the truth of suffering, and the truth of the formation of suffering], and taking two of the great vows of Bodhisattvas [to deliver all sentient beings from suffering, and to cut off countless afflictions]. In joyously seeking the Pure Land, we are relying on the other two Noble Truths [the truth of the path, and the truth of ending suffering], and taking the other two great vows of Bodhisattvas [to master the endless variety of Buddhist teachings, and to consummate the Supreme Path to Buddhahood]. By doing this, we reach the stage where we do not fall back [spiritually backslide] from the path of Great Enlightenment [Buddhahood].

Mind-Seal Of The Buddhas: Patriarch Ou-i’s Commentary On The Amitabha Sutra
Translated By J.C. Cleary

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The Path To Non-Retrogression Starts Now
The Four Noble Truths & The Four Magnificent Vows

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