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极圆极顿,
难议难思,
唯有大智,
方能谛信
[净土法门]。

– 佛说阿弥陀经要解
(净土宗九祖藕益大师)

Ultimately complete [and] ultimately sudden [in realisation],
difficult [to] discuss [and] difficult [to] conceive,
only with great wisdom,
[is one] then able [to] truly [have] faith
[in the Pure Land Dharma door].

– Essential Explanation On The Sūtra In Which The Buddha Speaks Of Amitā[bha] Buddha
(9th Patriarch Of The Pure Land Tradition Great Master Ǒuyì)

In ‘The Sūtra On Contemplation Of Immeasurable Life Buddha’ (Amitāyurdhyāna Sūtra; 观无量寿佛经), it was recorded that in the city of Rājagṛha (王舍城), Prince Ajātaśatru (阿闍世王子) imprisoned his father, King Bimbisāra (频毘娑罗王), in a bid to starve him to death, and to usurp his throne (over a grave misunderstanding). Although his mother Queen Vaidehī (韋提希夫人) secretly brought food to the King, she was caught doing so and placed under house arrest. There, in despair, she prostrated towards Śākyamuni Buddha (释迦牟尼佛) who was at Gṛdhrakūṭa Mountain (耆闍崛山; 灵鹫山; Vulture Peak) and prayed to him for consolation, hoping to see him… Answering her call, the Buddha appeared.

Seeing him, she cast off her necklaces, threw herself to the ground, wept aloud, and asked the Buddha what misgivings she had created in the past, to have given birth to such an evil son… She also expressed her sincere wish to learn about where there are no sorrows and afflictions, that she can be reborn in, as she found no joy in this evil defiled world… where much that is not good gather… The Buddha then radiated light, that illuminated immeasurable worlds of all directions… Although many magnificent Buddha Lands were seen, she expressed her joyful aspiration to be born in Amitā(bha/yus) Buddha’s (Āmítuófó; 阿弥陀佛) Land Of Ultimate Bliss (极乐世界), further asking how to contemplate and experience it correctly.

The Buddha next taught detailed practices (including mindfulness of Āmítuófó’s name) for reaching the Pure Land, thereby enabling all present and future beings to practise accordingly. He also asked that the expounded teachings for eradicating suffering be propagated to many. Near the end of the sermon, Vaidehī, together with her 500 attendants, saw the numerous features of Āmítuófó and his Pure Land. With joy never experienced before, she realised the Patience Of Non-Birth [which is the Stage Of Non-Retrogression towards Buddhahood], as they gave rise to Bodhicitta (which is the aspiration to guide one and all to Buddhahood), and aspired to be born there. The Buddha affirmed that they will surely be able to do so.

Here are some important lessons from this incident – [1] Sometimes, we wonder why is it that the Buddha we are mindful of does not immediately appear before us in times of need, as in the case of Vaidehī. The key lies in whether we are utmost in our sincerity, which will lead to a clear connection. There are few things that can be worse than being betrayed by one’s own beloved child. As in her case, being desperate, including during life or death moments, can condition greater sincerity too, if one is faithful and undistracted. [2] Although she was royalty, her wealth, status and power proved useless in the face of intense negative karma ripening. Thus did she cast off what she did to express her disillusionment and renunciation of them.

[3] Despite her opening request to know what she did to deserve her suffering, the Buddha did not answer this question at all. Instead, he focused on replying about where she can go to without suffering. This is so as being forward-looking and solution-oriented is much more pragmatic than lamentation of the past and even present. It does not matter how terrible life might be now as long as we know where to advance from here. [4] As Vaidehī chose Āmítuófó’s Pure Land out of countless lands, in a way, she helped to choose for all the undecided, as his Pure Land is that most have the strongest affinity with, as it is universally recommended by all Buddhas. If it is fine enough for the royal, it is surely good enough for all of us!

[5] Deep down, where we really wish to be is an ideal place for training towards Buddhahood. Thus, like Vaidehī, all should aspire to reach Pure Land, where we can benefit ourselves spiritually, while learning from the enlightened how to best benefit everyone else upon return. [6] By the end of the sūtra, although there were no immediate changes to Vaidehī’s worldly conditions yet, her spiritual state had already transformed purely, with assurance that she will reach Pure Land, that all will be fine. This also gives greater calmness and clarity of mind to best resolve pending issues, without attachment to results. Understanding the Pure Land teachings thus, suffering due to this life’s trials and tribulations become inconsequential instantly; only able to further motivate us, to motivate more to reach Pure Land, now or later, as we wish.

何俟娑婆报尽,方育珍池?
只今信愿持名,莲萼光荣,
金台影现,便非娑婆界内人矣。

– 佛说阿弥陀经要解
(净土宗九祖藕益大师)

Why wait until [one’s] Sahā [World’s karmic] retribution exhausts,
then [to be] born [in Pure Land’s] treasure ponds?
Now only [with] Faith [and] Aspiration upholding [the] name [of Āmítuófó],
[one’s] lotus bud’s glorious light, [with its] golden platform’s image [will] appear,
[and] then, [one will] no [longer be a] human within [this] Sahā World.

– Essential Explanation On The Sūtra In Which The Buddha Speaks Of Amitā[bha] Buddha
(9th Patriarch Of The Pure Land Tradition Great Master Ǒuyì)

Related Course:
Understanding Amitabha Buddha (Amituofo) Via The Amitabha Sutra (17th Run)
https://thedailyenlightenment.com/2015/12/understanding-amituofo-via-the-amitabha-sutra-17th-run

Related Book:
The Pure Land Passport: The Three Great Essentials When Approaching Death (临终三大要)
https://thedailyenlightenment.com/2015/12/apply-for-the-pure-land-passport-here

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