Home » Excerpts » [9] How Do Those Lacking Roots Reach Pure Land From Afar?

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]  

第九疑: 路远难到,根缺不生疑
The Ninth Doubt: Doubt Of The Path Being Far, The Land Being Difficult To Reach, And Those Lacking Roots Being Unable To Be Born

问:「西方去此,十万亿佛刹。凡夫劣弱,云何可到?又《往生论》云:『女人及根缺,二乘种不生。』既有此教,当知女人及以根缺者,定必不得往生? 」

Question: The West[ern Pure Land of Amitā(bha) Buddha (Amituofo)], from here, is a hundred thousand koṭis of Buddha Lands away. As ordinary beings are inferior and weak, how can it be reached? Moreover, the Rebirth Treatise says, ‘Women and those lacking roots,135 and those with seeds of the two vehicles are not born there.’ Since there is this teaching, it should be known that women and those lacking roots, will surely not attain rebirth there?


Answer: For ordinary beings with eyes of flesh, who measure with minds of birth and death only, it is said that the West[ern Pure Land], from here, is one hundred thousand koṭis of Buddha Lands away.


However, if sentient beings accomplish the karma for birth in Pure Land, when approaching the end of life, the mind in concentration is the mind that receives birth in Pure Land. When the mind moves, it is the moment of birth in Pure Land.


Due to this, the Contemplation Sūtra says, ‘Amitā[bha] Buddha’s [Amituofo] Land, from here, is not far.’


Moreover, as the power of karma is inconceivable, with one thought, immediately is birth attained. There is no need to worry that it is far. Moreover, like a person dreaming, although the body is in bed, yet the mind’s consciousness pervades and reaches all worlds in other directions, like always,136 without difference. Birth in Pure Land is like so. As when the mind moves, it is reached, there is no need for doubt.

『女人及根缺,二乘种不生者 』, 但论生彼国,无女人及无盲聋喑哑人。不道此间女人,根缺人不得生。彼若如此说者,愚痴全不识经意。

‘Women and those lacking roots, and those with seeds of the two vehicles are not born there’, only regards those already born in that [Pure] Land [of Amitā(bha) Buddha (Amituofo)], which is without women, and without blind, deaf and mute persons. This is not saying that women and those lacking roots here cannot attain birth there. If there are those who say so, they are ignorant, fully not understanding the sūtras’ meanings.


As such, Lady Vaidehī, who was the main requester137 for birth in [Amitā(bha) Buddha’s (Amituofo)] Pure Land, and her five hundred maids, were conferred confirmations by the Buddha, that they will all attain rebirth in that [Pure] Land.


As long as women, blind, deaf and mute persons here have minds that are mindful of Amitā[bha] Buddha [Amituofo], after all are born in that [Pure] Land, they will not again receive female bodies, likewise not receiving bodies lacking roots.


As long as those of the two vehicles change their minds, and aspire for birth in that Pure Land [of Amitā(bha) Buddha (Amituofo)], upon arriving there, they will no more have minds attached to the two vehicles.


Due to this, it is thus said that, ‘Women and those lacking roots, and those with seeds of the two vehicles are not born there.’ It does not mean that women and those lacking roots here cannot attain birth there.


Thus, in the Sutra Of Immeasurable Life, one of the forty-eight vows138 says, ‘If, when I139 attain Buddhahood, all women of the worlds of the ten directions, who recite my name,140 loathe their female bodies, after they renounce their lives, should again receive female bodies, I will not attain perfect enlightenment.’141


Furthermore, born in that [Pure] Land [of Amitā(bha) Buddha (Amituofo)], how can they again receive female bodies? For those lacking roots, it is likewise so.


137   … as in the Contemplation Sūtra (See Note 67 on Page 39)
138   … of Amitā(bha) Buddha (Amituofo)
139   Dharmākara Bodhisattva, who became Amitā(bha) Buddha (Amituofo)
140   … sincerely (with wholeheartedness and single-mindedness)
141   Buddhahood (See Note 64 on Page 35)

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