Original Text in Kyo-Gyo-Shin-Sho
淨 土 真 佛 土
Bodhisattva Dharmakara made the relevant Vows that established the true Pure Land of Peace and Bliss – the Vows of Immeasurable Light and Life – when He became Amida Buddha ten kalpas ago, through the fulfillment of all His compassionate Vows…
“Reverently contemplating the True Buddha and Land
I realized that the Buddha is the Tathagata of Inconceivable Light
And that the Land also is the Land of Immeasurable Light
Because they have naturally arisen
Through the fulfilment of Vows of Great Compassion
They are called True Fulfilled Buddha and Land.”
Thus, Master Shinran clearly tells us that Amida Buddha is a True and Real Buddha and that the Pure Land is a True and Real Buddha Land. From the natural perspective of all unenlightened human beings like ourselves, these are the historical facts related to us by Shakyamuni Buddha who appeared in India about 2600 years ago. We should therefore, trust the true words of the Buddha and must never say that Amida Buddha is a myth and that the Pure Land is only in the mind. It is truly sad that so many, so-called followers of Jodo Shinshu today, particularly scholars, have opined such slanderous, wrong views, by blatantly misinterpreting the Buddha’s words, with their defiled human minds of absolute delusion.
The Larger Sutra on Infinite Life (無 量 壽 經), was personally delivered by Shakyamuni Buddha, at Rajagriha, in the presence of 12,000 monks, many Great Bodhisattvas and lay Bodhisattvas. This is the True Teaching that tells us about the amazing spiritual journey of a supremely resolute practitioner of the Buddha Dharma named Bodhisattva Dharmakara. It was during the time, trillions of years ago, when a Buddha named Lokesvararaja – the Tathagata, Perfectly Enlightened One, Possessed of Wisdom and Practice, Unsurpassed One, Teacher of gods and humans, Buddha and World-Honored One, Knower of the World – appeared in this world. Dharmakara was then a king with superior intelligence, courage and wisdom and he distinguished himself in the world. Yet, he was able to see through the enormous suffering in this world of insatiable desires. Renouncing his kingdom and throne, he became a monk and through the marvellous mentorship of Buddha Lokesvararaja, he awakened aspiration for the highest, perfect Enlightenment. Respectfully prostrating to the Buddha, he sincerely beseeched the World-Honored One, to explain fully, the practices by which Buddhas established their Pure Lands.
Dharmakara listened deeply to the Buddha’s detailed explanation of the characteristics of billions of glorious Buddha-lands, as well as, the good and evil natures, of gods and humans living in those Lands. Thereupon, he strongly resolved, to practice diligently with vigour, vowing to create an unsurpassed Pure Land that would receive all sentient beings who wish to be born there and escape from samsara – the vicious cycle of birth, old age, suffering and death, at the end of their fleeting lives.
Following strictly the wonderful instructions of the Buddha and deeply contemplating over a long, long period of time, Dharmakara strictly performed all the incredibly difficult pure practices and hard disciplines required for the establishment of a perfect Buddha-land. He resolved that his Pure Land would be special, adorned with infinite excellent qualities, attributes and a perfect environment conducive for the practice of the Buddha Dharma and attainment of Perfect Enlightenment of all its residents.
Out of great compassion for all suffering sentient beings, he carefully selected and boldly made 48 inconceivable Vows, pledging to cause all persons – in accordance with their particular varied karmic propensities, natures and capabilities – to be born in a Buddha-land of Peace and Provision. His ultimate aspiration was to save all sentient beings – especially those who are unable to save themselves by their own power. Firstly, He sought to get everyone quickly out of samsara and finally to have everyone attaining Buddhahood in His Pure Land. Each Vow would be appropriately fulfilled exactly according to what He promised.
Bodhisattva Dharmakara had clearly made these 48 inconceivable Vows in front of Buddha Lokesvararaja and witnessed by the large holy assembly of accomplished monks and Bodhisattvas. Each Vow is complete and all-encompassing, individually tailored to the particular karma of every aspirant of his Pure Land. Having strongly pledged that every one of His Vows would be fulfilled exactly according to what He promised, He tirelessly performed all the pure practices that would wonderfully create a Land of Peace and Ultimate Happiness, that could accommodate every category of aspirants. If any one of His Vow is not fulfilled accordingly, He unreservedly stated that He did not deserve to be called a Buddha.
The Vow of Immeasurable Light (光 明 無 量 之 願) states:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, my light should be limited, unable to illuminate at least a hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of Buddha-lands, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”
In connection with the fulfillment of this Vow of Light (Wisdom), Shakyamuni Buddha said to Ananda:
“The majestic light of the Buddha Amitayus is the most exalted. No other Buddha’s light can match his. The light of some Buddhas illuminates a hundred Buddha-lands, and that of others, a thousand Buddha-lands. Briefly, that of Amitayus illuminates the eastern Buddha-lands, as numerous as the sands of the River Ganges. In the same way, it illuminates the Buddha-lands in the south, west and north, in each of the four intermediate quarters, above and below…”
“For this reason, Amitayus is called by the following names: the Buddha of Infinite Light, the Buddha of Boundless Light, the Buddha of Unhindered Light, the Buddha of Incomparable Light, the Buddha of the Light of the King of Flame, the Buddha of Pure Light, the Buddha of the Light of Joy, the Buddha of Light of Wisdom, the Buddha of Unceasing Light, the Buddha of Inconceivable Light, the Buddha of Ineffable Light, and the Buddha of the Light Outshining the Sun and the Moon.”
“If, sentient beings encounter his light, their three defilements are removed; they feel tenderness, joy and pleasure; and good thoughts arise. If sentient beings in the three realms of suffering see his light, they will all be relieved and freed from affliction. At the end of their lives, they all reach emancipation.”
The Vow of Immeasurable Life (壽 命 無 量 之 願) states:
“If when I attain Buddhahood, my life-span should be limited, even to the extent of a hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of kalpas, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.”
In connection with the fulfillment of this Vow of Life (Compassion), Shakyamuni Buddha said to Ananda:
“The life of Amitayus is so long that it is impossible for anyone to calculate it. To give an illustration, let us suppose that all the innumerable sentient beings in the worlds of the ten quarters were reborn in human form and that every one become a shravaka or pratyekabuddhas. Even if they assembled in one place, concentrated their thoughts, and exercised the power of their wisdom to the utmost to reckon the length of the Buddha’s Life, even after a thousand million kalpas, they could still not reach its limit. So it is with the life-span of shravakas, bodhisattvas, heavenly beings and human beings in his land.”
The Vow that all the Buddhas Say the Name is stated in The Larger Sutra:
“If, when I attain Buddhahood, the countless Buddhas throughout the worlds in the ten quarters do not all praise and Say my Name, may I not attain the Supreme Enlightenment.”
In connection with the fulfillment of this Vow, Shakyamuni Buddha said to Ananda:
“All Buddhas, Tathagatas, in the ten quarters, as numerous as the sands of the Ganges, together praise the inconceivable, supernal virtue of Amitayus…”
Thus, in this spiritually defiled Dharma Ending Age when all human beings are karmically overwhelmed by the evil passions of greed, hatred, ignorance, jealousy and arrogance, everything we perceive is fleeting; ultimately false. Only Saying the Buddha’s Name (Nembutsu, 念 佛) – remembering the Buddha – which is fully supported by all the other countless Buddhas in the infinite worlds, is True and Real.
The Primal Vow (阿 彌 陀 佛 本 願), that embodies Saying the Buddha’s Name, is Amida Buddha’s absolute promise to all wretched human beings like ourselves who are firmly caught, for billions of lives, in the net of samsara. Those who come to realize and truthfully admit their utter inability to free themselves by struggling in vain with their own self-power efforts and practices, are assured of Salvation, the moment when they single-heartedly entrust themselves, taking refuge in Amida Buddha and the power of The Primal Vow.
“If, When I attain Buddhahood
Sentient Beings of The Ten Quarters
With Sincere Mind, Joyfully entrusting themselves
Aspiring To Be Born in my Land
And Saying My Name perhaps even ten times
Should Not be born there
May I Not Attain The Supreme Enlightenment
Excluded Are Those Who Commit The Five Grave Offences
And Those Who Slander The Right Dharma.”
This Primal Vow is the universal pledge made to provide an ‘easy’ path to all human beings who are unable save themselves by their own power. This Vow is especially in accord with the extremely poor spiritual capacities of deluded beings submerged in the extremely unfavourable environments during the Semblance and Dharma Ending Ages.
Fulfillment of Dharmakara’s Vows had been wonderfully described by Shakyamuni Buddha in The Larger Sutra. The Bodhisattva had attained Perfect Enlightenment ten kalpas ago and became Amida Buddha with His Pure Land exquisitely established. This “western Buddha-land of Peace and Bliss is located a hundred thousand kotis of lands away from here” and it is here that Amida Buddha resides.
Amida Buddha is a True and Real Buddha and The Pure Land is a True and Real Buddha Land. We should whole-heartedly entrust ourselves to this knowledge as it comes directly from Shakyamuni Buddha – a trustworthy and indisputable source. Both Buddha and Land had naturally arisen through the fulfilment of the Original Vows of Great Compassion. Thus, incorporating the Sanskrit names for ‘Amitabha’ (Infinite Light) and ‘Amitayus’ (Infinite Life), He is called Amida Buddha.
The glorious adornments and splendid attributes of Amida Buddha’s Pure Land have been established by the marvellous fruition of Amida Buddha’s Vow-power, to receive and accommodate, the diverge groups of followers who sincerely wish to be born there. This special place is a True and Real Land of Peace and Provision, that provides all its residents a perfect and conducive environment for the practice of Buddha Dharma, under the compassionate guidance of Amida Buddha.
“In that Buddha-land, the earth is composed of seven jewels, namely, gold, silver, beryl, coral, amber, agate and ruby – which have spontaneously appeared. The land itself is so vast, spreading boundlessly to the farthest extent, that it is impossible to know its limit…”
“Again, seven-jewelled trees completely fill that land. There are some made of gold, some of silver, and others made of beryl, crystal, coral, ruby or agate. There are also trees made of two to seven kinds of jewels…”
“Again, the halls, monasteries, palaces and pavilions are spontaneous apparitions, all adorned with the seven jewels and hung with curtains of various other jewels, such as pearls and moon-bright mani gem…”
In short, the Pure Land is created with perfect attributes, such as a pure environment, exquisite accommodations and excellent provisions for all its residents. It is indeed, an ideal and conducive place for every follower to practice the Buddha Dharma, without any disturbing distractions.
Listening deeply (深 聞 佛 法) to the True Teaching taught in The Larger Sutra will certainly dispel the hindrance of doubt in our minds. We will not make the serious error of slandering the true Dharma by saying that Amida Buddha is a myth and that The Pure Land is just in the mind.
These appalling wrong views, are often propagated by ‘smart’ modern day scholars who talk like enlightened Buddhas and many teachers of Jodo Shinshu who try to mix the True Pure Land teachings with other Buddhist traditions like Zen. These egoistically deluded persons, simply deny themselves together with their gullible listeners, the only viable escape route out of samsara. How sad and painful this is!
Let us take heed of the benevolent advice of Master Shinran who repeatedly urged us throughout his expositions, to accept, single-heartedly, the entrusting faith (Shinjin – 信 心) in Amida’s Primal Vow, which unfailingly delivers all mundane foolish persons, like us (凡 夫, bombu), to a real Pure Land.
As we have now accepted Amida Buddha’s compassionate offer of the ‘easy’ escape route out of this painful world of delusion, we are truly settled in mind and heart, while still living out this present life. Our birth in Amida Buddha’s Pure Land of Peace and Bliss at the end of this mortal life, is therefore, absolutely assured.
Single-heartedly entrusting our karmic destiny entirely to Amida Buddha and the Primal Vow, we would Say the Buddha’s Name (Namo Amida Butsu, 南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛), knowing without any doubt that we are taking refuge in a True and Real Buddha and His True and Real fulfilled Land. We are profoundly grateful to Amida Buddha for having saved, even wretched spiritual idiots, like ourselves.
The Buddha’s infinite merits and virtues
Are bestowed equally on all beings.
May all accept Amida’s Gift of Shinjin
And obtain birth in His Land of Peace and Bliss.
Clearly and distinctly, we have now HEARD:
The Call of Boundless Compassion
Namo Amida Butsu 南 无 阿 彌 陀 佛
Namo Amida Butsu 南 无 阿 彌 陀 佛
Namo Amida Butsu 南 无 阿 彌 陀 佛
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