The Practice of the Pure-Land School Simplified, Part II
The Buddhist Yogi C. M. Chen
IV. The Recitation: The Sukhavativyuha Sutra
Thus it was heard by me: At one time the Blessed dwelt at Sravasti in the
Jata-grove, in the garden of Anathapindaka, together with a large company
of Bhiksus, i.e., with twelve hundred and fifty Bhiksus, all of them acquainted
with the five kinds of knowledge, elders, great disciples, and Arhats,
such as Sariputra, the elder, Mahamaudgalyayana, Mahakasyapa, Mahakapphina,
Mahakatyayana, Mahakausthila, Revata, Suddhipanthaka, Nanda, Ananda, Rahula,
Gavampati, Bharadvaja, Kalodayin, Vakula, and Aniruddha. He dwelt together
with these and many other great disciples, and together with many noble-minded
Bodhisattvas, such as Manjusri, the prince, the Bodhisattva Ajita, the
Bodhisattva Gandhahasti, the Bodhisattva Nityodyukta, the Bodhisattva Aniksiptadhura.
He dwelt together with them and with Sakra, the Indra or king of Devas,
and with Brahman Sahampati. With these and many other hundred thousand
nayutas of sons of the gods.
Then Bhagavat addressed the honored Sariputra and said, "O Sariputra,
after you have passed from here over a hundred thousand Kotis of Buddha
countries there is in the western part a Buddha country, a world called
Sukhavati (the happy country). And there is a Tathagata, called Amitayus,
fully enlightened, who dwells now, and remains, and supports Himself, and
teaches the Dharma.
"Now what do you think, Sariputra, for what reason is that world called
Sukhavati? In that world, Sukhavati, O Sariputra, there is neither bodily
nor mental pain for living beings. The sources of happiness are innumerable
there. For that reason is that world called Sukhavati.
"And again, O Sariputra, that world Sukhavati is adorned with the seven
gems, i.e., gold, silver, beryl, crystal, red pearl, diamond and coral
as the seventh. They are full of water which possesses the eight good qualities;
their waters rise as high as the fords and bathing-places, so that even
crows may drink there; they are strewn with golden sand. And in these lotus-lakes
there are all around on the four sides, four stairs, beautiful and brilliant
with four gems, i.e., gold, silver, beryl, crystal. And on every side of
these lotus-lakes gem-trees are growing, beautiful and brilliant, with
the seven gems, i.e., gold, silver, beryl, crystal, red pearls, diamonds
and coral as the seventh. And in those lotus lakes lotus-flowers are growing:
blue, blue-coloured, of blue splendour, blue to behold; yellow, yellow-coloured,
of yellow splendour, yellow to behold; white, white-coloured, of white
splendour, white to behold; beautiful, beautifully-coloured, of beautiful
splendour, beautiful to behold, and its circumference as large as the wheel
of a chariot."
"And again, O Sariputra, in that Buddha country there are heavenly musical
instruments always being played, and the earth is lovely and of golden
quality. And in that Buddha country a flower-rain of heavenly Mandaravi
blossoms pours down three times every day, and three times every night.
And the beings who are born there worship before their morning meal a hundred
thousand Kotis of Buddhas by going to other worlds; and having showered
a hundred thousand Kotis of flowers upon each Tathagata they return to
their own world in time for the afternoon rest. With such arrays of excellence,
peculiar to a Buddha country, is that Buddha country adorned."
"And again, O Sariputra, there are in that Buddha country swans, culvers
and peacocks. Three times every night and three times every day, they come
together and perform a concert, each uttering a sound proclaiming the five
roots, the five powers, and the seven steps leading towards the highest
Enlightenment. When men then hear that sound, remembrance of Buddha, Dharma
and Sangha, rises in their minds."
"Now, do you think, O Sariputra, that there are beings who have entered
into the nature of animals? This is not to be thought of. The very name
of Hells is unknown in that Buddha country, and likewise that of animal
bodies and of the realm of Yama. No, this tribe of birds has been manifested
on purpose by the supernatural power of the Tathagata Amitayus, and they
utter the sound of Dharma. With such arrays of excellence, peculiar to
a Buddha country, is that Buddha country adorned."
"And again, O Sariputra, when those rows of palm-trees and strings of
bells in that Buddha country are moved by the wind, a sweet and enrapturing
sound proceeds from them. Yes, O Sariputra, as from a heavenly musical
instrument consisting of a hundred thousand Kotis of sounds when played
by Aryas, a sweet and enrapturing sound proceeds from those rows of palm
trees and strings of bells moved by the wind. When men hear that sound,
reflection on Buddha, Dharma and Sangha arises in them. With such arrays
of excellence, peculiar to a Buddha country, is that Buddha country adorned."
"Now what do you think, O Sariputra, for what reason is that Tathagata
called Amitayus? The length of the life, O Sariputra, of that Tathagata
and of those men there, is immeasurable. Therefore is that Tathagata called
Amitayus. And ten Kalpas have passed, O Sariputra, since that Tathagata
awoke to full Enlightenment."
"And what do you think, O Sariputra, for what reason is that Tathagata
called Amitabha? The splendour, O Sariputra, of that Tathagata is unimpeded
over all Buddha countries. Therefore is that Tathagata called Amitabha."
"And there is, O Sariputra, an innumerable assembly of disciples with
that Tathagata, purified and venerable persons: whose numbers it is not
easy to count. With such arrays of excellence peculiar to a Buddha country
is that Buddha country adorned."
"And again, O Sariputra, of those beings also who are born in the Buddha
country of the Tathagata Amitayus as purified Bodhisattvas, never to return
again and bound by one birth only, of those Bodhisattvas also, O Sariputra,
the number is not easy to count, except they are reckoned as infinite in
"Then again all beings, O Sariputra, ought to make fervent prayer for
that Buddha country. And why? because they come together there with such
excellent Bodhisattvas. Beings are not born in that Buddha country of that
Tathagata Amitayus as a reward or result of only a few good works, merits,
and conditions performed in this present life. No, whatever man or woman
shall hear the name of the blessed Amitayus, the Tathagata, and having
heart it, shall keep it in mind and with thoughts undisturbed shall keep
it in mind for one, two, three, four, five, six or seven days and nights—When
that man or woman comes to die, then that Amitayus, the Tathagata, surrounded
by an assembly of disciples and followed by a host of Bodhisattvas, will
stand before him or her at the hour of death and he or she will depart
this life with tranquil mind and will be born in the world of Sukhavati,
in the Buddha country of the same Amitayus, the Tathagata. Therefore then,
O Sariputra, having perceived this cause and effect, with reverence say
thus. Every man and woman ought with their whole mind to make Vow-like
fervent prayer for that Buddha country."
"And now, O Sariputra, as I here at present glorify that world, thus
in the East, O Sariputra, other blessed Buddhas led by the Tathagata Aksobhya,
the Tathagata Merudhvaja, the Tathagata Meruprabhasa, the Tathagata Mahameru,
and the Tathagata Manjudhvaja, equal in number to the sands of the Ganga,
comprehend their own Buddha countries in their speech, and then reveal
them. All sentient beings! You should accept this repetition of the Dharma,
called "The Favour of All Buddhas" which magnifies their inconceivable
"Thus also in the South do other blessed Buddhas, led by the Tathagata
Kandrasuryapradipa, the Tathagata Yasahprabha, the Tathagata Mahakiskandha,
the Tathagata Merupradipa, the Tathagata Anantavirya, equal in number to
the sands of the Ganga, comprehend their own Buddha countries in their
speech and then reveal them. All sentient beings, you should accept this
repetition of Dharma called "The Favour of All Buddhas" which magnifies
their inconceivable excellence!"
"Thus also in the North do other blessed Buddhas, led by the Tathagata
Mahakiskandha, the Tathagata Vaisvararanirghosa, the Tathagata Dundubhivaranirghosa,
the Tathagata Duspradharsa, the Tathagata Adityasambhava, the Tathagata
Jaliniprabha, the Tathagata Prabhakara, equal in number to the sands of
the Ganga, comprehend their own Buddha countries in their speech and then
reveal them. All sentient beings, you should accept this repetition of
Dharma called "The Favour of All Buddhas" which magnifies their inconceivable
"Thus in the Zenith do other blessed Buddhas, led by the Tathagata Brahmaghosa,
the Tathagata Naksatraraja, the Tathagata Indraketudhvajaraga, the Tathagata
Gendhottama, the Tathagata Gandhaprabhasa, the Tathagata Maharkishkandha,
the Tathagata Ratnakusumasampopilagatra, the Tathagata Salendraraja, the
Tathagata Ratnotpalari, the Tathagata Sarvarthadarra, the Tathagata Sumerukalpa,
equal in number to the sands of the Ganga, comprehend their own Buddha
countries in their speech and then reveal them. All sentient beings, you
should accept this repetition of Dharma called "the Favour of all Buddhas"
which magnifies their inconceivable excellence!"
"Now what do you think, O Sariputra, for what reason is this repetition
(Treatise) of the Dharma called "The Favour of All Buddhas"? Every man
and woman who shall hear the name of the repetition of the Dharma and retain
in their memory the names of those blessed Buddhas will be favoured by
the Buddhas, and will never return again, being once in possession of the
transcendent true knowledge (Anuttara-Samayak-Samadhi). Therefore, then,
O Sariputra, believe, accept and do not doubt of me and those blessed Buddhas!"
"Whatever men or women shall make vow-like prayer for the Buddha country
of that blessed Amitayus, the Tathagata, or are making it now or have made
it formerly, all those beings once in possession of the transcendent true
knowledge will never return again. They will be born or are being born
now. Therefore then, O Sariputra, vow-like prayer is to be made for that
Buddha country by faithful men or women."
"And as I at present magnify here the inconceivable excellences of those
blessed Buddhas, they magnify my own inconceivable excellences:
"A very difficult work has been done by Sakyamuni, the sovereign of
the Sakyas. Having obtained the transcendent true knowledge in this Saha
world, He taught the Dharma which all the world is reluctant to accept,
during this corruption of the present Kalpa, and that of belief, that of
passion, that of mankind and that of life."
"This is even for me, O Sariputra, an extremely difficult work that,
having obtained the transcendent true knowledge in this Saha world, I taught
the Dharma which all the world is reluctant to accept during this time
of five corruptions."
Thus spoke Bhagavat joyful in his mind. The Honorable Sariputra and
the Bhiksus and Bodhisattvas and the whole world with the gods, men, evil
spirits and Genii, applauded the speech of Bhagavat.
1. Meditation on Sunset
V. The Meditation
Sit toward the western direction and visualize the sunset like a hanging
drum until its acquaintance is attained even when the eyes are closed.
The Samapatti of Impermanence and renunciation of Hinayana should be accompanied
with this visualization of sunset.
2. Meditation on the Landscape of the Pure-Land, Sukhavati
After the sunset meditation has been done, one should think of one's
self as if it were the sunset that has already left this Saha world and
one is now entering into the Pure-Land of Amita Buddha.
Firstly, one meditates on the foundation of the Pure-Land. There is
a vast land covered with water of eight virtues, i.e., clean, cool, sweet,
soft, smooth, healing, healthy and wholesome. It is going to freeze and
eventually it forms a transparent crystal which may support the eight great
columns made of seven jewels. This ground is separated by seven kinds of
jewels, each of these jewels has five hundred colors, whose brightness
is as that of flowers, of stars and of the moon, suspended in the air and
forming a terrace of Sukhavati.
Secondly, one should visualize that there are many-storied pavilions
built of jewels of many kinds with embroidered tapestries and musical instruments
as its decorations. The sounds of the Doctrines of Hinayana are issuing
All these landscapes of the Sukhavati are the manifestations of His
realizations based upon His 48 good vows for all sentient beings. Such
a great Bodhicitta and all the doctrines of Mahayana should be meditated
upon with this visualization.
3. Meditation on Precious Trees
Inside the terrace of Sukhavati, all those holy surroundings are the
result of His great vows. There are seven rows of precious trees to a height
of eight thousand Yojanas (one Yojana is about 9 English miles or 30 Chinese
li). These trees are full of leaves and flowers and fruits and flourishing
with five kinds of jewels shining holy light of five kinds of colours perpetually.
On those trees there are seven folds of nets, among which there are palaces
in a number of fifty million, more beautiful and luxurious than the Brahmin
heavens. in those palaces there are heavenly youths playing there. Their
ornaments are made of fifty million muni-gems shining rays of light for
a distance of a thousand Yojanas. From those rays there occur many draperies
and canopies, pictures of good Karmas of all Buddhas, and all Buddha's
Pure-Lands appear therein.
Accompanying this meditation, one should recognize that all those holy
lights are realization-results of His great compassion and profound wisdom.
Both of which are desirable and attainable by the practitioner himself,
if His every good example has been followed and practiced and realized
in one's diligence and in one's Samadhi.
4. Meditation on the Pool Water Consisting of Eight Virtues
Under those trees are eight pools of water, each of which is composed
of seven kinds of jewels, and each pool of water has its special eight
virtues, i.e., clean, cool, sweet, smooth, soft, healing, wholesome and
healthy. The bottom of those pools is soft and made of gold and diamonds.
Sixty million lotuses, round in shape, twelve Yojanas in diameter, are
in each pool. The muni-water flows upwards and downwards along the axis
of these lotuses with good sounds which are speeches of pain, transitoriness,
impermanence and non-egoism, and praises of all the virtues of all Buddhas.
Accompanying this meditation one should learn the good example of Amita
whose great compassion toward the suffering people in this Saha world is
so deep and so pure as symbolized by these eight pools of water of eight
5. Meditation on the Lotus Throne of the Amita Buddha
Taking the above four meditations as a whole and recollecting them in
a total review, one should then meditate upon the precious throne of the
Buddha. On the great precious Lotus there is the Jewel-made pedestal on
which there are four large columns at a height of a hundred thousand Sumerus
with curtains and gems as their ornaments from which various forms of light,
colour, sound and performances of every kind of Buddhist Karma issue.
Accompanying this meditation, the Samapatti of impermanence and renunciation
regarding the lotus, of Buddha's wisdom of non-egoism regarding the lights,
of the Four Noble Paths regarding the four large columns, of Tathata and
Voidness-Nature regarding the foundation and the throne, and of the six
Prajnaparamita regarding the performances of good Karmas, should all be
earnestly connected. Particularly, one should pay more attention to the
philosophic background concerning the Visualization of the Lotus-throne.
The renunciation is the denotation of the Lotus in the position of Cause,
hence one should start one's practice of this school by the way of renunciation.
He who is attached to this Saha world has no help in getting rebirth in
Sukhavati. The holy rebirth womb is the denotation of the Lotus in the
position of Course, hence one who gets rebirth in Sukhavati must be born
in a lotus and abide there for a short or long duration. At least, he will
sit on the lotus as a seat or throne, lower or higher according to the
degree of his Samadhi; this is the denotation of the Lotus in the position
of Consequence. Hence one has gotten the assurance of realization of this
practice without fail.
6. Meditation of the Holy Images of the Buddha and His Two Great
Disciples or in other terms, the Three Sages of the West
Visualize the Buddha Amita as a yellowish golden colour, sitting on
the Lotus throne in a complete Lotus posture which is the very centre of
the Sukhavati. On his palms there is a bowl. He is in all his robes and
his ornaments are just like those of Buddha Gautama.
On his left there is a lotus seat on which the great Bodhisattva Mahasthanaprapta
sits on a lotus seat.
On his right there is a lotus seat on which the great Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara
Among these three images there are golden rays being emitted onto those
jewel trees. On each of those trees there are three images as well as the
original ones. In the pure land one may hear the murmuring sound of streams,
and see the Holy Light and marvel at the preachings of wonderful Dharmas
by those jewel trees, sheldrakes, and mandarin ducks.
Accompanying this meditation, one should recognize that His wonderful
powers and great vows enable the plants and the animals to preach as well
as those preachers of His disciples and Himself and the three images. Each
of the three sages has his proper characteristic: the Amita Buddha qualifies
the entity of voidness and pleasure, Avalokitesvara qualifies the great
compassion of Buddhahood, the Mahasthanaprapta qualifies the great power
of Buddhahood. They are one in three and yet three in one. That is to say
one Buddha entity consists of three functions of Buddhahood. Such three
important characteristics one should desire to discover from one's Samadhi.
7. Meditation on the Details of Visualization of Amita Buddha
Besides the general countenance of Amita Buddha which has been visualized
in the last meditation, one should visualize the details of his body. His
body is the height of sixty-million Ganges-sand-folds of Yojanas. Between
His eyebrows a holy white hair twines rightwards to a length of five Sumerus
and His eyes are as brilliant as the four seas. The diameter of His halo
is equal to a million thousand great worlds. In the halo are a hundred
thousand Incarnations each of whom has countless Bodhisattvas as attendants.
His body shines immeasurable lights upon the practitioner and upon all
the sentient beings of the ten directions who visualize him completely
and concentratedly. One who gets the realization of this visualization
and who sees it, eventually might attain to Samadhi.
Accompanying this meditation, one should recognize that the outward
body is a denotation of the inward mind; the good marks are the denotations
of good characteristics. In Tantra, if one has taken the Amita as his own
yidam, one may meditate on one's self as the Amita Buddha until these details
appear even on one's own body.
8. Meditation on the Details of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara
Avalokitesvara is at a height of eight million yojanas. On his head
there is a flesh protuberance (usnisa). The diameter of His halo is a hundred
thousand Yojanas. From His white and long curl (usna) which is situated
between His eyebrows, is emitted eighty four thousand holy rays of light
pervading the whole Dharmadhatu. From His hands he also emits many beams
of light which are very soft and light up the whole world. With His precious
hands He carries those sentient beings who have faith in Amita Buddha to
Sukhavati—the most happy world.
9. Meditation on the Details of the Bodhisattva Mahasthanaprapta
The Bodhisattva Mahasthanaprapta is the same height as the Bodhisattva
Avalokitesvara. Around his body there are many Holy lights shining out
and pervading the whole world. Hence, He is named the Bodhisattva of Limitless
Light. On his fleshy protuberance there is a precious vase from which many
lights are shining out. There in those rays of light many good Karmas are
10. Meditation on Rebirth in the Lotus
Taking the sixth to ninth meditations as one visualization, one should
review it. After this review is done, one should then think of oneself
as being born into the calyx of the Lotus in Sukhavati and then it immediately
opens. One then sees that the sky of Sukhavati is full of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
They are preaching the Dharmas. All those trees, waters, and birds are
preaching with them and all the above nine kinds of meditations appear
as a vivid and clear visualization.
After this visualization is integrated for a long time one should think
that one's self has come back from Sukhavati to this Saha world to save
all those sentient beings who have not yet got a good rebirth there and
are still suffering here.
The original meditations taught in the "Sutra of Visualizing the Buddha"
are sixteen. The last three meditations are omitted for the reason that
they are realizations of meditation but not meditations themselves. The
second meditation of water and the third meditation of land both are one
thing on the landscape of Sukhavati. If the water meditation remains independent,
then it will be multiplied by the fifth one which is also named meditation
of water. The sixth and ninth are both review of meditations and have nothing
new. That is why the 16 original meditations have been simplified into
the above ten meditations.
VI. The Admonitions
1. Though entire renunciation is not so extremely needed, yet one
must at least keep the mind unattached to the desires of this Saha world.
One should only have a profession to earn one's livelihood but not for
the purpose of getting more and more money and thus wasting one's noble
2. One may still live with one's family and pray for one's family until
they are converted. A person who practises alone and leaves his family
unconverted will find it very difficult to get rebirth in Sukhavati. He
will be troubled by those in his family when he is about to die.
3. Worldly objects which are not benefiting your livelihood must be
forbidden. Hence television, theatre, games, races, gambling, drinking,
plays, traveling, novels, pictures, music, smoking, parties, meetings and
every social intercourse not directly connected with one's profession should
be kept away from your practice. Should a man be like a sparrow as the
following poem says:
Sometimes he would grasp
When he saw a wasp;
A fly or a gnat,
He would fly at that;
And prettily he would pant
When he saw an ant;
Lord, how he would pry,
After a butterfly!
Lord, how he would hop
After the grass hop.
One should have pity on oneself and concentratedly practice without falling
into the animal nature, discovering one's Buddha nature by the help of
4. The common talk or conversation conducted in one's family, or in
society or in the office or in school or in a market, such as "good morning,
good evening, good bye, farewell, bye bye, I am very glad to see you, I
am very sorry, never mind, no matter, how are you? I am quite well, how
do you do? How fine it is," etc., should be exchanged with the repetition
of Amitabha's name. For instance, when one meets one's friend in the morning,
instead of saying good morning, one only says Amitabha, whether your friend
is in the same school of Pure-Land or not. This kind of good habit has
been practiced in China very often. It is just like the following poem,
"Home and Away":
Oranges and lemons,
Say the bells of St. Clement's.
Bull's eyes and targets,
Say the bells of St. Margaret's.
Brickbats and tiles,
Say the bells of St. Giles'.
Halfpence and farthings,
Say the bells of St. Martin's.
Pancakes and fritters,
Say the bells of St. Peter's.
Two sticks and an apple,
Say the bells of St. White Chapel.
Pokers and Tongs,
Say the bells of St. John's,
Kettles and pans,
Say the bells of St. Ann's,
Old father Baldpats,
Say the slow bells of Aldgate.
You owe me ten shillings,
Say the bells of St. Helen's,
When will you pay me?
Say the bells of Old Bailey.
When I grow rich,
Say the bells of Shoreditch.
Pray when will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney.
I'm sure I don't know,
Say the great bells of Bow.
In the same style, we may simply say Amitabha in the following poem:
Potato and Patata (sweet potato of North America)
Calls Buddha Amita.
Visitor and vista (a long and narrow view)
Calls Buddha Amita.
Dance and Lavolta (an old dance)
Calls Buddha Amita.
Pray at Altar,
Calls Buddha Amita.
Play the Guitar,
Calls Buddha Amita.
See the day-star,
Calls Buddha Amita.
Have you the silver Albata (a kind of silver of Germany)?
Calls Buddha Amita.
I have not even a Lota (a small quantity),
Calls Buddha Amita.
Where is your zeta (room)?
Calls Buddha Amita.
My room is in Sukhavata,
Calls Buddha Amita.
5. On any occasion, at any time, going anywhere, meeting any friends, performing
any activity, doing anything, one should have the name of Amitabha on one's
lips and in one's mind even in dreams, and it should penetrate one's consciousness.
Suppose one has been surrounded by many dogs barking and biting; one should
still keep Amitabha's name in one's consciousness without ceasing.
6. Dogs growling, wolves howling, cats mewing, hens cackling, geese
gurgling and cocks gabbling--whatsoever one hears should be as the sound
of Amita. My friend Po-Kun, a good Bhikshu of this school, always offered
sweet water to ants on the mountain and once he heard all the ants repeating
the name Amita when he was repeating there. Once when I was on a steamer
boat and was repeating the name, all the sounds of the machines of the
boat began to follow me and repeat the same. If one could keep this Holy
name habitually even in the Bardo state (a state between death and rebirth),
then all the terrifying sounds as the sound of a mountain crumbling down,
the sound of a jungle afire, or the breaking of a huge ocean-wave, or the
sound of a thousand thunders would all be heard as the Holy name. Fearless
is he who will never fall into the worst states.
7. Everyone knows that this school pertains to the Mahayana, yet most
of its practitioners work on as if it were a school of Hinayana. They want
to escape this Saha world and get birth in the happiest world—Sukhavati.
This is not a good manner of a Bodhi-heart. One must really try to benefit
others and win their souls from this world to that world of Sukhavati.
Actually, after being trained in Sukhavati, one should return to this world
to save those who are still suffering. Such a great will one should keep
even after death.
8. A mouse may have its chance to save a lion, as we have been told.
Hence one should not treat his local god as an enemy as many Western Buddhist
scholars do. In China all good Buddhists were good Confucianists; in India
the eminent disciples such as the first five were also good Brahmans. The
good example of renunciation shown by John the Baptist and Lord Jesus as
described in the Bible is the same as the doctrine Hinayana practitioners
follow, on which a good foundation of the Pure-Land practice may be based.
9. Instead of getting a good rebirth in Sukhavati in the future, one
should try to think of oneself as a person who is just coming back to this
world from Sukhavati. Therefore, the propaganda of this school is one's
main work in the present time. Hence such a person is always remembered
and protected by Amita Buddha. Please read my poem below:
Now, I need not remember Buddha again,
But He remembers me that I remain
His disciple who is not a one in vain,
And has won many souls for him to gain.
10. In regard to the realization of this practice, beside what I have mentioned
before, one should know that even the image of Amita which appears in front
of the practitioner may be a false one. Once a monk saw the image of Amita
standing on a tree toward which the monk used to repeat His name. He told
this to his Zen master. The Zen master knew that this image was a false
one. He gave his rod which was used to support his body for Samadhi, to
this monk and told him, "When the image appears again, please throw this
rod at the tree." The next morning the monk did as he was told and a snake
was found dead under the tree; it's soul had been sent to Sukhavati with
the help of the Zen rod. Therefore, one should not hold to an image too
much but try to get the Samadhi of repetition.
11. As I have previously mentioned, this school was also called a school
of time from the history of the fifth Patriarch of Japan who emphasized
diligence of practice six times a day, three during the daytime and three
covering the whole night. But in my opinion this school should be called
a school of time for the reason that a disciple very fixed with this school
is converted just at the time of death, neither too early nor late. Hence,
most of these disciples including myself are actually premature disciples
of this school, for we are not dying right at this time. But we do not
emphasize that one should only be converted into this school at the time
of his death. One should also think of death as very near the same as those
who really are dying and are converted at their death. One is actually
dying breath by breath; the final death is not the only real death. One
has to urgently prepare spiritual food for a good rebirth in Sukhavati
as well as the dying person. To grasp the idea of death and hold to the
time of death as precious as gold is the most important point of this school.
In the Abhidharma-kosa-shastra it is written that the principle which determines
the most matured seed of all in the Alaya and influences the life in the
next birth is the matured seed which appears at the time of death. The
seeds of heavy Karma will mature before the seeds of the light Karma. But
if the seeds are of equal degree, without a great difference in heavy and
light, the most matured one is the one that appears at death. If two seeds
appear at the same time of death, the most matured one is the one whose
habitual degree is greater than the others. If they are the same in habitual
degree, then the most matured one is the one which was sown before the
others. Hence one should concentratedly make the habit of practice of this
school much stronger than all other worldly habits.
12. Finally the most important advice which is emphasized by many Ancients
of China is to renounce this Saha world and to admire Sukhavati. This painful
world as described by our Lord Gautama is a world full of five impurities,
i.e., the corruption of this Kalpa, that of view, that of sorrow, that
of beings and that of life. In this present age we know that our world
is divided into two political realms, the so-called world of Freedom, and
the so-called world of the Iron-Curtain. Both are suffering in the world
of desires. The Iron-Curtain world is not only suffering from nonfreedom
but also suffering from non-equality. The poor are slaves of a few great
guns. Take a little, work much, have no religion, no humanity, one's wife
or son may be one's enemy and a spy of their party. Even one's suicide
cannot be performed freely. The net of spies pervades every direction and
corner, even the caves of mountains in which the Ancient sages liked to
live now cannot be lived in by anybody. One has to work hard until they
die. Yet for one who is indulging in the practice of the Pure-Land School,
who could forbid him to repeat the name of Amitabha in his mind? who could
forbid him to admire Sukhavati in his heart? Who could forbid him to pray
to those three Holy sages? In regard to the free world, there is no real
freedom at all. Peoples of different countries are all slaves of mercantilism
and the victims of short-sighted pragmatism. The elections of Presidents
and legislatures are monopolized by wealthy individuals; scholars and scientists
are utilized by powerful illiterates; and reporters and publishers are
controlled by the mercantile interests.
They are willing, in order to gain financial profit, to produce any
kind of show, picture, or novel in which they take advantage of human desires
and establish some traps of lust, hatred and ignorance, into which one
could not help but fall from time to time. They care little for humanity,
morality, religion and truth. They produce modern clothes, cosmetics, perfumes,
cigarettes, opium, liquors, coffee, and tea along with some advertisements
The first cup moistens my lips and throat,
The second cup breaks my loneliness,
The third cup searches my barren entrails.
The fourth cup raises a slight perspiration,
The fifth cup purifies me,
The sixth cup calls me to the realms of immortals,
The seventh cup, Ah, but I can take no more.
One cannot but falls into their allurements and runs on and on in the same
groove of desires; one has to buy some for himself, for his wife, and mistress.
One is daily driven by the advertisers and producers to go to the theatre,
dance hall, playing field, amusement park, restaurant and gambling house.
One is led by the nose by those mercantilists to do evil but one thinks
himself quite free. In my view, there is nothing more foolish than this.
Things one should hate, but one loves; things one should love, but one
hates. To him Sukhavati gives no admission. Therefore, one must hate the
evil world and seek Sukhavati through hard and painstaking practice until
Samadhi is gained and realization is reached, until the lotus is under
one's feet; until the beauty of Paris, the modern goods of New York, the
buildings of the Vatican pass before one's sight and one sees nothing but
Amita Buddha; until the crying of one's own children, the wailing of one's
wife, the howling of a crowd, the music of a radio just pass through one's
ears and one hears nothing but the repetition of Amita Buddha; until the
wine of Paris, the whisky of Scotland, the strudel of Germany, the curries
of India and the delicious dishes of China pass through one's mouth and
throat and one tastes nothing but the sweet nectar of Amita Buddha when
repetition is done. Thus one's concentration and absorption in the practice
of this school might carry one to go to Sukhavati. My dear readers, do
not take things too easy. Believe and trust the advice which is bitter
and not only that which is sweet. You will thus never be cheated.
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