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 number."

"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 excellence!"

"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 excellence!"

"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.

V. The Meditation

1. Meditation on Sunset

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 from them.

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 virtues.

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 sits.

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 performed.

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 lifetime.

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 Amita Buddha.

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 which say:

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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