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 Rebirth Assured in the Present Lifetime

Amitabha-recitation is the highest, unsurpassed and unique practice of Amitabha’s Fundamental Vow. It is also the principal karma of assured rebirth as said by Master Shandao. As rebirth has been assured, therefore rebirth is achieved in the present lifetime.

A person who exclusively recite Amitabha’s name with singleness of mind will be naturally in the communion of heart with heart of Amitabha. It is one entity inseparable between the aptitude [of sentient beings] and the teaching of [Amitabha’s great vow]. It is known as ‘intimacy.’
With respect to rebirth in the Land of Bliss, it is assured at present without waiting till the near end of life. This principle is as natural as a law, whether you know or believe it or not.

In the 18th vow, it says sentient beings recite Amitabha’s name even ten times, but it does not specify whether it must be done in the present life or at the near end of life. However, if it is said to be ‘even’, it should include those practitioners in the present lifetime, as well as at the near end of their lives. It means that, if you come across the teaching of Amitabha’s deliverance in the present lifetime, and aspire to recite Amitabha’s name with faith and aspiration to rebirth for the remainder of your life, it is called ‘rebirth assured in the present lifetime’.
If a person has no karmic connection with Buddhism, does not study any Buddha’s teachings, and does not accept and receive the Pure Land teachings, or even worse commits evil offenses whatever he does, and does whatever is evil, he comes across a good teacher telling him about the Pure Land teachings at the near end of his life or near his last breath. Perhaps committed a lot of offenses, he is very frightened as he is burnt by the hell fire at the near end of his life. He believes and accepts Amitabha’s deliverance as soon as he hears it from the good advisor, and thus he is reborn. This kind of sentient being is called ‘practitioner at the near end of life’.
Assurance of rebirth can be in the present lifetime, and at the near end of life. Certainly, if it is assured in the present life, it will, of course, extend to the near end of life. If one’s rebirth is assured in the present lifetime, he or she is also assured of rebirth at the near end of life as well. It is because his decision of rebirth is not determined at the last moment of his life, but determined at the same time when he determines to believe and follow Amitabha’s deliverance and exclusively recite Amitabha’s name. As a result, his rebirth is assured NOT at the near end of his life. His rebirth is assured by every recitation of Amitabha’s name, one after the other.

Fundamental Vow incurs [rebirth through the practice of] Amitabha-recitation, Amitabha-recitation implies [rebirth] with recourse to Buddha’s vow; Buddha’s vow induces immediate accomplishment [of rebirth]. Rebirth through [the practice of] Amitabha-recitation means rebirth with full recourse to Buddha power. No cultivation through self-power is involved, and no merits and virtues accumulated by our own long-term effort are concerned. There is no need to wait for future, as rebirth is already attained right now. Thus, the fear of death at the near end of life vanishes forever.

For those Buddhists who recite Amitabha’s name, if they deeply believe they will be reborn in Amitabha’s Pure Land in future, they must be very happy as their mind is settled at present. If we are sure whether we can be reborn, we must worry, as our mind is not yet settled.

With the status quo of an ordinary being at present, we aspire to be reborn in Amitabha’s Pure Land, and exclusively recite Amitabha’s name. Though our physical body is still living in the Saha World, we are already one of the sagely beings in the Land of Bliss under the embrace and protection of Amitabha’s light. Though the retribution of this life has not ended yet, we are not ordinary beings within the Six Realms any more. Therefore, one of the characteristics of Pure Land Buddhism is rebirth assured in the present lifetime.
In our present lifetime before our life comes to the end, the karmic cause of rebirth has been perfectly accomplished. With the karmic cause, the effect of rebirth and becoming a Buddha naturally comes. It is called ‘rebirth assured in the present lifetime.’ It is the unique characteristic of Pure Land Buddhism. The characteristic will be void if a practitioner relies on his own power in cultivation.

The reason why we study Buddhism, particularly the Pure Land teaching, is to attain ‘rebirth assured in the present lifetime.’ It means, while we are still alive (at present), the goal of our life has been accomplished, rebirth in the Land of Bliss is already confirmed, the 'rest note' is drawn in this life after we have reincarnated over and over in the past ten thousand eons. We study Buddhism, particularly the Pure Land teaching, is to accomplish this great matter – the practice for rebirth in the Pure Land. It is very important.

As said in the sutras, Amitabha and the sages will come to receive us at the near end of our lives. However, some people misinterpret it. They think their rebirth is not assured even they recite Amitabha’s name for the whole life, and rebirth is only assured and the entire matter of rebirth is assured only when they ‘see’ the Buddha at the end of their lives. It is known as the ‘assured rebirth at the near end of life.’ Obviously, it is a misinterpretation of the sutras. It is because:
  • It is said to welcome at the near end of life, thus we should know the matter of rebirth has been achieved and assured. If it is not accomplished and assured, it is impossible to have the Buddha and sages to come and receive. It is similar to marriage. It must be confirmed and assured, thus they come to receive [the bride] in due course. If the marriage agreement is not finalized, who comes and receives [the bride]?
  • If the matter rebirth is said to be achieved and assured at the near end of life, one must have completed the respective karmic practice before the end of one’s life. According to the sutra, the karma of rebirth is Amitabha-recitation in one day to seven days in the present life. The sutra says the welcoming reception by the Buddha and sages, thus we know the karmic practices of rebirth has been completed in the present life, so that the Buddha and sages will come naturally at the near end of life. It is called the “assured rebirth in the present life, and welcoming reception at the near end of life.”
Nevertheless, there are some practitioners who achieve the matter of rebirth at the near end of their lives. It is only restricted to those who recite Amitabha’s name at the near end of their lives, like the people in lower tier as said in the Contemplation Sutra. They do not recite Amitabha’s name in their present lives, but come across a good advisor who teaches them to recite Amitabha’s name. It is called the “Amitabha-recitation at the near end of life, and welcoming reception at the near end of life.”
Those who recite Amitabha’s name in their entire present life can be received and welcomed by Amitabha Buddha, no matter they recite or do not recite Amitabha’s name at the near end of their lives. It is called the “Amitabha-recitation in present life, and assured rebirth in the present life.” It cannot be regarded as the “assured rebirth at the near end of life.”

For aspiration to be reborn in Amitabha’s Pure Land, the decision is not made in future, but is made at present. Never change in faith in and acceptance of Amitabha’s deliverance; never change in practice of exclusive Amitabha-recitation; never change in aspiration to rebirth in Amitabha’s Pure Land.

For those who [exclusively] recite Amitabha’s name, their rebirth in the Land of Bliss is not assured near the end of their lives. They have already qualified, and assured of rebirth at present. They have already been embraced under Amitabha’s deliverance at present.

The teaching of the Fundamental Vow is Amitabha-recitation. We merely keep strictly this method of Amitabha-recitation, thus we are assured of rebirth. It is known as ‘rebirth assured in the present lifetime’.

In order to let us feel settled, without fear, in the matter of rebirth in the present lifetime, Amitabha Buddha declares,” All kinds of [your] fear become great peace.” The paragraph about the accomplishment of his 18th vow also states: ‘sincerely dedicate and aspire to that land,’ then ‘immediately attain rebirth,’ and ‘dwell in the state of non-retrogression.’ It shows that assured rebirth is accomplished in the present lifetime at the present moment, no need to wait till the end of life. We now have faith in and acceptance to Amitabha’s deliverance, and we exclusively recite Amitabha’s name from now on, and aspire to be reborn in Amitabha’s Pure Land without changing our mind forever, thus we are already on board of Amitabha’s great vow ship. Amitabha Buddha’s light embraces us without forsaking till the end of our lives, isn’t it meant that our status quo of rebirth is already attained? It is certain, assured and determined.

If a person aspires to be reborn in the Land of Bliss and practices the Pure Land teachings, but he does not know or he is not sure whether he is assured of rebirth in the present lifetime, he must not understand Amitabha’s Fundamental Vow.
It is clearly stated in the 18th vow, “Should [they] not be born there, may I not attain the perfect Enlightenment.” If you aspire to be reborn and exclusively recite Amitabha’s name, you cannot be reborn. Isn’t that Amitabha Buddha is telling a lie? Isn’t that Amitabha Buddha has to reclaim his vow made through his long and broad tongue? Isn’t that he should not be a Buddha?
Buddhas do not tell a lie. Buddhas’ words are true and not unreal, not inverted upside down. [Amitabha] Buddha has achieved Buddhahood, so if we follow what he proclaims in the 18th vow, and aspire to be reborn in the Land of Bliss, and exclusively recite Amitabha’s name, we are assured of rebirth [by Amiatbah Buddha]. Why? Very simple, he has become a Buddha already.

In the Praise of Pratyutpanna, Master Shandao says, “Ordinary beings should not attach to and thus be reluctant to renounce the cycle of birth and death. They should not slight and thus be casual to aspire [to be reborn] in Amitabha’s Pure Land. If we renounce, we will be separated from the Saha World forever. If we aspire, we will live in the Pure Land always. To separate, it means the cause of rebirth in the Six Realms is non-existent, and the effect of reincarnation is naturally extinct. Since there has no cause and effect, any form or name of existence is terminated all a sudden.”
That is the meaning of renunciation and aspiration that Master Shandao refers. That is to say, as ordinary beings, we can do it in renunciation and aspiration. If we can do it, it is known as ‘assured rebirth in the present lifetime.’
Not only advising us to put forth the mind of renunciation and aspiration, it reveals the teaching of ‘assured rebirth in the present lifetime.’ If we have [the mind of renunciation and aspiration], assured rebirth is definite. We are not an ordinary being any more, but one of the sages in the Land of Bliss.
Why? If we renounce, we will be separated from the Saha World forever. If we aspire, we will live in the Pure Land always. If we really renounce the Saha World, we will be separated from this world forever, and not reincarnate within the Six Realms again. If we really aspire to be reborn in the Land of Bliss, we will live there from now till the unlimited future.
It is a strong resonance and clear statement without ambiguity to illustrate that our [Pure Land] school is the teaching of ‘assured rebirth in the present lifetime.’

When a person is burnt by hell fire, he is pulled out by Amitabha Buddha under the circumstance that he cannot rescue himself on his own. What happens to his life after that? He must think that Amitabha-recitation is the most important thing in his life.
If he understands it merely in concept, but without truly feeling it by heart, he cannot possibly recite Amitabha’s name without forsaking. For a person who is assured of rebirth in the present life, he must always recite Amitabha’s name for the rest of his entire life. It is because he experiences the principle of two kinds of deep faith – faith in aptitude [of sentient beings] and faith in [Amitabha’s teachings].

We recite Amitabha’s name because we want to be reborn in the Land of Bliss. However, we may find we still have false views and find our mind distracted. It is normal and natural. We should not be annoyed because it does not hinder us from being delivered by Amitabha Buddha. It is just like we come across crowds of pedestrians and vehicles while walking. It does not matter but just keep walking step by step.
During recitation, we have false thoughts – recitation then false thoughts, false thoughts then recitation. They come alternately, but it does not matter, just continue to recite and recite. Regardless the false views and distracted thoughts, we are not obstructed [from Amitabha-recitation] as far as Amitabha’s deliverance is concerned. It is because Pure Land practitioners of exclusive Amitabha-recitation who aspire to be reborn have been always embraced, protected and received by Amitabha’s light.

Under the circumstance that our aspiration to be reborn in the Land of Bliss is ‘absolute’, one hundred percent serious with no compromise, then we exclusively recite ‘Namo Amituofo’, it is equivalent to register for admission in the Land of Bliss and elimination from the hell. It is similar to admission in the best university though we have not studied in school yet, but the status of a student has been already confirmed and qualified.
The only difference is that: we need not take any examination for entry to the Land of Bliss, but simply aspire to be reborn there and then exclusively recite Amitabha’s name. Thus, we are accepted and admitted [by Amitabha Buddha]. It is because Amitabha Buddha proactively and equally requests us [to go there].
Moreover, Amitabha Buddha has prepared various merits and virtues and other resources necessary for our rebirth in the Land of Bliss. Where are they? All are contained in his name. So, when we exclusively recite Amitabha’s name, we will naturally attain all these resources and merits and virtues for rebirth in the Land of Bliss.

So long as we have faith in and acceptance to the deliverance by Amitabha’s Fundamental Vow, and recite Amitabha’s name with a myriad of virtues, and aspire to be reborn in his Pure Land of nirvana, we naturally possess the merits and virtues sufficient for achieving the unsurpassed Buddhahood. So, our teaching is called ‘ordinary beings qualified to be bodhisattva’.
Though we are ordinary beings full of greed, hatred and delusion, having false views and miscellaneous thoughts as many as motes of dust in this land, and very heavy habitual behavior, we are no longer ordinary beings subject to reincarnation, but one of the sagely beings in the Land of Bliss. It is because we are assured of rebirth in the realm of nirvana.
Master Yinguang said, “if we are able to earnestly leave the cycle of birth and death, and believe [in Amitabha’s deliverance] just about right in time without a single thought of doubt, we are no longer the permanent resident in Saha World, but is already the honorable guest in the Land of Bliss, though we are still living in the Saha World, or we have not yet been reborn in the Land of Bliss.”
That is to say, if we are able to earnestly leave the cycle of birth and death, we know it is a world of endured sufferings, a world of darkness and ignorance where sentient beings commit karmic and evil offenses, and thus reincarnated within the Six Realms, and so it is a world of flaws and defects. We decide to leave this world, and aspire to be reborn in the Land of Bliss. We do not have any doubt on Amitabha’s compassion and merits in delivering us to the Land of Bliss.
Though our physical body is still alive in the Saha World, and our mind is full of afflictions, we are assured of rebirth in the Land of Bliss, thus we are no longer ordinary beings in the cycle of birth and death. We are entitled to be reborn there. Once we determine our destiny – rebirth [in the Land of Bliss], we are always embraced and protected by Amitabha’s light, and thus thoroughly terminate reincarnation. In our last breath, we are certainly received by Amitabha Buddha, and enter Amitabha’s reward land of nirvana.

As long as we recite Amitabha’s name, we are certainly be reborn [in the Land of Bliss], no matter we are sagely or ordinary beings, whether we are good or evil, whether we are monastic or householder, whether our mind is pure or impure. ‘Certainly’ means 100 percent. Now, we exclusively recite Amitabha’s name and aspire to be reborn in Amitabha’s Pure Land, then we will be certainly reborn in Amitabha’s Pure Land. As we will be certainly reborn, isn’t it meant that the matter of our rebirth is accomplished? So, it is called “Rebirth Assured in the Present Lifetime”.

Both the matter of rebirth [in the Pure Land] of sentient beings in the ten directions and the achievement of Buddhahood of Amitabha Buddha ten kalpas ago are accomplished at the same time within the Name of perfect Enlightenment – Namo Amituofo. Sentient beings who set forth a single thought of taking refuge to Amitabha-recitation have already own the merits and virtues of this Name, and already accomplished the karma of his rebirth at that moment.

Near-death is generally mentioned in Pure Land teachings. People think that [the practices] at present are expediently prepared [for near-death]. That means, practitioners anticipate attaining virtuous blessings at present in order to encounter favorable causal conditions at the near end of their lives. So, they strive to cultivate ten thousand different practices and accumulate various kinds of virtues at present. Or, they anticipate reaching the state of single-mind without distraction during Amitabha-recitation, otherwise they cannot have the Amitabha-mindfulness at the near end of their lives. Or, they think they must have no suffering in illness [at the near end of their lives], no attachment and no upside down in mind, otherwise they cannot be reborn.
Subsequently, they dare not say and know they can or cannot be reborn. However, it is not the case in our school. Rebirth assured in the present lifetime is the characteristic of our school. The matter of rebirth has been already accomplished at present [as it is assured by Amitabha Buddha].

Amitabha’s name is accomplished for our rebirth by Amitabha Buddha. So, as long as we aspire to be reborn and recite his name, we can certainly attain the status quo of rebirth there now. As we are assured of rebirth at the near end of one’s life, isn’t meant that [assured rebirth] has already determined at present? As it is determined now, rebirth is assured at the near end of our life. So, it is known as rebirth assured in the present lifetime.

Rebirth assured in the present lifetime - it means by the time he comes across this teaching, he is certain that he will be reborn in the Land of Bliss. We are not sure when a person will get in touch with this teaching - when he is young or old, or when he lies on bed or at the near end of his life. If he comes across this teaching at the near end of his life, it is known as rebirth assured at the near end of his life.
In short, it is the characteristic of our teachings that our rebirth can be assured before the near end of our life. Master Yinguang says, “If we are earnest to leave the cycle of birth and death, and we believe [in Amitabha’s deliverance] on time without any doubt, we are no longer the guest of Saha World though we have not left it yet; and we are already the VIP in the Land of Bliss though we have not been reborn yet.” It is what rebirth assured in the present lifetime means.

If we exclusively recite Namo Amituofo and aspire to be reborn in the Land of Bliss, we should know our rebirth is already assured, and our body is already combined with Amitabha Buddha. Why? It is because Amitabha Buddha is already in my mind when we always recite his name - Amitabha Buddha always embraces us, and we are always in the mind of Amitabha Buddha.

Those who follow the 18th Vow and recite Amitabha’s name are regarded as the ones with assured rebirth in the present lifetime. They don’t worry and don’t hesitate. So, apart from reciting at the Buddhist temples or at home, they will spare some time to teach other people to believe as they believe, benefit others and they are benefitted, wherever necessary. They lead other people to enter the great vow sea of Amitabha Buddha.

What is meant by ‘embraced by the light, without forsaking his body’? It is the same as ‘the light (of Amitabha) illumines all sentient beings throughout the ten quarters, who call upon the sacred name, embraces and protects them, and never forsakes them.’
What is the function of Amitabha’s light? It is to embrace and protect Amitabha-reciters. Whether they are sagely or ordinary beings, good or evil persons, monastic or householder, wise or stupid, intellect or illiterate, practitioner or layman, Amitabha Buddha’s light will embrace them forever and never forsake them if they exclusively recite his name without forsaking.
They are assured of rebirth in the present lifetime because they are embraced by Amitabha’s light without forsaking. So, there is no need to wait till the near end of their lives. Rebirth [in the Land of Bliss] is already accomplished and rebirth is assured because of the non-forsaking embrace by Amitabha’s light.
If the embrace of Amitabha’s light is interrupted and abandoned from us, isn’t meant that our rebirth is certain? So, all Amitabha-reciters should know: Amitabha Buddha always watches us and take care of us forever. He will receive us to the Land of Bliss when time comes.

Pure Land Buddhism is: We have attained Amitabha’s deliverance now, so though we cannot recite Amitabha’s name when we suffer from pains or even in coma at the near end of our life. As we are always in the domain of Amitabha’s deliverance, we are always embraced by Amitabha’s light.
On one side, we have already been delivered, it is not important whether we are in coma or not, or whether we can recite Amitabha’s name or not. Our rebirth have been assured already, so our conditions at the near end of life are not taken into consideration. Therefore, though we have the last breath under the above circumstances, we can immediately be reborn in the Land of Bliss.

All sentient beings who recite Amitabha’s name are embraced and protected by Amitabha’s light forever. So, as we are within his light, we will be in his land of light immediately after our last breath.

A person who recites Amitabha’s name with faith and aspiration have been assured of rebirth. It is no need to wait for assisted recitation, no need to rely on assisted recitation [at the near end of his life].

It is our teaching that our rebirth does not rely on assisted recitation by other people because our rebirth is already assured in the present life. We exclusively recite Amitabha, and aspire to be reborn in the Land of Bliss for the entire life with no change, it means Buddha and we are always together. We are always embraced and protected by the Buddha. Amitabha Buddha will appear before us when we are at the near end of our life, and receive us to be reborn in the Land of Bliss.

To practice the Pure Land teachings, it does not mean we have to recite Amitabha’s name all day long, and we have not any affliction in mind. Not like that! There are two kinds of afflictions, one is fundamental and the other is trivial. The fundamental affliction refers to reincarnation in the cycle of birth and death. Though we [the Pure Land practitioners] can resolve [the affliction of] reincarnation, we still have, as long as we are alive, trivial afflictions, such as loss in love, failure in career, poor filial relationship with children, no satisfactory family life, etc.
Nevertheless, as the fundamental affliction [of a Pure Land practitioner] has been resolved, his mind is pacified and settled. He knows that his life is short, say a few decades, and he will have no more afflictions after [death] in a few decades.
So, though we [Amitabha-reciters] are 100% assured of rebirth in the Land of Bliss, we still have afflictions while we are alive [in the world]. Affliction incurs attachment, attachment incurs worry. However, it won’t obstruct us from rebirth, because we are ordinary beings so we still have not yet fulfilled our duties and responsibilities.
Our mind is ordinary in the mundane world, and it is normal that we wish to live longer. We may regret that it is too early to leave this world now. However, during the last minute of our life, when we cannot extend our life any longer, we [Amitabha-reciters] will let go everything.

Those sentient beings who believe and accept Amitabha’s deliverance and thus always recite Amitabha’s name exclusively without changing their mind right away are determined and assured of rebirth at the same right away. It does not wait till the near end of their life for determined and assured rebirth. Even they lie on deathbed with pain and are not able to recite the Buddha’s name, they can be reborn as usual. Their minds will be pacified and stabilized. They won’t be panic and worried, no craving and no anxieties. Otherwise, it means his first hearing is not sufficient, and his believing is not sufficient too. So, it is the principle of deliverance of Amitabha Buddha in the Pure Land teachings.
Some people may be anxious even though they understand the principle. However, it doesn’t matter. Amitabha Buddha always protects and embraces us, and clears all obstructions [that hinder us from rebirth], so that our mind is always in peace. So, we only need to recite Amitabha’s name exclusively, thus we are naturally embraced and protected by Amitabha. We don’t need to worry any more.

Amitabha-reciters are always embraced and protected, without forsaking, by Amitabha’s light. So, Pure Land Buddhism can be immersed in the daily life, and our rebirth is also assured in the present lifetime.
In addition, if a person is gentle in temper and does not argue, but keeps reciting often, he is likely to know when his death comes, with no suffering in illness and smooth rebirth.
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Master Huijing

Master Huijing

Master Jingzong

Master Jingzong

Guiding Principles

Faith in, and acceptance of, Amitabha’s deliverance
Single-minded recitation of Amitabha’s name
Aspiration to rebirth in Amitabha’s Pure Land
Comprehensive deliverance of all sentient beings