Who Can Exit, If Not Through the Door
By Master Jingzong
In the past two years, people in the United States, Canada, Russia, Spain, Korea, Vietnam, Burma, Malaysia and other countries accessed our English-language website for information about the pristine Pure Land school. They sent letters of enquiry about learning and practicing its teachings. This is inspiring as well as touching.
Our English website contains limited information about the principles of Pure Land Buddhism. Even so, our overseas readers sensitively picked up the scent of the assured achievement of Buddhahood. This is as commendable as it is unfathomable. Everyone needs the deliverance of Amitabha Buddha. Where there are human beings, there is a need for the Pure Land teachings.
By contrast, we who were born in mainland China and enjoy plentiful access to materials of the tradition, sometimes are as indifferent to its flavors as a spoon dipped in soup is to the taste of the broth. We can attribute this to differences in individual aptitude and karma.
We will introduce stories about the paths travelled by Buddhist seekers outside China. Some of their experiences are surprisingly similar. They confirm the aptness of the question, "Why isn't everyone following the path of Amitabha-recitation?" for sentient beings in our Age of Dharma Decline.
They are serious seekers of a spiritual path. They both followed other creeds, initially. After becoming Buddhists, they first practiced the Path of Sages, such as Chan or other traditions. Then they turned to Pure Land Buddhism, but through the Jodo Shinshu or Jodo Shu of Japan. Finally, through the discourses of Master Huijing, they accepted Master Shandao's Pure Land teachings and obtained thoroughgoing peace of mind and joy in the Dharma.
Their experiences give us many insights. Among them:
1) The Path of Sages is difficult and ineffective.
2) The Jodo Shinshu tradition places great emphasis on faith, thereby confusing many practitioners and tripping them over. Shinshu is not the "Easy Path" that it claims to be. It has departed from the essence of easiness.
3) The teachings of Master Honen's Jodo Shu are pleasing to many. But in modern times, they have become mired in in ritual, politics and functionality, resulting in a lack of vitality.
4) The traditional Chinese Pure Land stream stresses precept-observance and the ability to achieve recitation-samadhi (perfect concentration). Because of its difficulty to ordinary practitioners, it is like a road that leads nowhere.
5) Master Huijing clearly expounds Master Shandao's Pure Land teachings and highlights Amitabha Buddha's unconditional deliverance, which is perfect and all-embracing. It exceeds everyone's expectations. That's why these teachings are flourishing.
Confucius said, "Who can exit if not through the door? Why isn't everyone following the Way!" He meant that nobody could leave a house without using the door. Everyone should adhere to this law of nature.
According to the Dharma, the name of Namo Amitabha Buddha is the door to exit the burning house of the Three Realms. How can anyone escape this house of death and rebirth without using the gate of name-recitation. Let us all recite Namo Amitabha Buddha!
Master Tanluan said "name-recitation is the exclusive path." We all rely on Amitabha Buddha. There is no other way out.
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