Learning the Buddha’s Teachings to Reshape Our Minds and Thoughts
There are two kinds of deep faith. The first one is believing that we all are iniquitous ordinary beings subject to endless rebirth, and since time immemorial we have died and been reincarnated, without hope of leaving the cycle of rebirth. The second kind of deep faith is believing that Amitabha Buddha embraces and receives all sentient beings with his 48 Vows, and that we are certain of rebirth in the Pure Land by relying on the power of his vows.] If a person has these two kinds of deep faith, then he will naturally recite Amitabha’s name persistently. He will do it without feeling any pressure. He turns his thoughts into the name of the Buddha by reciting it.
The foundation of studying Buddhism is the belief in “karmic retribution ". If a person does not believe in “karmic retribution”, he lacks the basis on which to learn the teachings of the Buddha. This is because he does not have any aspiration to leave the three domains and the six realms of reincarnation.
If you are unsure and unconvinced of “karmic retribution”, then you are not a true Buddhist. To study the Pure Land teaching is not just to deeply believe in “reaping what you sow”, it is also to understand that our capacity is so inferior that we will be stuck in the six realms of reincarnation forever.
When we honestly confront our greed, wrath, and ignorance, and face our thoughts, words, and behavior, we will find ourselves to be deeply sinful. The reason why we have not discovered that there is more evil than virtue in our deeds, words, and thoughts is because we do not reflect on ourselves often. Worse still, we do not look at ourselves through the " Dharma-Mirror " and never engage in any introspection.
What is the “Dharma-Mirror "? For example, the section on the "Three Poisons and Five Sins " in the second fascicle of the " Infinite Life Sutra " is the Dharma-Mirror. If we often use the Dharma-Mirror to reflect ourselves, our sinful mind will be revealed, and we will know that most of us are more evil than good, and that our capacity is inferior.
The purpose of learning from the Buddha is to reshape our thoughts, words, and behavior, rather than to place demands on, or point fingers at others. Therefore, a true Buddhist practitioner only watches himself, but not others, and always strives to identify his own shortcomings and to repent.
(Translated by the Pure Land School Translation Team;
edited by Householder Fojin)
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