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 No Refuge for the Self: Surrendering Entirely to Amitabha’s Salvation


       As Buddhists, we are called upon to embrace a meat-free diet, honoring the sanctity of life by refraining from taking it.  I’m sure you’d agree that life is invaluable and deserves to be protected.

       By eating meat, we harm other living beings, either directly or indirectly. A true Buddhist aspires to lead a life of purity, and this extends to our dietary choices. We thus choose a vegetarian diet, avoiding not only meat but also eggs and dairy products, so as not to  harm or exploit other creatures. Our motivation? The compassionate Amitabha Buddha extends his care to us and, in turn, we reflect this compassion towards all beings, recognizing the Buddha-nature within them. Could the beings we abstain from eating today not become Buddhas in another life? Indeed, this is a possibility! However, whether or not we are vegetarian, have taken refuge in the three Jewels to become a Buddhist, or have been leading a virtuous life, these are not prerequisites for rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. Amitabha Buddha will deliver us all, equally and unconditionally.

       Yet I, Huijing, feel very ashamed. Despite taking refuge in the Three Jewels to become a Buddhist, adopting a vegetarian lifestyle, and reciting Amitabha Buddha’s name during daily meditations prior to my monastic commitment, I find myself still mired in worldly afflictions and karmic hindrances. I am not just an ordinary being, I am one profoundly burdened by sin and ensnared in the endless cycle of samsara. Upon introspection, I am overcome with regret for my misdeeds. My sole hope lies in  entrusting myself entirely to Amitabha for salvation. Otherwise, even though blessed with the rare fortune of a human birth, with exposure to the Buddha Dharma, and with a monastic life, I may fail to be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss and attain Buddhahood for the benefit of other sentient beings. Instead, I face the grim prospect of perpetual suffering in the three wretched realms. I constantly remind myself of the Buddha’s warnings: “A monastic’s failure to attain Buddhahood to benefit sentient beings risks repaying benefactors by being reborn as an animal in future lives,” and “Monastics are not exempt from hell.”

       Why do I say this? For over forty years, my monastic life has been sustained by the generosity of practitioners who have supported me with their hard earned money. If I do not strive for enlightenment and dedicate myself to the salvation of all beings, how can I possibly repay their kindness? The truth is, I cannot, even if I were to be reborn as horses and oxen toiling for them for a countless number of lifetimes. As monastics, our precepts are strict - indulging in idle fantasies or impure thoughts will lead us to hell. Upon deep introspection, I realize that I haven't lived up to any of these precepts. If I fail to gain rebirth in the Land of Bliss, a place in hell is all but assured. You may be unaware of my inner turmoil, but I am painfully conscious of it.

       There's a saying that if we judge people solely by their actions and words, which can be seen and heard, we might find some who appear perfect. But if we set our standards based on thoughts and intentions, which are hidden within the heart, then nobody would be found perfect. It is also said that if we judge by what is visible to others, we still find good and virtuous people in the world. However, if we judge by what is not seen by others, then everyone would be a sinner.

       These statements act like a mirror, reflecting the true nature of all beings through the "Dharma mirror." Therefore, Master Shandao says that we are all iniquitous ordinary beings subject to endless rebirth. We all need the salvation of Amitabha Buddha to liberate us from the cycle of samsara and quickly achieve Buddhahood, thereby saving other beings. Thus, the essence of the Pure Land school is encapsulated in the phrase "Rebirth in the Pure Land," which is the realm of Nirvana, the state of becoming a Buddha. Therefore, a more complete description of this school would be "Rebirth in the Pure Land and becoming a Buddha."

       So how do we have faith in Amitabha's salvation? It is by single-mindedly reciting Amitabha's name, nianfo in Chinese. Practicing Amitabha-recitation is both an act of faith and the condition for rebirth.

       Didn't we say that Amitabha will save us all equally and unconditionally? Then why is there a condition for rebirth? This condition is actually very easy to fulfill because it is simple, straightforward and achievable by anyone. Even at the moment of death, when people feel as if they are being scorched by the fires of hell, they can still recite or even just think of Amitabha's name and be reborn in the Pure Land. If their life is prolonged, then from that moment on, they need only recite Amitabha's name.

       Hence, the essence of this Dharma path is "Recite the Buddha's name, be reborn in the Pure Land, and become a Buddha,” in short the “Pure Land school.”


(Translated by the Pure Land School Translation Team;
edited by Householder Fojin)



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