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 Guiding Principles of Pure Land Buddhism – Faith in and Acceptance of Amitabha’s Deliverance

Pure Land Buddhism is the teaching of Amitabha-recitation, which focuses on deliverance by Amitabha Buddha. Whether we have merits or no merits, or whether we are virtuous or evil, is not taken into consideration for rebirth in the Land of Bliss. This is provided that we rely on the power of Amitabha’s deliverance. Therefore, all of us can be reborn, and all of us can achieve Buddhahood. Hence, it is possible for all of us to practice and realize the goals of the teaching of Amitabha-recitation.

As the genuine Pure Land teaching, we should talk about Amitabha's deliverance. Sentient beings are required to act in accordance with Amitabha’s deliverance. How do we accord with it? Only through exclusively reciting Amitabha’s name.

We simply believe in and accept Amitabha’s deliverance, and exclusively recite Amitabha’s name. We will automatically receive his infinite wisdom and boundless compassion. The pair of name/ meaning and faith/practice align with each other.On Amitabha’s side, it refers to the Buddha’s Name and its meaning; and, on our side, it refers to faith, acceptance and practice. This is known as ‘duo in pair form’.

If we understand Amitabha’s deliverance, we must believe and accept it within our hearts. We demonstrate this through our exclusive practice of Amitabha-recitation, and our aspiration to be reborn in Amitabha’s Pure Land. If we do not exclusively recite Amitabha’s name in practice, and do not aspire to be reborn in Amitabha’s Pure Land, we do not genuinely believe and accept Amitabha’s deliverance. It is just a mental concept.

With respect to Amitabha’s deliverance, we must have faith and acceptance. ‘Faith’ is belief – believing facts objectively without any doubt. However, if we do not understand the principles, it is impossible for us to believe without any doubt. Conversely, if we know the rationale, faith is naturally established in our minds and hearts. There is no need for us to have faith in a forced or feigned manner.
How can we have faith? We can read more of the books published by, and listen more to the CD’s recorded by our organization. In this manner, we won’t need to beg for faith or accept it unwillingly. Faith will be developed naturally in our minds. After we believe, we will naturally uphold the practice. Thus, faith is belief, and acceptance is practice.

The scope of “sentient beings in the ten directions” covers all beings with no exceptions. Every single being is the target of deliverance by Amitabha. Within Amitabha’s deliverance, each sentient being is qualified for rebirth as long as he determines to exclusively recite Amitabha’s name and aspires to be reborn in Amitabha’s Pure Land, he will be 100% assured of rebirth in the Land of Bliss with all of his karmic offenses eradicated. This is because of the great vow power of Amitabha, and the myriad merits and virtues of his Six-character Name. Therefore, faith in and acceptance of Amitabha’s deliverance are the guiding principles of our school.

Real Mark or Real Form means: our Buddha Nature, Dharma Nature, Emptiness Nature, and the realm of nirvana (with stillness, no birth and no death). As Buddhist practitioners, whether we study exoteric teachings, esoteric teachings, or any one of the eight great schools of Mahayana Buddhism, we have a goal – to realize True Suchness and Real Mark. True Suchness/ Real Mark is the common goal of all schools; only the methods of realization are different.
Pure Land School is based on Amitabha Buddha’s deliverance through our practice of Amitabha-recitation. Once we are delivered to the Land of Bliss, we realize Real Mark, just like Shakayamuni Buddha ,who suddenly became enlightened with the rising of the morning star. In the presence of True Suchness and Real Mark there, the Three Understandings, the Six Paranormal Powers, and hundreds of thousands of Dharani will be completely revealed at once.

Amitabha is a Buddha who delivers sentient beings. There is a special connotation of the word ‘deliverance.’ Deliverance is equal without any discrimination as far as those beings to be delivered are concerned. The deliverance is almost ‘unconditional’, with almost no pre-requisites or qualifications for the way to be delivered. Therefore, it can be said to be ‘equal’ deliverance. Amitabha’s deliverance is absolute and boundless, and his power is infinite.
Like a good doctor, Amitabha Buddha cares about his patients. Whether the patients are good or evil, commit offenses or not, it is his responsibility to take care of them. Whether they violate laws or not, have criminal offenses or not, it is up to policemen to arrest them and judges like King Yama to determine.
From the point of view of Amitabha Buddha, a Buddha of deliverance, whether you are kind or evil, or whether you are trapped by the law of cause and effect, does not matter. He only counts whether you repent and accept his deliverance. If you accept Amitabha’s deliverance, he will deliver you regardless of your morality, status, identity, wisdom, knowledge, or practices in cultivation. That is the reason he deserves the title ‘the Buddha who delivers sentient beings.’

Amitabha’s deliverance is proactive, equal and unconditional. Whoever aspires to be reborn in the Land of Bliss and exclusively recites Amitabha’s name (this correlates with the 18th vow, ‘wishes to be born and even ten times’ ), are all delivered.
In the parable of the Two Rivers and the White Path, Master Shandao illustrates Amitabha’s assurance and his calling as follows:” If you come here single-mindedly with right mindfulness (exclusive Amitabha-recitation), I can protect you. You need not be scared of falling into the Water River (greed) and Fire River (hatred).
All who recite Amitabha’s name exclusively (come here single-mindedly with right mindfulness) should not be scared of drowning in the water or being burned by the fire. (do not be scared of afflictions).

Pure Land teaching is a teaching of deliverance. As it is a teaching of deliverance, it is based on immeasurable compassion. Because it is immeasurable, it is unconditional. If there were any conditions, how could it be called unconditional? Thus, deliverance is thorough, proactive, equal and unconditional. Amitabha Buddha’s deliverance is exactly like that.

A person who has faith in and acceptance of Amitabha’s deliverance will definitely invoke Amitabha by name recitation. In his mind, Amitabha Buddha is the most important and the one who most deserves his gratitude; so, he naturally recites ‘Namo Amituofo, Namo Amituofo…”. He keeps on reciting it, because ‘faith in Amitabha is incorporated in his name’.

Faith must be combined with Amitabha-recitation. If we have faith but do not recite Amitabha’s name, it is not true faith. If someone says, “I have faith already, I don’t need to recite Amitabha’s name.” This faith is shallow and unreal.
If we really have faith in and acceptance of Amitabha’s deliverance, we will merge our faith with our practice of Amitabha-recitation. It doesn’t mean we have to meet a certain standard in the practice of Amitabha-recitation or become attached to any specific form of practice. It is not like that.
When we recite Amitabha’s name verbally or within our hearts, we will be joyful and energized. We are fond of reciting it naturally. It is said, “Upon hearing of the power of Amitabha’s Fundamental Vow, we will unconsciously recite Amitabha’s name joyfully.” So, we can even recite this name unconsciously.

A person who has faith in and acceptance of Amitabha’s deliverance is not egotistical in his practice. He can recite Amitabha’s name anywhere at any time in his daily life. The Larger Sutra says ‘even one recitation’ (as short as one thought), and also says ‘even ten times recitation’ (as long as one life). The Smaller Sutra says ‘in 1 day to 7 days’.
All of the Pure Land sutras state: Upon hearing of Amitabha Buddha, hold fast to Amitabha’s name from the time one’s faith commences until the end of one’s life. This kind of Amitabha-recitation is unintentional and unfocused,(taking the meaning of Amitabha-recitation to be no meaning) There is ‘no discrimination between monastic and householder, or between good and bad, no obstructions or restrictions under any circumstances – anywhere at any time.

Amitabha’s deliverance is unconditional. We should not pre-judge whether Amitabha delivers us or not, based on our feelings. Our feelings always change and are impermanent. They come when conditions ripen and go when conditions change. As all phenomena are conditioned, our feelings have no lasting substance. The Buddha teaches us to realize that our minds are impermanent.”
In particular, ordinary beings are heavily laden with deep karmic baggage and constant afflictions. Because of this, we are easily distracted by external matters and phenomena. However, whether we change to happiness or sadness, it does not affect or obstruct Amitabha’s compassionate deliverance. This is because Amitabha’s deliverance is eternal - in all three periods of time (past, present and future.)

The deliverance of Amitabha Buddha is unconditional. His offer is open to all of us at no cost, and it can be accepted right now. This is our belief and what we place our faith in, in Pure Land Buddhism.
How can we receive and honor his offer? It is honored at the time we hear, believe, and continuously recite Amitabha’s name. (as short as ten times, five times, one recitation, even one single thought of recitation, up to ten thousand times, for as long as one day, or seven days.) If we keep reciting Namo Amitabha, we are definitively assured of rebirth in the Land of Bliss. This is known as ‘even ten times recitations’ [as stated in Amitabha’s 18th vow]
Both ‘faith’ and ‘practice’ are already contained in ‘recitation’ itself. Faith refers to faith in Amitabha’s deliverance. ‘Practice’ refers to recitation of Amitabha’s name. That’s it! That is why it is said to be unconditional.
If you are busy, you can recite less. If you have more time, recite more. Even if you are near your last breath and you hear the teaching of Amitabha’s deliverance ; but, you cannot recite due to illness. If you have a thought / intention of reciting Amitabha’s name , you can still be reborn in the Land of Bliss.
One thought is the shortest time interval in our minds, so nothing is shorter than that. ‘Even one thought’ means the shortest time before dying. Thus, if you die right away, you can still be reborn in the Land of Bliss. If our life can extend longer, we should, of course, remember Amitabha, and recite his name. Thus, the time span becomes ‘even one day’, ‘even one year’, ‘even one life’, etc. This is the meaning of ‘even one thought.’
So, if we really understand what the phrase ‘even one thought’ means, we will automatically make every endeavor to spend more time reciting this name. We will never practice teachings other than reciting the name.

Amitabha Buddha has made many agreements with us. There are three major agreements:
The first agreement is: Amitabha’s 18th vow as stated in the Infinite Life Sutra -“ If, when I attain Buddhahood, sentient beings in the lands of the ten quarters who sincerely and joyfully entrust themselves to me, desire to be born in my land, and call my Name, even ten times, should not be born there, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment”. This is the agreement known as ‘assured rebirth through Amitabha-recitation’.
The second agreement is: ‘to be embraced and received by Amitabha’s light”. It is stated in the Contemplation Sutra, “Amitabha’s light illuminates all the worlds in the ten directions. It embraces and receives sentient beings who invoke or recite Amitabha Buddha’s Name.” Here we are taught that, Amitabha Buddha illuminates the whole universe with his unobstructed light. What is his purpose? He wishes to embrace and receive any sentient being who invokes or recites his name.
Amitabha Buddha’s light will shine forever on that person, so that his karmic obscurations are cleared and virtuous fortune is gained. His destiny is changed from misfortune to fortune. He is safe in tragedy. He recovers from illness and enjoys longevity. He is embraced forever by Amitabha Buddha. This agreement is known as ‘to be embraced and received by Amitabha’s light”.
What is the third agreement? It is stated in the Amitabha Sutra -“ A person who is single-minded and exclusive in the practice of Amitabha-recitation, without being confused by any miscellaneous practices, will be embraced and protected by Amitabha’s light for his entire life. In addition, at the near end of his life, Amitabha Buddha will lead a multitude of joyful, pure and sagely beings in parade, bring a special lotus flower for that person, appear before him, and transport him to the Land of Bliss. It is an agreement known as ‘reception at the near end of one’s life’. As you see, our teaching is not just the Easy Path; but, also bestows unparalleled rewards. It is based on faith in and acceptance of Amitabha’s deliverance, and not hardship and asceticism.

The words ‘joyfully’ and ‘sincerely’ in the sentence ‘sincerely and joyfully entrust themselves to me’ [in the Fundamental Vow] means ‘truly’ – I truly believe in Amitabha’s deliverance. ‘Joy’ is delight, happiness and love. The descriptions of the Land of Bliss in the sutras, are amazingly beautiful and I want to go there. For that reason, I sincerely and joyfully entrust in Amitabha. That is to say, through Amitabha’s deliverance, I can be liberated from birth and death, be reborn in the Pure Land, and achieve Buddhahood soon thereafter. Naturally, I am very happy. This kind of joy is known as ‘joyful entrusting.’
A person who sincerely and joyfully entrusts himself has a certain mindset: “always repent while reciting Amitabha’s name”, as taught by Master Shandao. Why? He knows he is an ordinary being, with heavy karmic offenses and serious afflictions. However, he cannot subdue them through his own power. If it were not for Amitabha’s deliverance, he would have no way to escape from the sea of suffering. So, when he recites Amitabha’s name, he already has a thought of repentance in his mind. If he has no thought of repentance, he is not genuine in practicing Amitabha-recitation. This is because he hasn’t grasped the severity of his situation.
He must understand that he is an ordinary being, subject to birth and death, constantly generating negative karma, life after life. For these reasons, he is not able to escape from reincarnation through his own power. He knows that only Amitabha Buddha fully accepts him, and will never abandon him. He unconditionally gives us all merits and virtues necessary for rebirth in the Land of Bliss. If we understand this principle, our state of mind will change. It changes to the mind of repentance. We understand that we are flawed incapable beings. We know what we should do; but, we cannot do it. That is why, when we recite Amitabha’s name, we must have this mental state. Thus it is said, ‘always repent while reciting Amitabha’s name’. Nevertheless, there is also joy, comfort, and happiness in our hearts. This is because we know that, although our karmic offenses are heavy, we are delivered by Amitabha Buddha.
If there were no deliverance through Amitabha, we could not be blissful, comfortable and joyful while we repent. It is interesting to note that we have repentance on one side and happiness on the other. The more you repent, the happier you are. Be happy while repenting. Repentance and joy come together. We experience this state of mind naturally through the practice of Amitabha-recitation.

In traditional Buddhism, faith means belief in the Four Noble Truths, the Twelve Links of Dependent Origination and a myriad of practices in the Six Paramitas. If we practice these teachings long enough and perfectly enough, we can transcend reincarnation, gain happiness, end sufferings, and even realize Bodhi / Enlightenment / Buddhahood. Thus, it is said in the Buddhist scriptures, “With respect to ‘reality’, ‘virtue’ and ‘capacity’, this is known as‘deep faith’ in pursuit of ultimate happiness.”
Pure mind is one of the qualities of faith in Buddhism. It means our mind is inclined to or in favor of liberation and hope. We practice the Four Noble Truths, the Twelve Links of Dependent Origination , the Six Paramitas, and the Eight Right Paths, not because of the Five Desires or the human and heavenly joy in our next lives. If we do so, our practices are not pure. Hence, it is said that ‘the nature of practice is purity in mind.’
In Buddhism, faith must be pure. Whom we have faith in must be ‘real’, ‘virtuous’, ‘capable’ of giving us happiness, ending our sufferings, and achieving Bodhi. This is the general definition of faith in the bodhisattva teachings.

What is the definition of faith in Pure Land School? It is faith in and acceptance of Amitabha’s deliverance. It is because Amitabha himself is ‘real’, ‘virtuous’ (with a myriad of practices and virtues), and Amitabha himself is ‘capable’of enabling us to leave the Saha World, and to be reborn in the Pure Land to achieve Buddhahood.
From the point of view of the Sacred Path, ‘real’ means the Four Noble Truths – Suffering, Accumulation, Extinction and Way, the Twelve Links of Dependent Origination, a myriad of virtuous practices in the Six Paramitas, etc. From the point of view of the Pure Land Path, only Amitabha is real – all worldly matters are unreal, only Buddha is real.

Determinant faith means, as we are certainly delivered and received by Amitabha, we are no longer long term citizens of the Saha Land; but, become sacred beings in the Land of Bliss. The content of determinant faith involves two kinds of deep faith, one in aptitude and the other in teaching. This determinant faith is non-dual and consistent. Its positional status is ‘aptitude and teaching as one entity’ and ‘Buddha and ordinary beings as one entity’. We are embraced and never forsaken, and dwell in the state of non-retrogression.
Because of the depth of this faith, we will have no desire to change to other religions or heterodox teachings that seek truth externally. It is just like a loyal dog that never accepts other masters, or a son with filial love that never recognizes a thief as his father. It is also like a loyal servant who is grateful for the grace of his king, and the focus of his life is the king.
Master Tanluan says, “If a bodhisattva takes refuge in a Buddha, it is just like a son taking refuge in his parents, or a loyal servant taking refuge in his king and queen. Whatever he does is not for himself, but always for the king’s grace. He always thinks of paying back the king’s grace with his virtuous deeds. He always informs the king of his rationale before he takes any action. Our state of mind with Amitabha’s deliverance is similar to this.

Determinant faith is not just a spontaneous emotion or momentary joy; but, is also the clearance of doubt (suspicion, ignorance, duality, dark mind, self-power mind, and calculative mind) by the real light of Amitabha deep inside our hearts. When brightness comes, darkness goes. Dark mind is turned to bright mind. Doubt is turned to faith. Dual mind becomes one. Self-powered mind becomes Other-Powered mind. Calculative mind is turned to equal and generous mind. If ignorance or doubt does not exist in our minds, we will be at ease, secure,and contented. Knowing that Amitabha is the one to extinguish afflictions, our faith will become firmer if our afflictions are deeper.
With the remembrance of Amitabha Buddha, we live under the embrace of Amitabha’s light for our entire lives. Though we cannot cut off the Three Poisons and we remain attached to the Five Sensual Desires, we keep trusting Amitabha, loving others, and feeling humbled. Thus, as we receive Amitabha’s great love, it inspires us to love others. We will receive Amitabha’s great forgiveness and be motivated to forgive others. We will receive Amitabha’s great generosity and learn the value of sharing.

There are two aspects of Pure Land teachings that are difficult to believe. One is about the Buddha’s teachings and the other is about our aptitude.
With respect to the teaching: an ordinary being who wishes to become a Buddha must take many kalpas, and extensively cultivate thousands of virtuous practices, in order to accumulate the necessary causal virtues.
In contrast, in Pure Land Buddhism, we accept our inabilities as flawed sentient beings, to perfectly complete the virtuous practices necessary to leave Samsara, and enter nirvana. We exclusively entrust in Amitabha’s deliverance and recite his name. In so doing, we complete the necessary causes for achieving Buddhahood. At the end of our lives, we are reborn in the Land of Bliss, realizing the wonderful rewards in the realm of unconditioned nirvana. Obviously, this transcends the normal principle of cause and effect in our conditioned world. This is also why ordinary sentient beings find it difficult to understand the incredible Pure Land teachings.
As Master Yuanzhao says in the Commentary on the Meaning of the Amitabha Sutra, “Here the teaching states - regardless of being foolish or wise, hero or layman, good or evil, experienced or new practitioner, all beings can simply vow to set forth the determinant faith and be reborn through the ‘ten-recitations’. (Even if we should bear the weight of heavy karma at the near end of our lives.) This teaching is extremely difficult for most people in our world to believe. How can a foolish ordinary being, laden with karmic attachments, suddenly enter the Pure Land and become a Buddha?
With respect to aptitude:
1. It is difficult to believe, because we strongly rely on self-powered practices in dealing with the matter of rebirth. We should detach from self-power and entirely rely on Buddha-power. However, all sentient beings are used to practicing with self-power. Ever since they set forth the Bodhi Mind in the worlds of various Buddhas, as many as the sands of the Ganges. It is very difficult to discard the mind of self-power. It is equally difficult to believe and accept the Other-power (Buddha-power), and entirely rely on Other-power.
2. The mind of pursuing teachings is weak. There is an ancient saying - rock is the hardest and water is the softest. However, water can break through rock. If our source of mind is pure, how can we not accomplish Enlightenment in the Bodhi way? If we are earnest in pursuing the teachings, we can establish faith. Nevertheless, ordinary beings are attached to mundane matters. They lack persistance in pursuing the truth; so, they find it difficult to accept in faith. For those reasons, Pure Land teachings are difficult to believe.
Though it is difficult to believe, it is easy to practice. Faith is demonstrated through practice; so, it is easy to be reborn in the Land of Bliss. Master Shandao says, ‘None are not reborn with recourse to. ..”, and also says, “always exclusively recite.” So, as long as we always exclusively recite, we can be reborn. Faith and grace are already incorporated. The Six-Character Great Name includes the three components of faith, aspiration, and practice. To conclude, it is difficult to believe but easy to practice; faith is embraced through practice; faith is incorporated in practice.

It doesn’t matter whether you know or do not know, believe or do not believe, have studied Buddhism or not. Whenever you invoke Amitabha Buddha, your body will be illuminated. Subsequently, your rancor will subside, your karmic obstructions will be cleared, and your fortune and wisdom will grow. It is as natural as paper burning when it is ignited, or becoming full when you eat.
Moreover, whoever aspires to live in the Land of Bliss must be reborn there. If we do not want to go there right now, Amitabha Buddha will never force us. So, our minds of aspiration and Amitabha’s mind are naturally connected. Therefore, those who aspire must be reborn, and those who recite Amitabha’s name must be reborn.
“To know as such, and to practice as such,” there is no need to pursue the determination of faith as a seperate entity, because the determinant faith is already there within our practice.
Those who aspire to be reborn in the Land of Bliss should know, Amitabha’s name is the same as faith, faith is the same as the name, and Amitabha-recitation is the same as rebirth. Within the name, all virtues necessary for rebirth are contained. Conversely, ordinary beings are unreal, and all of our virtues are insufficient.
Therefore, Master Shandao said, “Though we set forth the pure mind, our mind is impure and unreal, like drawing on the surface of water.” Foolish, delusive ordinary beings, want to understand what self-power is and what other-power is, and what happens if they have faith or if they have doubt, etc. In the midst of all of this endless questioning, they can unconsciously be grasped by the hands of King Yama (Lord of Hell).

Mistakes can be classified as great, little, or boundless. However, the greatest mistake is not believing in Amitabha’s deliverance. Why do we say that? It is because, if we believe Amitabha’s deliverance, we can leave the cycle of reincarnation, be reborn and achieve Buddhahood.
If we do not believe in Amitabha’s deliverance, we will continue to reincarnate within the Six Realms and eventually fall into the Three Wretched Realms. Though we may have a chance to become human beings again, we will kill, steal, engage in sexual misconduct, and tell lies. We do nothing which is not tainted. What we do is all stained. Isn’t it correct to say we commit boundless mistakes and continue to reincarnate, because we do not believe in Amitabha’s deliverance?

Among all virtues, belief in and acceptance of Amitabha’s deliverance is the most virtuous of all. The virtues of the various practices in the Six Paramitas are not comparable to the virtues of belief in and acceptance of Amitabha’s deliverance.
Due to the deficiency of our aptitudes, the merits and virtues we generate from the practices of the Six Paramitas are conditioned and flawed. They are not regarded as genuine and pure virtues. However, belief in and acceptance of Amitabha’s deliverance enables us to be reborn and to achieve Buddhahood in the Land of Bliss.
A Buddha is sufficient in blessings, virtues, and wisdom; so, he is called ‘the honored one with sufficiency in all aspects.’ If we can be reborn to achieve Buddhahood, we will not commit further mistakes or harm sentient beings. We will be able to fully deliver them, protect them from suffering, and attain happiness.
In this respect, no belief in Amitabha’s deliverance is the greatest mistake of all, and belief in and acceptance of Amitabha’s deliverance is the most rewarding of all.

All sentient beings’ minds are mixed with impurities and poisons. All sentient beings’ practices are unreal and conditioned. Only Amitabha’s mind is pure and his practices are real. Therefore, we discard the self-power practices of all flawed sentient beings and rely upon the Infinite power of Amitabha’s Fundamental Vow. We do not consider what qualifications we have or what aptitudes we have. We simply ask ourselves whether we believe Amitabha’s Fundamental Vow or not. Those who believe will be reborn; those who doubt will not.

If a person does not exclusively recite Amitabha’s name, and does not aspire to be reborn in Amitabha’s land, he does not truly believe and accept Amitabha’s deliverance. He has only a conceptual understanding.

Amitabha-recitation demonstrates that we rely on Amitabha’s vow power and that we have already accepted and received Amitabha’s merit and virtues. If you recite Amitabha’s name, it means that you are already included in Amitabha’s deliverance. It is very simple.
There are no other profound, mysterious, wonderful, peculiar, or unusual concepts, nothing. If it is profound and mysterious, or a certain realm of existence is required to achieve, it is not “ the Easy Path”. It is not the teachings that include sentient beings of three different roots of virtues, or intelligent and unintelligent sentient beings, or all those who practice it.

All of us can be reborn in the Land of Bliss, if we entirely rely on the ship of Amitabha’s great vow, fully place our trust in it, and exclusively recite Amitabha’s name. We do this because it is the source of our rebirth and is the wish of Amitabha. If we have more than two choices [of the cause of rebirth], we will not be fully relying on the ship of his great vow. If we wholly or partially rely on the merit and virtues of our own practices, then our rebirth is not certain.

Though we [Amitabha reciters] live in the sea of suffering in the Six Realms, and have not yet come to the end of our lives, we are certain that we will not fall into these realms. It is because we are already on board the great vow ship of Amitabha Buddha.
In our world, we may be in danger even if we sail on a deluxe cruise ship. However, there is no danger in sailing on the great vow ship, because it is built and controlled by Amitabha Buddha. All the sailors and servers are bodhisattvas. So, the ship will definitely reach the Pure Land’s shore without any risk. We can entirely rely on Amitabha’s deliverance.

There are two kinds of virtue, one is worldly and the other is transcendental. From Buddha’s point of view, worldly virtues are not real virtues, only the transcendental virtue is real. According to Master Shandao, the transcendental virtues refer to Amitabha-recitation. Many Buddhists may not agree with this view because there are differences in the interpretation of the teachings.
With respect to the Pure Land teachings, belief in and acceptance of those teachings regarding Amitabha, express the only worldly and transcendental virtues. The greatest foolishness is doubt and rejection of Amitabha’s teachings. It is because, a person who believes in and accepts Amitabha’s deliverance, aspires to be reborn in Amitabha’s Pure Land, and exclusively recites Amitabha’s name.
He will definitely and totally leave the cycle of rebirth within the Six Realms. Thus, there will be one less foolish person to stumble through this world, and one more Buddha to deliver sentient beings in the ten directions. Ultimately speaking, without his belief in and acceptance of Amitabha’s deliverance, none of this would be possible. Hence, deep belief or faith is the highest virtue in our teaching.

Over many previous lives, we have practiced Buddhist teachings, and have accumulated some merits through virtuous practices; however, we have continued to undergo many reincarnations because we have lacked the Buddha’s power.
Therefore, with respect to our teaching, the genuine virtue is to believe and accept Amitabha’s deliverance, and the genuine foolishness is to doubt Amitabha’s deliverance.

The Buddha’s purpose in preaching his teachings was/is: to facilitate sentient beings to receive, accept, and follow the practices he gave them. That is why he always reminds us not to doubt, to believe and accept thoroughly, from the bottom of our hearts. Benefits will be lost if we doubt, and the greatest benefit (of achieving Buddhahood) will be gained, if we believe and accept. We will continue to reincarnate within the Six Realms and commit karmic mistakes if we doubt. Our sufferings will continue to be endless and immeasurable.
To conclude, the mistake of doubt in Amitabha Buddha’s deliverance is the greatest mistake of all!

How should we rely on Amitabha’s Fundamental Vow? Truly and sincerely aspiring to be reborn in the Land of Bliss, and single-mindedly and exclusively reciting ‘Namo Amitabha’ is the way that we rely on Amitabha’s Fundamental Vow. In this way, we have already come on board the ship of Amitabha’s vow. Those who abide by these principles are assured of rebirth in the Land of Bliss.
Because of the power of Amitabha’s Fundamental Vow, heavy afflictions, heavy karmic baggage, and numerous deluded thoughts, are no longer causes preventing us from rebirth. If a person thinks that, though he recites Amitabha’s name; but, he has scattered thoughts and numerous afflictions, and, for this reason his rebirth is not assured, he is regarded as having‘doubts regarding Amitabha’s Fundamental Vow power’. He would not be considered a true practitioner of our school.
Similarly, if a person believes: he has sufficient resolve in pursuing Bodhi, has reached a high meditative realm, has accumulated abundant merits through virtuous practices, and he is confident in being reborn in this way, this person is also not a practitioner of our school.
A person who truly believes and accepts Amitabha’s deliverance is as follows: Though I have committed numerous karmic mistakes, these mistakes cannot prevent or hinder me from Amitabha’s deliverance; though I have merit and virtues, it does not increase, even a little, my chance of rebirth, and does not facilitate Amitabha’s deliverance.

The methods of Buddha’s deliverance are: to deliver through paranormal powers, to deliver through his body of light, and to deliver through his Name. Amitabha Buddha delivers sentient beings through his name. Amitabha Buddha’s name consists of inconceivable merit and virtues. It also consists of unimpeded light, shining throughout all the worlds in the ten directions. Hence, this name is also called ‘the Name of Light.’
When we exclusively recite his name, Amitabha Buddha’s light will embrace and receive us, and never forsake us. Embracing and receiving means protection and deliverance. Without forsaking means, to never abandon us; and, at the near end of our lives, receiving us to be reborn in the Land of Bliss.
If we recite the names of the Buddhas of the ten directions, they may not have vowed ‘without forsaking.’ Moreover, various Buddhas of the ten directions are not the king of all Buddhas, only Amitabha Buddha is.

Amitabha Buddha delivers sentient beings through his Name. So, we should believe in and accept his deliverance by exclusively reciting his Name.

The standard for faith in Amitabha’s deliverance is not based on our own feelings, nor can it be produced through our minds. It is based on something ‘external’ that is objective in existence. For example, it is said there is a Taipei 101 tower in Taiwan. If we have seen the Taipei 101 tower, we would have an image of Taipei 101 in our mind.
So, our belief is based on the objective existence of Taipei 101. We believe the existence of Taipei 101 because it exists objectively; our belief cannot be produced by our own feelings if the tower does not exist. Hence, our belief comes into being only after an objective reality is available.

In the paragraph on the fulfilment of the 18th Vow, it says, “Upon hearing his Name, one is joyful and believes in his name.” Hearing Amitabha Buddha is hearing his Name. So, upon hearing Amitabha Buddha, we receive and accept Amitabha’s Name in our hearts. It means ‘holding fast to the name.’
However, Amitabha is shapeless, formless and odorless. Our eyes can’t see him, our ears can’t hear him, our hands can’t catch him; but, we can receive his Name, and accept his deliverance within our hearts.
So, the true meaning of ‘holding fast to the name upon hearing Amitabha Buddha’, is to believe and accept Amitabha’s deliverance. This is called ‘holding fast to the name’, and ‘hearing Amitabha Buddha.’
Amitabha Buddha comes to save and deliver us. His pro-active, equal, and non-discriminative compassion deeply touches our hearts. All of our doubts are cleared. We make a 180 degree turn around, as our doubts turn to faith, and to Amitabha’s kindness and compassion. This is called ‘holding fast to the Name.’

Viewing from different perspectives, however, the commentaries and short teachings written by our patriarchs aim at one common goal – to inspire us to put faith in the principle of “assured rebirth through name recitation”. While we may make various inferences, think about each and every facet of the issue, or even contemplate the profound and mysterious meanings of it - we are really unable to grasp the true scope of faith. The patriarchs teach us that it doesn’t matter if you believe or not, you are assured of rebirth through name recitation. In this respect, our faith is inspired at once, and our mind is set at ease.
Moreover, Amitabha’s deliverance is really so. Whom does Amitabha deliver? He delivers those who aspire and recite his name. When we receive and accept this principle, we have already put faith in it, isn’t it so?

Reciting Amitabha’s name is receiving and accepting all of Amitabha’s merits and virtues. Reciting Namo Amitabha is taking refuge, expressing faith, aspiration, and practice all combined. So, faith, aspiration and practice are all contained within the six-character name. We don’t need to find faith and aspiration elsewhere, or find other practices to dedicate for rebirth.Hence, all those who recite this six-character name can be reborn.
If we recite Amitabha’s name and are unable to attain rebirth, the problem must be on our side. If we do not want to be reborn in the Land of Bliss, we will not be. If we have determined to be reincarnated as a human being, or to stay in the Saha world, Amitabha Buddha will abide by our choice. So, when we recite this six-character name, we must have the mind of aspiration to rebirth in the Land of Bliss. In this way, the name matches with its true meaning and purpose, and is known as “practice truly as such”.

In Pure Land Buddhism, faith refers to faith in Amitabha’s deliverance. Only Amitabha is real. Only Amitabha’s great six character name is truly the crystallization of a myriad of Amitabha’s virtues. One who believes in and accepts Amitabha’s deliverance and exclusively recites Amitabha’s name will be reborn in the Land of Bliss.
This great six-character name means the circumstantial reward (fulfillment) and the direct reward (fulfillment) are one entity. Circumstantial fulfillment is the Land of bliss and the direct fulfillment is Amitabha Buddha himself. Both of them are inseparable from the great six character name. We can reach the state of nirvana in the Land of Bliss by solely practicing Amitabha-recitation.
This faith is based on the belief that the achievement of Buddhahood by Dharmakara bodhisattva is true, and this fact becomes the content of our faith. This faith does not originate from our minds; but, has to depend on externality—an external and objective fact, in which we have faith in our minds.
For example, there is a College of Pure Land Buddhism in Xiangshan District. Owing to the fact that the College of Pure Land Buddhism does exist objectively, it naturally becomes our belief or faith. We don’t need to make use of any other means to produce faith artificially. When we receive, affirm, and accept this fact as truth, it becomes our faith.

Faith is not deposited in the believer, nor produced by us on our own, or sought by us somewhere else; faith is the credo ‘assured rebirth through name recitation’ itself. Thus, the last two verses in Master Shandao’s “Forty-Eight-Character Explication of the Fundamental Vow” states “sentient beings who recite the name are assured of rebirth”. This is very clear and bright, just like the sun rises high in the sky illuminating the universe.

Having no doubt about rebirth and no doubt about Amitabha Buddha’s deliverance –that is “reciting Amitabha’s name in accord with the truth”. Reciting Amitabha’s name without any doubt is practicing in accord with the truth.

There are two kinds of ignorance: general and particular. The general ignorance is ignorance due to delusion, and the particular ignorance is ignorance through doubt. Ignorance under the influence of delusion refers to all kinds of afflictions such as: greed, hatred and delusion.( under which all kinds of ignorance are covered.) Ignorance through doubt refers to doubt about Amitabha’s deliverance. Thus, the general one refers to all kinds of ignorance(arising from greed, hatred, and delusion),while the particular one refers to ignorance from doubt.
If we can, however, mend our ignorance through doubt about Amitabha’s deliverance and accept it, nothing can prevent us from attaining rebirth. (even when greed, hatred and delusion are still around). It is because, upon rebirth in the Land of Bliss, greed, hatred and delusion will definitely be cut off.
As long as the physical body exists, greed, hatred and delusion will naturally arise and we inevitably continue accumulating negative karma. These karmic actions, however, will no longer be barriers to rebirth. Take snow as an analogy. Snow will pile up if it falls on the ground; but, it will melt away immediately when it falls in the warm water of the Pacific Ocean. The teachings of the Pure Land School create this same effect.

When the compassionate vow that Amitabha Buddha (with his true dharma body and his compassion body) saves sentient beings, is completely received and accepted in our minds. If it is not mixed with our own calculations, opinions, and schematic considerations, the faith is considered pristine.
Therefore, if our faith is pristine, doubts will be cleared and destroyed forever. If our faith is not pristine, doubts will remain in our mind. Because of doubt, our faith is not singular, is easily shaken, and never determined. We keep on pondering “maybe this way or another way; maybe add on this or that? That ought to do it!…”. We seem to have many kinds of faith; but, none of them is conclusive. In such a case we say,“the faith is not singular”.
If our faith is exclusive and singular, we will naturally recite Amitabha’s name. This kind of name recitation is called cultivation in accordance with the truth, or name recitation in accordance with the truth. If we don’t have this kind of faith, it is not regarded as name recitation in accordance with the truth.
This is only true, however, on the side of sentient beings. If we view it from the side of Amitabha Buddha, his deliverance is applicable to all sentient beings in the ten directions. Whether you know it or not, believe it or not, Amitabha Buddha will deliver us all.
The only worry is that some people do not practice, because they are uninformed or do not believe. If you can accept and recite the name through the remainder of this life, you are assured of rebirth. This is because faith is fully contained within the practice of name recitation. Amitabha’s name does all of the driving.

Nagarjuna Bodhisattva says, “One should hold fast to name recitation with a reverent mind.” What is a “reverent mind”? Thoroughly discard the mind of self-reliance, the persistent mind of reliance on other teachings, and any doubt of Amitabha’s deliverance. Completely and wholeheartedly entrust in Amitabha’s deliverance. This is the definition of the “reverent mind”.

Faith, in Buddhism, is the complete belief in what Shakyamuni Buddha taught. A Buddha’s words are always true and absolutely trustworthy. If we cannot believe the Buddha’s teachings, it is because we read and hear only the principle of the teaching. If we are aware enough, we shall believe the teachings upon reading and hearing them. If not, we must try to absorb what we are capable of.
Gradually, if we open our minds to Amitabha, we will be lead to accept truths beyond our intellect and fears.
Those of us who are of medium or low aptitude,will only accept as true, teachings they can intellectually “prove”. For example, the sutra says: “If you travel westward from here, passing a hundred thousand kotis of Buddha-lands, you come to a place called the Land of Bliss, where there is a Buddha named Amitabha”. It is clearly stated in the sutra: there is the Land of Bliss and there is Amitabha Buddha. However, if there is no factual evidence, we cannot believe. What should we do?
We publish books such as, ‘Accounts of Amitabha-recitation’, that are intended to enable us to believe after reading them. We can also read accounts about the retributions of causal karma, the law of cause and effect over three periods of time, and reincarnation within the Six Realms. These methods can enhance our faith in Master Shandao’s teaching – assured rebirth in the Land of Bliss through exclusive recitation of Amitabha’s name.

Deliverance (Salvation) is paramount in Pure Land Buddhism. Deliverance reflects the great kindness and great compassion of Buddhism. Great kindness means unconditional great kindness. Great compassion means great compassion of the same substance. It also means: eliminating sufferings due to endlessly being reborn in Samsara, and rendering happiness through the achievement of Buddhahood.

Amitabha’s vows are of great kindness, great compassion, great vow power, and great equality. Great kindness and compassion describe Amitabha’s supremely loving heart. It is so vast that all sentient beings, no matter who they are, will be saved and delivered by Amitabha Buddha. Great Vow power means that Amitabha Buddha is capable of delivering each and every sentient being. Great equality means, each and every sentient being is given the same chance for rebirth by reciting the Name. In so doing, they can attain the same outcome in achieving Buddhahood.
Amitabha’s great kindness, great compassion, great vow power, and great equality, cover all sentient beings. This includes: bodhisattvas of equal enlightenment , those who have no virtuous roots, have committed the gravest offenses, and slandered Buddha’s teachings. That is to say, “it covers every stratum.” Among the ten dharma realms, all sentient beings in the nine realms (other than the realm of buddhas), must rely on Buddha’s power for expediting their achievement of Buddhahood.

There is no doubt ordinary human beings of the lowest level on the lowest tier, with heavy karmic debts have to rely on Amitabha’s power for rebirth in the Land of Bliss. Even bodhisattvas of equal enlightenment , such as Manjusri and Samantabhadra, are in need of Amitabha Buddha’s power for rebirth in the Land of Bliss.

The only concern regarding rebirth is that we do not believe in and accept Amitabha’s deliverance, and do not aspire to be reborn in the Land of Bliss. In such a situation, we are not responding to, or in alignment with, Amitabha Buddha; otherwise, everyone can be saved because Amitabha’s deliverance is readily available.

Amitabha’s deliverance is non-discriminative and equal. It doesn’t matter whether you are a sagely or ordinary being, a good or evil person, a monastic or householder, a practitioner or not, or whether your mind is pure or not; all of them can be embraced by Amitabha’s deliverance. As long as they aspire to be reborn in the Land of Bliss, and recite Amitabha’s name, their rebirth is assured.

The great compassion that Amitabha Buddha shares with us is proactive, equal, and unconditional. Even in the case of a person listening to this teaching at the last minute before death, and just tries to recite the name ten times, five times, one time, or even a thought (because the tongue is numb). As soon as one thinks of Amitabha Buddha for rebirth in the Land of Bliss, even during their last breath, rebirth in the Land of Bliss is accomplished. To recap, if we have one thought of aspiration for rebirth, or one thought of Amitabha-recitation, we can be reborn in the Land of Bliss.
This reveals the great kindness and great compassion of Amitabha Buddha.

Great kindness and great compassion, born of love that is pure and equal, are the most treasured traits in Buddhism. Is there any pollutant in the love of a Buddha? No, it is pure. Is the love of a Buddha discriminating? No, it is not.
He has no attachment to any form of self, others, sentient beings, or living beings of any kind. In his sight, all are equal: friends, enemies, men, women, monastics, housholders, good, or bad. If he discriminated against any of them, the love would not be equal. If it is not equal, it is not pure.
Each sentient being in the ten directions is Amitabha’s single child. Being the king of all buddhas, Amitabha Buddha gives us all his merits and virtues. If we accept his priceless gift, we can leave the cycle of reincarnation. If we do not accept it and think , “No way, how can it be so easy? Amitabha-recitation is too simple and lacks profound teachings. It is impossible to attain rebirth by just reciting and reciting. No way, it can’t be that easy!Unfortunately for you, this means you do not believe in and accept Amitabha’s deliverance, and you will continue to reincarnate in your future lives.

All sentient beings are targets of Amitabha’s deliverance. Sentient beings who are to be delivered by Amitabha Buddha are not excluded for any reason. He delivers them under any circumstance. It is because Amitabha Buddha knows very well that sentient beings carry severe afflictions, their karmic baggage is very heavy, and we are tightly bound by the rope of karma.
So long as we are mindful of Amitabha Buddha, Amitabha Buddha will immediately be present in our minds. Amitabha’s splendid body of light with the functional threefold body, the fourfold wisdom, the tenfold power, and the fourfold fearlessness, is manifested in our body and mind.

Amitabha’s deliverance is unconditional and non-discriminative, at any time and in any place. Hence, all people can be rescued and reborn under any circumstances. If we can read and understand more about Amitabha’s boundless compassion, we will naturally be confident and feel at ease.

The targets of Amitabha’s deliverance are equal with no difference. As a Buddha perceives reality, there is no different and not different. It is only due to our limited aptitude and capacity that we distinguish different and not different. What is truly different is our level of belief and acceptance.

The Pure Land school of Buddhism is the teaching of deliverance—belief in and acceptance of Amitabha’s deliverance. As far as deliverance is concerned, our emancipation does not rely upon our own capability; but, totally on Amitabha’s deliverance.
For deliverance, the one who delivers must have absolute (genuine) love, as well as absolute (infinite) strength—strong enough to deliver beings of whatever aptitude. That is called “the great kindness and compassion”. Great kindness and compassion is absolutely equal, non-discriminative, and treats enemies and friends equally.

Our school is a teaching of reliance on Amitabha’s deliverance. For reliability of rebirth and kind of rebirth, the reliance on Amitabha Buddha should be complete- no reliance on our effort, no reliance on our merits and virtues, no reliance on meditative practices, no reliance on entering Samadhi through Amitabha-recitation. It is not relying on the dedication of the Six Paramitas or a myriad of other virtuous practices accumulated in this life, in order to be more assured of rebirth and to attain a higher level of rebirth.
We depend on Amitabha Buddha, not ourselves, for aspiration for rebirth and deliverance to the Land of Bliss. We merely do the will of Amitabha. Amitabha advises us to recite his name, so we do. Therefore, our responsibility is to recite, and Amitabha’s responsibility is to receive and guide us for rebirth in the Land of Bliss. Being reborn in the Land of Bliss and attaining Buddhahood there, we depend solely on the power of Amitabha Buddha.

We are born as human beings, come across the Buddhist teaching, and eventually encounter the dharma teaching of Amitabha’s deliverance, by no accident. It is Amitabha’s power and compassion that looks after us and fosters our growth. If it were otherwise, how could we foolish,iniquitous sentient beings believe and accept this dharma teaching?

Our school is the teaching of deliverance that features: Name recitation in accord with the Fundamental Vow; Ordinary beings reborn in the land of reward; Assured rebirth in this lifetime; Non-retrogression in the present life.
Given that rebirth is assured in this lifetime, practitioners should not have greater expectations from this school, or feel dissatisfied; if he does, it means that he has not correctly understood the incredible gifts of this teaching. So, if a practitioner cannot appreciate the value of this Path, he should make every effort to undrestand, believe, and accept Amitabha’s deliverance.

If we have not realized Amitabha’s compassionate deliverance, our faith is not yet determined. How can we improve this situation? Try this method: before realizing Amitabha’s deliverance, we should affirm that for rebirth in the Land of Bliss, we must discard all other teachings, and exclusively recite Amitabha’s name, just as Master Shandao told us.
Simultaneously, we should try to realize what is meant by “aptitude” and what is meant by “teaching”. In this process, the compassionate mind of Amitabha Buddha will be brought into our hearts.
However, if you accept that rebirth is assured by single-minded Amitabha-recitation, and recite the name for the rest of your entire life, you will be reborn there with100% certainty! The reason is that the teaching of this school is all about Other-Power. Even when we don’t know about the way to rebirth, Amitabha Buddha has already joined his palms for ten eons (kalpas in Sanskrit), asking us to aspire to be reborn in his Pure Land. Now that we have renounced the Saha land and aspired to be reborn in the Land of Bliss by reciting Amitabha’s name, how can we not be reborn? It is the function of the name to naturally facilitate and enable us to be reborn in the Land of Bliss.
Hence, we have in this sense thrown away the concepts of self-power and other-power, and dumped the issues of faith and doubt. Faith naturally exists inside the name. In our teaching, instead of saying “we believe”, it is better to say “we are Allowed to Believe!”. We don’t have the power to believe on our own. Lacking the power to have faith, we must simply receive and let Amitabha’s compassion enter our hearts upon hearing of it. Our faith is based on and fostered by Amitabha’s compassion.

Students of our Dharma teaching should understand that by name-recitation alone, we are given an immediately assured status for rebirth, and become those being delivered by Amitabha Buddha.
Our recitation of Amitabha’s name at present is a technical requirement made to match our aptitudes and capacities as individuals. Whether we can do it well or not, or whether we can meet the requirement satisfactorily or not, doesn’t affect the result as far as rebirth is concerned. In this respect, it returns to “faith”.
What is behind this faith? It is the Name. Because our Name recitation depends on Amitabha’s Vow Power, the faith that we emphasize here is not the kind of belief found through our own perception, or our personal experience. Faith that is found through our experience is intangible, and will change eventually.
Master Shandao says, “Although we set forth a pure mind, it is just like drawing on water.” We may have a certain kind of feeling, but it is not reliable. It comes with conditions, so it passes away quickly. It is because the impression in our mind is ever changing, not everlasting. Only Amitabha’s name is everlasting, as is our reliance on the Name. What we need to do is simply recite Amitabha’s name in accordance with our own individual aptitude.
Our faith should always return to this kind of faith, and be understood in this context. Thus is born the saying, “Those who have faith should believe in this; those who practice should practice this.”
At this point, we have thrown away the ideas of self-power and other-power,and scrapped the meanings of faith and doubt. Naturally, faith is planted in the name. In our school of teaching, instead of saying “we believe”, it is better to say “we are enabled to believe”. We don’t have the power to believe. We have no capacity/aptitude to believe because we have no self-power. We simply receive and let Amitabha’s compassion enter our hearts upon hearing of it. Our faith is based on and abides in Amitabha’s compassion.

Practitioners put their faith in Amitabha Buddha, and that is why they profess “faith in other-power”. So they truly believe and accept Amitabha’s compassionate deliverance, exactly as stated in his vows. This is called “right faith”. This “right faith” is described as “joyfully entrusting ourselves” in the 18th Vow, and as “confidence”, in the passage on the accomplishment of the 18th Vow, in the Great Sutra. So, the meaning of “joyfully entrusting ourselves”, “confidence”, and “right faith” are the same.
The content of this faith is the Name that is Amitabha Buddha himself! The Name and name recitation are identical. So, Master Shandao says, “to recite my Name”, when he explains the “three kinds of faith” [also known as the Three Mental States] in the Fundamental Vow. Name recitation, in this context, is different from general Buddha invocation.( commonly practiced in other schools.) It is specifically referred to as “the single-minded and exclusive recitation of Amitabha’s name , no matter whether one is walking, standing, sitting, or lying. It also covers the meaning of “even ten times” in the Fundamental Vow. If we can always exclusively recite Amitabha’s name, our faith is deeply embedded. It enables us “to gain access to the Buddha’s wisdom unobtrusively, and to align with the wonderful Way unobserved”. That is the reason why the Master interprets it as “to recite my Name”. If you profess faith but do not recite Amitabha’s name, you are not living the “right faith”.

Bodhisattva Nagarjuna says, “If people have doubts and cultivate the root of virtues, their lotus flowers will not blossom. Those who are pure in faith, will see the Buddha when their flowers blossom.” This teaching reveals that those with doubt will stay inside the bud, and those with faith will see the Buddha while their flowers blossom.
There are two explanations: First, the phrase “persons who cultivate the root of virtues” refers to the 19th Vow that expounds on the Bodhi Mind, and practices for various meritorious virtues. These are fundamental to all merits and virtues. The 19th Vow, however, attempts to attain rebirth by dedication of merits and virtues cultivated by one’s Self-Power. It seems to express doubt in Amitabha Buddha. Hence, “their lotus flowers will not blossom if they have doubts”.
It indicates that the only people who can really recite Amitabha’s name in accordance with Amitabha’s Fundamental Vow, are those “who believe in and accept Amitabha’s deliverance”. Only those “who believe in and accept Amitabha’s deliverance” will single-mindedly and exclusively recite Amitabha’s name whole-heartedly, without any doubt or reservation.
Second, some people do exclusively recite Amitabha’s name for their whole lives; but, they do not know the “Other-Power” deliverance by Amitabha, and do not understand the reasoning of the Fundamental Vow. Will these people be born inside the bud, or born by instant manifestation? As far as the Name is concerned, the Name Is Amitabha himself! So, no matter what mentality those people have, if and only if they exclusively practice Amitabha-recitation, will they be reborn in the Pure Land, and see the Buddha with their flowers blossomed.
The doubtful mind is a mental state that exists when our body is still in the Saha World. For a person who exclusively recites Amitabha’s name, his doubts will be cleared immediately upon seeing the Buddha at the time close to the end of his life. It doesn’t matter whether he has doubt or not, or if his doubt is deep or shallow. That is to say, all those who exclusively recite Amitabha’s name will be reborn by manifestation, and they will not stay inside the buds. That is the reason Bodhisattva Nagarjuna says, “ those people who have doubts and cultivate the root of virtues, will not have their lotus flowers blossom.” He uses “root of virtues”, but not “name recitation” for his explanation of faith and doubt.

In Pure Land Buddhism, faith is described as “attaining assured rebirth by reciting the name of Amitabha Buddha, as many times as we can—up to the end of one’s life, or as few as just one time, or one thought”. Thereafter our faith is determined, we will naturally exclusively recite Amitabha’s name at all times in our lives. Master Shandao says, “to recite Amitabha’s name without intermittence / interruption”, “to recite without forsaking”, and “always repent when we recite Amitabha’s name without forsaking.” So, we should always recite Amitabha’s name.
The Fundamental Vow says, “even ten times”; the Accomplishment Text says “even one thought”. So, how can a person not be reborn if he recites ten times or one thought at a time near to the end of his life? Therefore, people who recite Amitabha’s name for their whole lives, will certainly be assured of rebirth. Some ignorant people attach their faith to a single recitation, and abandon the practice of name recitation for the remainder of their lives. Subsequently, their faith is not correct faith, and their practice is not correct practice [by the above definition]. That is not Pure Land teaching at all.

With respect to the Pure Land teaching, the cause of birth-and-death and nirvana is determined by doubt or faith, not delusion or enlightenment. Those who have faith will be reborn, and those who have doubt will not.Just like a patient, if he Trusts the doctor’s advice (faith), and takes the prescribed medication (Amitabha-recitation), he will be cured as expected. However, if he doesn’t believe the doctor’s words and doesn’t take the medication, he will remain sick.
Although serious illness is the cause, not taking the medication eventually ends his life. Our serious illness of afflictions cannot be healed on its own. We must take the Agada medicine—the great six-character name , as accomplished by Amitabha Buddha in his Fundamental Vow. It cures not only our diseases; but, also makes our lives infinite, our bodies and minds healthy and stable, free and relaxed, with the six paranormal powers.

If a person cultivates various practices and dedicates them for rebirth in the Land of Bliss, he is regarded as NOT entirely believing and accepting Amitabha’s deliverance, and will NOT fully receive Amitabha’s merits. That is to say, he doubts Amitabha’s deliverance. To compensate for this doubt, he practices various virtues in addition to Amitabha-recitation, and subsequently wraps them all up together and dedicates them for rebirth. He may think this is a more ‘reliable’way to attain rebirth. He may also think Amitabha’s power of deliverance is not sufficient, and these additional merits and virtues are ‘helpful’ for his rebirth.
If this is what he thinks, he does not understand the principle of Amitabha’s deliverance of sentient beings. For those reasons he is regarded as NOT entirely believing and accepting Amitabha’s deliverance.

Is it truthful to say that cultivating various practices to dedicate for rebirth is having doubt in Buddha’s wisdom? In this case, the cause and effect are reciprocal, and from the effect we can get the idea about the cause.
If you don’t doubt the Buddha’s wisdom, why do you dedicate various practices for rebirth? Because you don’t believe, accept, and understand the deliverance of Amitabha’s Fundamental Vow. To compensate you cultivate various practices for dedication.
In the passage about rebirth by womb and by manifestation, the Infinite Life Sutra says, “They doubt these wisdoms; but, still believe in retribution for evil and reward for virtue. So, they cultivate a stock of merits, aspiring for rebirth in that land."
That is to say, they do not believe in the wisdom of Amitabha Buddha; but, still believe in the retribution of cause and effect. Hence, they cultivate various merits and virtues in dedication for rebirth. If that is the case, they will be reborn in the bud.

All those who recite Amitabha’s name are protected by various buddhas in the ten directions, and will never retrogress on the Bodhi Way. Because of these splendid benefits, Shakyamuni Buddha implores us, “You should believe and accept my words, and the words of all other buddhas as well.”
He advises us to believe and accept what he says, and not to doubt. It is because “Faith is the origin of the Way and the mother of all merits and virtues. It fosters the growth of all roots of virtues”. When faith commences, all benefits come. After the establishment of faith, it is a matter of course that we aspire to be reborn in the Land of Bliss.

By the time that we believe and accept Amitabha’s deliverance, aspire to be reborn in the Land of Bliss, and recite the Name, we have already boarded Amitabha’s ship. This doesn’t mean we have to recite his Name single-mindedly with an undistracted mind, or at a level of proficiency to reach a certain realm, or we cannot be on board. It also doesn’t mean we have to recite his Name now, with the ambition of attaining one-pointed recitation in future, in order to be on board. The correct understanding is: at the moment of believing and accepting, and at the moment of reciting the Name, we are immediately on board.

A true Samadhi is your aspiration to be reborn in the Land of Bliss, your exclusive recitation of Amitabha’s name, and your abstaining from the cultivation of sundry practices. This assures rebirth. This is the Samadhi of Amitabha-recitation in our teaching.

Existing in this world, our body may severely suffer from poverty and hardship. It will reincarnate within the Six Realms after death; so, it is painful beyond words. Amitabha Buddha, being a great donor, comes to deliver us. At this point, all merits and virtues that we Amitabha reciters receive, are given by Amitabha Buddha. That is the reason it is called ‘Buddha-power’. We will be reborn through Amitabha-recitation with recourse to the Buddha’s power.
The Sutra says, “Deliver the teachings to those poor ordinary beings without their request.” Amitabha Buddha freely gives us the teaching of rebirth. Yet, we foolish beings in the ten directions don’t even know to accept! Therefore in our teaching, we only talk about the teaching of Amitabha’s deliverance, the belief in and acceptance of Amitabha’s deliverance, and the exclusive recitation of Amitabha’s name, due to our belief in and acceptance of the teaching of Amitabha’s deliverance.

Some Amitabha reciters who lack knowledge of the fundamental teachings do not feel at ease, even though they practice exclusive Amitabha-recitation. They worry that, although their body is healthy and their mind is sound for the time being, when they come near to the end of life, they may suffer from a serious illness and be unable to recite Amitabha’s name vocally. They may even go into a coma and become unconscious of Amitabha-recitation. They may also suddenly be subject to: an aviation accident, marine perils, a vehicle collision, earthquake, flooding, fire, hurricane, and other natural disasters. In such unforeseen calamities, they are unable to recite Amitabha’s name before dying. They feel uncertain whether they can be reborn in the Land of Bliss in such situations.
These worries are really unnecessary. If they do worry, it indicates that they have little cognizance of the sutra based evidence, commentary based evidence , and account based evidence.
As long as an Amitabha reciter entrusts himself to Amitabha’s deliverance, and puts his mind on reciting Amitabha’s name throughout his life, his destiny is already decided. Amitabha will come to receive him at his death, and he doesn’t need to doubt or worry about rebirth.
Amitabha Buddha says, “Take all fears and horrors as great joy and peace.” We are able to do this because, Pure Land Buddhism restores our peace of mind, gives us joy, contentment, and hope. If someone doesn’t feel at ease with Amitabha-recitation, he has not fully understood Pure Land Buddhism.

Whether the people delivered are good or evil is not counted in the process of deliverance, as the teaching is transcendental. It is designated for those who cannot be salvaged by their own power. We cannot understand the true mind or see its nature, cannot subdue our afflictions, and cannot purify our own minds. Conversely, our afflictions are flourishing, our karmic weight is heavy. Our blessings and wisdom are as thin as a piece of paper, and the karmic obstacle is as high as sky.
However, we are lucky and joyful. Not only because we come across the Buddhist teachings. We realize we are more blessed to hear the teaching of Amitabha’s deliverance, the dharma sound of Amitabha Buddha calling those ‘wishing to be reborn in my Land’.
This sound breaks through our tightly closed hearts, awakens us from this gloomy dream, arouses our earnest aspiration to be reborn in that land, and inspires us to vow not to retrogress in this life. As we respond to Amitabha’s call; action and reaction come together in one entity, forever inseparable.

As long as you recite Amitabha’s name, at all times, each and every recitation is aspiration, as well as dedication for rebirth. So, every name recitation reveals the merits and virtues Amitabha dedicates to us, and calls on us to allow his deliverance. Each recitation also reveals that we believe, follow, and obey Amitabha’s deliverance, receive his merits and virtues, and aspire to be reborn in the Land of Bliss. Every recitation is an expression of this kind of mindset. It says, “By one recitation, we respond to the Buddha once; by many recitations, we respond to the Buddha many times”.

A person who believes in and accepts Amitabha’s deliverance, of course, has confidence in and reverent respect for Amitabha Buddha. He acts according to a good conscience and is ashamed of his misconduct. In addition, he cherishes a loving heart and is forgiving to others. Why? It is because he realizes the love, kindness, and forgiveness Amitabha Buddha has given him. When he realizes the great love of Amitabha Buddha, he is humbled and acknowledges that he is a foolish, imperfect being. Whenever there is a fault in his speech or action, he will regret it more deeply and try his best to improve.

Our doubt about Amitabha Buddha can be dissipated by the Infinite Light contained in his Name. On one hand, through a deep and comprehensive study of the teachings and a full understanding of the principles, we can foster a belief in and eliminate any doubt that sentient beings will certainly be reborn through Amitabha-recitation. On the other hand, as long as we exclusively recite Amitabha’s name, we are also able to imperceptibly nourish a belief in Amitabha’s deliverance and dispel our doubts. In general, however, it is easier to eliminate doubts and establish faith through comprehension of the properties inherent in the Name of Light.

If a person hears and believes in Amitabha’s deliverance and the principle of the Name, he will find joy in the dharma when he is troubled. He will be comforted even when he feels so annoyed that he cannot recite the Name. He will also be more able to endure unfavorable situations that may enter his life.
When difficulties come, he will not take them as is. When suffering comes, he will not care about it. Even if he cannot recite the Name, his mind remains peaceful and stable. At the same time, if he can recite the Name, he will stop the painful uttering of “aah, aah” and replace it with “‘Namo Amituofo, Namo Amituofo.”
Moreover, those who can hear and believe in Amitabha’s deliverance, will experience a change in consciousness. When Amitabha Buddha delivers us, he does not argue or bargain with us; on the contrary, he forgives us generously. We are touched by his great forgiveness, and, in turn, forgive others and do not argue with them.

Those who aspire to be reborn in the Land of Bliss and exclusively recite Amitabha’s name, should know they are no longer the ‘guests’ of the Land of Saha; but, are already sages living in the Land of Bliss. (since they have been living within the embrace of Amitabha’s light, and will enter the realm of unconditioned nirvana after they die). This is known as assured rebirth in the present life. Our body in this life is formed by karmic causation. If the karmic causation in this life comes to an end, and the past karmic conditions are over, our life will end too. If the karmic debt has not yet ended and the past karmic conditions are still active, the life of our body cannot end.
Those Amitabha reciters who have broken their cycle of birth-and-death, and determined to be reborn without obstructions, will have their sufferings naturally turned into joy, even though their lives have not yet ended.
Sufferings can be classified as fundamental sufferings and secondary sufferings: worldly sufferings are secondary (the branches and twigs), while the suffering of birth-and-death is fundamental (the stem and roots).
If the stem and roots are cut off, the branches and twigs will wither naturally. If a person always feels the secondary sufferings, it implies that the fundamental suffering still exists, and that he does not really believe in Amitabha’s deliverance. We have to think about this point deeply.

Master Ouyi says in his works, Exegesis of the Meaning of the Amitabha Sutra, “One call ‘Amitabha Buddha’ is the dharma of Anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi (the Perfect Enlightenment) obtained by Shakyamuni Buddha, the fundamental teacher in the defiled world of the fivefold turbidity. Now, Amitabha Buddha offers the entire fruition of his Perfect Enlightenment to sentient beings in the defiled world of the fivefold turbidity.
Master Ouyi says that the unsurpassed, equal, and perfect enlightenment that Shakyamuni Buddha realized is this name of Amitabha. This explanation is astonishing, stunning, and amazing. From this we can see that the realm of Amitabha’s name is common only to the Buddhas. It goes beyond the imagination of bodhisattvas, sravakas, or pratyekabuddhas.
It doesn’t matter if we think we understand Amitabha’s name, we can only believe and accept it unconditionally. If we want to defer our acceptance until we understand it, it is simply impossible because it is a realm beyond our imagination.
Then, what is the connotation of “belief” in terms of “believing and accepting”? It means “no effort to be made”, because it is a kind of belief that gives complete obedience to an authority, not one that is fostered through comprehension.
So, with respect to the Buddhist teachings and the commentaries expounded by the patriarchs in the same lineage, we should adopt an attitude of accepting them unconditionally, and do not raise any questions. If someone insists on holding opinions different from the sutras and the patriarchs’teachings, they are no longer disciples of the Buddha!

Pristine Pure Land Buddhism is a teaching beyond human sentiment and worldly knowledge. It is a realm within the buddhas. With respect to ordinary beings, we can only believe and accept it unconditionally, without any argument.
‘Inconceivable’ refers to the compassionate deliverance of Amitabha. Therefore,those who wish to enter the Pure Land should believe and accept Amitabha’s deliverance.

Once receiving Amitabha’s deliverance, believers want to share the teachings with others. However, when you attempt to do so, you will become well aware of your inadequacy. What then should you do? Read more books about the Pure Land teachings of the lineage of Master Tanluan, Master Daochuo and Master Shandao. Listen more to recordings that explain the teachings of this lineage and think about them. Once the principles of Amitabha’s deliverance are realized, there will be more substance to your introductory talks on the teachings.
In addition to this, you should observe the aptitude of the listener, assessing whether he can accept or not, and how much he can possibly accept. If you find he cannot accept at all, or even slanders the teachings, you should think of something appropriate for him. If you find the listener can accept, think of a way that the he will accept easily. Our purpose is to lead him to eventually accept. To accomplish this, we have to use various kinds of expedient means.
In brief, only if we can do good for ourselves, can we do good for others. Only if we believe and accept Amitabha’s deliverance, can we influence others to believe and accept the same. If our belief is very superficial, the chance of making others believe will be very slim, if not impossible.
So, we must start with ourselves, and equip ourselves. Only those who can swim can rescue those drowning in water. If you cannot swim, you cannot help others; but, need others to help you. Thus, we should first be benefitted. After that, we will influence other people naturally without a conscious effort.

With respect to a person who believes and accepts Amitabha’s deliverance, the greatest matter is the grace of his deliverance. Hence, it is natural to recollect and invoke the Buddha. All other matters are relatively diluted.
There is a saying, “If the mind towards enlightenment is deep and concentrated, the mind towards mundane matters will be shallow and diluted. If our mind towards worldly matters is deep and concentrated, the mind towards enlightenment will be shallow and diluted.” Thus, a person who believes and accepts Amitabha’s deliverance recollects and invokes the Buddha naturally.

Being born as a human being who hears the Buddhist teachings, especially the unsurpassed teaching of Amitabha’s deliverance, is a treasured condition resulting from the karma of past lives. There is no greater blessed retribution. If we understand this, we should be delighted, cherish it, and teach others to believe as we believe.

One who fully believes in Amitabha Buddha’s deliverance will live in great peace and great contentment. He is blessed with the most profound fortune in the world.

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