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 Guiding Principles of Pure Land Buddhism Deliverance of Sentient Beings in the Ten Directions

So long as we exclusively recite Amitabha’s name and aspire to be reborn in his Pure Land, we can easily be reborn in the Land of Bliss, a realm of unconditioned nirvana. After achieving Buddhahood there, we can widely deliver sentient beings throughout the ten directions.
Having become a Buddha, one naturally possesses the Buddha’s qualities of great kindness and compassion, great intelligence and wisdom, great vow power and paranormal abilities. Thus, we will be able to manifest in the worlds of the ten directions and deliver sentient beings effortlessly, without any hindrance.

The Sutra of Great Compassion says, “If one can exert oneself in persuading others to recite Amitabha’s name, one is called a practitioner of great compassion.” This means that, if we can believe and accept Amitabha’s deliverance, exclusively recite Amitabha’s name, and aspire to be reborn in the Pure Land, we are practitioners of great compassion. Moreover, if I persuade you to recite, you will likewise persuade another. Together, we will persuade a multitude – from one to two or one to ten, then from ten to a hundred. This is called practicing great compassion. It is also called the genuine practice of great benevolence and great compassion in Buddhism.

Maintaining the practices of the Four Noble Truths, the Twelve Links of Dependent Origination and the Six Paramitas is indeed splendid, as it can lead us to liberation. Likewise, practicing the bodhisattva way is a great virtuous root and a blessing. But here we must ask ourselves: are we capable of performing such practices? If we find we are incapable and give them up half-way, we will continue to reincarnate through the three domains and six realms of samsara.
The Great Collection Sutra says, “In the Dharma Ending Age, it is rare that one person in billions attains the Way. Nevertheless, one can be liberated from the cycle of birth and death through the practice of Amitabha-recitation.” If it was said that Amitabha-recitation is a splendid teaching, but ordinary beings could not practice it, then we would have no hope of attaining the great virtuous root and myriad blessings of Amitabha’s name. But in truth, Amitabha-recitation is an easy path because all of us can do it. Therefore, if we succeed in leading other people and sentient beings of the ten directions to be reborn in the Land of Bliss [through exclusive Amitabha-recitation], our merits and virtues are great, indeed!

As the Pure Land teaching issues from the Mahayana, we will certainly go to deliver sentient beings in the worlds of the ten directions after we are reborn in the Pure Land. To achieve Buddhahood, we are called to ‘enter the garden of birth and death and sport in the thicket of afflictions’.

Once we are reborn in the Land of Bliss, we will have taken our leave of the three domains and the six realms. Our minds will sublimely open, and without strain we will take enemies and friends as equally deserving of compassion, and perceive self and other as a single entity. Thus, we will prepare for the work of delivering sentient beings in the worlds of the ten directions.

Upon rebirth in the Land of Bliss, we attain the state of non-retrogression, and assuredly reach the Final Extinction [of Buddhahood] as stated in the 11th Vow. At the same time, our practice will have already transcended the various stages [of bodhisattvas] under normal conditions, and our cultivation of the virtues of universal benevolence will have also been realized, as stated in the 22nd Vow. In short, rebirth is essentially entering nirvana. Entering nirvana means achieving Buddhahood. Achieving Buddhahood entails returning to the mundane worlds and compassionately delivering sentient beings. This is called “the practice of the virtues of universal benevolence.”

Once we are reborn in the Land of Bliss, we have the same infinite light and life as Amitabha Buddha. Great compassion, great wisdom, great vow power, great paranormal abilities, self-realized merits and virtues, and the operative capacity to teach and deliver all beings are included in the infinite light and life [of Amitabha Buddha].

Do not feel futile and useless if you cannot spread the Buddhist teachings. It doesn’t matter if we cannot undertake this compassionate act. Even so, we can tell those close to us about the benefits of Amitabha-recitation, and how we are thereby assured of rebirth in the Land of Bliss. We are already practicing the great kindness and great compassion if we can recommend this teaching to others and encourage them to do the same. However, if we enthusiastically urge people to recite Amitabha’s name but do not tell them that they can be reborn in the Land of Bliss through Amitabha-recitation, this is not regarded as practicing great compassion. To practice great compassion is to encourage people to be reborn in the Land of Bliss through Amitabha-recitation.

After we are reborn in the Land of Bliss, we will have what Amitabha Buddha has, no more and no less: complete, all-sufficient perfection. In addition, those who are reborn will naturally return to the worlds of the ten directions (like Amitabha Buddha, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva and Mahasthamaprapta Bodhisattva) to deliver sentient beings. Pure Land Buddhism is truly Mahayana Buddhism, because it is the teaching of benefitting self through benefitting others, and benefitting others through benefitting self.
We [the practitioners of the pristine Pure Land Buddhism] are foolish sentient beings whose bodies are composed of the Five Aggregates (San: Skankdha) and bound by the Five Desires. Our minds, too, are full of greed, hatred and delusion, and are always attaching to external phenomena and inclining toward the same Five Desires. Though we now have a body of the Three Poisons, we are no longer ordinary beings subject to further reincarnation. Truly, we are already members of the sagely assembly in the Land of Bliss – provided we deeply believe and sincerely accept Amitabha’s deliverance [for the remainder of our lives].

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