How Can the Rocket Lift off without Fuel?
Negative karmic experiences are not necessarily bad. For example, illness, adversity, and setbacks can trigger a strong aversion to the Saha world and an aspiration for rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. With our inferior roots of aptitude, we easily forget the pain when the wound heals. So, I feel that we need some illnesses, adversities, and setbacks from time to time to give us a reminder, which is called the “Earnest and Sincere Teaching.” These adversaries are like the fuels in the several stages of a rocket launch that carry a satellite into outer space. If the rocket’s first stage is not powerful enough, the fuel in the second stage continues to burn and push the satellite up into space. If only one tank exists, the rocket cannot be propelled into space, and it will fall to the ground.
The power of Amitabha Buddha’s vow draws us to the Pure Land. At the same time, these illnesses, adversities, setbacks, and unpleasant things in life, are our “fuel tanks.” Like Lady Vaidehi, if she had not had evil karmic encounters with Ajatashatru as her fuel tanks to propel her, she wouldn’t have sought rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. Even though she had been following Shakyamuni Buddha for more than 40 years, she never thought of gaining rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. At that time, she thought her life was fantastic. So, Ajatashatru, who ruined her life, was a manifestation to motivate her to seek emancipation in the Land of Ultimate Bliss.
Since our roots of aptitude are vile and inferior, and we have little to no motivation to seek emancipation from samsara, we must make good use of hardships in life and not blindly deem them to be bad. Sometimes bad things may bring good results, and good things, on the contrary, can bring bad consequences. If everything goes smoothly, we will cling to this world; how can we aspire to be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss? Since this world is abominable, we must resolutely abandon it, just like Lady Vaidehi.
That is why we say, “bad things that happen today trigger us to loathe affliction and yearn for rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss.” Lady Vaidehi’s inferior roots of capacity, profound delusions, and obstacles made her loathe afflictions and rejoice in peace, not because of her own good roots of capacity. For more than 40 years, during her prosperous days, she hadn’t sought emancipation until something bad happened. Therefore, there are numerous ways in which the Buddha can deliver sentient beings, some in accordance with and others contrary to our wishes. The sentient beings’ roots of aptitude are also different. Of course, if you are a great cultivator who has been practicing for a long time, you wouldn’t need negative reinforcement. As long as we recite the name of the Buddha, all the good and evil causes and conditions we encounter will help achieve our emancipation. These are all good things as long as our mind is toward the Buddha.
(Translated and edited by the Pure Land School Translation Team)
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