Giving Priority to Those with Deep-Seated Karma
None of us in this world is without afflictions and sufferings.
Everyone commits transgressions and inevitably endures the wretched consequences.
The only difference lies in those who are awakened and those who are not.
He who awakens early receive blessings early;
He who awakens late receive blessings late;
Those who do not awaken have no blessings.
Genuine blessings, in essence, come from the practice of the Buddha Dharma;
They do not arise from indulging in transient pleasures of food, drink, and material possessions, as those things are illusory.
Only by embarking on the path of Dharma for liberation,
Can we transcend suffering and find true happiness.
To be able to hear the teachings of the Buddha is the "ultimate blessing," the truest form of blessing, unmatched by any other.
In the Sutra of Infinite Life and Splendor, Amitabha Buddha when on the causal ground proclaims:
“May sentient beings caught in the various realms of rebirth be reborn soon in my land, so they can enjoy peace and happiness.”
He further states that:
“Exercising compassion constantly to save all beings, I will deliver them from Avici Hell.
Those who commit the five gravest offenses and slander the Dharma will descend into the Avici Hell. However, the compassionate heart of Amitabha Buddha knows no bounds, as he strives to deliver them all completely. By saving those in the Avici Hell, he saves all beings.
Consider, for instance, a ravine which is a hundred meters deep. Some have fallen to the very bottom, while others are ninety, eighty, or seventy meters down. If those standing on top of the cliff wish to rescue all the fallen with a rope basket, they must first attend to those at the hundred meter depth. Once those individuals are saved, those down at ninety, eighty, and seventy meters can also be rescued.
In this analogy, the ravine represents the Three Domains and the Six Realms, while the rescuers on top of the cliff symbolize Amitabha Buddha, and the rope basket symbolizes the Buddha’s name. The beings at the hundred-meter depth represent the Avici Hell dwellers, with those who have committed lesser offenses are ninety, eighty, seventy meters down, and so forth. If Amitabha Buddha aspires to save sentient beings in all the ten directions, he must first reach the hundred-meter depth, giving priority to those who have committed the gravest offenses.
Sentient beings in the ten directions are countless and immeasurable. However, Amitabha Buddha places his primary focus on those who may have committed the five abominable offenses, or slandered the Dharma, and have consequently fallen into the depths of hell. They become his first targets for salvation. By rescuing such beings, all other sentient beings in the ten directions can equally be saved.
"The Tathagata's vows are like an ocean, deep and vast without limit." The depth of Amitabha Buddha's compassionate vows matches the depth of our evil karmic roots. Only when Amitabha-reciters realize that they are iniquitous beings can they experience the solace of Amitabha's deliverance. If one considers oneself virtuous, it becomes difficult to resonate with Amitabha's salvation.
As is stated in the Larger Sutra:
"[A person] respectfully worships, hears, and upholds this teaching,
Rejoices so greatly as to dance.
Arrogant, corrupt, and indolent people
Cannot readily accept this Dharma."
(Translated by the Pure Land School Translatio Team;
edited by Householder Fojing)
Excerpt from: Master Shandao’s Pure Land Teachings
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