The Universe’s Most Powerful Cry - May My Future be Without Evil
Lady Vaidehi, once revered as a Queen Consort, found her husband King Bimbisara being locked away in a dungeon by their own son Ajatashatru, who nearly killed her with his sword. In a single night, her reputation was destroyed - a figure of utmost respect and splendor now condemned as a criminal. “My mother is a thief, and she colluded with the King who is also a thief!” her son alleged. She became a captive under her son’s heel.
Gone were the bonds of kinship; vanished were the privileges of her status. She watched as malevolent forces sowed chaos, turning love into harrowing betrayal. As the veil of false joy and happiness was torn away, the stark reality of the Saha world lay bare before her. With a heart shattered by sorrow, Vaidehi knelt to the Buddha and unleashed a soul-rending cry: “This foul and wicked place overflows with hellish realms, haunted by hungry ghosts and beasts, a congregation of all that is unwholesome!” This is a corrupt and defiled world. Every single thought of its inhabitants is filled with the wickedness of the three evil realms. Cloaked in human guise, their minds are those of hell beings, ghosts and beasts. This world is populated with those beings with minds steeped in malevolence.
Yet, aren’t we simultaneously the victims and architects of these evil realms? When Lady Vaidehi decried the world, she may have forgotten her own collusion with the King in past plots to cast their son from a window in order to secure her husband’s safety.
Our thoughts and intentions create our reality, and so the world becomes a place of suffering and tension wherever we go. Just as the Lotus Sutra proclaims: “The Three Domains are very frightening, like a mansion on fire, where there is no peace but all kinds of suffering.”
The Buddha remained silent upon hearing Lady Vaidehi’s fervent indictment of the world, knowing that a pivotal moment for the liberation of countless sentient beings was about to unfold.
Having the essence of worldly suffering etched into her core, Lady Vaidehi issued the most profound cry to the Buddha: "In my future lives, may I be spared the torment of evil voices and the sight of malevolent beings!"
While past karma is set and irreversible, Lady Vaidehi prayed that her future incarnations would not revisit such a defiled world, would not be assailed by vile, sinful, and filthy utterances, and would not encounter the faces of corruption and iniquity.
One can imagine the countless anguished souls throughout history who have uttered their silent prayers to the cosmos, the oceans, the wilderness, and the night sky, all with a unified wish: "May I be shielded from hearing anything evil, and from seeing any wicked people in my future lives."
Yet, it was only by voicing her plea to the Buddha that Lady Vaidehi found the way out. This is because only the Buddha can teach us the way to find true liberation from this realm of malevolence and its wicked and sorrowful beings.
These words of Lady Vaidehi, laden with the weight of collective suffering, represent a heartfelt call from all afflicted individuals in the Saha World for help from the Buddha. Master Shandao once said, “When we abhor the Saha World, we will sever ties with it forever.” It is only with a deep and resolute repulsion towards this world can we be cut off from it completely. The Saha world naturally falls away the moment our heart genuinely renounces it.
After Lady Vaidehi had spoken these words, the Buddha immediately fulfilled her wish by showing her all the pristine and magnificent lands of the Buddhas in all directions, sanctuaries where one does not “ hear anything evil, or see any wicked people.” In the end, Vaidehi chose the Land of Ultimate Bliss as the destination for her rebirth. The Visualization Sutra thus came about.
All Amitabha-reciters in later generations owe a debt of gratitude to Lady Vaidehi for her appeal to the Buddha: "May I be shielded from hearing anything evil, and from seeing any wicked people in my future lives." Today, as we face a world full of hells, hungry ghosts, and beasts, we should keep this aspiration in our hearts: "May I be shielded from hearing anything evil, and from seeing any wicked people in my days to come!"
(Translated by the Pure Land School Translation Team;
edited by Householder Fojin)
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