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 Bearing In Mind That Reciting Amitabha’s Name Assures Rebirth

  

       In his Eighteenth Vow, Dharmakara states:

If, when I achieve Buddhahood, sentient beings of the ten directions earnestly believe and rejoice, wish to be reborn in my land …..

       The Accomplishments of the Eighteenth Vow in The Infinite Life Sutra reads:

All sentient beings who, having heard his name, rejoice in faith and recite his name even just once….

       In his exhortation and circulation of the sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha says:

If there are people who, having heard the name of the Buddha, leap with joy and recite his name even just once…..

       Imagine you are listening to the Pure Land teachings and understand the perilous nature of endless rebirth in samsara as well as its immense suffering, and then you learn that the Land of Ultimate Bliss is wonderful and incomparably blissful; however, your only worry is whether or not you can be reborn there. If so, I would like to ask you: from where does your “faith” arise, and how do you bring yourself to “leap with joy”?.

       In this case, I’m afraid it is better if you did not hear the Pure Land teachings at all: now you know of the suffering in samsara but cannot avoid it; you know of the bliss in going to the Pure Land, but you apparently cannot go there yourself. You are already suffering enough, now you are just piling it on.  It is simply like one who is starving to death and facing a table full of sumptuous food but not allowed to eat it. He will die of starvation while staring at the food. How cruel is that?

       Yet, the sutra clearly states “having heard his name, rejoice.”  So it can be inferred that something is directly related to “having heard his name” and “rejoice.”  What is it?

      “All sentient beings who recite his name will be reborn in his land.”  This way, Amitabha’s wish is fulfilled, and the sutras are coherent.  Why rejoice after hearing his name?  Because once you do, your rebirth is assured.  Why is your rebirth assured?  Because the Pure Land is an easy path that everyone can practice, anytime and anywhere.  Nothing obstructs Amitabha’s deliverance whatsoever.

       Precisely because it is an easy path, we can rest assured that our rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss is guaranteed, even though we are still in this world.  So, rejoicing comes from the thought that “rebirth is assured.”  It is natural when performing some tasks that the anticipation and unpredictable results often worry us, but if we are told that the result will be perfect, endless joy will flow from that “result.”  Of course, unless you yourself are not so concerned about the result, you will be baffled upon seeing others rejoice.

       Master Shandao says:

If we genuinely and sincerely wish to be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss,we must consider such a wish fulfilled.

       Master Tanluan says:

The words “ten recitations” in the sutra indicate that the resulting rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss has been accomplished.

       Master Honen says:

Between the anticipation of receiving a gift and having already received it from someone, which is better?

I, Honen, recite the Buddha’s name with the understanding of having already received the gift of rebirth.

       Master Yin Guang says:

Though we still live in this Saha world, we are not long-term residents. Though we haven’t yet been born in the Land of Ultimate Bliss, we are already its honored guests.”

 

(Translated by the Pure Land School Translation Team;
edited by Eddie Cao)

 

 

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Characteristics

  • Recitation of Amitabha’s name, relying on his Fundamental Vow (the 18th)
  • Rebirth of ordinary beings in the Pure Land’s Realm of Rewards
  • Rebirth assured in the present lifetime
  • Non-retrogression achieved in this lifetime

Amitabha Buddhas

The 18th Vow of Amitabha Buddha

If, when I achieve Buddhahood, sentient beings of the ten directions who sincerely and joyfully entrust themselves to me, wish to be reborn in my land and recite my name, even ten times, should fail to be born there, may I not attain perfect enlightenment. Excepted are those who commit the five gravest transgressions or slander the correct Dharma.

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