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 Like Snowflakes Falling into a Burning Furnace, Doubts About Rebirth Are Instantly Eliminated

By By Master Zongdao

 

       When people think their karmic transgressions are so enormous that, as the saying goes, “the entire space of the cosmos cannot contain them,” two worries arise: first, “How can I be reborn in the Pure Land with such heavy karma?”, and second, “Even if I did, wouldn’t it require much hard work to cultivate merit and virtue?”

       Master Yin Guang has a particularly subtle metaphor with “snowflakes and hot furnace.”  He says that “The august name of Amitabha Buddha which has myriad virtues, is like a large smelting furnace. Our offenses, innumerable from countless lifetimes, are like snowflakes in the air. We iniquitous human beings can have our karmic sins eliminated by simply reciting the name of Amitabha. Just like the falling snow which evaporates immediately when getting close to the hot furnace.  Moreover, once all of them are eliminated, our good roots will naturally grow strong.  So why doubt that Amitabha will come to receive you, or that you will be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss?

       While sentient beings’ offense karma is heavy, the Buddha’s merits and virtues are much greater, with the former being like snowflakes, the latter a hot furnace. The snowflakes will be evaporated even when in close proximity to the furnace.  Likewise, our karma will be eliminated without a trace when in close proximity to the Pure Land.  As The Contemplation Sutra says: “Virtuous man, by reciting Amitabha’s name, all your karma has been eradicated.”  Without the karma of an ordinary being, and with the benefit of the Buddha’s merits and virtues, becoming a sage and then a Buddha is as easy as flipping over one’s palm.

       This metaphor is not only apt and vivid but also removes previous doubts, presenting an extremely wonderful picture.  Think about it: pieces of goose feather-shaped snow in the cold and darkened skies silently and instantly disappear in an immense and blazing furnace, then the skies light up again, and warmth returns to the world.

       Such a spectacle is astonishing and stunning; as the saying goes: “Do not be surprised that a single recitation [of Amitabha’s name] surpasses the Ten-Ground Stages of Bodhisattvas; one must understand that the six-character name encompasses the Three Vehicles!”

 

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

 

 

 

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