Essence of the Infinite Life Sutra

Excerpts 21-40

Excerpts 21 - 40

Excerpt 21
They completely realize that all dharmas are like a dream, an illusion, or an echo.

"Echo" refers to reverberated sounds. If we shout in a valley, there will be echoes. This excerpt sentence conveys the same meaning as this teaching in the Diamond Sutra: "All conditioned existences are like a dream, an illusion, a bubble, or a shadow." Both explain the truth of all phenomena in the universe.

          All phenomena exist but they do not truly exist because their existence does not last forever but changes from moment to moment.  That is why phenomena are said to be impermanent.
          Therefore, we can use and enjoy the phenomena but should not be attached to them. When we are attached, we will suffer. All afflictions, evil karmas, and retributions arise from attachment.
          All phenomena, including our bodies, are impermanent. Therefore, we should also not be attached to our bodies; where the body is concerned, we should just accord with conditions. If we become ill, we can cure the illness with a pure mind and we will recover. The body changes according to the mind. When the mind is pure, all the organs in the body will naturally work properly--there will be no illnesses.
          This excerpt is to teach Bodhisattvas to have true wisdom, to truly and thoroughly awaken, and to realize that all phenomena are not real. If one is truly awakened, one will naturally be unperturbed in any situation and one can enter very deep meditative concentration--being unperturbed is achieving meditative concentration. When one's mind is not perturbed, one will truly understand all phenomena. This understanding is wisdom. Being free of discrimination and attachment is meditative concentration and wisdom. When we have both meditative concentration and wisdom, meditative concentration and wisdom are perfect and complete. This is where we start to cultivate meditative concentration and wisdom. This is real.
          The Diamond Sutra says: "All conditioned existences are like a dream, an illusion, a bubble, or a shadow, like a dewdrop or a flash of lightning. Contemplate them thus."  "Dewdrop" refers to the morning dew.  "A flash of lightening" exists for an extremely short time.  "Contemplate them thus" means that this view is correct and is the truth. In all situations, when one's mind has no thoughts of gain or loss, true or false, good or bad, right or wrong, and beneficial or harmful--one's mind will be completely pure.
          The Buddha talked about true and false, right and wrong, good and bad, and beneficial and harmful. Who are these teachings for? For ordinary beings. For those who cannot see through to the truth. When one cannot see through, one has attachment. When there is any single thought of discrimination or attachment, in everything there is truth and falsehood, there is right and wrong, and there is good and bad.  In his aim to guide people to end wrongdoings and practice virtuous conduct, the Buddha had no choice but to use expedient teaching.
          We should know that the Buddha, in his expedient teaching, used diametrically opposed principles. This duality helps us to not fall into the Three Evil Paths. We should first keep ourselves in Three Good Paths and avoid falling into the Three Evil Paths. This is, however, not the true purpose of the Buddha's teaching. The true purpose is to help all beings transcend the Three Realms and attain Buddhahood in one lifetime. But because the beings cannot accept this, the Buddha used expedient teaching. As to the true teaching, there is no teaching to expound on.

Excerpt 22
They thoroughly understand the nature of all dharmas: everything is empty and without self.

The word "dharmas" refers to phenomena. The word "nature" refers to innate character or noumenon. The noumenon of all phenomena is empty and quiescent. When the Buddha said that all phenomena are empty, he meant that the noumenon is empty: phenomena do not have self-nature and are empty in themselves. Everything is empty and without self. "Self" implies being in control. "Everything is empty and without self" means that no one controls the phenomena. Then, how do phenomena come about? They arise from the combination of various conditions. Boundless conditions gather and generate them. Therefore, phenomena do not have self-nature or self-identity.


          When we hear about this truth, we should absolutely not attach to any phenomena or give rise to any thought. The mind should always be pure, impartial, and awakened.

Excerpt 23
They completely understand all the Buddha's profound teachings.  They tame all their faculties.  Their bodies are supple and their minds are gentle.  They delve deeply into true wisdom and no longer have residual habits.

The word "profound" conveys depth, not secrecy. Secrecy means that there is something that cannot be revealed to others, and so this something must not be a good thing. Buddhism has no secrets. "Profound" in Buddhism means that--with the capacities of the beings being low, and with the Buddha's teachings being tremendously profound in noumenon and broad in meaning--careless people cannot understand the teachings. This is why Buddhism is "profound."

          What is "all the Buddhas' profound teachings"? It is "Namo Amituofo"--this is the profound teaching of all the Buddhas in the ten directions and three time periods. This is why the merit of the name of Amitabha Buddha is inconceivable.
          The Buddha's great wisdom, virtues, and capabilities, and his skillful use of expedient teaching in helping all beings are very profound. We cannot understand any of these but the Bodhisattvas born in the Western Pure Land all "completely understand." If we can completely understand, we will be no different from the Bodhisattvas of the Western Pure Land.
          If one truly and thoroughly understands, one will dedicate oneself to mindfully chanting the Buddha-name and have absolutely no doubts. Then one is a Bodhisattva of the Land of Ultimate Bliss. Although one is currently not there yet, one will definitely be reborn there.
          There are very few who understand all the Buddha's profound teachings. Great Master Shandao said that many Bodhisattvas are not even aware that this method is the fastest, most reliable, and perfect method for attaining Buddhahood. In Chinese history, many patriarchs and eminent masters of other schools turned to the Pure Land teachings after they truly understood the Pure Land method in their old age. All of them concentrated on mindfully chanting the Buddha-name and sought rebirth in the Western Pure Land.
          Anyone who clearly understands this method will practice it.


          The Western Pure Land is an ultimate, perfect state. If a person wants to learn a particular method, this person, whatever his capacity, will hear the method that accords with his or her capacity. For example, if one has the capacity for Theravada teachings, one will hear Buddhas and Bodhisattvas lecturing on Theravada teachings. If one has the capacity for Mahayana teachings, one will hear nothing but Mahayana teachings. A being will immediately hear what he or she wants to hear, and immediately see what he or she wants to see--all at the level of the being's capacity. This is great perfection and truly ultimate.
          Therefore, in the Western Pure Land, everything that one faculties [that is, six sense organs] come into contact with is (1) the state of the Buddha-dharma and (2) revealed from the inner virtues of Amitabha Buddha. In such a wondrous environment, how could one be deluded? How could afflictions arise? Therefore, all of one's faculties are naturally tamed.
           "They tame all their faculties."  "Faculties" refers to the body, a strong body without any problems. We all want a strong body. How do we get it? If we learn to tame all our faculties, our bodies will naturally become strong.


          There are many ways to tame our faculties. Zen meditation is a major method.  There are also other methods such as (1) samatha and vipasyana, (2) observing and illuminating, (3) chanting mantras, and (4) chanting a Buddha's name.  But no method surpasses the Buddha-name chanting method. Why?  Because when one mindfully chants the Buddha-name, one will receive help from the Buddhas.
          Some people may say that when one chants mantras, one will also get help from Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Indeed, when chanting mantras as practiced by the Esoteric school, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will also be there to help, but it is not as good as chanting the name of Amitabha Buddha. When one chants mantras, one will have the help of one or two Buddhas or Bodhisattvas. To have the help of three to five Buddhas and Bodhisattvas is incredible. But when one mindfully chants the name of Amitabha Buddha, one will have the help of all the Buddhas in the ten directions and in the three time periods. This is why the merit of the name of Amitabha Buddha is inconceivable!


          At all times, when one single-mindedly chants the Buddha-name, the mind will be free of all wandering thoughts, afflictions, worries, and concerns. Mindfully chanting the Buddha-name will thus tame all of one's faculties. One's body will be supple and one's mind will be gentle. One will be able to achieve physical and mental well-being.


          We may want to ask, "What is the method that the Bodhisattvas of the Western Pure Land practice to achieve taming all their faculties and having a supple body and gentle mind?" It is mindfully chanting "Amituofo." As Mahasthamaprapta Bodhisattva said, "I and fifty-two fellow practitioners. . ." "Fifty-two" refers to the ten stages of faith, ten stages of abiding, ten stages of practice, ten stages of dedication, ten stages of ground, and the stage of equal enlightenment, and the stage of wondrous enlightenment. "Fellow practitioners" refers to practitioners who shared the same aspiration and focused on practicing the Pure Land method. This tells us that from Mahasthamaprapta Bodhisattva's initial generation of the bodhi mind until attainment of Buddhahood, he practiced the chanting of "Amituofo," without any changes. This is truly inconceivable! Chanting "Amituofo" enables us ordinary beings to attain Buddhahood.

          After attaining Buddhahood, what method is used to universally help all beings? It is still mindfully chanting "Amituofo." This is the Mahasthamaprapta Dharma door.


          Mr. Xia Lianju wrote in Essentials for Practice of the Pure Land School that Mahasthamaprapta Bodhisattva is the first patriarch of the Pure Land school. When I first read it, I felt great admiration. That Mr. Xia could make such a statement is not an easy thing!
          Mahasthamaprapta Bodhisattva is the first one in the entire Dharma Realm to advocate practicing only the Pure Land method.  Therefore, he is the first Pure Land patriarch in the Dharma Realms.
          In the Avatamsaka Sutra, Samantabhadra Bodhisattva taught the Ten Great Vows and guided all beings to rebirth in the Western Pure Land. Thus, Samantabhadra Bodhisattva is the first Pure Land patriarch in the Saha world.
          During the Eastern Jin dynasty, Great Master Huiyuan built a cultivation hall on Mt. Lu and brought together one hundred and twenty-three fellow practitioners to practice solely the Buddha-name chanting method. He is the first Pure Land patriarch in China.
          All these patriarchs advocated the practice and propagation of only the Pure Land teachings.
          When we are clear about all these, we will be able to dissolve doubt and develop belief. We need nothing but the Amitabha Sutra (or the Infinite Life Sutra) and the chanting of "Amituofo."  Our doubts will truly be dissolved.
          If we diligently learn and practice this way, after three to five years we will be sure of attaining rebirth in the Western Pure Land and will not waste this lifetime. As stated in the sutras, once one has done what needs to be done, one will no longer be in samsara. One can truly achieve this.
          But if we learn in an unfocused way, our rebirth into the Pure Land is not guaranteed, and we will have to depend on the conditions at the end of our lives. We must know this.
          "They delve deeply into true wisdom." When the mind is pure, wisdom will manifest. When the pure mind is at work, it is true wisdom. Not only have the Bodhisattvas of the Western Pure Land perfectly attained it, but if we learn and practice according to this method, we will also enjoy physical and mental well-being and be free of any illness.
          The cause of all illnesses in this world is an impure mind. When the mind is pure, how can one become ill! When the mind is pure, the body will be tamed. When the body is tamed, one's physiology will be normal and will completely accord with the natural law. When everything is normal, there will be no obstruction.
          When one has afflictions or worries, there will be changes in one's physiology, which will cause abnormalities. One thus becomes ill.
          When we understand this principle and truth, we will be able to cultivate a healthy body. Furthermore, we will be able to attain freedom from life and death. When we are about to pass away, we will know the time in advance. We will not suffer from any illness. We can choose when to leave. This shows true achievement in cultivation.
          "No longer have residual habits" means that one has completely eliminated all residual habits. It is not easy to achieve this in our practice here in this world. Residual habits are truly difficult to eliminate.  But when we are reborn in the Western Pure Land, we will be able to achieve this.

Excerpt 24
What they have said is sincere and true. They delve deeply into the meanings and flavor.  They enlighten all sentient beings. They show by example and teach the proper Dharma.

"What they have said is sincere and true." "Sincere" means that what they [the Bodhisattvas of the Western Pure Land] say is the truth; it is absolutely not a lie. This excerpt sentence is praising the teachings in the Buddhist sutras--where every word and every sentence are words of truth.

          The word "meanings" in "they delve deeply into the meanings and flavor" means principle. "Flavor" refers to the flavor of the Dharma. When we truly delve deeply into the meanings and flavor, we will find that the meanings and flavor in the sutras are boundless. Not only that, but we will also find the name of Amitabha Buddha to have boundless meanings and flavor.
          How do we get to taste the flavor? By single-mindedly chanting the Buddha-name, we will taste boundless meanings and flavor. After we taste the flavor of the Dharma, there will be no stopping us. During our learning, we will truly feel joy and will definitely be making courageous and diligent progress.
          Now, when we chant the Buddha-name we do not taste any flavor of the Dharma because when we chant "Amituofo" we are thinking of other things. This is the reason that our cultivation has not gone anywhere. We should diligently continue with our chanting. Anything that obstructs us from single-mindedly chanting should be discarded. In addition, we should chant with a sincere, pure, and respectful mind. After chanting in this way for half a year, we will taste the flavor of the Dharma. When we do, we will have confidence in attaining rebirth in the Western Pure Land. The more we chant, the firmer our confidence. We will be able to know in advance the time of our rebirth.
         Those who are very advanced in their cultivation can attain rebirth at their own will. They can go anytime they want. If they want to go now, they can. If they want to go at a later time, they can. They have truly attained freedom in life and death.


          Frankly, every one of us can achieve this. The question is whether we are willing to concentrate on chanting. Jueming Miaoxing Bodhisattva clearly said in Pointing Clearly to the West that our chanting should not be intermingled with anything. Intermingling is not concentrating.
          "They enlighten all sentient beings. They show by example and teach the proper Dharma." "Enlighten" means to help. They help their students; they show by example and lecture on the true Dharma.

          How does one show by example? By practicing according to the teachings. If we teach people to act one way but we ourselves act another way and do not practice what we teach, then those who listen to us may not believe our words. For example, if I tell you to mindfully chant the Buddha-name and I do not do so myself, would you believe my words? You would not.
          One must practice what one teaches. This is "show by example." One is not putting on a show; one understands the teachings and principles in the sutras and actually practices them fully. One does what the Buddha teaches one to do and does not do what the Buddha teaches not to do.


          All the methods that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas use to teach the beings are expedient teachings; which serve as guides [to the ultimate teachings]; they are not the latter. The ultimate teaching is the teaching of mindfully chanting the Buddha-name and seeking rebirth in the Western Pure Land. The Avatamsaka Sutra, in its conclusion, teaches practitioners to mindfully chant the Buddha-name and seek rebirth in the Western Pure Land. But most ordinary beings do not believe or accept this Buddha-name chanting method. It is a method that is hard to believe. To make people believe and accept this method--this is the difficulty.


          Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are compassionate. They earnestly and patiently urge us, and skillfully use various means to lead us to achieve the state of attainment. When we achieve this state, we will truly feel grateful to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for their kindness. Only by practicing the Buddha-name chanting method can we succeed in one lifetime. If we do not practice this method, we will only plant a few good roots in this lifetime and will continue to transmigrate within the Six Paths.

Excerpt 25
They travel to all the Buddha Lands. There is none that they like or dislike; and there is no thought of wanting or of not wanting.  Neither do they have thoughts of "others" or of  "I", nor thoughts of dissatisfaction and enmity.

The Bodhisattvas of the Western Pure Land go often to the Buddha Lands in the ten directions to teach and help all beings. Some Buddha Lands are magnificently adorned with seven jewels, but others are very polluted or unpleasant. When there is affinity, the Bodhisattvas will go there, whether a situation is favorable or not. Moreover, they do not like or dislike any situation. In other words, they travel around all the Buddha Lands without feeling attachment or aversion. They do not give rise to any thought, discrimination, or attachment.

          When we go abroad to visit other countries, if we feel like or dislike, then our minds are polluted. We should cultivate meditative concentration and wisdom during the trips. When we see and understand everything clearly, we have wisdom. When do not have any like or dislike, we have meditative concentration. Therefore, when we visit other countries we should simultaneously cultivate meditative concentration and wisdom.
          Furthermore, in daily life when we interact with people and engage in tasks, we should also cultivate meditative concentration and wisdom. For example, if someone tries to anger us and we are able to not give rise to any thought we are cultivating One Mind Undisturbed. The person who tries to anger us is a good teacher for us. Without him or her, how can we achieve the paramita of patience?
          These situations--someone says charming words to us but we do not attach to the words, or someone tries to stir up trouble but we feel no anger--help us to cultivate and attain meditative concentration and wisdom.


          One Mind Undisturbed and the Buddha-name Chanting Samadhi taught in Pure Land Buddhism are both attained in this way. If one's mind is perturbed by others gossiping or starting rumors about us, one should immediately feel remorse: "I am wrong again.  I am affected by the external environment again."
          Daily, in every thought, stay awakened and do not be deluded when interacting with others and engaging in tasks. Any situation at any time is a good teacher for us.
          "And there is no thought of wanting or of not wanting." It is erroneous to wish for something. When one wishes for something, suffering follows. When one gains something, something will be lost. Both are painful.
          It is also erroneous to [have thoughts of] not wishing for something, because one would reject all opportunities. [Thoughts of] wishing for something is seeking affinities. [Thoughts of] not wishing for something is also seeking affinities. Therefore, Bodhisattvas practice the Middle Way: when they teach beings, they are according with conditions, not seeking affinities.
          "Neither do they have thoughts of 'others' or of 'I', nor thoughts of dissatisfaction and enmity." The thoughts of "others" and "I" are in the four marks taught in the Diamond Sutra: the Mark of Self, the Mark of Others, the Mark of Being, and the Mark of Life Span. "Dissatisfaction and enmity" means that one bears resentment and hatred when others go against one's wish, and one forms attachment when they go along with one's wish.
          Therefore, we should be imparted to all people in any situation, whether they are good or bad. An impartial mind will lead to a pure mind. Attachment as well as dissatisfaction and enmity are wandering thoughts. When one is free of all wandering thoughts, all discriminations, and all attachments, one will attain a pure and impartial mind. When the mind is pure and impartial, one will definitely be awakened, not deluded. One will then realize the goal of "purity, impartiality, and enlightenment."

Excerpt 26
[Those Bodhisattvas] have a mind of great compassion and of bringing benefits to all beings.  They discard all attachments and accomplish infinite merits and virtues.

"Great" refers to a pure and impartial mind -- such a mind is free of discrimination and attachment. Great compassion is compassion from a pure mind and an impartial mind.

          This excerpt tells us that the Bodhisattvas of the Western Pure Land have the ability to travel to all the Buddha Lands and to any place in the entire Dharma Realm. The sutras teach that the past has no beginning and the future has no end. From this, we know that space (in Buddhism it is called Dharma Realm) is immensely vast. This is the area the Bodhisattvas cover in their travels--the vastness of the Dharma Realm. If they have an affinity with a place, they will manifest themselves there to benefit the beings.
          The conditions are mature for some beings but are not for others. If being does not have the conditions, one should help the being develop the conditions. If the conditions of a being are not yet mature, one should help them mature. If the conditions of a being have matured, one should guide that being to attain rebirth in the Western Pure Land.
          The standard for mature conditions in the Pure Land school is different from those in other schools. In other schools, a practitioner needs to completely eradicate all afflictions and attain great awakening. In the Pure Land school, a practitioner needs to have true belief, be willing to make the vow, and sincerely chant the Buddha-name. Such a practitioner is a being whose conditions have matured. This cultivation is easier than in other schools.


          Throughout the boundless worlds in the ten directions, the Bodhisattvas of the Land of Ultimate Bliss (1) seek the Buddha-dharma and (2) help all beings. When they seek the Buddha-dharma, they are not attached to the act of seeking. When they help beings, they are not attached to the act of helping. They discard all attachments and teach all beings. This way, they are able to attain infinite merits and virtues.
          In "merits and virtues," "merits" refers to effort, and "virtues" refers to result. "Merits" is the cause; "virtues" is the result. How does one cultivate merits? The Buddha taught us these three principles--which are the Three Learnings to preserve [our merits and virtues]: precepts, meditative concentration, and wisdom.
          One practices according to the precepts, meditative concentration, and wisdom. For example, if one observes the precepts and attains meditative concentration, precept observation is "merits' [effort], and meditative concentration is "virtues" [result]. If one cultivates meditative concentration and attains awakening, the cultivation of meditative concentration is "merits," and awakening is "virtues."
          If one observes the precepts but does not have meditative concentration, then this is not considered as "merits and virtues." This is "merits" [effort] but no "virtues [result]. Here, precept observation will turn into good fortune--one will have good fortune in the human or heavenly path in the next lifetime.
          If one cultivates meditative concentration but does not attain awakening, one will have the karmic result of being reborn in the heavens, in the Form Realm or the Formless Realm--one will not transcend the Three Realms. This good fortune [of being reborn into the heavens] is minuscule. If one attains enlightenment and uncovers one's true nature, one will transcend the Three Realms.


          "Infinite merits and virtues" signifies the attainment of Buddhahood. Only when one is a Buddha will one be replete with "infinite merits and virtues." This is our ultimate goal in learning Buddhism. 


          How do we accomplish infinite merits and virtues? By discarding all attachments. From this we can see that the reason why we cannot succeed in our practice is due to our not being able to let go of our attachments. Therefore, we should not be attached to either worldly phenomena or supra-mundane teachings. If we can discard all wandering thoughts and attachments, we will attain infinite merits and virtues.
          If there is even one thing that we cannot discard or let go of, we will not have any achievement. But to let go is truly hard. Because of this, infinite great compassion arose in Amitabha Buddha, and he established a special cultivation place in the Dharma Realm for learning and practice--for beings like us who cannot let go to also have achievement. This is inconceivable!
          With the cultivation places of all the other Buddhas in the ten directions, one must let go of both worldly phenomena and supra-mundane teachings before one can be reborn there. But, only in the land of Amitabha Buddha, [while letting go is ideal,] not letting go is also alright. This way, everyone will be truly helped and awakened.
           When we get to the Western Pure Land, Amitabha Buddha and the beings of superior goodness (in other words, the great Bodhisattvas) will help us discard all our attachments so that we can attain supreme enlightenment. 

Excerpt 27
They know that all phenomena are empty and quiescent.  Retribution body and afflictions--both remnants are completely eradicated.

"They know that all phenomena are empty and quiescent" -- this sentence conveys exactly the same meaning as "the four basic elements are all empty" and "the five aggregates are without self-identity." The four basic elements refer to the four qualities of a physical substance: earth, water, fire, and air.

          Earth refers to substance. In Buddhism, the tiniest substance is called a speck of dust; in science, it is the atom, electron, or particle. Earth signifies that substance does exist and can be detected by scientific instruments. Water indicates moisture. Fire indicates temperature. The scientific terms are electropositive and electronegative. Fire is electropositive and water is electronegative. Air indicates motion: it is not still. In addition, it moves at great speed.


         The four basic elements are the four fundamental features of a substance. All phenomena in the universe are made up of this basic substance. The Diamond Sutra says: "a composite is not a composite. It is called a composite." This basic substance makes up all phenomena, from something as large as a planet or a galaxy to something as small as a speck of dust.
          Where does the basic substance come from? It is manifestation of the mind. A commentary of the Consciousness-only school says that from ignorance and non-enlightenment the Three Subtle Marks arise, and with the external environment as conditions the Six Coarse Marks grow. Within the Three Subtle Marks are the subjective aspect and the objective aspect: the mark of the subjective perceiver and the mark of the objective world.
          The basic substance is the mark of the objective world, which is the objective aspect. The objective aspect is generated by the subjective aspect. Existence arises from non-existence and returns to non-existence -- "all phenomena are empty and quiescent." When we understand this, we will know the truth that all phenomena are empty.
          Do what we see, hear, and touch presently exist? Or do they not exist? From the perspective of principles, they do not exist; from the perspective of phenomena, they do exist. This existence is nominal: it is not real. But the non-existence is real. What is real never changes. That which changes is not real. Non-existence never changes and is thus called true emptiness.


          With regards to existence, all phenomena change. It is obvious that a person goes through birth, aging, illness, and death. Any person can perceive these changes. In actuality, there are subtler changes, such as the metabolism of the cells of a body. Such changes occur every instant. Plants go through arising, changing, and extinction. Minerals or planets go through formation, existence, annihilation, and voidness. We realize all this.
          Therefore, all phenomena are constantly changing. Since they change, they are not real. This is why existence is called nominal existence, illusory existence, or marvelous existence. Thus this Buddhist term: true emptiness and marvelous existence.


          But we should know that existence and non-existence in Buddhism are one. Where is true emptiness? It is in marvelous existence. Where is marvelous existence? It is in true emptiness. True emptiness refers to noumenon, and marvelous existence refers to phenomena. This way, we will be able to see the mark of the objective world clearly. What is the benefit of seeing it clearly?  It will help us discard all attachments.
          From where do attachments arise? From us not understanding the truth and from thinking that we can own things. Not only can we not own worldly possessions, we cannot even own our body, so is there any point in being attached to anything? Naturally, we will let go! When we truly let go we will attain eternal life.
          True emptiness refers to the true nature. Why is true nature true emptiness? Because there is no sign of it: it shows no form and thus cannot be perceived by the eyes. True nature emits no sound and thus cannot be heard by the ears. It cannot be perceived or imagined. Our Six Sense organs absolutely cannot detect anything here. But true nature truly exists. It is the noumenon of all phenomena in the universe. All phenomena arise from it.


          When one sees the true nature, one is in the state of neither arising nor ceasing. One will have the freedom to manifest as any form. One will be able to manifest in any form one wishes.
          We are now deluded, so we cannot manifest as anything no matter how hard we think. After we see the true nature, we will be able to manifest as anything. Throughout the entire Dharma Realm, we will be in control--we will be our own master; we will attain great freedom!
          Therefore, we must know the truth: "All phenomena are empty and quiescent." This is stated from principles, from noumenon.
          "Retribution body and afflictions--both remnants are completely eradicated."  "Both" refers to the retribution body and afflictions. "Remnants" refers to habits, and they are the hardest to eliminate. "Retribution body" signifies birth and death--when we transmigrate within the Six Paths, we continually get a body and discard it.


          Transmigration is a phenomenon. Why is there this phenomenon? Because we have afflictions. The phenomenon of transmigration within the Six Paths is generated by afflictions. When we end afflictions, there will be no transmigration. For example, Arhats--having eradicated the Affliction of Views and Thoughts--have transcended the Six Paths.

              

Excerpt 28
Their minds are clean like snow mountains.  Their patience is like the earth: with impartiality, it bears everything.  Their purity is like water: it cleanses all dirt.

"Their minds are clean like snow mountains."  "Snow mountains" refers to the Himalaya Mountains, which are blanketed with snow all year round.

          Sakyamuni Buddha was born in today's Nepal, south of the Himalaya Mountains. Therefore, when the Buddha lectured on the Dharma, he often used "snow mountains" as a metaphor for cleanliness and purity--a pure mind without any pollution.

          "Earth" stores boundless treasures. Grain that grows on the earth nourishes us, and gold, silver, and precious minerals that are stored in the earth are for our benefit. But we need to cultivate land to be able to harvest from it. We also need smelting know-how to extract the underground treasures for our benefit.
          This is why Mahayana Buddhism teaches us to start our learning with Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva. "Earth" is a metaphor for the mind. Our minds contain infinite wisdom and capabilities. We need to use the teaching of "filial piety and respect for teachers" in the Ksitigarbha Sutra to plough and plant, and to extract and refine, so that we can obtain benefits.
          "Their patience is like the earth: with impartiality, it bears everything." Should we pour perfume onto the earth, it will not be delighted. Nor will it be disgusted should we pour excrements on it. The earth bears everything impartially. This teaches us to practice the paramita of patience.


          The mind should be like the earth, which bears everything impartially. No matter who or what we encounter, our minds should always be impartial. Patience is very important in both worldly and supra-mundane undertakings. If we do not have patience, we will not be able to accomplish anything. Accomplishing a great undertaking requires great patience; even a small undertaking requires a little patience. Therefore, the Diamond Sutra says: "All accomplishments are attributed to patience."
          It is stated in the sutras that it takes three asamkhyeya kalpas of cultivation for an ordinary being to attain Buddhahood. This is truly an extremely long time. How can one do this without patience? We Pure Land practitioners know that, according to the sutras, when ordinary beings attain rebirth in the Western Pure Land they bring along their karmas and achieve [Buddhahood] in one lifetime. This is how precious the Western Pure Land is! 
          Of course, there are many factors contributing to this speedy achievement. The most wondrous factor is perfectly attaining the three non-retrogressions. If we practice in other lands, we will progress as well as retrogress. And we will retrogress more than we progress. This is why it will take a long time [to attain Buddhahood].


          When we know this truth, we should muster the greatest patience possible for learning the Pure Land teaching. We should have true belief and resolutely vow to seek rebirth in the Western Pure Land. We must have the determination to go there and meet Amitabha Buddha in this lifetime. With this determination, we sincerely chant the Buddha-name until the end of our lives.
          We will surely attain rebirth there.


          Other than this, "all phenomena are illusory." We should get by however we can, not fuss about things, and not be attached to things. We should regard all phenomena with impartiality and single-mindedly seek rebirth in the Western Pure Land. We should not seek fame or wealth. We should lead as thrifty a life as possible. This way, the resolve to seek rebirth there will be more sincere and resolute. All good deeds, and even good thoughts, should be dedicated to the adornment of the Western Pure Land, not to the pursuit of worldly good fortune.
          "Their purity is like water: it cleanses all dirt."  "Purity" describes the mind. "Dirt" refers to affliction or pollution. This sentence teaches us to have a mind as pure and impartial as water. We make an offering of a glass of water to Buddha's image because water symbolizes a pure mind. This offering constantly reminds us that the mind of a Buddha is pure and impartial, just like water, and we should emulate the Buddhas by completely cleansing away our afflictions, wandering thoughts, discriminations, and attachments.

Excerpt 29
The minds of these Bodhisattvas are upright.  They are tireless in discussing and seeking the Dharma.

"The minds of these Bodhisattvas are upright."  "Upright" means sincere. We should treat others with a sincere mind and not be afraid of being deceived. We want to attain rebirth in the Western Pure Land in the future. All the beings there have a sincere mind. If our minds are not sincere, we will not be able to attain rebirth there.

          A sincere mind should be nurtured in everyday life.  We should interact with people and engage in tasks with the utmost sincerity.  This is teaching us to maintain an upright mind.
          "They are tireless in discussing and seeking the Dharma." This sentence talks about cultivating oneself and teaching others. "Discussing" benefits both oneself and others. This is what is known about teaching: both teacher and student benefit. When one teaches another, one never tires. When one seeks the Dharma, one is also tireless.
          Whether one seeks the Dharma or teaches others, the biggest obstacle is tiredness. When Confucius taught a student, he would not continue to teach the student if the student did not apply what he had learned to three other situations. But when Buddhas and Bodhisattvas teach, they are tireless.
          I remember one particular time when I saw Mr. Li teach. I was deeply moved. Mr. Li was over seventy years old at that time. Over a period of three hours, his students asked him many questions. He was unhurried and patient in his answers. This was very admirable. From this we know that Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are tireless in teaching all beings.


          There are many people who get tired in their learning, retrogress, and do not continue to make diligent and focused progress. Why do they get tired? Even though they are learning, they have not obtained the true benefits. If they have, how can they be tired? People get tired or retrogress because their minds are coarse and their goals are shallow. When they achieve a simple goal, they are satisfied and do not want to go further.
          During the Tang dynasty, when Precept Master Daoxuan of Zhongnan Mountain was learning the Vinaya in Four Parts, he listened to the lectures on it for more than twenty times. He was thus able to become a patriarch.


          People today listen to the lectures on a sutra once and do not care to hear it again. How can they succeed! When I was in Taichung, I listened to Mr. Li Bingnan's lectures on Fourteen Lectures on Buddhism for eleven years. Only when I was thoroughly familiar with it was I able to taste the flavor of the Dharma.
          Years ago in Taichung, at the request of eight people including myself, Mr. Li generated the mind to lecture on the Avatamsaka Sutra. Mr. Li would lecture one hour a week, and so it would have taken him sixty to seventy years to complete the lectures on the Avatamsaka Sutra. He was in his seventies or eighties. That meant that he had to live to one hundred fifty or one hundred sixty to complete the lectures. These are good examples for us. We should be tireless in cultivating ourselves and teaching others. 

Excerpt 30
They are good, pure, and gentle.  They abide in quiescent concentration and are wise in perception.

"Good" refers to honesty and simplicity.  Good and "pure" describe mindset. Good refers to good fortune; pure, to wisdom. When one has both good fortune and wisdom, one has true merit. "Gentle" describes attitude: gentle, kind, respectful, thrifty, and humble.

          This sentence tells us what attitude we should have when interacting with people and engaging in tasks. It also shows the true benefit of the Buddha's teaching.
          "Quiescent concentration" refers to a pure mind; externally, behavior is composed. As stated in the sutra: "Naga is constantly in meditative concentration. There is not a time when it is not." Every movement and every action is composed and dignified, just like in meditative concentration.
          "Wise in perception" is a pure mind in function. It is also wisdom coming forth -- the mind is bright, and one is clear about everything in the external environment. Therefore, "abide in quiescent concentration and are wise in perception" means the mutual cultivation of meditative concentration and wisdom. One has meditative concentration and wisdom.


          Letting go of all worldly concerns and single-mindedly chanting the Buddha-name--this is cultivating meditative concentration. In addition, this is also cultivating good fortune and wisdom. As Great Master Ouyi said, single-mindedly chanting the Buddha-name will "bring ample good roots and good fortune."  "Ample good roots" is wisdom. "Ample good fortune" is a good fortune. Therefore, mindfully chanting "Amituofo" is cultivating both good fortune and wisdom.


          Sakyamuni Buddha praised Amitabha Buddha's light as "the most exalted of all lights and the most supreme of all Buddhas' [lights]." Light signifies wisdom. "The most supreme of all Buddhas' [lights] signifies that of all Buddhas, Amitabha Buddha's wisdom and good fortune are the greatest.
          Therefore, if Buddha-name chanting practitioners sincerely chant "Amituofo," they will receive a response from Amitabha Buddha. As it is said, "When one accords with Amitabha Buddha in a single thought, one is Amitabha Buddha in that thought."  "When one accords with Amitabha Buddha in a single thought" means Amitabha Buddha's wisdom and good fortune become one's own wisdom and good fortune.


          When one mindfully chants "Amituofo" for a long enough time, one will merge with Amitabha Buddha and become one. This is why Buddha-name chanting practitioners attain inconceivable achievements in a short time. "Abide in quiescent concentration and are wise in perception" -- these are achieved through Buddha-name chanting.

Excerpt 31
Their bodies and minds are pure.  They have no craving or greed.

"Their bodies and minds are pure."  The mind is the master. When the mind is pure, the body will be pure. But the body can also affect the mind. The Buddha taught us that our behavior should accord with the precepts and proper codes of behavior. The purpose is to help us nurture good habits in daily life--so that the mind will naturally be calm.

          "They have no craving or greed." Of the Twelve Links of Dependent Origination, craving, grasping, and becoming are the causes of one's transmigration within the Six Paths. When one eradicates any of the three, one will transcend the Six Paths. Craving is delusion, grasping is attachment, and becoming is karma. If one cannot eradicate craving or greed, one should eradicate grasping. If one cannot eradicate grasping either, then one can only try to eradicate becoming, but this requires advanced cultivation.
          When Buddhas and Bodhisattvas manifest in this world, they act the same way as we do. For example, Living Buddha Jigong, who was very well known to Chinese people, seemed to have craving and attachment. So how did he succeed in his cultivation? Because he did not have becoming. This was a very advanced achievement!  We ordinary people cannot eradicate grasping or becoming, so we can only try to eradicate craving and greed.
          When we have craving, we will have anger. When we have greed, we will be filled with greed, anger, ignorance, and arrogance. Greed is the root. When greed is uprooted, our afflictions will all disappear and the mind will become pure. When the mind is pure, the body will be pure. Ordinary beings can achieve this.
          No craving or greed; pure are the mind and body. With this foundation, and with belief, vow, and the mindful chanting of the Buddha-name to seek rebirth in the Western Pure Land, we will definitely be reborn there.

Excerpt 32
Steadfast and unmoving are their vows . . . They [Bodhisattvas] seek the Way in a gentle and correct manner . . . They are pure, firm, calm, and joyous.​

"Steadfast and unmoving are their vows." "Steadfast" refers to a calm mind."Unmoving" means that they are set on one direction and one goal. Great Master Shandao said that if one seeks understanding, then one can learn any sutra. But if one wants to achieve attainment in cultivation, one can only succeed by delving deeply into one method. Therefore, cultivation is different from seeking understanding.

           In today's society, we should focus our energy on practice. This is the way to success. When the mind is focused on one method, one will realize the truth and be at peace.
          "They seek the Way in a gentle and correct manner."  "The Way" signifies an impartial, upright mind. In the sutra title, the words "purity, impartiality, and enlightenment" convey the meaning of "gentle and correct."  "Gentle" signifies the Middle Way--not too fast and not too slow. "Correct" means according definitively with the Buddha's teachings.

          For example, we mindfully chant the Buddha-name and seek rebirth in the Western Pure Land. We have deep belief and we sincerely vow. This is "steadfast and unmoving are their vows." In daily life, we learn and practice based on the principles and methods taught in the sutras. This is "correct." Our learning and practice will not go wrong.
         "They are pure, firm, calm, and joyous." When we learn and practice according to the principles and the methods, we will naturally have a pure and calm mind, and be filled with Dharma bliss. We will have a happy and perfect life. These are the wondrous benefits that we will get now.

Excerpt 33
People in the world strive for things of little urgency.  Amidst extreme evils and severe sufferings, they diligently work . . . dictated by their minds . . . Whether they have or do ​not have, they worry. 

"People in the world strive for things of little urgency."  "People in the world" refers to the beings in the Six Paths."Of little urgency" means of no importance. The beings in the Six Paths all busy themselves with unimportant things and forget the important things such as (1) knowing the truth of life and universe, (2) understanding the transmigration within the Six Paths, and (3) transcending the Six Paths.

          "Extreme evils and severe sufferings" are karmic results. "Extreme" means severe. "Severe evils" refers to the Ten Evil Karmas: the physical karmas of killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct; the verbal karmas of false speech, divisive speech, harsh speech, and enticing speech; and the mental karmas of greed, anger, and ignorance. As the Ten Evil Karmas increase continually, they are called "extreme evils." When one commits such extreme evils, how can one not suffer retribution! Great suffering is transmigration within the Six Paths; small suffering is the suffering in one's present life, from birth to death.
​          "They diligently work... dictated by their minds."  "Mind" refers to greed, anger, ignorance, deluded mind, and wandering thoughts. In this kind of environment, people work hard and busy themselves every day simply out of "greed, anger, ignorance," and for "fame, prestige, gain, wealth," the Five Desires, and the Six Dusts.
          "Whether they have or not, they worry." When one obtains something, one is afraid of losing it. When one does not have something, one craves it. So one worries both ways: when one has something and when one does not. This is the true picture of society and the world presently. 

Excerpt 34
Parents and children, siblings, spouses, and relatives should respect and love each other, and should not be hateful or jealous of one another.  They should share what they have with those who do not.  They should not be greedy or stingy.  Their speech and facial expression should always be gentle.  They should not be defiant or unkind to one another.

"Relatives" refers to people of the same clan. People are together because of karmic links. Throughout our lives, the occasional meeting of someone is also due to a karmic link. More so, members of the same family--their link is even stronger.

          Four kinds of karmic links exist between children and parents. The first is to repay kindness. In past lifetimes, they had a good and happy relationship with one another. The children come to repay kindness, so they are very filial.
          The second is to exact revenge. The children are karmic debtors from past lifetimes. They are usually wastrels. When they grow up, they will cause the family's ruin.
          The third is to collect debt. It all depends on how much the parents had owed the children. If the parents did not owe much [previously], the children will die young. If the parents had owed the children a lot, the parents will spend a lot of money on the children's education and take very good care of them, and the children will suddenly die when they are adults.
          The fourth is to repay debt. The children owed the parents in past lifetimes. When the amount is a lot, the children will look after their parents very attentively.
          If the children's debt is little, they will take care of their parents just enough to ensure that their parents lack nothing. But there is no respect for their parents--the children only take care of their physical needs.
          When these four kinds of karmic links exist between people, they will become family. People will become relatives or friends when the karmic link is weaker. When the link is stronger, people will become family.

          If there is a bad karmic link with someone, any debt must be repaid. As is said "One who owes life will repay with a life. One who owes money will repay with money." But education can help make amends. Teaching people will help them understand the truth, and any enmity can be resolved even if it was incurred in past lifetimes.


          Education will help us transform bad karmic links into good ones and transform worldly-love affinity into Dharma affinity. This is most wonderful.
          "Should respect and love each other" is the way to be a human being. Confucianism teaches the Five Cardinal Human Relationships and the Ten Obligations. Every person has ten different roles and should fulfill the obligation of each role. "Parents should love their children, and children should be filial to their parents; elder siblings should care for younger siblings, and younger siblings should respect elder siblings." In a family, if one's role is that of a son, one should fulfill filial piety. As a father, one should be kind and loving. Knowing human relationships and understanding one's responsibilities--this is what education teaches us.


          Education teaches one how to interact with others and lets one know one's role in relation to others. Hence, the efficacies of education let us maintain harmonious and prosperous families, a stable society, a flourishing country, and a peaceful world. But today, education does not have these efficacies any more. The goal of education today is the exact opposite of that in the past.
          "Should not be hateful or jealous of one another."  "Hateful" refers to a resentful heart, a jealous heart. We should expand our respect and love beyond the scope of our family and encompass society and all beings. This way, society will be harmonious and the world will be at peace. Then, we will truly be able to live peacefully and happily.
           One cannot live alone and away from society. Therefore, in everything, one must consider the well-being of society. One must not harbor hatred or jealousy. When one encounters an adverse condition or situation, one should contemplate it over and over and find the root cause. One's mind will naturally be calm and afflictions will not arise.
          "They should share what they have with those who do not." When we have more things than we need, we should voluntarily help those in need. In our daily life, we should take care of one another. Each being's cultivation is different, thus the good fortune that each being has is different. Those who have great good fortune should take care of those who have little good fortune. This way, everyone will live in peace  with one another.
          If the rich are heartless--thinking of their own enjoyment and not caring about the suffering of others--society will be in turmoil. If the rich can take care of the poor, the poor would then be able to manage their lives. They will appreciate the kindness that the rich have shown them. Society will be peaceful and everyone can have a happy life.
          If society is in turmoil, no matter how great one's good fortune or wealth is, one will still have a miserable life.

          We start with helping our family members and relatives, then gradually extend our help to all beings. Today, there are many young, virtuous people who are enthusiastic about learning. We should help them, so as to nurture them to become exceptional people for society, country, and the world -- to bring benefit to all beings. The merit will be incomparably wondrous. When our children and relatives grow up, they will naturally have good fortune.
          We should look far ahead.

          "Should not be greedy or stingy."  "Stingy" means that we are unwilling to help others with what we have. When we are not greedy or stingy, we will have a broad mind and great good fortune.
          "Their speech and facial expression should always be gentle." This is saying that one should speak in a gentle way and always wear a smile.
          The Buddha's teachings pay great attention to this. This is why a Buddhist monastery or temple has an image of Maitreya Bodhisattva. This Bodhisattva represents "speech and facial expression should always be gentle."
          "They should not be defiant or unkind to one another."  "Defiant or unkind" signifies that there are differences in opinion. When there are differences in opinion, there will be disputes. Consider the countries, ethnic groups, and political parties that have split up. Why did they split up? Because they had disagreements and could not reach a consensus. None would yield to the other.


          Let us look again at the political leaders in ancient times, leaders who led people to a common understanding. How did they do this?
          In China, since the time of Emperor Wu of the Han dynasty, Confucianism was used to establish a common understanding. Later, Emperor Ming of the Han dynasty added Buddhism and Taoism. In other words, the Chinese were taught the Three Teachings (Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism). Doing it this way was accepted by everyone. This educational method was used until the Qing dynasty. The method used by the emperors in the past was truly brilliant! Today, everyone follows his or her own views. Those who agree are few, and those who disagree are many. Therefore, it is easy to split up.


          This excerpt teaches us (1) how members of a family and their relatives should get along with one another and (2) how a family can become happy and harmonious. This is the foundation for our happiness throughout our lives.
          If every person follows the Buddha's teaching, he or she will behave properly and will not overstep the boundaries, even when there are differences in opinions or feelings of unfairness.

Excerpt 35
In worldly matters, people alternate harming one another.  Retribution may not occur right away.  One should see through to this reality as soon as possible.

The people in this world do not understand this truth and they take revenge over and over, back and forth. They have a strong desire for vengeance. Revenge may not happen right away, but we should know that when an enmity is created, sooner or later revenge will come.

          Therefore, we should see through [retribution] and let go [of enmity]. We should completely change from within.
          This excerpt alerts us to guard against disasters--not just natural disasters but, more importantly, man-made ones. We may not be experiencing a disaster now but we should be far-sighted and look into the future. This way, we will know how to deal with matters at this present moment. There is a Chinese saying: "Those who fail to see ahead will soon find trouble right before them."
          Besides, everything in this world changes all the time! In the past, no matter how things changed, the changes could be predicted somewhat because there were moral standards. No matter which dynasty it was, things did not deviate much from the standards.
          Today, the standards have been discarded. The teachings of the ancient sages and the teachings of Confucius and Mencius have been discarded. Even the Buddha's teachings are unwanted. Therefore, people today are at a loss as to what to do. This is very frightening!

Excerpt 36
All of you should consider carefully.  Stay far away from all evils.  Choose what is virtuous to diligently practice.  Love, desire, prestige, and splendor cannot be had forever . . . There is no happiness at all.

"All of you should consider carefully." We should seriously contemplate everything. Understanding the truth, we will be diligent in our cultivation.

          Simply put, "stay far away from all evils" refers to [staying away from] all those things that are harmful to others and that are beneficial solely to oneself.
          For ourselves, "choose what is virtuous" refers to having belief and vow, mindfully chanting the Buddha-name, and seeking rebirth in the Western Pure Land. From all the sutras that Sakyamuni Buddha taught in the forty-nine years, we choose only the three Pure Land sutras. Putting aside all others, in this lifetime we learn and practice according to the teachings in the three Pure Land sutras. This way, we will achieve our goal.
          In daily life, we must do things that benefit society. When we do our best and accord with conditions, the merit accrued will be perfect and complete. In addition, we should be able to tell good from bad and right wrong, and should make the right choices.
          "Diligently practice" means that we should put in our best efforts to do things diligently. [In doing so,] both ourselves and others will benefit.
          "Love, desire, prestige, and splendor" refers to fame, prestige, gain, wealth, the Five Desires, and the Six Dusts. The Five Desires are wealth, sex, fame, food, and sleep.
           Love, desires, prestige, and splendor "cannot be had forever" because they are transient, like fleeting clouds. At the end of one's life, if one is still attached to this world, this will obstruct one from attaining rebirth in the Western Pure Land. Therefore, one must give up fame, prestige, gain, wealth, the Five Desires, and the Six Dusts, and stay far away from all evils. 
          When we truly understand the truth, we will be highly cautious in all situations and remain constantly vigilant.

Excerpt 37
​You should uproot all attachments and desires, and put an end to all sources of evil.  Then you will be able to travel freely among ​the Three Realms without any obstruction.

"You should uproot all attachments and desires."  "Attachments and desires" are karmic obstacles. One may be diligent in learning Buddhism but if one does not eliminate even a small amount of karmic obstacles, at the end of one's life, one's obstacles will obstruct one from attaining rebirth in the Western Pure Land. Therefore, if one truly wants to succeed in cultivation, one should "uproot all attachments and desires." If one's attachment to wealth, sex, fame, food, and sleep is reduced, the karmic obstacles will also decrease.

          "Put an end to all sources of evil." The sources of all evils are greed, anger, ignorance, arrogance, doubt, and wrong views. These six are the primary afflictions.
          How do we "uproot all attachments and desires, and put an end to all sources of evil"? By mindfully chanting "Amituofo," having deep belief and a sincere vow, and constantly thinking of attaining rebirth in the Western Pure Land. In all these, we must not be lax. Attachments, desires, and sources of evil will naturally diminish and will gradually stop arising.
          Although we cannot completely eradicate them, as long as they do not arise and our Buddha-name chanting practice is effective, we will be able to attain rebirth in the Western Pure Land, carrying along our residual karmas.
          The Diamond Sutra says: "How does one subdue one's mind?" The mind here refers to wandering and distracting thoughts. We mindfully chant the Buddha-name to subdue and control our wandering and distracting thoughts. This method is extremely amazing!
​          "Then you will be able to travel freely among the Three Realms without any obstruction." This is saying that the Bodhisattvas appear in the Six Paths to universally help all beings without being obstructed. We should learn this ability. When we come into contact with people to help them, our minds should be on Amituofo.
          When we achieve in Buddha-name chanting practice and no wandering thoughts, discriminations, or attachments arise, we will be able to "travel freely among the Three Realms." When we come into contact with people, we will not be hindered or affected by them.  In the Six Paths, we use the profound and supreme Pure Land method to help all beings--urging them to learn and practice together so that they can attain rebirth in the Western Pure Land and, without retrogression, attain Buddhahood.

Excerpt 38
Words and behavior should be faithful and trustworthy.  Within and without should match.

This is the basic attitude we need when we start our practice. The ancient people talked about ending wrongdoing and practicing virtuous conduct. Where does one start? One starts with no lying. Confucius said, "If a person cannot be trusted, there is no standing for that person." If a person is not trustworthy, there is no place in society for that person. In ancient society in China, "trustworthiness" was considered of foremost importance. It is so today as well. One must be dutiful and trustworthy. Our hearts and behavior should be in accordance.

Excerpt 39
Having received the Buddha's clear teachings, we need to be focused and diligent in our learning, and practice according to the teachings.  There is no doubt at all.

When we receive the Buddha's clear teachings, we need to aspire to learn and practice with concentration and diligence. We should practice according to the teachings without any doubt or regret. If we learn and practice this way, we will succeed.

Excerpt 40
[All of us] can rectify your minds, correct your thoughts, and refrain from committing evil deeds in this world.  This is quite a great merit.

"Rectify your minds, correct your thoughts" refers to generating the Bodhi mind. Simply put, rectifying one's mind means not thinking, not seeing, and not hearing anything that is not reasonable or that does not accord with the Buddha's teaching. This is cultivating an upright and sincere mind.


          "Evil deeds" refers to anything that does not benefit all beings.

          Presently, the world is an evil world of the Five Corruptions (the corruption of the age, the corruption of views, the corruption of afflictions, the corruption of sentient beings, and the corruption of life). In particular, the tools used to spread the news and views are overwhelming. Those who commit evil deeds are many and those who cultivate virtuous deeds are few.
          Those who know and accept the Buddha's teaching should rectify their minds, correct their thoughts, and refrain from committing evil deeds in this chaotic world. If one "refrains from committing evil deeds," and cultivates the Ten Virtuous Karmas, this is great merit. One is accumulating merits and virtues.

In August 1993, Venerable Master Chin Kung gave an eight-hour lecture series titled "Essence of the Infinite Life Sutra" at Ta Kioh Buddhist Temple in San Francisco, USA.  The lecture series consist of sixty excerpts that were identified and selected by him from the sutra.  Now the excerpts were compiled and translated from his lecture notes which becomes the text "Essence of the Infinite Life Sutra".  


​See the foreword by Master Chin Kung that introduced the essence of the Infinite Life Sutra.

Uproot all the evil deeds. Cultivate all the virtuous deeds.