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Archive for June, 2006

Faith, Vows and Practice

иконикухненски ъглидомейн

Letters from Patriarch Yin Kuang
Translated by Master Thich Thien Tam

Faith, Vows and Practice

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Cultivate, Do Not Verbalize

The tenets of the Pure Land method are Faith, Vows and Practice. Only with
true Faith and earnest Vows can Practice be assiduous and pure. The common
disease of sentient beings is to be diligent and earnest when catastrophe strikes but
lax and remiss in normal times.
However, living in this current period is no different from lying peacefully on
a huge pile of dried wood under which a fire has already started. Though it has
not yet reached the body, in no time flames and smoke will cover everything,
leaving no possibility of escape. If you are indifferent or careless, remiss in seeking
help through reciting the Buddha’s name, your understanding and perception are
shallow indeed!

When cultivating various Dharma methods, you must reach the level of
“development of true practice, perfection of understanding” before you can receive
real benefits. This is not unique to the Visualization Method of Pure Land. In Zen,
a meaningless koan (kung an) becomes the “very life and mind” of the cultivator; he
puts his entire mind and thought into it, constantly meditating on it, oblivious to
the passage of time, be it days or months, until he reaches the point of extinguishing
all discriminating, delusive views with respect to internal and external realms. Only
then does he achieve Great Awakening. Is this not “development of true practice,
perfection of understanding”?

The Sixth Patriarch of Zen has said:
Simply by reading the Diamond Sutra, we can illumine our Mind and see our
True Nature.
Is this not also “development of true practice, perfection of understanding”?

The word “development” should be understood here as “[developing to] the utmost.” Only by striving to the utmost can the cultivator forget altogether about body, mind and the world around him, remaining completely still and tranquil, as though of one hue.
Letter to the layman Fan Ku-nung. (Chinese ed. Vol. I, p. 174)

If your cultivation has not reached the highest level, you may practice Vi-sualization and Recitation, but you will still be making the distinction between subject and object (yourself and the Buddhas). You will be engaged in an entirely mundane, ordinary activity, entirely within the realm of discriminatory views and understanding. How can you, then, achieve true benefits? That is why, when the ancients were in meditation, their mind and thoughts were like withered trees. Thus, their lofty conduct was known far and wide and later generations continue to admire and esteem them. These benefits are all due to the single word “utmost.”

People today prefer empty talk; few care to cultivate. Pure Land should include both theory and practice, with a definite emphasis on practice. Why? It is because for the person who thoroughly comprehends theory, all of practice is theory – practicing all day at the phenomenal level is practicing at the noumenon level.

When those who lack clear understanding of noumenon and phenomena hear the words “practice at the noumenal level,” they consider the meaning to be profound and sublime. They also find it consonant with their lazy, lethargic minds, which loathe the effort and difficulties of Buddha Recitation. Thus, they immediately grasp at noumenon and abandon the phenomenal. Little do they realize that when the phenomenal aspect is abandoned, noumenon becomes hollow and meaningless as well! I hope that you will explain cultivation at both the phenomenal and noumenal levels to everyone, counselling them accordingly. The benefits will be great indeed!

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Quoted from PURE-LAND ZEN ZEN PURE-LAND Letters from Patriarch Yin Kuang

Where’s the Reality?

A quote from the book “Pure Land, Pure Mind” that I would like to share.

To Layman P’eng Chun-chu of Chiang-yin

Few people live much past seventy – how long can our lives possibly last? Now in this eventing time [of your life], you better put aside all your worries and concerns, and see through this world. It’s like a play. Where’s the reality?

Just pass the time with the one sound: “Amitabha Buddha.” Make the world of ultimate bliss in the west your own home. [Think to yourself]: “If I recite the buddha-name and practice buddha-remembrance now, later I will be born in the Western Paradise. How fortunate!” Generate great joy, and stop feeling vexed and afflicted.

If you encounter things that do not go as you wish, immediately push your mind to this one sound, the buddha-name, and quickly focus on reciting it. Turn the light around [onto the source of your own awareness] and reflect back. [Think to yourself:] “[In essence] I am an inhabitant of the world of Amitabha Buddha. Why then do I have the same views and consciousness as a worldly person, creating feelings of anger and joy one after another?”

Singlemindedly recite the buddha-name. This is the peaceful, blissful Dharma-gate of great liberation for people who live in wisdom.

Finding Lost Mind

Reading the book “Pure Land Pure Mind” and would like to share a quote on “Finding Lost Mind”.

Reply to Liu Kuang-shu, Layman Shou-fu, of Hu-kuang

Ordinary people have let their minds get lost. First they learn how to gather in their minds. Later they find their minds.

There is not just one method to gather in the mind. Buddha-remembrance through reciting the buddha-name is foremost among such methods in terms of being highly effective and easy to make progress in. An ancient said:

With the other methods of studying the Path, it’s like an ant climbing a lofty mountain. With reciting the buddha-name and birth in the Pure Land, it’s like [being in a boat] moving along with the current with wind in the sails.

When thoughts arise, it is not necessary to anything else to annihilate them: just put your attention on the words “Amitabha Buddha” and keep it there with all your strength. This is the meditative work of gathering in mind. Suddenly you will awaken: this is called “finding mind”.

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