Pointing the Way to the Pure Land
Enlightened teachers who have pointed the way to the Pure Land are numerous as atoms of dust. Here I will briefly quote some of them to offer their testimony.
Master T’ien-ju said:
I often see those who study Zen these days but do not investigate the final meaning of the Tathagata [in the sutras] and do not know the mystic device of Bodhidharma [in Zen]. With empty bellies and proud hearts, they study how to be crazy and false. When they see people who cultivate the Pure Land, they laugh at them and say, “That study is done by ignorant men and women. How vulgar!”
I say that it is not [only] ignorant men and women whom they are calling vulgar [some of the greatest figures in Buddhist Iore, who also sanctioned Pure Land practice, like] Manjushri and Samantabhadra, Ashvaghosa and Nagarjuna, and so on.
This type [who reject Pure Land as vulgar] are not only deluded themselves about the correct path; they are cutting off the sedd of enlightenment within themselves and creating the [bad] karma of slandering the Dharma. They are also bringing upon themselves the disaster that comes from denigrating the sages. Can we not warn them?
By the other methods, it is hard to escape birth and death. By cultivating Buddha-remembrance through recitation of the Buddha-name it is easy to be liberated from the cycle of birth and death. [Shakyamuni Buddha] left us the name of Amitabha Buddha to rescue sentient beings. Those who do not believe in it and who slander it will surely fall into hell and suffer all kinds of pain.
Dharma Teacher Ling-chih said:
The ordinary people who fill the earth are bound by karma and delusion and revolve in the five planes of existence, subject to all kinds of pain and affliction for thousands and thousands of eons. Suddenly they hear of the Pure Land and aspire to seek birth there: one day they invoke the Buddha-name and immediately transcend the world. This can be called something that is hard to encounter in then thousand ages, something that is met with once in a thousand births.
If people are willing to recite “Amitabha Buddha,” this surpasses all the roots of goodness. Even if they are able to practice giving and uphold discipline and meditate and chant the sutras, these practices are not as meritorious as reciting the Buddha-name. Why? If they cultivate all sorts of meritorious karma, without correct faith to seek birth in the Pure Land, these are all minor roots of goodness. To recite “Amitabha Buddha” and vow to seek birth in the Pure Land is called the great root of goodness.
Dharma Teacher Ku-shan said:
To seek birth in the Pure Land is to depend on “other power”: Amitabha’s vows gather you in, Shakyamuni encourages and praises you, and all the Buddhas protect you and are mindful of you. All three [kinds of ‘other power’] are present.
If you have the mind of faith, being born in the Pure Land is extremely easy. It is like crossing the sea when you already have a great ship, a skillful pilot, and a favorable wind: you are sure to arrive quickly on the other shore. If you do not consent to board the boat, and hesitate and tarry on dangerous paths, whose fault is this?
Quoted from Pure Land Pure Mind translated by J.C. Cleary