The Vow of Immeasurable Light
The Vow of Immeasurable Life
A Collection of Passages Revealing
The True Buddha and Land
Of the Pure Land Way
Compiled by Gutoku Shinran
Disciple of Sakyamuni
1 Reverently contemplating the true Buddha and the true land, I find that the Buddha is the Tathagata of inconceivable light and that the land also is the land of immeasurable light. Because they have arisen through the fulfillment of Vows of great compassion, they are called true fulfilled Buddha and land. There are relevant Vows that were made: the Vows of light and of life.
[The Sutra Passages]
2 The Larger Sutra states:
If, when I attain Buddhahood, my light not be infinite and not illumine even a hundred thousand nayutas of kotis of Buddha-lands, may I not attain the supreme enlightenment.
3 Further, it is stated in a Vow:
If, when I attain Buddhahood, my life not be infinite and not span even a hundred thousand nayutas of kotis of kalpas, may I not attain the supreme enlightenment.
4 The passage declaring the fulfillment of these Vows states:
The Buddha said to Ananda, “the Majestic radiance of the Buddha of immeasurable life is exalted and supreme; the radiance of other Buddhas cannot compare with it… For this reason, the Buddha of immeasurable life is called Buddha of immeasurable light, Buddha of boundless light, Buddha of unhindered light, Buddha of incomparable light, Buddha of light that is lord of blazing light, Buddha of the light of purity, Buddha of the light of joy, Buddha of the light of wisdom, Buddha of uninterrupted light, Buddha of inconceivable light, Buddha of inexpressible light, and Buddha of light surpassing sun and moon.
“Sentient beings who encounter this light have the three defilements swept away, and they become soft and gentle in body and mind. They dance with joy, and the good mind arises in them. When those suffering the pain and travail in the three evil courses see this light, they all find respite and are freed of afflictions. After their lives have ended, they all gain emancipation. The light of the Buddha of immeasurable life is resplendent and brilliantly illuminates the lands of the Buddhas throughout the ten quarters; nowhere is it not heard of. It is not I alone who praise this light now; all Buddhas, sravakas, pratyekabuddhas, and bodhisattvas together praise it just as I do. When sentient beings hear of this light’s majestic virtues and praise it day and night with wholeness of heart and without interruption, they will attain birth in that land in accord with their hearts’ aspirations, and all the bodhisattvas and sravakas will extol and praise their virtues. Upon attaining the enlightenment of Buddhahood later, their light will be praised by all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas throughout the ten quarters just as I now praise that Buddha’s light.”
The Buddha said, “Even if I were to expound the magnificence, splendor, and wondrousness, of the light of the Buddha of immeasurable life day and night for a kalpa, still I could not exhaust it.”
The Buddha said to Ananda, “The life of the Buddha of immeasurable life is everlasting and beyond reckoning. How could you know it? Imagine that the countless sentient beings throughout the worlds of the ten quarters were made to acquire human existence, and all were caused to attain the state of sravakas or pratyekabuddhas. Even if all of them, gathering in a single place and, with focused thoughts and concentrated minds, employing the utmost power of their wisdom, pondered together for myriads of kalpas in an attempt to determine the length of that life, they still would not be able to come to its end and know its limit.
5 The Sutra of the Tathagata of Immeasurable Life states:
Ananda, for this reason the Buddha of immeasurable life has other names: immeasurable light, boundless light, light free of attachment, unhindered light, lord of lights, serene and glorious light, light of gladness, joyous light, light worthy of admiration, inconceivable light, incomparable light, inexpressible light, light that darkens the sun, light that darkens the moon, light that deprives sun and moon of luminance. That light, pure and immense, brings joy and happiness to the bodies and minds of sentient beings everywhere. Further, it enables the beings of all other Buddha-lands – devas, nagas, yaksas, asuras – without exception, to attain delight and exultation.
6 The Sutra of the Immeasurable Pure Enlightenment of Equality states:
Swiftly one transcends [birth-and-death]
And is able to attain the world of happiness;
Reaching the land of immeasurable light,
One makes offerings to countless Buddhas.
7 The Sutra of Salvation through the Perfect Enlightenment of Amida, Supreme among Buddhas states:
The Buddha said, “Amida Buddha’s radiance is exalted and supreme; it has no peer. The radiance of other Buddhas cannot compare with it. The light from the crown of the head of some among the countless Buddhas of the eight quarters, the zenith and the nadir, extends seventy feet; of others, a mile… The light from the crown of some Buddhas’ heads shines over two million Buddha-lands.”
The Buddha said, “Such is the area shone upon by the lights from the crowns of the heads of the countless Buddhas throughout the eight directions, the zenith and the nadir. The area shone upon by the light from the crown of Amida Buddha’s head extends over ten million Buddha-lands. Why are there such differences in the distance covered by the Buddhas’ lights? Viewed in relation to the vows they made when they were bodhisattvas seeking the way, the scales of their merits naturally differ from each other. Afterwards, when they attained Buddhahood, they each actualized what they had vowed. Thus, their lights are all the more unequal. Only the Buddhas’ majesty is, to be sure, the same. They act of their free will as they desire and do not design or calculate beforehand. The area illuminated by Amida Buddha’s light is the greatest. The area illuminated by the lights of the other Buddhas cannot compare with it.”
The Buddha praised the excellence of Amida Buddha’s light, “The light of Amida Buddha is surpassingly good; it is luminous and wondrous among all that is good. It is pleasing beyond compare, boundlessly excellent. Amida Buddha’s light is pure, without the least defilement or diminution. Amida Buddha’s light is superbly beautiful, a hundred million times more brilliant than the sun and moon. It is the brightest among the lights of all the Buddhas. It is the most excellent of lights, the most surpassing of lights, the most pleasing of lights. It is king among the Buddhas. It is the most exalted of lights, by far the most radiant of lights. It illuminates the innumerable dim and dark places in innumerable worlds, so that they are always splendidly bright. Among all human beings and even insects that leap or worms that crawl, there is none that does not see Amida Buddha’s light. Among those that see it, there is none that does not come to possess a heart of compassion and rejoice. Among all beings in the world who are possessed of licentious desires or wrath or folly, there is none who, on seeing Amida Buddha’s light, does not perform good acts. Among those in the realms of hell, beasts, hungry ghosts, or asuras, where they suffer pain and affliction, there is none who, upon seeing Amida Buddha’s light, does not gain respite and, although not acquiring remedy, obtain emancipation from sorrow and pain after death. Amida Buddha makes that light and Name heard throughout the boundless, unlimited, countless lands of the Buddhas in the eight quarters, the zenith and the nadir. There is none among devas and human beings who does not hear and know them. Of those who hear and know them, none fails to attain emancipation.”
The Buddha said, “I am not alone in praising Amida Buddha’s light. The countless Buddhas, pratyekabuddhas, bodhisattvas, and arhats throughout the eight quarters, the zenith and the nadir all praise it thus.”
The Buddha said, “If there are people – good sons and good daughters – who hear the Name of Amida Buddha, praise Amida’s light, and day and night constantly extol the light’s excellence with sincere mind and without interruption, they will attain birth in the Buddha’s land in accord with their aspiration.”
8 The Unfailing Net of Salvation Sutra states:
The place where you will be born is Amida Buddha’s pure fulfilled land. Being born from a lotus transformed, you will constantly see the Buddhas and will realize the various kinds of dharma-insight. Your life will be immeasurable, spanning a hundred thousand kalpas. You will immediately attain highest perfect enlightenment and will never retrogress. I will always protect you.
9 The Nirvana Sutra states:
“Further, emancipation is called nothingness. Nothingness is none other than emancipation; emancipation none other than Tathagata; Tathagata none other than nothingness. It is the activity of nonacting… True emancipation is nonarising and nonperishing; hence, emancipation is Tathagata. Tathagata is also thus – nonarising, nonperishing, unaging, undying, indestructible and incorruptible; it is not a created existence. Because it has this significance, it is said Tathagata enters great nirvana….
“Further, emancipation is called the supreme that is unexcelled… The supreme that is unexcelled is none other than true emancipation; true emancipation is none other than Tathagata… If one has attained highest perfect enlightenment, one is free of desire and free of doubt. To be free of desire and free of doubt is true emancipation, true emancipation is Tathagata… Tathagata is nirvana, nirvana is the inexhaustible, the inexhaustible is Buddha-nature, Buddha-nature is unchanging, the unchanging is highest perfect enlightenment.”
Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha, “World-honored one, if nirvana, Buddha-nature, the unchanging, and Tathagata are all synonyms, why do you teach the three refuges?”
The Buddha said to Kasyapa, “Good sons, all sentient beings fear birth-and-death; hence they seek the three refuges. Because of the three refuges, they come to know Buddha-nature, the unchanging, and nirvana. Good sons, sometimes the name for things is the same but its meanings different, sometimes both names and meanings differ. Concerning the name being the same and its meanings different, Buddha, eternal dharma, and eternal sangha are the eternal. This is called ‘the name being the same and its meanings different.” Concerning the names and meanings both differing, Buddha is called awakening, dharma is called nonawakening, sangha is called the harmonious, nirvana is called emancipation, boundless space is called nongood or unhindered. This is a case of ‘names and meanings both differing.’ Good sons, it is like this with the three refuges.”
10 Further, it states:
Light is called the undecaying, the undecaying is called Tathagata. Further, light is called wisdom.
11 Further, it states:
Good sons, all created things are impermanent. Boundless space is the uncreated; hence it is eternal. Buddha-nature is the uncreated; hence it is eternal. Boundless space is Buddha-nature, Buddha-nature is Tathagata, Tathagata is the uncreated, the uncreated is the eternal, the eternal is dharma, dharma is sangha, sangha is the uncreated, the uncreated is the eternal…
Good sons, it is like taking milk from a cow, rendering cream from the milk, rendering curdled milk from the cream, rendering butter from the curdled milk, and rendering manda from the butter. Manda is the finest. The person who partakes of it is freed of all illnesses. It is as though all medicines were contained in it. Good sons, it is such with the Buddha. From the Buddha the twelve divisions of scriptures arise, from the twelve divisions of scriptures the sutras arise, from the sutras the Mahayana sutras arise, from the Mahayana sutras the prajnaparamita sutras arise, from the prajnaparamita sutras the Great Nirvana Sutra arises, just as manda is obtained. Manda is a metaphor for Buddha-nature. Buddha-nature is none other than Tathagata. Good sons, for this reason, it is taught that the virtues possessed by the Tathagata are immeasurable, boundless, and incalculable.
12 Further, it states:
Good sons, there are two kinds of enlightenment: eternal and impermanent. There are also two kinds of bodhi: eternal and impermanent. Nirvana is also like this. The enlightenment of nonbuddhist ways is called impermanent, Buddhist enlightenment is called eternal. The bodhi possessed by sravakas and pratyekabuddhas is called impermanent, the bodhi possessed by bodhisattvas and Buddhas is called eternal. The emancipation of nonbuddhist ways is called impermanent, the emancipation of Buddhist ways is called eternal.
Good sons, enlightenment, bodhi, and nirvana are all eternal. All sentient beings are constantly oppressed by immeasurable blind passions and lack the wisdom-eye; hence they cannot see. And desiring to see the practice of precepts, meditation, and wisdom, all sentient beings, through practice, see enlightenment, bodhi, and nirvana. This is called the bodhisattva’s attainment of enlightenment, bodhi, and nirvana. The nature and characteristics of enlightenment are in actuality nonarising and nonperishing. Because of this, it cannot be grasped… Although enlightenment is formless and featureless, it can be seen, it can be reckoned and known; in reality it possesses functioning… Such things as the sentient beings’ minds are formless. They are neither long nor short, neither rough nor fine, neither bound nor free; they are not visible. Nevertheless, they exist as things.
13 Further, it states:
Good sons, because there is great pleasure it is called great nirvana. Nirvana is without pleasure, and because it possesses the four aspects of pleasure, it is called great nirvana. What are these four?
The first is eradication of all pleasures. If pleasures are not eradicated, it is called pain. If there is pain, it cannot be called great pleasure. Because one eradicates pleasure, there is no pain. Being without pain and without pleasure is great pleasure. The nature of nirvana is absence of pain and absence of pleasure. Hence, it is called great pleasure. With this meaning it is called great nirvana.
Further, good sons, there are two kinds of pleasure. The first is that of foolish beings, the second is that of Buddhas. The pleasures of foolish beings are subject to impermanence and destruction. For this reason they are without pleasure. The Buddhas have eternal pleasure. Because there is no change or alteration, it is called great pleasure.
Further, good sons, there are three kinds of sensation: first, painful sensation; second, pleasant sensation; third, sensation that is neither painful nor pleasant. It is said that what is neither painful nor pleasant is in fact painful. Although nirvana is neither painful nor pleasant, it is called great pleasure. Because it is great pleasure, it is called great nirvana.
Second, it is called great pleasure because it is great quiescence. The nature of nirvana is great quiescence. Why? Because it is free of all that is disruptive and clamorous. Because it is great quiescence, it is called great nirvana.
Third, it is called great pleasure because it is all-knowing wisdom. That which is not all-knowing wisdom is not called great pleasure. The Buddha-tathagatas, because they possess all-knowing wisdom, are called [those of] great pleasure. Because it is great pleasure, it is called great nirvana.
Fourth, it is called great pleasure because the body is undecaying. If the body were subject to decay, it would not be called pleasure. The body of Tathagata is diamondlike and undecaying. It is not a body of blind passions, not a body of impermanence. Hence it is called great pleasure. Because it is great pleasure, it is called great nirvana.
14 Further, it states:
Because it is inexpressible and inconceivable, it may be termed great, complete nirvana. Because it is pure and genuine, it is called great nirvana. What is the pure and genuine? There are four aspects of purity. What are these four?
First, the twenty-five forms of existence are called impure; since they are severed forever, it can be called pure. Purity is itself none other than nirvana. Such nirvana, being an existence, can be called nirvana. In reality it is not an existence. All Buddha-tathagatas, in accordance with the worldly, teach that nirvana is an existence. For example, there are cases when one calls someone who is not one’s father “Father,” one who is not one’s mother “Mother,” and those who are not actually one’s parents “Parents.” Thus it is with nirvana. In accordance with the worldly, it is taught that the Buddhas are existent and are great nirvana.
Second, the activity is pure. The acts of all sentient beings are impure; hence, they possess nothing of nirvana. Because the acts of all Buddha-tathagatas are pure, they are termed great purity. Because they are great purity, they are termed great nirvana.
Third, the body is pure. When the body is impermanent, it is called impure. The body of the Tathagata is eternal; hence, it is called great purity. Because it is great purity, it is called great nirvana.
Fourth, the mind is pure. When the mind is defiled, it is called impure. The Buddha-mind is undefiled; hence, it is called great purity. Because it is great purity, it is called great nirvana. Good sons, [the one who grasps] this is called “good son” or “good daughter.”
15 Further, it states:
The Buddha-tathagatas do not give rise to blind passions; hence, they are termed nirvana. The wisdom they possess is unhindered in penetrating things; hence, they are termed Tathagatas. Tathagatas are not foolish beings, sravakas, pratyekabuddhas, or bodhisattvas; hence, they are termed Buddha-nature. Tathagatas are, in body and mind and in wisdom, unhindered in pervading and fulfilling the immeasurable, boundless, innumerable lands; hence, they are termed boundless space. The Tathagatas are eternal and never changing; hence they are termed true reality. Because of this, the Tathagatas do not actually enter ultimate nirvana; they are termed “bodhisattva.”
16 Further, it states:
Bodhisattva Kasyapa said, “World-honored one, Buddha-nature is eternal, like boundless space. Why does the Tathagata speak of it as in the future? When the Tathagata states that those lacking the seed of Buddhahood do not possess any good, does this mean that they cannot give rise to thoughts of love toward fellow disciples, teachers they have in common, parents, relatives, or wives and children? If they give rise to such thoughts, is this not good?”
The Buddha replied, “Excellent, excellent! Good son, well have you asked this question! Buddha-nature is like boundless space; it is not in the past, or future, or present. All sentient beings have bodily existences of three aspects – the past, future, and present. In the future, they will attain the body adorned with purity and be able to see Buddha-nature. For this reason, I have spoken of Buddha-nature as belonging to the future. Good sons, for the sake of sentient beings, I sometimes explain a causal matter in terms of the result; at other times, I explain it in terms of the cause. Therefore, in this sutra, life is explained as nourishment, and form, which is to be seen, is termed the tangible. Because the future body is pure, I teach it to be Buddha-nature.”
“World-honored one, if such is what the Buddha teaches, why do you teach that all sentient beings possess Buddha-nature?
“Good sons, although the Buddha-nature of sentient beings is nonexistent in the present, it should not be called nonexistent. It is like boundless space. Although ‘nature’ is nonexistent, one should not say that it is nonexistent in the present. Further, although all sentient beings are impermanent, still their Buddha-nature is eternal and unchanging. For this reason, I teach in this sutra that sentient beings’ Buddha-nature is neither within nor without, like boundless space. Neither within nor without, it exists like boundless space. Although that which is within or without is boundless space, we do not consider it one or permanent, nor do we consider it existent everywhere. Although boundless space is neither within nor without, nevertheless all sentient beings possess it. Sentient beings’ Buddha-nature is like this.
“It is like those lacking the seed of Buddhahood of whom you speak. Their bodily, verbal, and mental acts, and acts of grasping, seeking, giving, and understanding, though they perform them, are all wrong acts. Why? Because they do not seek the principle of causation. Good sons, the green herb is bitter in its seed, roots, stalk, branches, leaves, flower, and fruit. The acts of those lacking the seed of Buddhahood are like this.”
17 Further, it states:
[The Buddha said,] “Good sons, the Tathagata possesses the power to know the capacities of beings. Hence, he is able to discern and determine sentient beings’ capacities – superior, average, or inferior – and he knows that a person changes from inferior into average. He knows that a person changes from average into superior. He knows that a person changes from superior into average. He knows that a person changes from average into inferior. Realize, for this reason, that the capacities of sentient beings are not unfixed. Because they are not fixed, their good roots may be sundered, and having been sundered, may arise again. If sentient beings’ capacities were fixed, what had once been sundered, having been completely sundered, would not arise again. Further, it should not be taught that those lacking the seed of Buddhahood fall into hell, there to pass a lifetime of one kalpa. Good sons, for this reason the Tathagata teaches that all things lack fixed nature.”
Kasyapa Bodhisattva said to the Buddha, “World-honored one, the Tathagata possesses the power to know beings’ capacities; hence, you surely knew that Sunaksatra would certainly sever his good roots. Why did you permit his entrance into homeless life?”
The Buddha said, “Good sons, long ago, when I abandoned homelife, my brother Nanda, my cousins Ananda and Devadatta, and my son Rahula all followed me, abandoned homelife, and endeavored in the way. If I had not approved of Sunaksatra’s abandonment of homelife, he would have succeeded to the throne. He would have exercised his powers as he pleased and might have destroyed the Buddha-dharma. For this reason, I permitted him to abandon homelife and endeavor in the way. Good sons, if the bhiksu Sunaksatra had not entered homeless life, he would have severed his good roots; he would have been bereft of benefit for countless ages. Though now, after having abandoned homelife, he has sundered his good roots, he well received and observed the precepts, paid homage to and revered the elders, the seniors, and the virtuous, and practiced the first through the fourth stages of meditation. These are called ‘good causes.’ Such good causes produce good. When good has been produced, the way will be practiced. When the way has been practiced, highest perfect enlightenment will be realized. Therefore, I approved of Sunaksatra’s abandonment of homelife. Good sons, if I did not permit bhiksu Sunaksatra to abandon homelife and receive the precepts, I could not be called a Tathagata possessed of the ten powers… Good sons, the Tathagata knows well the superior, average, or inferior capacities of sentient beings. For this reason, the Buddha is called one who possesses power to know beings’ capacities.
Kasyapa Bodhisattva said to the Buddha, “World-honored one, the Tathagata possesses this power to know the capacities of beings. For this reason, he knows superior, average, or inferior capacities of all sentient beings and their differences in keenness or dullness, and he accords with the person, accords with the intent, and accords with the time; hence, the Tathagata is called one who possesses the power to know the capacities of beings… At times it may be taught that those who violate the four major prohibitions, those who commit the five grave offenses, and those who lack the seed of Buddhahood all have Buddha-nature…”
[The Buddha said,] “The Tathagata, World-honored one, in order to accord with the country, to accord with the times, to accord with other languages, to accord with the people, and to accord with the various capacities, teaches one matter in two ways. He teaches innumerable names for that which has one name. He teaches innumerable names for that which has one meaning. He teaches innumerable names for that which has innumerable meanings.
“How is it that innumerable names are taught for that which has one name? It is like the case of nirvana. It is called ‘nirvana.’ It is called ‘no-birth.’ It is called ‘no-arising.’ It is called ‘no-act.’ It is called ‘uncreated.’ It is called ‘taking refuge.’ It is called ‘cave shelter.’ It is called ’emancipation.’ It is called ‘light.’ It is called ‘lamp light.’ It is called ‘other shore.’ It is called ‘fearlessness.’ It is called ‘no-retrogression.’ It is called ‘place of peace.’ It is called ‘ quiescence.’ It is called ‘formlessness.’ It is called ‘nonduality.’ It is called ‘one practice.’ It is called ‘coolness.’ It is called ‘not dark.’ It is called ‘unhindered.’ It is called ‘no-dispute.’ It is called ‘undefiled.’ It is called ‘vastness.’ It is called ‘sweet nectar.’ It is called ‘auspiciousness.’ This is termed ‘giving innumerable names for that which has one name.’
“How is it that innumerable names are taught for that which has one meaning? It is like the case of Sakra…
“How is it that innumerable names are taught for that which has innumerable meanings? It is like the case of Buddha-tathagata. He is called ‘Tathagata,’ which differs in meaning and differs in name. He is called ‘arhat,’ which differs in meaning and differs in name. He is called ‘perfectly awakened one,’ which differs in meaning and differs in name. He is called ‘helmsman.’ He is called ‘guiding master.’ He is called ‘perfectly enlightened.’ He is called ‘possessed of perfect knowledge and practice.’ He is called ‘great lion king.’ He is called ‘sramana.’ He is called ‘brahman.’ He is called ‘quiescent one.’ He is called ‘almsgiver.’ He is called ‘gone to the other shore.’ He is called ‘great physician king.’ He is called ‘great elephant king.’ He is called ‘great dragon king.’ He is called ‘eye-giver.’ He is called ‘master of great powers.’ He is called ‘great fearlessness.’ He is called ‘mass of gems.’ He is called ‘caravan leader.’ He is called ‘attainment of emancipation.’ He is called ‘great stalwart one.’ He is called ‘teacher of devas and human beings.’ He is called ‘great lotus.’ He is called ‘solitary and unequaled.’ He is called ‘great field of merits.’ He is called ‘ocean of great wisdom.’ He is called ‘formlessness.’ He is called ‘possessed of eightfold wisdom.’ All these differ in meaning and differ in name. Good sons, this is termed ‘teaching innumerable names for that which has innumerable meanings.’
“Further, innumerable names are taught for that which has one meaning, as in the case of the aggregates. They are called ‘aggregates.’ They are called ‘invertedness.’ They are called ‘truth.’ They are called ‘four bases of mindfulness.’ They are called ‘four kinds of nourishment.’ They are called ‘four abodes of consciousness.’ They are called ‘existence.’ They are called ‘path.’ They are called ‘time.’ They are called ‘sentient being.’ They are called ‘world.’ They are called ‘highest truth.’ They are called ‘three kinds of practice’; these involve body, precepts, and mind. They are called ‘causality.’ They are called ‘blind passions.’ They are called ’emancipation.’ They are called ‘twelvefold causation.’ They are called ‘sravaka,’ ‘pratyekabuddha,’ and ‘Buddha.’ They are called ‘hell,’ ‘hungry ghost,’ ‘beast,’ ‘human being,’ and ‘deva,’ and further ‘past,’ ‘present,’ and ‘future.’ This is termed ‘teaching innumerable names for that which has one meaning.’
“Good sons, the Tathagata, World-honored one, for the sake of sentient beings, within what is extensive teaches the brief, within what is brief teaches the extensive. He teaches the highest truth as the worldly truth, teaches the dharma of worldly truth as the highest truth.”
18 Further, it states:
Further Kasyapa said, “World-honored one, the highest truth is also called enlightenment. It is called bodhi. It is called nirvana…”
19 Further, it states:
Good sons, I have stated in this sutra, in teaching the body of Tathagata, that there are two kinds. The first is the physical body, and the second is the dharma-body.
The physical body is the transformed body of skillful means. This body is subject to birth, aging, sickness, and death, and the distinctions of long and short, black and white, this and that, learning and nonlearning. My disciples, having heard this teaching, will say, if they have not grasped my intent, “The Tathagata has definitely taught that the Buddha-body is a created dharma.”
The dharma-body is eternity, bliss, self, and purity. It is forever free of all birth, aging, sickness, and death, of not-white and not-black, not-long and not-short, not-this and not-that, not learning and not nonlearning; hence, whether the Buddha appears in the world or does not appear in the world, he is constantly unmoving and without change. Good sons, my disciples, having heard this teaching, will say, if they have not grasped my intent, “The Tathagata has definitely taught that the Buddha-body is an uncreated dharma.”
20 Further, it states:
It is like the case of the twelve divisions of scriptures that I have taught. Some are teachings in accord with my own intent; some are teachings in accord with the listeners’ intent; some are teachings in accord with both my own intent and the intent of the listeners… Good sons, I have taught that bodhisattvas of the tenth stage see a little of Buddha-nature; this is called a teaching in accord with the listeners intent. Why do I say “see a little”? Bodhisattvas of the tenth stage have attained such samadhis as the samadhi of heroic advance and also mastery of the three thousand dharma-gates. Hence, they themselves clearly know that they will indeed attain highest, perfect enlightenment, but they do not see that all sentient beings will definitely attain highest, perfect enlightenment. Therefore, I teach that bodhisattvas of the tenth stage see a little of Buddha-nature.
Good sons, I always proclaim that all sentient beings have Buddha-nature. This is termed the teaching in accord with my own intent. All sentient beings are nonceasing and nonperishing, and thus attain highest perfect enlightenment. This is termed the teaching in accord with my own intent. Although all sentient beings have Buddha-nature, because it is covered over by blind passions, they cannot see it. Such is what I teach, and such is what you teach. This is termed the teaching in accord with my own intent and with the intent of the listeners. Good sons, in order to present one teaching, the Tathagata sometimes explains innumerable teachings.
21 Further, it states:
“To be awakened to all things is called Buddha-nature. Bodhisattvas of the tenth stage cannot be called all-awakened ones; hence, although they see, they do not see clearly. Good sons, there are two kinds of seeing: seeing with the eyes and seeing through hearing. All Buddhas, world-honored ones, see Buddha-nature with their eyes as though looking at a mango in the palms of their hands. The bodhisattvas of the tenth stage, although they see Buddha-nature by hearing, do not see it especially clearly. The bodhisattvas of the tenth stage know only that they themselves will definitely attain highest perfect enlightenment and are incapable of knowing that all sentient beings have Buddha-nature.
“Good sons, there is also seeing with the eyes. This belongs to all Buddha-tathagatas. Bodhisattvas of the tenth stage see Buddha-nature with the eyes, but also see it through hearing. All sentient beings up to bodhisattvas of the ninth stage see Buddha-nature through hearing. When bodhisattvas do not awaken faith in their hearts, even though they hear that all sentient beings have Buddha-nature, they cannot be said to see through hearing…”
The Bodhisattva-mahasattva Lion-Roar said, “World-honored one, none of the people in the world are capable of knowing the Tathagata’s mind. How is it possible for them to perceive and know it?”
“Good sons, all sentient beings are indeed incapable of knowing the Tathagata’s mind. If they desire to be capable of perceiving and knowing it, there are two conditions by which it is possible: seeing with the eyes and seeing through hearing. If one sees the Tathagata’s bodily activity, then one knows indeed that it is the Tathagata. This is termed seeing with the eyes. If one perceives the Tathagata’s verbal activity, then one knows indeed that it is the Tathagata. This is termed seeing through hearing. If one sees the countenance and realizes that there is none its equal among all sentient beings, then one knows indeed that it is the Tathagata. This is termed seeing with the eyes. If one hears the subtlety and excellence of the voice and realizes that there is none like it among the voices of sentient beings, then one knows indeed that it is the Tathagata. This is termed seeing through hearing. If one sees the miraculous acts performed by the Tathagata, the question may arise whether they are for the sake of sentient beings or for the sake of gain. If one realizes that they are for the sake of sentient beings and not gain, then one knows indeed that it is the Tathagata. This is termed seeing with the eyes. If one perceives the Tathagata when he is looking upon sentient beings with the wisdom that knows others’ minds, the question may arise whether he teaches for the sake of gain or for the sake of sentient beings. If one realizes that it is for the sake of sentient beings and not for the sake of gain, then one knows indeed that it is the Tathagata. This is termed seeing by hearing.”
[Passages from the Masters: Vasubandhu]
22 The Treatise on the Pure Land states:
O World-honored one, with the mind that is single
I take refuge in the Tathagata of unhindered light
Filling the ten quarters
And aspire to be born in the land of happiness.
Contemplating the features of that world,
I see that it transcends the three realms.
It is infinite, like space,
Vast and boundless.
23 The Commentary on the Treatise states:
Concerning “the fulfillment of the adornment of the virtue of purity,” the gatha states:
Contemplating the features of that world,
I see that it transcends the three realms.
Why is this inconceivable? When foolish beings possessed of blind passions attain birth in the Pure Land, they are not bound by the karmic fetters of the three realms. That is, without severing blind passions, they realize nirvana itself. How can this be conceived?
The great compassion of true enlightenment (tao)
Is born from supramundane roots of good.
What is described in these two lines is termed “fulfillment of the adornment of the virtue of its nature…”
Nature means essence. It signifies that the Pure Land accords with dharma-nature and does not conflict with dharma-essence. This matter has the same significance as the arising of Jewel-King Tathagata’s nature in the Garland Sutra.
It further signifies the nature fulfilled through repeated practice. It indicates what was fulfilled by Dharmakara Bodhisattva’s accumulating all the paramitas and repeatedly practicing them.
Further, nature refers to the seed-lineage of sages. At the beginning, Dharmakara Bodhisattva, in the presence of Lokesvararaja Buddha, realized insight into nonorigination. The stage attained at that time is termed “the seed-lineage of sages.” While abiding in this “nature,” he established the Forty-eight great Vows and gave rise to this land through performing practices. It is called the Pure Land of happiness. This is what is realized by the cause. Concerning the fruition, the cause is taught; hence the term nature.
Further, the term nature has the meaning of necessity, the meaning of unalterability. It is like the ocean’s nature having one taste; when various streams enter, they necessarily become the one taste, and the ocean’s taste does not alter accordingly.
Again, it is like the nature of the human body being impure, so that things having excellent color and fragrance and pleasing taste, on entering it, all become impure. Those born in the Pure Land of happiness have no impure form, no impure mind, and in the end they all acquire the uncreated dharma-body of purity and equality, for the pure nature of the land of happiness has been fulfilled.
“The great compassion of true enlightenment is born from supramundane roots of good” refers to the great enlightenment of equality. The enlightenment of equality is termed “true enlightenment” because equality is the fundamental aspect of all things. Because of the equality of all things, awakening the mind [aspiring for enlightenment] is the same. Because awakening the mind is the same, the enlightenment (tao) is the same. Because the enlightenment is the same, great compassion is the same. Because great compassion is the true cause of attaining the Buddha’s enlightenment, it is termed “the great compassion of true enlightenment.”
Concerning compassion, there are three kinds of objects. First, sentient beings as object; this is small compassion. Second, things as object; this is medium compassion. Third, nothing as object; this is great compassion. Great compassion is none other than the supramundane good. The Pure Land of happiness arises from this great compassion; therefore this great compassion is said to be the root of the Pure Land. Hence the phrase, “born from supramundane roots of good.”
Question: When we look into the power of Dharmakara Bodhisattva’s Primal Vow and Nagarjuna Bodhisattva’s verses of praise, they seem to take the great numbers of sravakas in that land as wondrous. What is the meaning of this?
Answer: Sravakas take reality-limit for enlightenment. From this it is assumed that they should not be able to produce the germ of the Buddha’s enlightenment. However, with the Primal Vow’s inconceivable, transcendent power, Amida Buddha grasps and brings them to birth in the Pure Land; there, again through the transcendent power, they unfailingly produce the mind aspiring for supreme enlightenment. It is like the fish and clams dying when a chen bird enters the water, and the dead all reviving when a rhinoceros touches it. They should not be able to produce [the germ of enlightenment] and yet they do; hence, it is indeed wondrous. Of the five inconceivabilities, the Buddha-dharma is the most inconceivable. The Buddha is able to cause sravakas to produce the mind aspiring for supreme enlightenment. Truly, this is the utmost of inconceivabilities.
“Inconceivable power” indicates the inconceivability of the power of the virtues possessed by the Buddha-land’s seventeen kinds of adornment. The sutras teach that there are five inconceivabilities: first, the inconceivability of the number of sentient beings; second, the inconceivability of karmic power; third, the inconceivability of the power of dragons; fourth, the inconceivability of the power of meditation; fifth, the inconceivability of the power of Buddha-dharma.
Concerning the Buddha-land’s inconceivability, which is mentioned here, there are two kinds of power. The first is karmic power; [the Pure Land is] the fruition of Dharmakara Bodhisattva’s supramundane roots of good and the great Vow’s karmic power. The second is the sustaining power of Amida, the perfectly enlightened Dharma-king, by which the Pure Land is embraced.
Concerning “showing self-benefit and the benefiting of others,” the Treatise states:
I have briefly explained the seventeen kinds of fulfillment of adornments of the virtues of Amida Buddha’s land. For the Buddha has shown the fulfillment of the power of the great virtues of self-benefit and the fulfillment of the virtues of benefiting others.
Briefly signifies that the virtues of the Pure Land are immeasurable; it is not that there are but seventeen. It is said that Mount Sumeru can fit into a mustard seed, and that a hair pore can hold the vast ocean. Can this come about through the miraculous powers of the mountain or the sea, or the powers of the hair pore or the mustard seed? It can come about only through the miraculous power of the one possessing it.
What is the fulfillment of the adornment, “the virtue of sustaining without any futility”? The gatha states:
Contemplating the power of the Buddha’s Primal Vow,
I see that no one who encounters it passes by in vain;
It quickly brings to fullness and perfection
The great treasure ocean of virtues.
The fulfillment of the virtue of sustaining without any futility refers to the power of Amida Tathagata’s Primal Vow… Sustaining without any futility is based on the Forty-eight Vows that Dharmakara Bodhisattva made in the past in his causal stage and on Amida Tathagata’s transcendent powers freely working in the present. The Vow gives rise to the power; the power fulfills the Vow. The Vow has not been made in vain; the power has not been actualized in futility. Power and Vow accord with each other and are never in conflict. Hence, the “fulfillment” [of this virtue].
29 Gathas in Praise of Amida Buddha states:
Interpreting the title, I call this work An Appended Scripture on the Buddha of Immeasurable Life. In praising Amida, it also refers to the land of peace.
Since attainment of Buddhahood, ten kalpas have passed;
The Buddha’s life indeed has no measure.
Dharma-body’s wheel of light pervades the dharma-realm,
Shining on the blind and ignorant of the world; hence, I bow in homage.
The light that is wisdom cannot be measured;
Hence, the Buddha is called “immeasurable light.”
All limited beings receive this dawn-light;
Thus, I pay homage to the true and real light.
Infinite is the wheel-like light that brings emancipation;
Hence, the Buddha is called “boundless light.”
All touched by it are freed from being and nonbeing;
Thus, I pay homage to the enlightenment of nondiscrimination.
The cloud of light is unhindered, like boundless space;
Hence, the Buddha is called “unhindered light.”
It benefits all beings caught in hindrances;
Thus, I bow in homage to the one beyond conception.
The light of purity is beyond compare;
Hence, the Buddha is called “unequaled light.”
Those who encounter it are rid of karmic bonds;
Thus, I pay homage to the ultimate shelter.
The Buddha-light, shining in splendor, is supreme;
Hence, the Buddha is called “lord of blazing light.”
The pitch darkness of the three lower courses receives it and is dispelled;
Thus, I bow in homage to the great one worthy of offerings.
Bodhi’s effulgence, in its brilliance, transcends all colors;
Hence, the Buddha is called “light of purity.”
Once shone upon, beings are freed from evil’s defilements
And all gain emancipation; thus, I bow in homage.
The light of compassion reaches far, bestowing happiness;
Hence, the Buddha is called “light of joy.”
Wherever it shines, joy of dharma is attained;
Thus, I pay homage to the great consolation.
The Buddha-light rends the darkness of ignorance;
Hence, the Buddha is called “light of wisdom.”
All Buddhas and sages of the three vehicles
Together offer praise; thus, I pay homage.
The light, at all times, shines everywhere;
Hence, the Buddha is called “uninterrupted light.”
Because beings hear this light-power, their thoughts uninterrupted,
They all attain birth; thus, I bow in homage.
None, excepting the Buddhas, can fathom this light;
Hence, the Buddha is called “inconceivable light.”
The Buddhas of the ten quarters all extol birth
And praise Amida’s virtue; thus, I pay homage.
The majestic light transcends forms; it cannot be named.
Hence, the Buddha is called “inexpressible light.”
With this light as cause, Buddhahood was attained; its resplendence
Is praised by all Buddhas. Thus, I bow in homage.
The light, in its luminosity, surpasses sun and moon;
Hence, the Buddha is called “light that surpasses sun and moon.”
Even Sakyamuni Buddha’s praise is not exhaustive;
Thus, I pay homage to the unequaled…
The great master, Nagarjuna Mahasattva, manifested form,
And first corrected distortions [of the teaching].
He closed off wrong views and opened the right path;
He is the eye for all beings of this Jambudvipa continent.
Reverently accepting the Honored-one’s words, he reached the stage of joy,
Took refuge in Amida, and was born in the land of happiness.
I have been wandering in the three realms since the beginningless past,
Turning on the wheel of falsity.
The karma I commit every moment, every instant,
Is a step bound to the six courses, so that I stay in the three paths.
May the compassionate light protect me
And keep me from losing the mind aspiring for enlightenment.
I praise the voice of the Buddha’s wisdom and virtue.
May all beings of the ten quarters having ties with the teaching be brought to hear it,
And may those who aspire for birth in the land of happiness
All, everywhere, have their hindrances dispersed as they desire.
My merits, whether great or small,
I give to all beings, so that all be born together.
Entrusting to the inconceivable light,
I single-heartedly take refuge and pay homage.
Those throughout the ten quarters and three times who awaken immeasurable wisdom
All alike accord with oneness and are called “perfectly enlightened.”
In them the two wisdoms – real and accommodated – are perfectly fulfilled; their awakening is of equality.
Their grasping and guiding beings, according to conditions, is truly immense.
My taking refuge in Amida Buddha’s Pure Land
Is taking refuge in all the Buddhas’ lands;
Single-heartedly I extol one Buddha;
May it extend to the unhindered ones throughout the ten quarters.
To each of the innumerable Buddhas of the ten quarters,
With all my heart, I bow in homage…
30 The Master of Kuang-ming temple states:
Question: Is Amida’s Pure Land a fulfilled land or a transformed land?
Answer: It is a fulfilled land, not a transformed land. How is this known? The Mahayana Identity in Essence Sutra states:
The land of happiness in the west and Amida Buddha are a fulfilled land and fulfilled Buddha.
Further, the Sutra of the Buddha of Immeasurable Life states:
In practicing the bodhisattva path, Bhiksu Dharmakara, before Lokesvararaja Buddha, established forty-eight vows, stating in each one:
If, when I attain Buddhahood, the sentient beings of the ten quarters say my Name aspiring to be born in my land, even but ten times, and do not attain birth, may I not attain the supreme enlightenment.
He has already attained Buddhahood; he is a body of fulfilled cause. Further, the Contemplation Sutra states, concerning the three grades of the highest level, that at the time of death, “Amida Buddha and transformed Buddhas come to welcome these people.” The fulfilled body together with transformed bodies comes and extends his hand to them; thus, the word and is used. From this attesting passage we know that Amida is a fulfilled body.
“Fulfilled body” and “accommodated body” are synonymous, like “eye” and “organ of sight.” In earlier translations, “fulfilled” is translated “accommodated”; in later ones, “accommodated” is rendered “fulfilled.” In general, “fulfilled” means that practice – the cause – is not futile and necessarily brings about its result in the future; the result is “accommodated” to the cause. Hence, the term “fulfilled.” Further, the myriad practices performed through three great incalculable kalpas necessarily bring enlightenment. Now, already, enlightenment has been realized; therefore, he is an “accommodated” body. Concerning the Buddhas of the past and present, three bodies are distinguished; there is no body apart from these. The variations in the eight events [of a Buddha’s life] may be numberless, and the Buddhas’ names may be countless as grains of sand, but we find, from the perspective of the essential body, that they all belong to transformed bodies. Amida, however, is in actuality a fulfilled body.
Question: When you say “fulfilled,” it is assumed that it is eternal and forever free of arising and perishing. Why, then, is it stated in the Sutra of Avalokitesvara’s Prediction of Enlightenment, “There is a time when Amida Buddha also enters nirvana.” How is this passage to be interpreted?
Answer: The meaning of “entering” and “not entering” nirvana pertains only to the realm of Buddhas; the shallow wisdoms of those of the three vehicles cannot have even a glimpse of it. Much less, then, can it be easily understood by the small and foolish. Nevertheless, if you urgently feel that you must know, the matter may be clarified through drawing on the Buddhist sutras. The chapter “Nirvana is Not Illusory” of the Larger Prajnaparamita Sutra states:
The Buddha said to Subhuti, “What are your thoughts? Suppose an illusory man creates an illusory man. Is this illusion quite real and nonempty or not?”
Subhuti said, “It is not, World-honored one.”
The Buddha said to Subhuti, “Form is illusion. Sensation, perception, will, and consciousness are illusion. Even all-knowing wisdom is illusion.
Subhuti said to the Buddha, “World-honored one, are dharmas of the world illusion? And are supramundane dharmas also illusion? The four bases of mindfulness, four right efforts, four supernatural powers, five faculties, five powers, seven factors for awakening, eightfold noble path, and three gates of emancipation; the Buddha’s ten powers, four fearlessnesses, four kinds of unhindered wisdom, and eighteen special qualities; the results of practices of various dharmas; and the wise and the sages – stream-enterers, once-returners, nonreturners, arhats, pratyekabuddhas, bodhisattva-mahasattvas, and all Buddhas, world-honored ones – are all these illusion?
The Buddha said to Subhuti, “All dharmas are illusion. Among them, there are the illusory dharmas of sravakas. There are the illusory dharmas of pratyekabuddhas. There are the illusory dharmas of bodhisattvas. There are the illusory dharmas of Buddhas. There are the illusory dharmas of blind passions. There are the illusory dharmas of karmic causation. For this reason, Subhuti, all dharmas are illusion.”
Subhuti said to the Buddha, “Regarding the sundering of blind passions, World-honored one, the fruits of stream-enterer, once-returner, nonreturner, and arhat, and the path of pratyekabuddhas lie in cutting off the residual energy of blind passions. Are all these illusion?”
The Buddha said to Subhuti, “All dharmas, as long as they have the aspect of arising and perishing, are illusion.”
Subhuti said, “World-honored one, what dharma is not illusion?”
The Buddha said, “The dharma free of arising and perishing is not illusion.”
Subhuti said, “What is it that, neither arising nor perishing, is not illusion?”
The Buddha said, “Nirvana, which is not delusive – this dharma is not illusion.”
“World-honored one, you the Buddha have yourself taught that all dharmas are characterized by equality and are not created by sravakas, not created by pratyekabuddhas, not created by bodhisattva-mahasattvas, not created by Buddhas. Whether or not there is a Buddha, the nature of all dharmas is always emptiness. Emptiness is itself nirvana. How is it that the one dharma of nirvana is not illusion?”
The Buddha said to Subhuti, “It is so! It is so! All dharmas are characterized by equality and are not creations of sravakas and so forth; emptiness is itself nirvana. If bodhisattvas who have newly awakened aspiration hear that all dharmas are ultimately empty and so on, and that even nirvana is illusion, their hearts will be seized with surprise and fear. For the sake of bodhisattvas who have newly awakened aspiration, I deliberately make a distinction, saying that what arises and perishes is illusion, while that which neither arises nor perishes is not illusion.”
We know clearly from this sacred teaching that Amida is definitely a fulfilled body. Even if he should enter nirvana, there is no contradiction. All wise people should reflect on this.
Question: If, as you say, the Buddha and land are fulfilled, they are lofty and excellent fulfilled dharmas and beyond the reach of even Hinayana sages. How could it be possible for foolish beings with defiling obstructions to gain entrance there?
Answer: If the defiling obstructions of sentient beings are considered, such aspiration is indeed difficult. But when we truly entrust ourselves to the Buddha’s Vow, it becomes the strong cause bringing all of the five vehicles equally to entrance.
The passage beginning I now aspire to be born in [the Pure Land of] Amida clarifies the Queen’s choosing in particular the place where she desires to be born. This shows that Amida’s land is [the fulfillment of] the Forty-eight Vows. Each Vow gives rise to the dominant, excellent cause; through the cause, the excellent practice is performed; through practice, the excellent result is attained; through the result, the excellent fulfillment is accomplished; through the fulfillment, the land of bliss is established; through the bliss, compassionate activity is pervasively manifested; through the compassionate activity, the gate of wisdom is revealed. The compassionate mind is never exhausted; the wisdom is infinite. Through the practice of compassion and wisdom together, the nectar of dharma spreads everywhere. In this way, the beneficent dharma-rain saves all beings universally. Passages in the other sutras encouraging [aspiration for the Pure Land] are numerous. The sages, with hearts in accord, all teach and praise it in the same way. For this reason, the Tathagata secretly led the Queen to make her selection.
The city of bliss, tranquil and uncreated, in the West,
Is ultimately free and peaceful, far removed from being and nonbeing;
Great compassion imbues the heart, so that one sports in the dharma-realm;
Transforming oneself into various bodies, one benefits all beings equally, without discrimination.
Let us return! Do not abide
In this homeland of maras. Since innumerable kalpas ago
We have been transmigrating,
Passing through all the six courses.
Nowhere has there been any pleasure;
We hear only the voices of grief and sorrow.
After this present lifetime has ended,
Let us enter the city of nirvana!
The land of bliss is the realm of nirvana, the uncreated;
I fear it is hard to be born there by doing sundry good acts according to our diverse conditions.
Hence, the Tathagata selected the essential dharma,
Instructing beings to say Amida’s Name with singleness, again singleness.
Drawn by the Buddha, we return effortlessly to naturalness (jinen);
Jinen is itself the land of Amida.
Undefiled by passions, unarisen, it is true reality.
Whether going or returning, advancing or halting, we always accord with the Buddha;
We realize the body of uncreated dharma-nature.
Amida’s perfect fruit of enlightenment is termed supreme nirvana.
36 Master Kyeong-heung states:
Buddha of immeasurable light: because it cannot be calculated. Buddha of boundless light: because there is nothing it does not shine upon. Buddha of unhindered light: because, with regard to human beings and things, there is nothing that obstructs it. Buddha of incomparable light: because it is beyond all bodhisattvas’ lights. Buddha of light that is lord of blazing light: because the radiance, being free and unrestricted, is unexcelled. Buddha of the light of purity: because it is manifested from roots of good free of greed, it rids sentient beings of their defilements of greed. Because it is free of defilements of greed, it is “pure.” Buddha of the light of joy: because it arises from roots of good free of anger, and thus can rid sentient beings of anger and rage. Buddha of the light of wisdom: because, emerging from the mind of roots of good free from folly, it rids sentient beings of ignorance. Buddha of uninterrupted light: because the Buddha’s eternal light constantly illuminates and benefits beings. Buddha of inconceivable light: because it cannot be fathomed by those of the two vehicles. Buddha of inexpressible light: because those of other vehicles [than Buddha] cannot teach it. Buddha of light surpassing sun and moon: because it shines constantly day and night, unlike the two lights of this Saha world.
That all have their bodies touched by this light is due to the working of the “Vow of softness and gentleness in body and mind.”
37 Thus we clearly know from the Tathagata’s true teaching and the commentaries of the masters that the Pure Land of peace is the true fulfilled land. Delusional and defiled sentient beings cannot, here, see [Buddha-] nature, for it is covered over by blind passions. The [Nirvana] Sutra states, “I have taught that bodhisattvas of the tenth stage see a little of Buddha-nature.” Hence, we know that when we reach the Buddha-land of happiness, we unfailingly disclose Buddha-nature. This is through the directing of virtue by the power of the Primal Vow. Further, the [Nirvana] Sutra states, “Sentient beings will, in the future, possess a body of purity adorned with virtues and be able to see Buddha-nature.”
38 The Treatise on the Awakening of Faith states:
To realize that even though one expresses it in words, there is no one who can express it, and that [in thinking] there is no one who can think it – this is called “being in accord [with reality].” Freedom from thought is called “attaining entrance.”
[Fei-his explains:] Attaining entrance means attaining the samadhi of suchness. Further, the state of no-thought belongs to [the stage of] wondrous awakening. Thereby to realize the mind is [to know] the aspect of its first arising. Knowing the aspect of the first arising is no-thought; it cannot be known even by bodhisattvas of the tenth stage. Such people as ourselves, however, have not yet attained even the ten stages of understanding; hence, we must rely on Asvaghosa Mahasattva, and enter from words into no-word, from thought into no-thought.”
39 Contemplating “fulfilled,” I find that the resultant land was fulfilled from the ocean of Tathagata’s Vow. Hence “fulfilled.”
Concerning the ocean of the Vow, there is true and provisional. Thus, with regard to the Buddha-land, there is true and provisional. Through the true cause, the selected Primal Vow, the true Buddha-land was brought to realization.
Concerning the true Buddha, the Larger Sutra states, “Buddha of boundless light, Buddha of unhindered light.” Further, “[Amida] is the king among Buddhas, the most revered among lights.”
The Treatise on the Pure Land states, “I take refuge in the Tathagata of unhindered light filling the ten quarters.”
Concerning the true land, the Larger Sutra states, “Land of immeasurable light” and “Land of all-knowing wisdom.”
The Treatise states, “It is infinite, like space, vast and boundless.”
Concerning birth, the Larger Sutra states, “All receive the body of naturalness (jinen) or of emptiness, the body of boundlessness.”
The Treatise states, “The beings of the Tathagata’s pure lotus are born transformed from the lotus of perfect enlightenment.” Further, “For they are the same in practicing the nembutsu and follow no other way.”
Further, the words, “Birth that is inconceivable,” refer to this.
Provisional Buddhas and lands are discussed below.
We have noted already that both true and provisional were fulfilled from the oceanlike Vow of great compassion; we know, therefore, that both are fulfilled Buddha and land. Since there are thousands of differences in the causes of birth in the provisional Buddha-lands, there are thousands of differences in the lands. They are termed “transformed bodies of skillful means” and “transformed lands of skillful means.” Being ignorant of the distinction between true and provisional, people misunderstand and lose sight of the Tathagata’s vast benevolence.
For this reason, the true Buddha and true land are here clarified. This is the genuine significance of the true essence of the Pure Land way. Reverently entrust yourselves to the right teaching of the master of the sutras and the masters of the treatises and to the expositions of the Pure Land masters. You should uphold and devote yourself to them. Reflect on this.
Here ends Chapter V:
A Collection of Passages Revealing
The True Buddha and Land
Of the Pure Land Way