THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS

Sutra:

“Shariputra, what do you think? Why is this Buddha called Amitabha? Shariputra, the brilliance of that Buddha’s light is measureless, illumining the lands of the ten directions everywhere without obstruction, for this reason he is called Amitabha.

Commentary:

Shariputra should have asked this question himself, but just like you, he had gone off to samadhi. Whenever I ask you a question, you just stare at me blankly.

Why is this Buddha called Amitabha? Amitabha means “limitless light.” This Buddha’s light is immeasurable so that not a single land in the ten directions is screened from it. For this reason he is called Amitabha.

Sutra:

“Moreover, Shariputra, the life of that Buddha and that of his people extends for measureless, limitless asamkhyeya kalpas; for this reason he is called Amitayus. And Shariputra, since Amitabha realized Buddhahood ten kalpas have passed.

Commentary:

Asamkhyeya, a Sanskrit word, means “limitless number.” Amitayus means “limitless life.” It’s been ten great kalpas, or aeons, since he became a Buddha and how many great kalpas he will live in the future is uncertain, but boundless, measureless, asamkheyaya kalpas they will be.

Sutra:

“Moreover, Shariputra, that Buddha has measureless, limitless sound-hearer disciples, all Arhats, their number incalculable; thus also is the assembly of Bodhisattvas.

“Shariputra, the realisation of the Land of Ultimate Bliss is thus meritoriously adorned.

Commentary:

In Amitabha Buddha’s Land of Ultimate Bliss, there are many Sravakas, sound-hearer disciples who have certified to the attainment of non-outflows and are all Arhats without desire. You can’t count them. The assembly of Bodhisattvas is just as big.

Sutra:

“Moreover, Shariputra, those living beings born in the Land of the Ultimate Bliss are all avaivartika. Among them are many who in this very life will dwell in Buddhahood. Their number is extremely many; it is incalculable and only in measureless, limitless asamkhyeya kalpas could it be spoken.

Commentary:

Avaivartika is Sanskrit. It means “not retreating or turning away.” Those beings who are avaivartika do not retreat in position, conduct, or thought.

Not retreating in position means that they do not retreat to the lesser vehicle. Those of the lesser vehicle who are avaivartika do not retreat to the position of common men.

Not retreating in thought means that every day their thoughts to cultivate increase. Not retreating in conduct means that day by day they work harder and never say, “I have cultivated for quite a while, it is time to take a rest.” Taking a rest is simply retreating and turning away from Annuttarasamyaksambodhi, “the utmost right and perfect enlightenment.” Those who are avaivartika do not retreat in their quest for Bodhi.

There are many living beings in the Land of Ultimate Bliss who in this very life can step into the position of Buddhahood. Born in a lotus flower, in one life they can realize Buddhahood. How many such beings are there? You could never count them all. They can’t be calculated or even estimated. All you can say is that, in limitless, measureless asamkhyeya kalpas, you could not name them all.

Sutra:

“Shariputra, those living beings who hear should vow, ‘I wish to be born in that country.’ And why? Those who thus attain are all superior and good people, all gathered together in one place. Shariputra, one cannot have few good roots, blessings, virtues, and causal connections to attain birth in that land.

Commentary:

Shakyamuni Buddha said, “All those living beings who hear the doctrine I teach should vow to be born in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. Why? Because the Sravakas and Bodhisattvas born there are all superior and good people.”

Although you may express the desire to be born in the Land of Ultimate Bliss, unless you have good roots, blessings, and virtuous conduct, you won’t be able to be reborn there. You must have cultivated all the Paramita doors for many lifetimes and in this way obtained great good roots, great blessings, and great virtue, in order to have the opportunity to meet this wonderful Dharma

Sutra:

“Shariputra, if there is a good man or a good woman who hears spoken ‘Amitabha’ and holds the name, whether for one day, two days, three, four, five days, six days, as long as seven days, with one heart unconfused, when this person approaches the end of life, before him will appear Amitabha and all the assembly of holy ones. When the end comes, his heart is without inversion; in Amitabha’s Land of Ultimate Bliss he will attain rebirth. Shariputra, because I see this benefit, I speak these words: If living beings hear this spoken they should make the vow, ‘I will be born in that land.’

Commentary:

“Shariputra,” said the Buddha, “if a good man or woman, that is one who holds the five precepts and cultivates the ten good deeds, hears the name ‘Amitabha Buddha,’ that person should hold to the recitation of Amitabha Buddha’s name, just like holding something tightly in the hand.” Recite the name, “Namo Amitabha Buddha, Namo Amitabha Buddha, Namo Amitabha Buddha…”

Whether for one day. In Chinese, the word “whether” looks like this: ( ruo ). If you move the stroke in the middle, it changes into the word “suffering,” which looks like this: ( ku ). So you could say, “ suffering for one day, two days, three, four, five days, six days.” If you recite the Buddha’s name from four o’clock in the morning until ten at night for seven days, you can reach the level of one heart unconfused . When your life is about to end, Amitabha Buddha thinks, “That living being suffered for seven days reciting my name, and so now I will guide him to the Land of Ultimate Bliss. The time has come!” Then, Amitabha with Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, Mahasthamaprapta Bodhisattva, and the entire clear, pure, ocean-wide assembly of Bodhisattvas appear before you, and lead you to the Land of Ultimate Bliss. If you think you can escape, you can’t. You are surrounded. At this time, your heart is without inversion . You won’t say, “I don’t want to go! It’s too boring there!” It would never occur to you to refuse Amitabha’s invitation, and so you are born at once in the Western Land.

“Shariputra,” the Buddha continues, “I see the advantages and so I am explaining them to you. If other living beings in the Saha world hear these doctrines, they should make the vow to be born in that land.”

Previously, the text said, “Those living beings who hear should vow, ‘I wish to be born in that country.’” This passage says, “I will be born in that land,” that is “I vow that I shall certainly be born in the Land of Ultimate Bliss.”

Sutra:

“Shariputra, as I now praise the inconceivable benefit from the merit and virtue of Amitabha, thus in the east are also Aksobhya Buddha, Sumeru Appearance Buddha, Great Sumeru Buddha, Sumeru Light Buddha, Wonderful Sound Buddha, all Buddhas such as these, numberless as Ganges sands. In his own country each brings forth the appearance of a vast and long tongue, everywhere covering the three thousand great thousand worlds, and speaks the sincere and actual words, ‘All you living beings should believe, praise, and hold in reverence the inconceivable merit and virtue of this Sutra of the Mindful One of Whom all Buddhas are Protective.’

Commentary:

“Not only do I praise the subtle wonderful, inconceivable merit and virtue of Amitabha Buddha’s beneficial deeds,” said Shakyamuni Buddha, “but so does Aksobhya Buddha in the East.”

Aksobhya Buddha of the Vajra division in the East is the Buddha who eradicates disaster and lengthens life. His name means, “unmoving and eternally dwelling Dharma body.” His Dharma body does not move, and it eternally dwells.

Sumeru Appearance Buddha. Sumeru means “wonderfully high.” This Buddha’s marks are as lofty as Mount Sumeru. Great Sumeru Buddha, that is, Great Wonderfully High Buddha. Sumeru Light Buddha , Wonderfully High Light Buddha. All Buddhas such as these. The names of a few of the Eastern Buddhas have been mentioned. If one were to speak of them in detail, they would be as numberless as Ganges sands.

In his own country, each brings forth the appearance of a vast and long tongue, everywhere covering the three thousand great thousand worlds.
How can one speak with a tongue like that?

This represents the Buddhadharma circulating to all places, and the Buddha’s sincere and actual words, “All of you should believe, praise, and hold in reverence, the inconceivable merit and virtue of this Sutra of the Mindful One of Whom all Buddhas are Protective .” The Buddhas are mindful and protective of this sutra, just as they are mindful and protective of the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Blossom Sutra . If you read or recite the Amitabha Sutra , the Buddhas of the ten directions will happily come to your aid, and in the future, when your life is over, they will witness your rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss.

Sutra:

“Shariputra, in the Southern world are Sun Moon Lamp Buddha, Well-known Light Buddha, Great Blazing Shoulders Buddha, Sumeru Lamp Buddha, Measureless Vigor Buddha, all Buddhas such as these, numberless as Ganges sands. In his own country each brings forth the appearance of a vast and long tongue, everywhere covering the three thousand great thousand worlds, and speaks the sincere and actual words, ‘All you living beings should believe, praise, and hold in reverence the inconceivable merit and virtue of this Sutra of the Mindful One of Whom all Buddhas are Protective.’

Commentary:

After speaking of the Buddhas in the East who praise Amitabha Buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha spoke of the Buddhas in the South. “Shariputra,” he said, “in the South as well there are many, many Buddhas who extend their vast and long tongues to speak about the Dharma.” Who are they?

They are Sun Moon Lamp Buddha, Well-known Light Buddha, Great Blazing Shoulders Buddha, who emits light from his shoulders, Sumeru Lamp Buddha, that is Wonderfully High Lamp Buddha, and Measureless Vigor Buddha who is energetic in the six periods of the day and night, as well as other Buddhas in number as grains of sand in the Ganges river. They all extend their vast and long tongues to cover the three thousand great thousand worlds and speak the truth, speak of what is, and do not speak falsely.

“All living beings,” they say, “in all lands and all countries and in all the limitless worlds, should believe, praise, and hold in reverence the inconceivable merit and virtue of this sutra.” You must bring forth hearts of real faith, real vows, and real practice. Praise the inconceivable merit and virtue of this sutra which Shakyamuni Buddha spoke without request. If you believe, accept, praise, and recite it, all the Buddhas will protect you. Resolve to revere Amitabha Buddha and the Amitabha Sutra .

Sutra:

“Shariputra, in the Western world are Measureless Life Buddha, Measureless Appearance Buddha, Measureless Curtain Buddha, Great Light Buddha, Great Brightness Buddha, Jewelled Appearance Buddha, Pure Light Buddha, all Buddhas such as these, numberless as Ganges sands. In his own country each brings forth the appearance of a vast and long tongue, everywhere covering the three thousand great thousand worlds, and speaks the sincere and actual words, ‘All you living beings should believe, praise, and hold in reverence the inconceivable merit and virtue of this Sutra of the Mindful One of Whom all Buddhas are Protective.’

Commentary:

After speaking of the Buddhas in the East and South who praise Amitabha Buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha spoke of the Buddhas in the West, for example Measureless Life Buddha, who is just Amitabha, the Buddha of Limitless Life. You would recognise him right away. However, there are many Buddhas who have the same name. Measureless Life Buddha might be Amitabha, the teacher in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss, or it might be some other Buddha. It might be Amitabha Buddha or it might not be. What if it is? What if it isn’t? Don’t be attached one way or the other, because there really isn’t any “is” or “is not.” The Buddhadharma is just that wonderful.

Which “is”? Which “isn’t”? Is and is not are your discriminations. For the Buddha there is one substance, one unity, and no division between this and that. The Buddha is identical with the Way, and each Buddha is identical with every other. Although all Buddhas are the same, they are each adorned with their own individual characteristics. In spite of the differing adornments, they are not like people who become jealous and obstruct each other saying, “Hey! How can you be so mean to me?” The Buddha has none of this. “You are just me,” he says, “and I am just you, with no division.” Why? Because the Buddha has attained the state of noself, where “is” and “is not” are the same.

Those who wish to become Buddhas must not have discriminative thoughts, false thoughts, desires, or longings. They must have nothing at all. This is truly wonderful to the extreme. Do not be attached. If you actually recognise Amitabha Buddha, you won’t waste your energy trying to discriminate one limitless life Buddha from another.

Measureless Appearance Buddha has limitless marks. It is not known how many Buddha-marks he has. Measureless Curtain Buddha is covered and sheltered by many jewelled curtains. Great Light Buddha ’s light shines everywhere. Great Brightness Buddha, Jewelled Appearance Buddha, and Pure Light Buddha, all have a clear, pure, bright light. Were we to speak of all the Buddhas who are such as these in detail, they would be as numerous as the grains of sand in the Ganges river.

All the Buddhas in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss and in the many Buddha-worlds extend their gigantic tongues. Now, when we extend our tongues, they can’t even cover a room, but the tongues of the Buddhas cover the entire three thousand great thousand world systems. Why? For them, the three thousand great thousand world systems are just one thought, and one thought is just the three thousand great thousand worlds. Three thousand great thousand worlds are not beyond one thought, and the Buddha’s tongue covers them all.

Don’t be attached to the idea that the Buddha’s tongue is actually that big. If it were, his speech would be clumsy. The appearance of the Buddha’s vast and long tongue indicates that, wherever there is Dharma, the Buddha’s tongue is there, too. It is not for certain that our tongues are small. We too, can extend our vast and long tongues and cover the three thousand great thousand worlds, speaking the Dharma and causing it to circulate.

When you hear the Buddhadharma, don’t be attached. Although a tongue covers the three thousand great thousand worlds, there is not even a mote of dust; there is basically nothing at all.

“Nothing?” you ask. “Then was the Buddha lying?”

If the Buddha did not lie, how could you believe him! From the point of view of living beings, it seems to be a lie, but from the point of view of the Buddha, it is true, real speech, not false speech, not a lie. Living beings see it as a lie and the Buddha sees it as the truth. It’s the same speech, but when the Buddha speaks it, it’s true and when living beings speak it, it’s a lie. This point is not easy to The Principle Proper 159 understand. If you want to be clear about this doctrine, do not fear suffering or difficulty. Work hard! You can’t just study for two and a half days and then think that you have mastered the work. You can’t stop listening to sutras or reciting the Buddha’s name. Don’t pretend to be investigating dhyana by doing nothing at all and saying, “I know what the Buddha said. There’s not much to it, really. I have studied for about five years and it is all like that, not very interesting. So now I study nothing at all and it’s a great improvement. I don’t have nearly so many problems.” Such talk is not very principled, wouldn’t you say?

You should know that Shakyamuni Buddha cultivated blessings and wisdom for three asamkhyeya kalpas by practising giving and studying the Buddhadharma. He cultivated his fine characteristics for a hundred great kalpas and as a consequence he has the thirty two marks and eighty minor characteristics of a Buddha. Why don’t we have a single mark? Why do people look at you and say, “He is so ugly. Keep away from him. He is no good, you can tell by looking at him?” Some people make you angry on sight. Why? It is because they don’t cultivate and they have no virtuous conduct, and it shows up in their appearance.

The Buddha’s tongue, then, covers the entire universe and speaks the truth. The Buddha does not cheat and he does not lie. Do not try to fathom the Sage’s wisdom with your ordinary opinions; don’t try to measure the Sage’s mind with your common mind. Haven’t I always told you that the first level Bodhisattvas don’t know the realm of second level Bodhisattvas, and tenth level Bodhisattvas don’t know the realm of equal enlightenment Bodhisattvas? First stage Arhats don’t know the realms of second stage Arhats, and second stage Arhats don’t know the realm of third stage Arhats. First stage Arhats may think that they are doing things correctly, but from the point of view of second stage Arhats they may be wrong. Second stage Arhats may think they are right, but the third stage Arhats may look at them and say, “You are off just a little bit.”

I am your teacher, and you can’t know my realm. If you knew, you wouldn’t need a teacher. So reflect upon what I say. Don’t complain, “He is just talking.” This world is very dangerous. The only reason you haven’t disintegrated in the sea of suffering is because the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are protecting you.

Sutra:

“Shariputra, in the Northern world are Blazing Shoulders Buddha, Most Victorious Sound Buddha, Hard To Injure Buddha, Sun Birth Buddha, Net Brightness Buddha, all Buddhas such as these, numberless as Ganges sands. In his own country each brings forth the appearance of a vast and long tongue, everywhere covering the three thousand great thousand worlds, and speaks the sincere and actual words, ‘All you living beings should believe, praise, and hold in reverence the inconceivable merit and virtue of this Sutra of the Mindful One of Whom all Buddhas are Protective.’

Commentary:

Not only are the Buddhas in the East, South and West are praising Amitabha Buddha, but those in the North praise him as well.

Great Blazing Shoulders Buddha emits light from his shoulders. Most Victorious Sound Buddha has a spectacular sound which is heard throughout the three thousand great thousand worlds.

“Then why haven’t I heard it?” you ask.

You aren’t in that world system of three thousand great thousand worlds. If you were, of course you would hear it. But you are in this world system, not that one.

Hard To Injure Buddha cannot be destroyed. No one can defame his Buddhadharma. You should hold in reverence the inconceivable merit and virtue, for it is most wonderful. Were the merit and virtue conceivable, it would have a limit. The sutra’s merit and virtue is without a limit and so it is the Sutra of the Mindful One of Whom all Buddhas are Protective . Because its merit and virtue is very wonderful, it is the sutra of which all Buddhas are mindful and protective. Because it is a sutra of which all Buddha’s are mindful and protective, its meritorious virtue is extremely wonderful.

Now I shall quit speaking and that is also wonderful. Were I to keep talking, it wouldn’t be wonderful.

Sutra:

“Shariputra, in the world below are Lion Buddha, Well-known Buddha, Famous Light Buddha, Dharma Buddha, Dharma Curtain Buddha, Dharma Maintaining Buddha, all Buddhas such as these, numberless as Ganges sands. In his own country each brings forth the appearance of a vast and long tongue, everywhere covering the three thousand great thousand worlds, and speaks the sincere and actual words, ‘All you living beings should believe, praise, and hold in reverence the inconceivable merit and virtue of this Sutra of the Mindful One of Whom all Buddhas are Protective.’

Commentary:

Having spoken of the Buddhas in the North, East, South, and West, Shakyamuni Buddha again says to Shariputra, “In the world below there is a Buddha named Lion who speaks the Dharma with a lion’s roar.”

Well-known Light Buddha ’s name has been heard by everyone in the triple world. Famous Light Buddha ’s light as well as his fame shines everywhere within the triple world. Dharma Curtain Buddha has a jewelled Dharma curtain. Dharma Maintaining Buddha exclusively upholds the Buddhadharma. You can explain his name in two ways: The first is that there is such a Buddha in the world below; the second is that you who now The Principle 162 Proper receive, maintain, and recite the Amitabha Sutra will in the future become Dharma Maintaining Buddhas.

Sutra:

“Shariputra, in the world above are Pure Sound Buddha, King of Past Lives Buddha, Superior Fragrance Buddha, Fragrant Light Buddha, Great Blazing Shoulders Buddha, Vari-colored Jewels and Flower Adornment Body Buddha, Sala Tree King Buddha, Jewelled Flower Virtue Buddha, Vision of All Meaning Buddha, Such As Mount Sumeru Buddha, all Buddhas such as these, numberless as Ganges sands. In his own country each brings forth the appearance of a vast and long tongue, everywhere covering the three thousand great thousand worlds and speaks the sincere and actual words, ‘All you living beings should believe, praise, and hold in reverence the inconceivable merit and virtue of this Sutra of the Mindful One of Whom all Buddhas are Protective.’

Commentary:

Pure Sound Buddha’s sound is clear, pure, and resonant. King of Past Lives Buddha in past lives made great and powerful vows. If you light incense, Superior Fragrance Buddha will appear and Fragrant Light Buddha will emit light. As in the Southern world, in the world above there is also a Buddha called Great Blazing Shoulders . This light from his shoulders represents the two kinds of wisdom, provisional and real. Vari-colored Jewels and Flower Adornment Body Buddha adorns the virtue of his supreme attainment with the causal flowers of the ten thousand practices. Sala Tree King Buddha: the Sala tree is found in India. Sala means “solid and durable.” No water can wash this tree away just as nothing can destroy the Buddha’s Dharma body. The Buddha, then, is like the Sala tree.

Sutra:

“Shariputra, what do you think? Why is it called ‘Sutra of the Mindful One of Whom all Buddhas are Protective?’ Shariputra, if a good man or good woman hears this sutra and holds to it, and hears the names of all these Buddhas, this good man or woman will be the mindful one of whom all Buddhas are protective, and will irreversibly attain to anuttarasamyaksambodhi. Therefore, Shariputra, all of you should believe and accept my words and those which all Buddhas speak.

Commentary:

Having praised the Buddhas of the six directions, Shakyamuni Buddha asks, “Shariputra, in your opinion, why is this sutra called the ‘Sutra of the Mindful One of Whom all Buddhas are Protective?’” This section of the sutra, then, discusses the sutra’s name.

Shariputra just stared blankly. Shakyamuni Buddha waited in silence for about five minutes, and then he said, “I will tell you. Shariputra, if there is a good man or a good woman , one who maintains the five precepts and cultivates the ten good deeds, who can receive, maintain, recite from memory, and not forget the names of the Buddhas just mentioned, that good man or woman will be the Mindful One of Whom all Buddhas are Protective . Not only will the Buddhas of the six directions come to his aid, but the Buddhas of all ten directions will support him. He will further attain to irreversibility of position, thought, and conduct with respect to the attainment of the utmost right and perfect enlightenment, anuttarasamyaksambodhi.

Therefore, Shariputra, all of you should believe and accept my words and those which all Buddhas speak. Do you see how extremely compassionate the Buddha is? We should be grateful to the point of tears and pay attention when the Buddha says, “All of you, adults and children as well, should believe and accept what I tell you.”

You should also believe and accept what I explain to you now. Don’t have doubts. Don’t say, “When it comes right down to it, I don’t know if the Chinese dharma master’s doctrines are correct.” You should believe what I say. You should also believe what Shakyamuni Buddha says and what all the Buddhas praise as the inconceivable merit and virtue of this Sutra of the Mindful One of Whom all Buddhas are Protective . Believe me when I say that this sutra’s doctrines are true, real, and not false. You are certainly not being cheated, so vow to be born in the Land of Ultimate Bliss.

Sutra:

“Shariputra, if there are people who have already made the vow, who now make the vow, or who are about to make the vow, ‘I desire to be born in Amitabha’s Country,’ these people, whether born in the past, now being born, or to be born in the future, all will irreversibly attain to anuttarasamyaksambodhi. Therefore, Shariputra, all good men and good women, if they are among those who have faith, should make the vow, ‘I will be born in that country.’

Commentary:

There sat Shariputra, sound asleep!

“Shariputra! Shariputra! Wake up!” said the Buddha. “Those who have already vowed to be born in the Land of Ultimate Bliss have most certainly been born there. Those who now vow to be born there, and those who make the vow in the future will be born there in the future.” But in order to make vows you must have faith. Faith, vows, and practice are the three prerequisites for cultivation of the Pure Land Dharma Door. First, believe there is a Land of Ultimate Bliss. Secondly, have faith in Amitabha Buddha. Thirdly, believe that you and Amitabha Buddha have a great karmic affinity, and that you can certainly be born in the Land of Ultimate Bliss.

With faith in these three things, you may then make the vow, “I desire to be born in Amitabha’s country. ” There is a saying,

“I want to be born in the Pure Western Land.”

“I want to be born there. Nobody’s forcing me to go, nobody’s dragging me there. Although Amitabha Buddha has come to guide me, I am going as a volunteer because I want to be close to him. I want to be born in the Land of Ultimate Bliss and to see Amitabha Buddha when my lotus flower opens. I want to meet the Buddha and hear the Dharma.” These are the vows you need.

Then you must practice. How? Recite the Buddha’s name, saying “Namo Amitabha Buddha, Namo Amitabha Buddha…” as if you were trying to save your head from the executioner, running ahead to keep your head, like the Sixth Patriarch. He knew that after his death someone would try to steal his head, and so he told his disciples to take precautions. When he died, they wrapped his neck with sheets of iron. When the thief tried to cut off his head, he couldn’t do it. The Great Master the Sixth Patriarch protected his head, even after he had entered the stillness of Nirvana. How much the more should we who have not entered the stillness “protect our heads” by cultivating the recitation of the Buddha’s name. Reciting the Buddha’s name is actual practice.

Faith, vows, and practice are the travel expenses for rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. They are your ticket.

All those who vow to be born in the Land of Ultimate Bliss can attain irreversible position, thought, and conduct with respect to the utmost right and perfect enlightenment. All those who believe should make the vow – and this is an order! No kidding around. “ I will be born in that country .” If you make this vow, you can be born in the Land of Ultimate Bliss.

Sutra:

“Shariputra, just as I now praise the inconceivable merit and virtue of all Buddhas, all those Buddhas equally praise my inconceivable merit and virtue saying these words, ‘Shakyamuni Buddha can complete extremely rare and difficult deeds. In the Saha land, in the evil time of the five turbidities, in the midst of the kalpa turbidity, the view turbidity, the affliction turbidity, the living beings turbidity, and the life turbidity, he can attain anuttarasamyaksambodhi and for the sake of living beings, speak this Dharma which in the whole world is hard to believe.’

Commentary:

“Shariputra,” said the Buddha, “I will tell you some more good news. As I now praise the Buddhas in the six directions and the inconceivable merit and virtue of this sutra, all the Buddhas also praise me and my inconceivable merit and virtue.”

“Shakyamuni Buddha,” they say, “can complete extremely rare and difficult deeds . He’s truly outstanding, truly rare. Why? He can do what men cannot do, deeds which are extremely rare and wonderful.”

Shakya means “able to be humane,” and muni means “still and silent.” The Buddha humanely teaches and converts living beings, and silently returns the light within to cultivate samadhi. The humaneness is movement and the silence is stillness. He moves and yet is always still. He accords with conditions and yet never changes. For him there is nothing conditioned, nothing unconditioned, nothing done and nothing left undone. Shakyamuni Buddha is inconceivable.

In the Saha world, where one enjoys no bliss but endures every kind of suffering, living beings endure a great deal. They undergo the bitterness unaware that they are suffering.

In the evil time of the five turbidities. There are five turbidities in the Saha world and they are just terrible! The reason we don’t realize Buddhahood is because we are stuck in the five turbidities, as if in quicksand, and can’t pull ourselves out. When we lift one leg, the other leg sinks deeper, and when we lift that leg, the first goes down. There’s really no escape.

But Shakyamuni Buddha is talented. With his great spiritual powers he can teach you to leap right out of the five turbidities, in a ksana, a mere instant of time. At night, when we recite the Great Transference of Merit, we say, “Leaving the five turbidities in a ksana, and arriving at the lotus pool in the flick of a wrist.” Like a talented magician, Shakyamuni Buddha leaves the five turbidities, which are:

The kalpa turbidity.

Kalpa, that is, time, is turbid. It arises dependent upon the four other turbidities which increase daily, growing bigger and more extreme. That is to say, the turbidity of time is created with the help of the view turbidity, the affliction turbidity, the living beings turbidity, and the life turbidity, and takes the growth of the first four as its basic substance. It takes unceasing flaming as its mark, for, like flaming fuel, the more it burns, the higher it blazes.

The view turbidity.

The view turbidity takes the five quick servants as it’s basic substance. The five quick servants are the view of a body, the view of extremes, deviant views, the view of grasping at views, and the view of prohibitive morality. It takes mistaken wisdom and cattle morality as its mark. Seeing a dog, a cat, or a cow reborn in the heavens, some people imitate their conduct so that they may be reborn there too. With deviant knowledge and views, they take the genuine doctrine to extremes.

The affliction turbidity.

The affliction turbidity takes the five dull servants, greed, hatred, stupidity, pride and doubt, as it’s basic substance, and the irritation of afflictions as it’s mark.

The living beings turbidity.

The living beings turbidity takes the combination of the three conditions of father, mother, and one’s own karma as it’s basic substance. It takes the unceasing turning of the wheel of rebirth as its mark. After the three conditions combine, the wheel revolves without stopping, back and forth. This life you are named John and next life, Lee. This life you are a bhiksu and next life you are a bhiksuni. Bhiksus become bhiksunis and bhiksunis turn into bhiksus. Isn’t this amazing? It really is!

The life turbidity.

The life turbidity takes the reception of warmth as its basic substance and the decline and extinction of the life span as it’s mark. From youth to middle age on to old age and death – this is the mark of life.

Sutra:

“Shariputra, you should know that I, in the evil time of the five turbidities, practice these difficult deeds, attain anuttarasamyaksambodhi, and for all the world speak this Dharma, difficult to believe, extremely difficult!”

The Transmission

Sutra:

After the Buddha spoke this sutra, Shariputra and all the bhiksus, all the gods, men, and asuras, and others from all the worlds, hearing what the Buddha had said, joyously welcomed, faithfully accepted, bowed and withdrew.

End of the Buddha Speaks of Amitabha Sutra.

Commentary:

You should know that, in the midst of the five turbidities, Shakyamuni Buddha attains the utmost right and perfect enlightenment and then speaks about the Dharma which people find very difficult to believe. “This Dharma is most difficult to believe, extremely difficult, really hard to believe,” says Shakyamuni Buddha.

Shakyamuni Buddha says it’s hard, but I say it’s easy. Shakyamuni Buddha just said it’s hard. It’s not hard, really. All you need to do is recite, “Namo Amitabha Buddha.” Just go ahead and recite. Wouldn’t you say that is easy? No trouble at all. It doesn’t cost a thing and it takes no effort or time. It’s an extremely easy Buddhadharma.

After the Buddha spoke the Amitabha Sutra, the greatly wise Shariputra and all the great bhiksus, all the world with its gods and men, as well as the eight classes of supernatural beings – gods, dragons, yaksa ghosts, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kinnaras and mahoragas – hearing what the Buddha had said, joyously welcomed, faithfully accepted, bowed and withdrew . They bowed reverently to Shakyamuni Buddha to thank him for speaking the Amitabha Sutra, and for teaching and transforming living beings. At that time all the great Arhats bowed to the Buddha out of gratitude for having heard this Dharma.

We now, hearing this supreme, deep, subtle, and wonderful Dharma, have certainly planted great good roots in ages past. Consequently, we have a great affinity with Amitabha Buddha, and as a result have been fortunate enough to hear the Amitabha Sutra and to recite the Buddha’s name. This is very rare.

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