It is stated in the Shorter Pure Land Liturgy of Nembutsu Chant
in Five Stages:
[Sakyamuni] Tathagata preached the teaching fully or in summary
according to the capacities of the listeners, but this was in order
to lead all to reality in the end. For the person who seeks to realize
true non-origination, who else can give the teaching? Indeed, nembutsu-samadhi
is the true supreme and profound gate. With the Name fulfilled through
the Forty-eight Vows of Amida, the Dharma-king, the Buddha saves
sentient beings, taking the power of the Vow as central...
[Sakyamuni] Tathagata, always dwelling in the sea of samadhi, raised
his soft, slender hand and said to his father the King:
O King, now you should perform seated meditation and simply say
the nembutsu. Why should you seek no-thought by freeing yourself
from thought, or non-origination by freeing yourself from origination,
or the formless dharma-body by freeing yourself from forms, or emancipation
by freeing yourself from words?...
How great it is! The true dharma, the ultimate reality, is oneness,
and yet in saving beings and benefiting people, one Buddha's great
vows differ from another's. For this reason, Sakyamuni is born accommodating
himself to this defiled world and Amida manifests himself in the
Pure Land. Although their realms differ, one being defiled and the
other pure, the benefit they bestow on beings is the same. Truly
it is the teaching-gate of the Pure Land alone that is easy to practice
and easy to realize. That western quarter is most excellent, an
incomparable land. It is adorned with lotuses of a hundred jewels
that open forth in nine different ways, and take people into them.
This is due to the Name of the Buddha...
Hymns according to the Sutra of the Praise of the Pure Land by
Fa-chao, disciple of Sakyamuni:
The sacred Name of the Tathagata is exceedingly distinct and clear;
Throughout the worlds in the ten quarters it prevails.
Solely those who say the Name all attain birth;
Avalokitesvara and Mahasthamaprapta come naturally to welcome them.
The Primal Vow of Amida was established to be supremely excellent;
With skillful means, in compassion, Amida draws forth foolish beings.
Every sentient being gains emancipation;
When we say the Name, immediately our karmic evil falls away.
When foolish beings reach the western quarter,
Their karmic evil, from kalpas countless as particles, disappears;
Gaining the six supernatural powers, they are able to act at will;
Rid forever of aging and sickness, they are free from impermanence.
Hymns according to the Sutra of the Life of the Buddha by Fa-chao:
What is to be called the right dharma?
What accords with truth is the true essence of the teaching.
Now is the time to determine and select right from wrong;
Test each particular one by one and allow no indistinctness.
The right dharma surpasses all things of the world!
Observance of precepts and seated meditation are called the right
But attainment of Buddhahood through the nembutsu is the true essence
of the teaching.
Doctrines that do not accept the Buddha's words are non-Buddhist
Views that reject the law of cause and effect are nihilistic.
The right dharma surpasses all things of the world!
How can precepts and meditation be the right dharma?
Nembutsu-samadhi is the true essence of the teaching.
To see reality and awaken to mind, this is Buddha;
How could nembutsu-samadhi not accord with truth?
Hymns according to the Amida Sutra:
In permitting advance upon the way, the western land excels this
For it is free of the five desires and of evil spirits.
To become a Buddha, one does not labor in the various good acts,
But solely sits on a lotus dais and thinks on Amida.
Practice in this world of the five defilements is full of regressions;
Nothing can equal saying the nembutsu and going to the west.
Once there, one naturally realizes perfect enlightenment;
Returning to the world of suffering, one becomes a bridge for others.
Among the myriad practices, it is the quick and essential;
For swift attainment, the Pure Land gate is unexcelled.
Not only is it the teaching from the golden lips of the Master;
All Buddhas throughout the ten quarters transmit and witness it.
When, in this world, a person says the Name of the Buddha,
In the western land a lotus immediately rises;
If only such persons do not regress, but say the Name constantly
all their lives,
Those flowers come here among us to welcome them.
Hymns according to the Sutra of the Samadhi of All Buddhas' Presence
by Master Tz'u-min:
Those gathered in the dharma-hall today!
You have all passed in birth-and-death for kalpas countless as the
sands of the Ganges.
Considering then this human existence - hard is it to obtain;
It is like the blossoming of the udumbara.
Truly we have come now to hear the Pure Land teaching so rare to
Truly we have encountered the opening of the dharma-gate of the
Truly we have encountered the call of Amida's universal Vow;
Truly we have encountered the gathering's aspiration in shinjin.
Truly we have come today to praise the nembutsu in accord with
Truly we have come to pledge to be born on the high lotus dais.
Truly we have encountered no evil spirits in the hall of the dharma;
Truly we have all been able to come here free of sickness.
Truly we have encountered the fulfillment of the virtue of seven-days'
The Forty-eight Vows will unfailingly take us to the Pure Land.
Thus I encourage all those of the same practice in this hall of
Let us strive, and turn about at heart, and aspire to go to the
If we ask, "Where is our true home?"
It is the seven-treasure dais in the pond of the land of bliss.
Amida Buddha, in the causal stage, made the universal Vow:
When beings hear my Name and think on me, I will come to welcome
each of them to my land,
Not discriminating at all between the poor and the rich and wellborn,
Not discriminating between the inferior and the highly gifted;
Not choosing the learned and those upholding pure precepts,
Not rejecting those who break precepts and whose evil karma is profound.
When beings just turn about at heart and often say the nembutsu,
It is as if bits of rubble were turned into gold.
I address these words to the gathering before me:
Those alike having ties with the teaching and thus departing this
world, quickly ask each other -
Question: Where should we seek to go?
Answer: To Amida's Pure Land.
Question: What cause enables you to be born there?
Answer: The nembutsu naturally does.
Question: Countless are the acts of karmic evil in this life that
obstruct you; how can one such as you enter there?
Answer: When we say the Name, our karmic evil is eradicated; It
is like a shining lamp entering the dark.
Question: Is it possible for a foolish being to attain birth or
not? How is it that in one utterance the darkness becomes light?
Answer: Cast aside your doubts and often say the nembutsu; Then
naturally Amida will always be near you.
Hymns newly composed according to the Sutra of Contemplation on
the Buddha of Immeasurable Life by Fa-chao:
Persons of utter foolishness, committing the ten transgressions
and five grave offenses,
Have been sinking for long kalpas in the sea of birth-and-death,
dwelling in the dust of blind passions.
But when they say the Name of Amida even once, and thus attain
The Pure Land, they become one with the dharma-body as suchness.
Master Kyeong-heung states:
There are two parts to Sakyamuni Tathagata's full exposition in
the Larger Sutra. First, he teaches in detail about the result attained
by Amida Tathagata, namely, the Pure Land; in other words, that
which was practiced and fulfilled. Next, he clarifies in detail
the cause and result of sentient beings' birth in the Pure Land;
in other words, their being grasped and benefited.
Further he states:
It is declared in "Chapter on the Bodhisattvas' Receiving
Prophecies" in the Sutra of the Lotus of Compassion:
At that time, Ratnagarbha Tathagata praised the cakravartin king,
saying, "Excellent, excellent!...Great king, in the western
quarter, past a hundred thousand billion Buddha-lands, there is
a world called the Well-Undefiled Land. In that land there is a
Buddha named Indraghosesvara...Now, at present, he is preaching
the right dharma for all the bodhisattvas...It is a land of the
genuine, single great vehicle, pure and unmixed. Sentient beings
are born there transformed, all becoming alike. Further, there are
no women, nor even the word for woman. The virtues possessed by
that Buddha-world are adornments of purity. They are all just as
the great king vowed, not differing at all...Now your name will
be changed to 'Immeasurable Purity.'"
The Sutra of the Tathagata of Immeasurable Life states:
In this way Amida broadly established the great universal Vows
and has already fulfilled them all. They are rare in this world.
Having made these Vows, Amida, dwelling in repose in accord with
reality, has consummated many and various virtues and with them
adorned the vast, pure Buddha-land of majestic virtues.
Further he states:
Amida, having fulfilled the two adornments of merit and wisdom,
gives the practice for attainment of birth to all sentient beings
fully and equally. Because the Buddha benefits sentient beings with
what he himself has performed, he has brought his virtues to fulfillment
Through causes nurtured for us over long ages, we now encounter
the Buddha and hear the dharma; we should rejoice at this.
Further he states:
The people are sages and the land is excellent. Who would not exert
every effort to go there? Therefore do what is good and aspire for
birth. Through good, the Pure Land has already been established.
Does not attainment of the fruit, then, come about of itself? Hence
the word jinen. There is no discrimination between the lofty and
the humble; all are brought to birth. Hence the phrase, There is
no above or below.
To go is easy and yet no one is born there.
Never at variance with that land,
One is drawn there by its spontaneous working.
When the causal act is performed, one goes to the Pure Land; when
it is not performed, seldom is birth there attained. In performing
the causal act and going to be born, no discord arises. That is,
to go is easy.
Further he states:
Because of the power of the Primal Vow means that going to the
Pure Land comes about through the power of the Vow. Because of the
Vow, which is perfectly complete: because there is nothing lacking
in the Vow. Because of the Vow, which is luminously clear: because
there is no futility in seeking to fulfill it. Because of the Vow,
which is steadfast and firm: because no condition can impede it.
Because of the Vow, which is thoroughgoing and ultimate: because
the result will necessarily be attained.
Further he states:
In general, because of the desire to make foolish and inferior
beings strengthen their aspiration for birth, one should reveal
the excellent qualities of that land.
Further he states:
The sutra already declares, "It is in this world that they
performed bodhisattva practices." By this we are to know that
King Aranemi lived here in this world. So did Samudrarenu.
Through hearing that the Buddha's majestic virtue is great and vast,
one attains the stage of non-retrogression.
Collection of Passages on the Land of Bliss states:
The military officer Chang-lun declares:
The Name of the Buddha is exceedingly easy to keep and say; the
Pure Land is exceedingly easy to reach. Among the eighty-four thousand
dharma-gates, none compares with this quick path to birth there.
By just setting aside moments of the early morning for the nembutsu,
one can ultimately make an aid for attaining the eternal and indestructible.
That is, one's exertion of effort is exceedingly slight, and yet
one's obtaining of virtue is inexhaustible. What pains do sentient
beings suffer, that of themselves they abandon the nembutsu and
do not take it up? Ah, all is dream and illusion, and void of reality!
Life is short and hard to preserve! An instant between breaths is
when the next life begins. Once we lose human existence, we will
not repeat it for ten thousand kalpas. If at this time we do not
realize enlightenment, what can even the Buddha do to save us sentient
beings? May all people think deeply on impermanence and act so that
they do not vainly harbor regrets! Thus I, Chang-lun, known as Layman
Ching-yo, urge those with whom I have ties.
of Shan-yin, master of the T'ien-t'ai school, states:
Because the Buddha's Name arises from the body of true reality
and of fulfillment, because it arises from the ocean of compassion,
because it arises from the ocean of the Vow, because it arises from
the ocean of wisdom, because it arises from the ocean of the dharma-gates,
simply to say the Name of this one Buddha wholeheartedly is itself
to say the names of all Buddhas. Because it embodies immeasurable
virtues, it eradicates the obstructions of our karmic evil and enables
us to be born in the Pure Land. Why should there be any doubt?
Yüan-chao, master of the Vinaya school, states:
It goes without saying that in his great compassion our Buddha
revealed the Pure Land way, and with loving concern widely spread
it through the teachings of the great vehicle. Though we see it
with our eyes and hear it with our ears, we give rise to doubts
and slander. We are self-complacent in our own sinking and drowning,
without longing to overcome and rise. The Tathagata taught for the
sake of such pitiful beings as ourselves. Truly our doubts arise
because we do not realize that this dharma is unique and beyond
the ordinary. It does not discriminate between wise and foolish;
it does not differentiate between priesthood and laity; it does
not question the length of one's performance of practice; it does
not take into account the weight of the karmic evil one has committed:
only definitely settled shinjin is required as the cause-seed of
Further he states:
Now, the sutras of the Pure Land teaching are in accord in not
speaking of maras; hence, we know that with this teaching one clearly
encounters no maras. In Dharma-gate of True Faith by Master Ch'ing-wen
of Shan-yin, this is taken up in great detail. Let us quote the
discussion at length:
There are people who say, "It is claimed that at the time
of death, one beholds the approach of the Buddha and the bodhisattvas,
radiant with light and bearing a dais; that there is heavenly music
and wondrous fragrance, as they come to welcome one to birth in
the Pure Land. But this is all the work of maras." Is this
Answer: According to the Sutra of the Samadhi of Heroic Advance,
when one performs samadhi, maras of the five skandhas may appear.
According to the Treatise on the Mahayana, when one performs samadhi,
exterior maras (heavenly maras) may appear. According to the Treatise
on Samatha and Vipasyana, when one performs samadhi, time spirits
may appear. All of these occur because people who practice meditation
avail themselves of self-power, and the seeds of maras' work are
unfailingly made active at that time. When you clearly recognize
this and apply the proper remedy, you can make them disperse immediately.
If you assume that you have gained the wisdom of sages, you will
be beset with the obstruction of maras. (The above answer reveals
that one who seeks to realize enlightenment here in this world stirs
up the activity of maras.)
With the nembutsu-samadhi that we are practicing, we rely on the
power of the Buddha. If persons are close to the king, no one will
dare assault them; so it is with us. This is, in short, because
Amida Buddha has the power of great compassion, the power of great
Vows, the power of great wisdom, the power of great samadhi, the
great majestic powers, the great power to destroy wrong, the great
power to subdue maras, the power of the divine eye to see far, the
power of the divine ear to hear at great distance, the power to
look penetratingly into people's minds, the power of light shining
everywhere and grasping sentient beings. Amida Buddha has all these
powers of inconceivable virtue. Why then should Amida not be able
to protect persons of the nembutsu and keep them from hindrances
up until death? If Amida were to fail to protect the practicer,
what would it mean for the Buddha to have the power of compassion?
If Amida were unable to disperse the obstructions of maras, what
would it mean for the Buddha to have the power of wisdom, the power
of samadhi, the majestic powers, the power to destroy wrong, the
power to subdue maras? If Amida were unable to perceive the maras'
activity to obstruct us and did not destroy it, what would it mean
for the Buddha to have the divine eye's power to see far, the divine
ear's power to hear at great distance, and the power to look penetratingly
into people's minds? The [Contemplation] Sutra states:
The light emanating from Amida Buddha's features and marks shines
everywhere throughout the worlds of the ten quarters, grasping and
never abandoning sentient beings of the nembutsu.
If one were beset by the obstructions of maras at the time of death
even though one said the nembutsu, what would it mean for Amida
to have the power of light shining everywhere and grasping sentient
beings? Moreover, what people of the nembutsu perceive at the point
of death is revealed in many sutras, which are all the words of
the Buddha. How can we dismiss it as the state of being obstructed
by maras? Mistaken doubts have now been completely obliterated;
let us awaken the true faith.
(Here ends the question from Master Ch'ing-wen.)
Further he states:
The conclusive expositions of the One Vehicle all designate the
land of bliss as their culmination. The resultant Name stands alone
as most excellent in embodying the perfect accomplishment of a myriad
Truly, Dharmakara, from the time of his causal stage, established
his Vows, held fast to his aspiration, pursued his practice to fulfillment,
and embraced the benevolence to save beings for countless kalpas.
There is no place at all - even so small as a mustard seed - where
he did not abandon his life for our sake. Practicing the six paramitas
of compassion and wisdom, he took in and guided all sentient beings
without exception. With the two kinds of possessions - those within
and without oneself - he unfailingly responded to what beings sought.
Bringing to maturity thus the opportunity and condition for saving
each being, he fulfilled his practices and consummated his virtues,
and thereupon perfectly realized the three Buddha-bodies simultaneously.
All the myriad virtues manifest themselves in the four characters,
Further he states:
Needless to say, our Buddha Amida grasps beings with the Name.
Thus, as we hear it with our ears and say it with our lips, exalted
virtues without limit grasp and pervade our hearts and minds. It
becomes ever after the seed of our Buddhahood, all at once sweeping
away a koti of kalpas of heavy karmic evil, and we attain the realization
of the supreme enlightenment. I know truly that the Name possesses
not scant roots of good, but inexhaustible roots of good.
Concerning right-mindedness, the way foolish people face death
shows no control over their consciousness. The karmic seeds of past
good and evil acts unfailingly rise up and manifest themselves.
Some awaken evil thoughts, or fall into wrong views, or cherish
attachments, or go insane with ugly features. Surely these can all
be called causes of invertedness. If they had recited the Buddha's
Name beforehand, their karmic evil would have been eradicated and
their obstructions swept away; within, the pure act of saying the
Name would be fragrant, while from without, the compassionate light
would grasp them, and in an instant, they would break free of all
suffering and realize joy. Thus, the next passage [of the Contemplation
Sutra] encourages us to seek birth and teaches that the benefit
of the Name lies in bringing us to attainment of it.
[Further he states:]
Master Tz'u-yun declares:
Only the nembutsu is quick and true as the pure act that brings
one to the land of peace; therefore, practice it. If the four classes
of Buddhists desire to break through their ignorance swiftly and
eradicate forever all the karmic evil - heavy and light - arising
from their commissions of the five grave offenses and the ten transgressions,
they should practice this teaching. If people desire to abide continuously
in pure observance of Mahayana or Hinayana precepts, to realize
nembutsu-samadhi, and to fulfill the bodhisattva's practice of the
paramitas, they should train themselves in this dharma. If people
desire that they be free of all fear at the time of death, that
with both body and mind in repose, the host of sages appear before
them and extend their hands to guide them, and that, rid of defiling
passions for the first time, they reach non-retrogression at once,
so that without passing long kalpas, they immediately realize no-birth,
then they should study this dharma.
Who would not follow the dharma-words of this ancient sage? With
the five topics discussed above, I have briefly presented the essential
points of the Contemplation Sutra. I am not giving a full explanation
here; a detailed commentary appears below.
According to the K'ai-yüan Era Catalog of Scriptures, there
were two translations of the Contemplation Sutra. The first has
been utterly lost, and the one that survives is by Kalayasas. The
Biography of Monks states that Kalayasas' name was translated "Shih-ch'eng"
(Time-praise), and that he went to the capital toward the beginning
of the Yuan-chia era of the Sung dynasty, during the reign of Emperor
Tz'u-yun states in a hymn:
Among full expressions of the truth, this is the fullest;
Among consummate sudden teachings, this is the most consummate and
Tai-chih states in praise:
It is the consummate, sudden teaching of the One Vehicle;
It is genuine and single, free of mixture.
of the Vinaya school states:
Concerning the Buddha's Name: practices were performed and accumulated
for kalpas, and those myriad virtues were all taken and manifested
in the four characters, [Amida-butsu]. Therefore, when one says
the Name, one acquires no small benefit.
Yung-ch'in of the Vinaya school states:
If one says the auspicious Name of the one Buddha and thinks on
that Buddha now, one will unfailingly be possessed of the immeasurable
virtues accumulated from the time Bodhisattva Dharmakara was in
his causal stage until he reached the fulfillment of Buddhahood.
Further he states:
All the Buddhas, after passing countless kalpas in practice, awaken
to the reality of things as they are, and yet they grasp not a single
thing; hence when, on making great vows that are formless, they
perform their practices they do not abide in those excellent acts.
When they realize enlightenment, they do not attain it. When they
take abode, they do not adorn lands. When they manifest their powers,
their supernatural powers are not supernatural powers. Hence, spreading
their tongues over the great thousandfold world, they teach the
non-teaching. Thus they urge us to entrust ourselves to this Amida
Sutra. This is utterly impossible for us to fathom with our minds
or discuss with our lips. I believe that these inconceivable virtues
of the Buddhas are instantaneously embodied in Amida's two kinds
of fulfilled adornments. Moreover, the practice of holding to a
Buddha's name, though performed with the other Buddhas, always includes
Master Chia-hsiang of the San-lun school states:
Question: How is it possible for nembutsu-samadhi to eradicate
so much karmic evil?
Answer: Amida Buddha possesses immeasurable virtues. One's immeasurable
karmic evil is eradicated because one thinks on the Buddha's immeasurable
Master Beob-wi of the Fa-hsiang school states:
All the Buddhas invest their names with their virtues. To say their
names is to praise their virtues. Just as their virtues eradicate
karmic evil and give rise to merit, so it is with their names. When
one entrusts to a Buddha's name, it is certain beyond all doubt
that the name produces good in one and eradicates one's evil. What
question can there be of attaining birth through saying the Name?
Fei-hsi of the Ch'an school states:
The virtue of the nembutsu-samadhi is supreme. Because it is chief
of all practices, it is called the king of samadhis.