《To Understand Buddhism》

Venerable Master Chin Kung (淨空法師)



Today, as we practice the Pure Land method,   we know that the Infinite Life Sutra(無量壽經)is a very important   sutra, thus is a supreme Dharma. Passing on the Infinite Life Sutra and the Amitabha Sutra(阿彌陀經)to others   brings them a great consecration. Reciting the sutra   once is to receive consecration once from all the   Buddhas in the ten directions. Reciting the sutra   twice is to receive consecration twice from all the   Buddhas. Therefore, we need to understand the   method in practicing, to start from the  foundation of   the Three Conditions.

As I said earlier, the first condition is to be filial   and respectful toward parents and teachers; to be   compassionate and not kill any living being; and to   cultivate the Ten Good Conducts(十善業). Cultivation begins   from here. If we think that we cannot accomplish   the above, then no matter how we practice, it is only   superficial. It is important for us to practice earnestly   to accomplish these conditions or we may not attain   the true benefits from the Buddha's teachings.

Ultimately, we return to the Pure Land method.   Why? To return to the Pure Land method is what all   Buddhas recommend we do. In the Amitabha Sutra, all the Buddhas in the six directions praise the Pure   Land. In the Infinite Life Sutra, Buddha Shakyamuni   was very clear in praising Buddha Amitabha as the   most respected, with the brightest of light, the king of   all Buddhas. When returning to and relying upon a   Buddha, who would be better than the best? Buddha Shakyamuni did not ask us to return and rely   upon  himself but rather upon Buddha Amitabha, for   he is the ultimate Buddha of all Buddhas.

In the Flower Adornment Sutra(華嚴經), we see that both   Manjusri(文殊菩薩)and Universal Worthy Bodhisattvas(普賢菩薩)sought   birth into the Western Pure Land. If the Western Pure   Land were not so remarkable, why would these two   Bodhisattvas of the Hwa Dzan world(華藏世界)want to go to   this particular Pure Land? The Infinite Life Sutra explains why we would want to chant Buddha Amitabha's name and be born into the Pure Land. If we   would recite the Infinite Life Sutra more often and lis ten to lectures on it, we would come to a deeper   and more meaningful understanding and cultivation.

If  we do not wish to spend more time and energy   to seek the truth of life and the universe, then following the teachings within this sutra would be sufficient   and perfect. Why? In the future, after we are born   into the Pure Land, our wisdom, virtuous abilities and   enjoyments will be equal to those of Buddha Amitabha. We will then clearly understand the truth of   life and the universe. Thus, as ancient wise people   often said, the Pure Land method is a short cut to the   ultimate Enlightenment.

Using other methods, we take a long circuitous   route to achieve Enlightenment. Seeking birth into   the Pure Land is the short cut that ensures us of attaining Enlightenment in one lifetime. From this, we   know that this method is outstanding and beyond   comparison. All Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and past Patriarchs(主教)have praised this method. It is a rare opportunity for us to encounter it in this lifetime. As is said in   the opening verse of the sutras, "Difficult to encounter in infinite eons." Having encountered it in this life   time, it would be unbearably sad to let this rarest of   opportunities pass us by. It occurs so infrequently in   infinite eons, we need to hold on tight, to not let go,   to learn and practice as earnestly and sincerely as   we can.


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