《To Understand Buddhism》
Venerable Master Chin Kung (淨空法師）
CHAPTER FIVE：THE PURE LAND SCHOOL
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.