Composed by Gutoku Shinran, Disciple of Sakyamuni
Let Amida's virtues be praised for a hundred thousand kotis of
nayutas of kalpas, by tongues a hundred thousand countless kotis of
nayutas in number, each tongue producing countless voices,
and still those virtues could not be exhausted.
The Sutra of Praise of the Pure Land
Translated by Tripitaka Master Hsan-tsang
This treatise is by Bodhisattva Vasubandhu (P'o-sou-p'an-tou).
"P'o-sou-p'an-tou" is a transliteration of the Sanskrit.
In old translations, his name was translated T'ien-ch'in, which is inaccurate; in later translations, it is given as Shih-ch'in, which is correct.
The Upadesa in a Gatha of Aspiration for Birth has been named Treatise on the Pure Land by Master Shan-tao.
This treatise is also called the Treatise on Birth.
The two gateways of entrance and emergence come from this work.
Bodhisattva Vasubandhu, relying on the true
And real virtues taught in the Mahayana sutras,
With the mind that is single, took refuge
In the Tathagata of inconceivable light filling the ten quarters.
Unhindered light is great compassion;
This light is the wisdom of all the Buddhas.
In contemplating that world [of the Pure Land], it is boundless,
And vast and infinite, like space.
The fifth of the five inconceivabilities is the power of Buddha-dharma,
Which includes the Buddha-land's inconceivability.
In it, there are two kinds of inconceivable power,
Which manifest the supreme virtues of that land of happiness.
The first is karmic power; [the land] has been fulfilled
By the karmic power of Dharmakara's great vow.
The second is the power of the good of Amida,
The perfectly enlightened Dharma-king, by which [the land] is embraced.
Women, the disabled, and those of the two vehicles
Are never born in the Pure Land of happiness as they are;
The sages of the Tathagata's pure lotus
Are born transformed from Dharmakara's lotus of perfect enlightenment.
Although there are initially nine grades among practicers,
Now [in the Pure Land] there are no distinctions whatsoever;
For all are the same in saying the nembutsu, following no other way.
It is like the rivers Tzu and Sheng becoming one taste on entering the sea.
Contemplating the power of Tathagata's Primal Vow,
One sees that no foolish being who encounters it passes by in vain.
When a person single-heartedly practices the saying of the Name alone,
It brings quickly to fullness and perfection [in that person] the great treasure ocean of true and real virtues.
[Dharmakara] Bodhisattva, having practiced the five gates of entrance and emergence,
Has fulfilled the practice of both self-benefit and benefit of others.
Through inconceivable billions of kalpas,
He has gradually fulfilled the five gates.
What are the "five gates of mindfulness?"
Worship, praise, aspiration, discernment, and directing virtue.
How is worship accomplished? He performed worship with bodily acts,
For Amida Buddha, the perfectly enlightened one,
Guiding all beings with skillful, compassionate means,
Brings them to aspire to be born in the land of happiness.
This is called the first gate of entrance;
Further, it is called entering the gate of approach.
How is praise accomplished? He performed praise with verbal acts,
For [Amida Buddha] brings beings to say the Name in accord with the Name's significance,
And to practice in accord with reality,
In correspondence with the Tathagata's light, the embodiment of wisdom;
This comes about through the Primal Vow, in which the Tathagata of unhindered light
Selected and adopted the nembutsu.
This is called the second gate of entrance;
It is attaining entry into the great assembly.
How is aspiration accomplished? He aspired constantly in his mind,
For [Amida Buddha] brings beings to practice single-heartedly the saying of the Name and aspire to be born in the Pure Land.
Attaining entry into the lotus-held world,
They are led to practice samatha in accord with reality.
This is called the third gate of entrance;
Further, it is called entering the grounds.
How is discernment accomplished? He discerned with wisdom;
For [Amida Buddha] brings beings to contemplate that land with right-mindedness
And practice vipasyana in accord with reality.
On reaching that land,
They are led to enjoy the delights of the various tastes of dharma.
This is called the fourth gate of entrance;
Further, it is called entering the residence.
Concerning the bodhisattva's fulfillment of practice,
Know that he has fulfilled the virtues of the four kinds of entrance
And thereby fulfilled the practice for self-benefit.
Fifth, he has fulfilled the virtues of emergence.
Concerning the bodhisattva's fifth gate of emergence,
How is directing of virtue accomplished? He aspired in his heart,
Never abandoning any sentient being in suffering,
He took the directing of virtue as foremost, and has fulfilled
The mind of great compassion; thus he bestows virtues.
On being born in that land, one is able swiftly and rapidly
To fulfill samatha and vipasyana
And gain the power of compassionate means; thereupon,
One enters the gardens of birth-and-death and the forests of blind passions,
And assuming various transformed bodies to guide sentient beings, freely sports there with the transcendent powers;
Attaining the state of teaching and guiding; one benefits beings.
This is called the fifth gate of emergence,
Which is entering the state of sporting in the gardens and forests.
Know that because of the directing of virtue through the power of the Primal Vow,
He has fulfilled the practice of benefiting others.
The Buddha of unhindered light, when in the causal stage,
Awakened this aspiration and established the universal Vow.
The bodhisattva has already attained the mind of wisdom,
Attained the mind of skillful means and the unobstructed mind,
Fulfilled the wondrous, joyous, excellent, and true mind,
And quickly realized supreme enlightenment.
The virtues of self-benefit and benefiting others have thus been fulfilled;
Vasubandhu taught this as the gates of entrance and emergence.
Master T'an-luan of Ta-yen Temple
Our teacher, Master T'an-luan, wrote a commentary
On the Treatise of Vasubandhu Bodhisattva [in which he states:]
It is the fulfillment of the power of the Vow that is taught as the five kinds of mindfulness.
From the standpoint of the Buddha, the term "benefiting others" should be used;
From the standpoint of sentient beings, we use "Other's benefiting;"
Know that it is the Buddha's power that is being discussed.
To practice fully in accord with reality
Is to be in correspondence with the significance of the Name and with the Buddha's light;
This is shinjin, which is called "the mind that is single."
Foolish beings possessed of blind passions
Attain nirvana without severing blind passions;
This is the virtue of the land of happiness, which is the spontaneous working [of the Vow].
Concerning "blossoms from the muddy ponds," the [Vimalakirti] Sutra states:
"The lotus does not grow in the solid ground of lofty plateaus,
But in the muddy ponds of lowland marshes."
This is an analogy meaning that foolish beings, while in the mud of blind passions,
Put forth the blossoms of the Buddha's perfect enlightenment;
This indicates the inconceivable power
Of the Tathagata's universal Primal Vow.
Thus, the two gates of entrance and emergence are taught as Other Power.
Master Tao-ch'o of Hsuan-chung Temple
Master Tao-ch'o explains:
The Great Collection Sutra states that in the last dharma-age,
Out of all sentient beings who seek to perform practices and accomplish the way,
Not one will gain realization.
To awaken aspiration and perform practices in this world
Is the Path of Sages and is termed self-power.
The present is the last dharma-age; it is the world of the five defilements;
The Pure Land way alone affords passage.
Wrongdoing and evil acts in the present age
Are incessant and are like violent winds and torrential rains.
Through the universal Primal Vow we are brought to say the Name;
This Name is for the sake of the sentient beings of defilement and evil;
Hence, the Buddhas all encourage us to follow the Pure Land path.
Though we may commit evil all our lives,
Shinjin of three aspects in correspondence [with the Name] is the mind that is single;
The mind that is single is the genuine mind and is in accord with reality.
Any assertion that we will not be born is clearly baseless.
We necessarily attain birth in the land of happiness,
And thereupon realize that birth-and-death is itself great nirvana.
This is the path of easy practice; it is termed Other Power.
Master Shan-tao of Kuang-ming Temple
Master Shan-tao explains:
Attaining Buddhahood through the nembutsu: this is the true essence of the Pure Land way.
It is called the ocean of the One Vehicle;
It is also called the bodhi[sattva]-pitaka.
It is the consummate teaching among consummate teachings,
The sudden teaching among sudden teachings.
It is hard to encounter the true essence of the Pure Land way, hard to realize shinjin.
This is the most difficult of difficulties; nothing surpasses it.
Sakyamuni and all the other Buddhas
Are truly our compassionate father and mother.
With various compassionate means they lead us to awaken
Supreme shinjin that is true and real.
The foolish being possessed of blind passions,
Through the power of the Buddha's Vow, comes to be grasped.
Such a person does not belong to the group of ordinary beings;
Such a person is a white lotus among people;
This person of shinjin is the finest and most rare among human beings;
This person is wondrous, excellent, the best among the best.
On reaching the land of happiness, necessarily, by the spontaneous working [of the Vow],
Such a person immediately attains the eternal bliss of dharma-nature.
© 1997 copyright Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha