Chapter 3: The Original Cause of the Great Teaching (Continued)

The Venerable Ananda pondered: Today, Buddha Shakyamuni is displaying a magnificent aura. He must be contemplating the Buddhas in other worlds; other-wise, his countenance would not be so dxtraordinary. Therefore, he asked the Buddha.

Buddha Shakyamuni replied to Ananda: "Excellent! Excellent!" (Infinite Life Sutra) The first "Ex-cellent" means the time has come for this teaching to be given so that all beings may become Buddhas within one lifetime. The second "Excellent" means the ful-fillment of the Buddha's innate wish that every being may be-come a Buddha quickly, not just to become an Arhat or a Bodhi-sattva.

A human life is as short as a flash of lightning, appearing and van-ishing in seconds. There is nothing in this world we can truly grasp, since in reality everything is an illusion.

It was said, that when one offers a Pratyekabuddha a bowl of rice, one would not suffer poverty for many aeons. As an example, Venerable Mahakasyapa had made offerings to a Pratyekabud-dha; consequently, he would not be poor for nine billion aeons.

By requesting the true teachings, Ananda has obtained infinite mer-its, over a billion times an offering to unlimited Arhats or Pratyeka-buddhas living in one Galaxy.

Today we recite and study the Infinite Life Sutra and then introduce it to others. We will gain the same merits as Ven-erable Ananda.

Those who believe and vow to go the Western Pure Land, and are mindful of Buddha Amitabha shall be born there with no regression and become Buddhas. This is true liberation.

To rise from hell to the hungry ghost realm, then to the animal realm and up to the heaven realm is liberation to a certain extent. Frankly speaking, if we still can-not break out of the cycle of birth and death in the six realms, no matter how high we rise, we will not be truly liberated.

The kindness the Buddha has shown us is far beyond that of our parents. The compassion that our parents have offered us is only for one lifetime, whereas, the Bud-dha's compassion continues un-ceasingly life after life.

One goal of the Buddha's appear-ance in this world is to bring us true, beneficial teaching, in which the Infinite Life Sutra shows us the way to single-mindedly contemplate Buddha Amitabha and to reach the Pure Land.

It is an extremely rare opportunity to be born as a human. If one carefully examines his/her thoughts each day, how many of these arise from greed, anger or ignorance? Greed can be as sim-ple as wishing for something. Anger can be felt by merely being irritated by something. Ignorance arises simply by lacking knowl-edge of proper thoughts and be-havior. Greed leads one to the hungry ghost realm, anger to the hells, and ignorance to animal realms. The thoughts that preoc-cupy us the most will determine the realm of our next life.

Of the six billion people in this world, how many have actually encountered Buddhism? Among these, how many have learned about Mahayana Buddhism? Of these, how many know of the Pure Land School? Among Pure Land Buddhists, how many have prac-ticed single-mindedly? Through this process of elimination, we find that only very few will attain Buddhahood in one lifetime.

Today we freely distribute thou-sands of copies of the Infinite Life Sutra to the public. It would be worthwhile even if only one or two people truly believed, cultivated and were able to reach the Western Pure Land.

To be able to renounce this Saha world and single-mindedly vow to reach the Western Pure Land is the result of one's good fortune and accumulated merit.

What are good roots? One pos-sesses good roots when one truly believes and understands the Buddha's teaching.

One who believes in the Infinite Life Sutra and is willing to practice accordingly, with a joyful heart, has already made offerings to countless Buddhas. This person should feel extremely fortunate, since his/her good roots brought this about.

Why are we still deluded, con-fused, and receiving retributions? Because we have no concentra-tion or wisdom.

In order to attain concentration, one should only be concerned whether he/she is abiding by the precepts and not whether others are. Being concerned with other peoples' practices, one's own concentration will not be achieved. This preoccupation deters purity of mind. When one regards all others as having the purest of minds, that person's mind will re-flect this purity and achieve con-centration.

The Buddha's concentration and wisdom are perfect.

The liberation of an Arhat cannot compare with that of a Pratyeka-buddha, which cannot compare with a Bodhisattva's. A Bodhi-sattva's cannot compare with that of a Buddha. A Buddha's libera-tion is the ultimate liberation.

The Buddha's perfect concentra-tion and wisdom give rise to ten kinds of freedom.

First, freedom from limited life span; one will never grow old as one controls longevity when one's willpower surpasses karma's con-trol.

Second, freedom from the delud-ed mind; the mind has no wan-dering thoughts, worries or at-tachments.

Everyone's good fortune is differ-ent. There is really no way one can change other people's lives with thoughts, since everyone's life experiences are governed by the principles of cause and effect. Once this is understood, one would truly understand that feel-ing worried about others is just a form of deluded thoughts and is therefore pointless.

Third, freedom from material needs; one never lacks essentials.

The more one possesses, the more one worries; such as which to use, how to safeguard or how to acquire new ones. Having freedom from material needs means using the basic essential with out the worries, even if one could have as much as one de-sired.

Fourth, freedom of activities; for example, the Buddha is free to appear in any form to help beings in the nine realms.

Fifth, freedom of birth; one can choose which family to be born into.

Sixth, freedom from ignorance; one intuitively possesses all knowledge without obstacles.

When one possesses knowledge, one needs to be clear as to whether the people of that par-ticular time are able to wisely use that knowledge. If not, then it is best to withhold that knowledge, thus preventing any catastrophes from happening.

Seventh, freedom of vow fulfill-ment; everything that one wishes or vows to do will come to frui-tion.

Eighth, freedom of spiritual pene-tration; possessing extraordinary abilities in the six senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste/speech, thought and action.

Ninth, freedom of Dharma; the Buddha's teaching is excellent in that all the beings can compre-hend his direct teachings without misunderstanding.

Tenth, freedom of wisdom; the Buddha knows all the lives of all beings in the ten directions, in the past, present and future and how to accommodate his teachings to each individual being.

When one's mind is at its purest, one can achieve these ten freedoms. All beings inherently possess the potential of achieving the qualities of a Buddha

Established date: 03/06/10