Letter 4 – The Jewelled Net of Indra

From your letter, I can see that you are concentrating on reciting the Buddha’s name, bowing to the Lotus Sutra and trying to reduce your transgressions, but you have not yet achieved success. You are thinking of following a special method to review your progress day by day. All of these actions demonstrate that your cultivation in recent days is truly aimed at self-improvement, unlike those who attempt to deceive others with external displays to achieve renown. This being so, nothing could be better. I truly rejoice in your actions.

A mind of sincerity and respect is the key to Pure Land cultivation. With utter sincerity and respect, even though you are an ordinary being whose virtues are not yet perfected, you will achieve unimaginable results.

Conversely, without sincerity, bowing and reciting are no different from performing on stage, singing and prancing. Although you may by displaying the external signs of suffering, joy, compassion and other emotions, they are all make-believe because they do not spring from the depth of your mind. Any blessings or virtues that may result are but the deluded merits of the human and celestial realms, and these are precisely the basis of evil karma and the seeds of immense sufferings in the future. You should explain this to all your friends and colleagues, enjoining them to cultivate sincerely, so as to spread the benefits widely …

You should not think that the merits and virtues of reciting the name of, or visualizing one Buddha are less encompassing than those received from reciting the name of, or visualizing many Buddhas. You should realize that Amitabha Buddha is the Dharma Realm Treasure Body. All the virtues of the Buddhas in the ten directions of the Dharma Realm are fully encompassed in Amitabha Buddha. This is like the jewelled net of Indra, where thousands and thousands of jewels are fully reflected in one jewel, the image of one jewel is reflected in thousands and thousands of jewels, and each and every jewel encompasses every other, in perfect, unimpeded fashion.

To great sages who have cultivated for a long time, widely varying conditions and environments do not matter; in fact, the more diverse they are, the more focused the minds of these sages becomes. For beginners, on the other hand, if conditions and environments are varied, the mind-consciousness grows confused and unfocused. Those with heavy obstructions and shallow wisdom may even, at times, be afflicted by demons. For this reason, Buddha Shakyamuni and the Patriarchs all enjoined us to recite the Buddha’s name singlemindedly until achieving samadhi—at which time hundreds of thousands od Dharma methods and countless sublime meanings will manifest themselves in full. To exemplify this Truth, the ancients have said:

To bathe in the great ocean is to use the waters of hundreds of rivers …