Letter 11 – Awakening is Still within the Realm of Birth and Death

To receive true benefits in this very life, the practitioner should follow the Pure Land method, reciting the Buddha’s name with Faith and Vows, seeking rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. Escape from the wasteland of Birth and Death will then be assured. Otherwise, not only will those who have not received the true transmission of the Dharma fail to achieve liberation, even those who have received it will have no hope of achieving liberation! This is because to receive the true transmission of the Dharma is to awaken to the Way but not to attain Enlightenment. Only by attaining Enlightenment [at the Arhat level or above] will you escape the cycle of Birth and Death. Awakening to the Way is still within that cycle.

Cultivating other method requires severance of karmic obstructions and attainment of the Truth before you can escape Birth and Death. With the Pure Land method, you need to only recite the Buddha’s name with deep Faith and earnest Vows, while ceasing transgressions and performing good deeds—thus engaging simultaneously in the main and subsidiary practices—in order to be assured of rebirth in the Western Land. In fact, the highest level of rebirth will be achieved.

Not only are those who have perfected Pure Land practice assured of rebirth, even those guilty of the Five Grave Offenses and the Ten Evil Acts can also achieve it (as long as, on the verge of death, they awaken, become utterly ashamed of their transgressions, grow frightened and recite the Buddha’s name in utmost sincerity.) This is because Amitabha Buddha has great, all-embracing compassion and considers it His calling to rescue sentient beings. Anyone who sincerely seeks His assistance will be gathered in and rescued. This is called “taking one’s karma along to the Pure Land, through the power of Amitabha Buddha.”

In this Dharma-Ending Age, if you cultivate other methods, abandoning the Dharma Door of Pure Land, you can only reap merits and blessings in the celestial and human realms or sow the causes and conditions of liberation in future eons. This is because few in this day and age truly have the strength to several karmic obstructions. Therefore the roots of Birth and Death continue to exist. Under these circumstances, how can you prevent the dream-like seeds of Birth and Death from sprouting anew?