Essence of the Infinite Life Sutra – Excerpt Six

To all living beings they were friends, [who would help] without being asked.

When teaching all beings, the bodhisattvas have this vow of compassion: on their own accord, they become good friends to all beings. When we emulate the bodhisattvas, we should learn to perceive the suitable way and the right time to teach a being. If we do not help this being when the condition is mature, then we would be failing the being. By helping the being when the condition has not matured, we are courting a rebuff.

Every being is different in capacity; additionally, the condition for learning Buddhism is not the same for every being. If a being likes Zen meditation, let the being sincerely cultivate Zen meditation. If a being likes to recite mantras, let the being do so respectfully. All methods are equal, and no one method is superior or inferior to another. To accommodate people with different capacities, the Buddha taught many methods. If a method could help every being, then there would be no need for Sakyamuni Buddha to teach all these methods.

We Pure Land practitioners cannot make people practice the Pure Land method. When someone’s condition has matured, we should voluntarily introduce Buddhism to help the person. There are many stages in learning Buddhism. As the person gradually advances in practice, he or she will naturally find the most direct route—the wondrous Pure Land method. Therefore, to help all beings skillfully and expediently, we should be patient.