Essence of the Infinite Life Sutra – Excerpt Twenty-Four

What they have said is sincere and true. They delve deeply into the meanings and flavor. They enlighten all sentient beings. They show by example and teach the proper Dharma.

“What they have said is sincere and true.” “Sincere” means that what they [the bodhisattvas of the Western Pure Land] say is the truth; it is absolutely not a lie. This excerpt sentence is praising the teachings in the Buddhist sutras—where every word and every sentence are words of truth.

The word “meanings” in “they delve deeply into the meanings and flavor” means principle. “Flavor” refers to the flavor of the Dharma. When we truly delve deeply into the meanings and flavor, we will find that the meanings and flavor in the sutras are boundless. Not only that, but we will also find the name of Amitabha Buddha to have boundless meanings and flavor.

How do we get to taste the flavor? By singlemindedly chanting the Buddha-name, we will taste boundless meanings and flavor. After we taste the flavor of the Dharma, there will be no stopping us. During our learning, we will truly feel joy and will definitely be making courageous and diligent progress.

Now, when we chant the Buddha-name we do not taste any flavor of the Dharma because when we chant “Amituofo” we are thinking of other things. This is the reason that our cultivation has not gone anywhere. We should diligently continue with our chanting. Anything that obstructs us from single-mindedly chanting should be discarded. In addition, we should chant with a sincere, pure, and respectful mind. After chanting in this way for half a year, we will taste the flavor of the Dharma. When we do, we will have confidence in attaining rebirth in the Western Pure Land. The more we chant, the firmer our confidence. We will be able to know in advance the time of our rebirth.

Those who are very advanced in their cultivation can attain rebirth at their own will. They can go anytime they want. If they want to go now, they can. If they want to go at a later time, they can. They have truly attained freedom in life and death.

Frankly, every one of us can achieve this. The question is whether we are willing to concentrate on chanting. Jueming Miaoxing Bodhisattva clearly said in Pointing Clearly to the West that our chanting should not be intermingled with anything. Intermingling is not concentrating.

“They enlighten all sentient beings. They show by example and teach the proper Dharma.” “Enlighten” means to help. They help their students; they show by example and lecture on the true Dharma.

How does one show by example? By practicing according to the teachings. If we teach people to act one way but we ourselves act another way and do not practice what we teach, then those who listen to us may not believe our words. For example, if I tell you to mindfully chant the Buddha-name and I do not do so myself, would you believe my words? You would not.

One must practice what one teaches. This is “show by example.” One is not putting on a show; one understands the teachings and principles in the sutras and actually practices them fully. One does what the Buddha teaches one to do and does not do what the Buddha teaches not to do.

All the methods that the Buddhas and bodhisattvas use to teach the beings are expedient teachings, which serve as guides [to the ultimate teachings]; they are not the latter. The ultimate teaching is the teaching of mindfully chanting the Buddha’s name and seeking rebirth in the Western Pure Land. The Avatamsaka Sutra, in its conclusion, teaches practitioners to mindfully chant the Buddha-name and seek rebirth in the Western Pure Land. But most ordinary beings do not believe or accept this Buddha-name chanting method. It is a method that is hard to believe. To make people believe and accept this method—this is the difficulty.

Buddhas and bodhisattvas are compassionate. They earnestly and patiently urge us, and skillfully use various means to lead us to achieve the state of attainment. When we achieve this state, we will truly feel grateful to the Buddhas and bodhisattvas for their kindness. Only by practicing the Buddha-name chanting method can we succeed in one lifetime. If we do not practice this method, we will only plant a few good roots in this lifetime and will continue to transmigrate within the Six Paths.