Follow in Lady Vaidehi's Footsteps to Pure Land Rebirth
The “Exposition of [Master Shandao’s] Commentary on the Contemplation Sutra” says, "May I exhort all sentient beings to have a true heart like her.” Here, the person “her” is Lady Vaidehi. Master Shandao's purpose in composing the “Gatha of Entrusting to Amitabha Buddha'' is to urge us to follow Vaidehi’s footsteps [in relying on Amitabh's power] with a genuine heart - a bodhicitta mind: a mind that aspires to be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss and attains Buddhahood.
Lady Vaidehi was an important figure whose pivotal questions initiated Shakyamuni Buddha’s speaking of the Contemplation Sutra, which would bestow great benefits to sentient beings. We should know that Master Shandao emphasized that she herself was an ordinary being, which, in the sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha also specifically points out to her: "You are an ordinary being, with a weak and unclear mind."
Lady Vaidehi visualized Amitabha Buddha and the Land of Ultimate Bliss in the presence of Sakyamuni Buddha. She then asked the World-honored One: “It is through your power that I have beheld the Buddha of Infinite Life and the two maha bodhisattvas; but how can sentient beings of the future see them?” She raised the question out of empathy and compassion for future evil-doing sentient beings. And Sakyamuni Buddha also said that she should [raise all relevant questions] on behalf of all future sentient beings tormented by evil passions. Hence, the Contemplation Sutra is truly a classic scripture for ordinary beings. And Lady Vaidehi plays a symbolic role, setting an example for future sentient beings to follow on the journey of faith in and acceptance of Amitabha’s deliverance. Understanding her mind and following her footsteps will inspire our spiritual journey too. That is why Master Shandao underlines the importance of “having an indestructible resolution to generate a bodhicitta mind” in his Commentary. Echoing this salient point, the Exposition of the Commentary oo the Contemplation Sutra implores us “to have a true heart like Lady Vaidehi”.
The “Exposition” says: “Today, I would like to advise those who take refuge in and revere Amitabha Buddha to be like Lady Vaidehi.” And our journey of faith in and accepting the deliverance of the Buddha is a complete replica of that of Lady Vaidehi. That explains why the “Exposition” in a previous place has this to say, “ If you read and digest the message in the Gatha of Taking Refuge in Amitabha by Master Shandao, you will find the mental journey of Vaidehi worthy of mirroring. To use the journey of Lady Vaidehi as a worthy model for us is both skillful and persuasive. In this way, whether we are reading the Contemplation Sutra or Master Shandao’s Commentary, our minds and that of Lady Vaidehi will be sharing a mutual affinity.
Some might say we should have “a mutual affinity with the Buddha.” There is nothing wrong with that, but the question is how do we define such an affinity. If we define it as a closeness to the Buddha’s great compassion and wisdom and his pure essence, then we can never hope to achieve that. The Buddha is the eminent physician, and we are patients with all sorts of illnesses; we are the targets of his salvation. Lady Vaidehi and we, however, are like-minded people. Therefore, what benefits her is likely to benefit us; what pleases her pleases us; if she gains insight into the non-arising of all dharmas, so do we. The Dharma she sought from Sakyamuni Buddha is what we are seeking too. The Buddha’s wisdom in discerning the aptitude and capability of sentient beings and using the best means to benefit us make us feel close to him.
(Translated by the Pure Land School Translation Team;
edited by Householder Fojin)
Faith in, and acceptance of, Amitabha’s deliverance
Single-minded recitation of Amitabha’s name
Aspiration to rebirth in Amitabha’s Pure Land
Comprehensive deliverance of all sentient beings