A Clay Bowl Can Also Hold Luscious Spring Water
When reciting Amitabha's name for rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss, we all have minds subject to afflictions and arising and ceasing. Therefore, do not worry about it, thinking "Look at how pathetic I am...," as there is no need. Just recite Amitabha's name the whole way through, regardless of whatever your mind is experiencing. This is called "single-pointed, exclusive recitation."
Let's take an example: Someone who is thirsty wants to use a bowl to drink from a clear spring. It doesn't matter what condition the bowl is in, whether it looks dazzling or is half-broken. As long as it can do its job of holding water, you can drink from it and quench your thirst. However, someone else says, "My bowl is prettier than yours, so I can quench my thirst, and you can't quench yours." The first person says, "Oh, that's right! My bowl is useless because it is made of clay, while yours is made of gold."
What does this mean? The bowl represents people based on their dispositions or characters. Gold refers to those of superior roots, clay refers to those who are evil, good refers to those who keep the precepts, and broken refers to those who violate the precepts. The bowl also represents a person's mind, in this case, gold being pure, and clay being impure, while the water from the clear spring is the six-character name. To be liberated from samsara, we rely not on the state of our minds, however pure or impure, but on 'Namo Amitabha Buddha' to recite. Similarly, we rely not on the bowl, but the water it holds to quench our thirst. Even if the bowl is made of clay, all we need to do is to fill it and drink. You might think “Oh, I have to wait until I purchase a bowl that is in good condition,” but you might die of dehydration first.
So do not waste time here. If your bowl is broken now, fill it with water anyways and drink to quench your thirst. Although you may be lacking in wisdom and cannot even memorize the Amitabha Sutra, whatever your condition, just recite 'Namo Amitabha Buddha,' and you will still be reborn. You might think, "Oh, no! I have to recite the Earth Store Bodhisattva Sutra, memorize the Universal Gateway Chapter [of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva] (from the Lotus Sutra), learn sitting meditation, overcome afflictions...," then it will be too late. Just hurry up and recite 'Namo Amitabha Buddha,' and that will suffice.
(Translated by the Pure Land School Translation Team;
edited by Eddie Cao)
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