Flowers Bloom in their own Colors, the Moon Basks in its own Glow.
By Master Jingyuan
Just as flowers bloom in their unique colors and the moon radiates her soft light, we should appreciate nature without clinging to it. In doing so, we free our minds from distractions and unnecessary thoughts.
Like the inherent colors of flowers and the moon's natural light, water's downward flow and the distinct flavor of fruits are simply nature's course. If someone marvels at the ordinary flow of water , we would question if he is in his right mind.
Similarly, rebirth through the practice of Buddha's name is a natural process. What is natural? It's like the analogy given by Bhikkhu Nagasena: "As a tree leans westward, it inevitably falls westward." That's nature's way. Thus, the Infinite Life Sutra says, "That land rejects no one, but naturally and unfailingly attracts all beings."
Rebirth through Buddha's name is as natural as can be, being inherent to the power of the name. As Master Tanluan says, this power is unchanging and inevitable. Master Shandao expounded upon the six syllables 'Namo Amituofo' and concluded that rebirth is a certainty. Each recitation of 'Namo Amituofo' is responded to by Amitabha Buddha, ensuring our rebirth.
Therefore, rebirth isn't determined by seeing light or the Buddha, or by auspicious signs at one's deathbed. These are not the benchmarks, nor should we expect them. The desire to witness them stems from a lack of faith, a doubt in Buddha's teachings. We tend to believe only in what we can see. Purple clouds [considered as a sign of auspiciousness in ancient times], and the flowers are merely as they should be. Let us not seek out signs and omens when we recite Amitabha’s name. Otherwise it is contrived.
The purpose of practicing the Dharma path of Amitabha-recitation is for rebirth, not for summoning miraculous signs or expecting to see light or the Buddha at our last moments. Some people would take photographs of light reflections and believe that they have captured the image of lotus flowers. As a Buddhist disciple, we should uphold right and rational thinking and steer clear of superstition. Otherwise, we risk being ridiculed as someone who can't even comprehend basic optical phenomena. I hope all of you will act as normal Amitabha-reciters who hold the correct view of the Dharma.
(Translated by the Pure Land School Translation Team;
edited by Householder Fojin)
- Recitation of Amitabha’s name, relying on his Fundamental Vow (the 18th)
- Rebirth of ordinary beings in the Pure Land’s Realm of Rewards
- Rebirth assured in the present lifetime
- Non-retrogression achieved in this lifetime
The 18th Vow of Amitabha Buddha
If, when I achieve Buddhahood, sentient beings of the ten directions who sincerely and joyfully entrust themselves to me, wish to be reborn in my land and recite my name, even ten times, should fail to be born there, may I not attain perfect enlightenment. Excepted are those who commit the five gravest transgressions or slander the correct Dharma.
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