Master Xu-yun's Discourse
on the 12th Anniversary of the Death of Dharma-Master Yin-Guang,
a Saint of the Pure Land on 21 December 1952
Tr. Lu K'uan Yu (Charles Luk)
Today is the twelfth anniversary of the death of the late Dharma-Master
Yin-guang, who was reborn in the Western Paradise (of Amitabha).
All of you, his disciples, have gathered in this hall to celebrate
the occasion. As when one drinks water and thinks of its source,
so your celebration today is in memory of your fatherly Master.
In Buddhism, a Master is the father of one's Dharmakaya, so
to commemorate the death of one's Master is to have filial thoughts
of him. This filial piety is much deeper than that towards one's
parents. I still remember meeting the Master on Pu-tuo Island
in the twentieth year of Emperor Chang-xu (1894). He had been
asked by Abbot Hua-wen to expound the Sutra of Amitabha at Qian-si
Temple and stayed there fer over twenty years to read the Tripitaka
He isolated himself to practice the Pure Land method and although
he was an authority on the Buddhist Sutras, he used only the
word 'Amitabha', which was recited in his daily practice. He
never pretended that, with his deep knowledge of the sutras,
he could slight and dispense with this simple practice of the
Pure Land School.
All expedient methods taught by the Buddha are
good for treating worldly illnesses and the recitation of the
Buddha's name is an agada (medicine) that cures all diseases.
However, each of these methods requires a firm faith, an inflexible
resolution and considerable practice in order to give good results.
If you are strong in faith, you will achieve the same perfection
whether you concentrate on mantras, practice Chan on repeat
the Buddha's name.
If you are weak in faith and rely on your tiny
good roots, little intelligence and shallow knowledge, or if
you memorize a few Buddhist terms or a few gong-ans and then
talk aimlessly, praising and censuring others, you will only
increase your karma-producing habits and when death closes in,
you will follow your karma to transmigrate again in samsara.
Is it not a greaty pity?.
commemorate the death of your Master, you should commemorate
this true practice and observance of the Dharma. He
was firm in this practice and kept in step with the
ancients. He understood Mahasthama Bodhisattva's means
of perfection, which consists of concentrating ah thoughts
upon the Buddha; he put it into actual practice and
thereby realized the state of samadhi which resulted
from this concentration upon Amitabha. He then spread
the Pure Land Dharma for the benefit of living beings,
unflinchingly and without tiring for several decades.
Today, you cannot find another man like him.
A true practitioner always avoids discriminating
between self and others, but concentrates and relies on the
Buddha at all times and in all situations. He firmly holds on
to this single thought of the Buddha, which is intimate and
unbroken, until it becomes effective and causes the manifestation
of Amitabba's Pure Land from which be will enjoy al! benefit.
In order to realize this, one's believing mind should be firm
and set solely on remembering Amitabha Buddha. If one's believing
mind wavers, nothing can be achieved.
For instance, if someone says that Chan is better
than Pure Land, you try Chan and stop reciting the Buddha's
name; then if others praise the Teaching School, you read the
sutras and drop Chan meditation; or if you fail in your studies
of the teachings, you concentrate upon mantras instead. If you
practice the Buddha-dharma in this way, you will be confused
and achieve no result. Instead of blaming yourself for this
ineffectual practice, you will accuse the Buddha of deceiving
living beings; by so doing, you will slander the Buddha and
vilify the Dharma, thereby creating an unintermittenly (avici)
Therefore, I urge all of you to have faith in
the profitable practice of the Pure Land School and to follow
the example set by year late Master, whose motto was, 'Only
sincere recitation of the Buddha's name,' to develop and inflexible
resolution, to develop a bold mind and to regard the Pure Land
as the sole concern of your life.
Chan and Pare Land seem to be two different
methods as seen by beginners, but are really one to experienced
practitioners. The hua-tou technique in Chan meditation, which
puts an end to the stream of birth and death, also requires
a firm believing mind to be effective. If the hua-tou is not
firmly held, Chan practice will fail. If the believing mind
is strong and if the hua-tou is firmly held, the practitioner
will be mindless of even eating and drinking and his training
will take effect; when sense-organs disengage from sense data,
his attainment will be similar to that achieved by a reciter
of the Buddha's name when this training becomes effective and
when the Pure Land manifests in front of him. In this state,
noumenon and phenomenon intermingle, Mind and Buddha are not
a duality and both are in the state of suchness which is absolute
and free from all contraries and relativities. Then what difference
is there between Chan and Pure Land? Since you are all adherents
of the Pure Land School, I hope you will rely on the Buddha's
name as your support in your lifetime and that you will truly
and sincerely recite it without interruption.