From On Love
A Discourse by Dharma Master Huijing
Pure Land Buddhism Amitabha-Recitation Society, December 23 and 27, 2015
The Sutra of Infinite Life and Splendor says:
May sentient beings caught in the various realms of rebirth be reborn soon in my land, so they can enjoy peace and happiness. Exercising compassion constantly to save all beings, I will deliver them from Avici Hell. “May sentient beings caught in the various realms of rebirth be reborn soon in my land, so they can enjoy peace and happiness.” This is a message from Amitabha Buddha to all beings. He has been calling out to us for ten kalpas. The call has come from the Land of Bliss to this Saha world, passing through a hundred thousand koṭis of Buddha realms. Riding on the infinite compassion of Amitabha’s 18th Vow, the Buddhas of the ten directions have also been calling on beings of all the worlds to recite Namo Amitabha Buddha and return to the Land of Bliss, the home of their own true nature.
When we recite Namo Amitabha Buddha, we should know that he is also thinking of us. For ten kalpas, without our requesting it, he has been proactively remembering and calling out to us. He wants us to be “reborn soon in my land, to enjoy peace and happiness.”
What’s the meaning of the six-character name? “Namo” means to entrust our lives. “Amitabha” is infinite light and infinite life. “To entrust” implies “to return” – to go back to our own home. It also signifies entering that home to enjoy complete relaxation, as well as peace and joy. The “lives” we entrust to Amitabha Buddha are not those full of greed, anger and delusion, but our Dharma bodies and wisdom lives. They must return to and merge with infinite light and infinite life. Only then would we truly be entrusting our lives. All earth-bound waterways flow towards a single destination — the ocean. Similarly, our samsara-bound lives must return to infinite light and infinite life, an eternal, peaceful, joyous life without reincarnation. This is Namo Amitabha Buddha.
“Exercising compassion constantly to save all beings, I will deliver them from Avici Hell.” Amitabha Buddha doesn’t abandon even the vilest beings in Avici Hell, but accepts and embraces them with the same care and delivers them as he does all others. This gives us absolute peace of mind, because however deluded we are and whatever evil acts we have undertaken, we should not have committed such extreme offenses as lead to rebirth in Avici Hell. Even so, does that mean we do not have the iniquitous nature that corresponds to that hell? No, we do. As Master Shandao says, “The reason beings are classified into Nine Levels is that they have encountered different karmic circumstances.” In other words, it’s not that beings at the higher levels are exceedingly good and those at the lower ones exceptionally evil. They differ in levels because they meet with disparate conditions. A particular circumstance that a person experiences determines the pertinent result. In their nature, all beings are equal and non-distinctive. For example, a person who has encountered a favorable environment will become a high-level being. But if the same being were born in or has experienced abhorrent conditions, he is doomed to the low levels.
High, middle and low levels as well as good and evil persons are alike in their essence. Beings who ascend to the heavens and those who fall into Avici Hell vary greatly in their actions, good and evil. But they are equal in their basic nature. When the appropriate karmic conditions emerge, a celestial being will be reborn in the hell realm, or a hell being may ascend to heaven. That’s why the Buddha speaks of reincarnation “from the celestial realms to the hell domains, and from the hell domains into the celestial realms.”