Hearing and Seeing

Master Jingzong; English translation by Foying, edited by Jingxing

We may develop trust in someone by listening to their words. But sometimes that does not suffice, and we need to observe, investigate, gather facts and have firsthand experience before believing. Which of these two approaches shows greater confidence in the other person?

Both Amitabha-recitation and Amitabha-contemplation take Amitabha Buddha as the object, so they produce equally unfathomable merits and benefits. However, reciters develop their faith upon hearing of Amitabha Buddha’s deliverance, while contemplators base their faith on seeing Amitabha Buddha. Because of this, Amitabha-recitation is superior to Amitabha-contemplation, in that the former reflects stronger faith.

In worldly matters, most people assume that a thing heard from others is not to be trusted unless it is seen for oneself. But if we apply this principle to Amitabha Buddha, aren’t we treating him as just another worldly person unworthy of trust? Aren’t we placing the Buddha’s teachings in the same category as the shallow, easy-to-see matters of the world?

How can an ordinary being conceive of, or verify, anything concerning the realm of the Buddhas? If we insist upon fact-finding, investigating and reflecting before we trust the Buddha’s words, we will never develop faith in the Buddha.

The easiest, quickest and most secure way to approach Buddhism is to accept the Buddha’s teachings as unfathomable. Only a humble heart can truly hear the Dharma. Such a principle especially applies to the Pure Land school, as taught by Shakyamuni Buddha. This is because the Pure Land is of the realm of Buddhahood, and does not belong to our world.

Faith is the only way to enter the ocean of Buddhism. Faith is the origin of the Way and the mother of all merit. It nurtures all good roots. If we just accept whatever the Buddha teaches us (“So it is! So it is!”), we will naturally develop a clear faith in the Buddha’s wisdom.

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