Empathizing with the suffering of all sentient beings, Buddha Shakyamuni came to our world to teach people how to transcend both that suffering and the cycle of birth and death. His goal was to enable all beings to understand his teachings, to become enlightened. In our Dharma Ending Age, our negative karma is very strong, creating many obstacles to our way of practice. Lacking wisdom and good fortune, it is extremely difficult for us to find a good teacher who can guide us and properly explain the Buddha’s teachings. Knowing all this, the Buddha taught a special method for the beings of our time, this Pure Land method.
As the famous late Buddhist scholar Mr. Guang-Xi Mei once said, “If we can accept and uphold the Pure Land teachings, not only will we eradicate future sufferings, but we could attain peace of mind now. People who do not sincerely cultivate pure conduct will never be able to understand or experience the happiness of the practice of this wondrous method. Likewise, those who do not practice the teachings will never realize their profundity. If we wish to spread the Buddha’s teachings in this age, it is definitely necessary to advocate the Pure Land teachings.”
Amitabha Buddhist Societies were proposed for the first time after World War II, when the respected Mr. Lian-Ju Xia, an eminent Buddhist teacher, began promoting the exclusive study and cultivation of the Pure Land School. Master Chin Kung, with over forty years of experience in propagating Buddhism, also deeply understands that the Pure Land teachings are the foremost method for helping sentient beings. In recent years, he has tirelessly lectured around the world, primarily in Asia, Australia and North America.
He has funded the free worldwide distribution of books and tapes on Buddhism, ethics and morality, and Chinese Classics. It is his heartfelt wish to help in the establishment of independent Amitabha Buddhist Societies all over the world. He respectfully hopes these organizations will extensively promote proper education, explain the Law of Cause and Effect, generate the Bodhi mind and encourage all people to chant Buddha Amitabha’s name and vow to be born into the Pure Land.
The guideline for fellow practitioners of these societies is to cultivate according to the five Pure Land sutras and one sastra, the Infinite Life Sutra, the Amitabha Sutra, the Visualization Sutra, the “Chapter of Universal Worthy Bodhisattva’s Conduct and Vows”, the “Chapter on the Perfect and Complete Realization of Great Strength Bodhisattva”, and Vasubandhu Bodhisattva’s Report. We emphasize the importance of our practice complementing our understanding, and that we carry out our vows in accordance with the Five Guidelines of the Three Conditions, Six Principles of Harmony, Three Learnings, Six Paramitas, and the Ten Great Vows.
The first of the Three Conditions includes being filial and respectful toward our parents, teachers and elders, being compassionate and not killing any living beings, and following the Ten Good Conducts. The second of the Three Conditions includes taking the Three Refuges, observing precepts, laws and customs, and conducting ourselves in a proper and dignified manner. The third includes generating the awakening mind, deeply believing in the Law of Cause and Effect, reciting and upholding Mahayana Sutras and encouraging others to advance on the path to enlightenment.
Second, the Six Harmonies includes sharing the same viewpoints and goals, observing the same rules, living and practicing together harmoniously, not quarrelling, experiencing the inner peace and happiness from practicing together and sharing benefits harmoniously.
Third, the Three Learnings are self-discipline, deep concentration and wisdom. Fourth, the Six Paramitas are giving, self-discipline, patience, diligence, deep concentration, and wisdom.
Fifth and last, the Ten Great Vows are as follows: First is to respect all people and treat everything with care. Second is to praise all the virtues and kind practices of others. Third is to practice giving respectfully. Fourth is to feel deep remorse for our faults, which obstruct us from seeing our true nature and to vow not to commit them again. Fifth is to rejoice in the virtuous deeds of others and not harbor jealousy. Sixth is to request for those with true practice to widely propagate the teachings. Seventh is to ask teachers to remain by our side in guidance. Eighth is to forever hold the Buddha’s teachings in our hearts. Ninth is to accord with conditions and people around us. Tenth is to dedicate the peace and happiness gained from practicing the above deeds to all living beings, hoping that they will attain the unsurpassed understanding.
We would do well to chant Buddha Amitabha’s name single-mindedly without doubt, without intermingling with other methods or thoughts, and without interruption, to seek birth into the Western Pure Land and to return to our world and help others.
It is our sincere hope that people will recognize that the cause of our problems originates from our polluted minds. We would do well to turn back from delusion, from our false beliefs and our improper viewpoints. If we truly wish our future to be filled with loving-kindness and compassion, we will follow the guidance of the Infinite Life Sutra, “Wherever the Buddha’s teachings have flourished, either in cities or countrysides, people would gain inconceivable benefits. The land and people would be enveloped in peace. The sun and moon will shine clear and bright. Wind and rain would appear accordingly, and there will be no disasters. Nations would be prosperous and there would be no use for soldiers or weapons. People would abide by morality and accord with laws. They would be courteous and humble, and everyone would be content without injustices. There would be no thefts or violence. The strong would not dominate the weak and everyone would get their fair share.” If we would read and follow the teachings of this sutra, then we will give rise to wisdom, reduce our negative karmas, live a long, healthy and happy life. Furthermore, if this sutra could be widely distributed and accepted, then people would become kinder and gentler. This sutra is the key to solving all of our problems and to establishing world peace.
We establish the Amitabha Buddhist Societies for practitioners to follow the Five Guidelines and accord with the teachings of Master Chin Kung to practice the Pure Land method and to study the Infinite Life Sutra. With these, we will be able to repay the kindness shown to us by the Buddhas, our country, our parents and teachers and all sentient beings. We will also be able to help all those who remain in suffering. We have before us a rare and precious opportunity, one not encountered in infinite aeons. Fellow cultivators, we need to harbor the mind of true sincerity, purity, equality, understanding and compassion to see through, let go, attain freedom, accord with conditions and be mindful of Buddha Amitabha, to follow his teachings and vow to be born into the Western Pure Land.
Yin Han, Former President
Hwa Dzan Buddhist Library
January 1, 1993