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Excerpts from the Infinite Life Sutra

(Please click on each excerpt to read the commentary)

Foreword by Venerable Master Chin Kung

1. All followed and cultivated the virtues of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva, were replete with infinite vows and practices, and steadfastly dwelt in the virtues and merits of all dharmas.


2. With the power of meditative concentration and wisdom, they subdued Mara’s enmities.


3. Constantly, they used the Dharma sound to awaken all the worlds.


4. [They] . . . cleansed dirt and pollution, and revealed cleanliness.


5. Their minds constantly and truly dwell on the Way to enlighten all beings.


6. To all living beings they were friends, [who would help] without being asked.


7. Great compassion arose from these bodhisattvas. They empathized with all sentient beings. With a heart of compassion, they lectured on the teachings, taught by example, and also imparted the Dharma Eyes. They blocked all evil paths and opened the door of virtuousness. They regarded all beings as themselves. They rescued and helped living beings and shouldered the burden of helping them all cross over to the other shore.


8. The Thus Come One commiserates with the beings in the Three Realms with infinite great compassion. This is why he appears in the world: to expound Buddhist teachings and spread them everywhere, like light; to help all beings; and to bring true benefit to them.

9. May I attain the pure sound of a Buddha and may my Dharma voice spread everywhere limitlessly, propagating the teachings of precept observation, meditative concentration, and diligence. May I thoroughly understand the profound, wonderful Dharma. May my wisdom be as vast and as deep as the sea. May my mind be pure, void of dust and toil. May I transcend boundless doors of the evil paths and quickly reach the shore of ultimate enlightenment. May I be forever free of greed, anger, and ignorance, and with the power of samadhi end all delusions and faults.

10. I will constantly practice the Six Paramitas of giving, precept observation, patience, diligence, meditative concentration, and wisdom. For those sentient beings who are not yet awakened, I will help them attain awakening. For those who are awakened, I will help them attain Buddhahood. Rather than make offerings to sages as countless as the Ganges sands, I would perseveringly and courageously seek proper enlightenment.

11. I will constantly use compassion to uproot [the misery of] sentient beings and to awaken the boundless beings who are suffering.


12. If one wholeheartedly seeks the Way and ceaselessly makes focused and diligent progress, one will surely attain Buddhahood. There is no wish that one cannot fulfill.


13. Dharmakara heard the Buddha’s discourse and saw everything shown to him. He aspired to make supreme, wondrous vows. He thoroughly contemplated what was good and bad about heavenly and human beings and what was wonderful and inferior about their lands. He single-mindedly selected what he wanted and formed his great vows. For five kalpas, he diligently sought and explored, respectfully and carefully persevered, and cultivated merits and virtues. He thoroughly understood all the merits and adornments of the twenty-one kotis of Buddha Lands as thoroughly as he understood one Buddha Land. The Buddha Land he created surpassed all Buddha Lands.

14. He dwelt in true wisdom and courageously made focused and diligent progress.


15. He accumulated and nurtured moral conduct. He gave no rise to any thoughts of greed, anger, ignorance, or desire. He was not attached to form, sound, smell, taste, texture, or mind object.


16. He planted numerous roots of virtue and did not mind [his] varied sufferings. He had few desires and was content. He pursued only white dharmas and brought benefits to all beings. He was tireless in pursuing his aspirations and vows, achieving results through the power of patience. He constantly harbored compassion and patience for all sentient beings. With a kind expression and caring words, he advised, taught, urged, and encouraged them. He was respectful to the Three Jewels and attended to his teachers without any insincerity or flattery in his heart. All of his conduct was magnificent, and he was a role model in every way. He regarded all dharmas as illusory and remained in the samadhi that is eternally quiescent. He guarded well his verbal karmas and did not ridicule others’ faults. He guarded well his bodily karmas and did not transgress any precept or codes of behavior. He guarded well his mental karmas and kept himself pure and uncontaminated.


17. Always using the practice of the Six Paramitas of giving, precept observation, patience, diligence, meditative concentration, and wisdom, he taught and transformed beings to help them steadfastly establish a bodhi mind.


18. Brings forth the bodhi mind, observes all the precepts, firmly abides in them without any transgression, brings abundant benefits to sentient beings, and offers them all the good roots that one has cultivated to help them attain peace and happiness.

19. They should practice good deeds, such as (1) no killing, (2) no stealing, (3) no sexual desire, (4) no lying, (5) no enticing speech, (6) no harsh speech, (7) no divisive speech, (8) no greed, (9) no anger, and (10) no ignorance.

20. One should single-mindedly cultivate a pure mind, set body and mind upright, and eradicate desire and eliminate worry. One should maintain a compassionate mind and make focused and diligent progress. One should not be angry or jealous or be gluttonous or stingy. One should not have regret halfway or have doubts. One should be filial, have utmost sincerity, be loyal, and be trustworthy. One should believe that the Buddha’s teachings in the sutras are profound. One should believe that doing good deeds will bring good fortune.


21. They completely realize that all dharmas are like a dream, an illusion, or an echo.


22. They thoroughly understand the nature of all dharmas: everything is empty and without self.


23.They completely understand all the Buddhas’ profound teachings. They tame all their faculties. Their bodies are supple and their minds are gentle. They delve deeply into true wisdom and no longer have residual habits.


24. What they have said is sincere and true. They delve deeply into the meanings and flavor. They enlighten all sentient beings. They show by example and teach the proper Dharma.

25. They travel to all the Buddha Lands. There is none that they like or dislike; and there is no thought of wanting or of not wanting. Neither do they have thoughts of “others” or of “I,” nor thoughts of dissatisfaction and enmity.


26. [Those Bodhisattvas] have a mind of great compassion and of bringing benefits to all beings. They discard all attachments and accomplish infinite merits and virtues.


27. They know that all phenomena are empty and quiescent. Retribution body and afflictions—both remnants are completely eradicated.


28. Their minds are clean like snow mountains. Their patience is like the earth: with impartiality, it bears everything. Their purity is like water: it cleanses all dirt.


29. The minds of these Bodhisattvas are upright. They are tireless in discussing and seeking the Dharma.


30. They are good, pure, and gentle. They abide in quiescent concentration and are wise in perception.


31. Their bodies and minds are pure. They have no craving or greed.


32. Steadfast and unmoving are their vows. . . . They [bodhisattvas] seek the Way in a gentle and correct manner. . . . They are pure, firm, calm, and joyous.


33. People in the world strive for things of little urgency. Amidst extreme evils and severe sufferings, they diligently work . . . dictated by their minds. . . . Whether they have or do not have, they worry.


34. Parents and children, siblings, spouses, and relatives should respect and love each other, and should not be hateful or jealous of one another. They should share what they have with those who do not. They should not be greedy or stingy. Their speech and facial expression should always be gentle. They should not be defiant or unkind to one another.


35. In worldly matters, people alternate harming one another. Retribution may not occur right away. One should see through to this reality as soon as possible.


36. All of you should consider carefully. Stay far away from all evils. Choose what is virtuous to diligently practice. Love, desire, prestige, and splendor cannot be had forever. . . . There is no happiness at all.


37. You should uproot all attachments and desires, and put an end to all sources of evil. Then you will be able to travel freely among the Three Realms without any obstruction.


38. Words and behavior should be faithful and trustworthy. Within and without should match.


39. Having received the Buddha’s clear teachings, we need to be focused and diligent in our learning, and practice according to the teachings. There is no doubt at all.


40. [All of you] can rectify your minds, correct your thoughts, and refrain from committing evil deeds in this world. This is quite a great merit.


41.  Buddha . . . teach all beings to . . . discard the Five Evils, leave the Five Sufferings, stay away from the Five Burnings, subdue and transform their thoughts, and observe the Five Goodnesses so as to obtain the good fortune from this.


42. All kinds of beings in this world want to do evil. The strong overpower the weak, with both of them overwhelming and killing one another in turn. They cruelly harm and slaughter, and alternately devour one other. They do not know to do good deeds and will thus suffer misfortunes and punishments later. . . . [Karmic foes will] in turn take revenge on one another. . . . The suffering is beyond description.


43. People in this world do not follow laws and rules. They are extravagant, indulge excessively in desires, and are arrogant—they willfully do whatever they want. Those who hold high positions are corrupted; they are not upright in their duties. They falsely incriminate others and harm loyal and upright people. What they think is contrary to what they say; they are scheming and deceitful. They will try to deceive all—regardless of whether others have high or low positions, regardless of whether they are related or not. They get angry and are ignorant—they want to gain the riches of others. They desire more, and compete for advantage and profit. Grudges form and turn into enmities, causing families to be ruined and members to separate or die. They do not care about before and after. Some rich people are stingy and unwilling to give. Imprisoned by their desires, their greed runs deep. Their minds labor and their bodies suffer. They continue like this until the very end, yet nothing will accompany them. What will follow them into their next life will be their good karmas, bad karmas, good fortune, and misfortune. They may go to happy places or to extremely miserable places. When seeing the virtuousness of others, they become hateful and slanderous, instead of having respect and admiration. They constantly harbor the intent to steal, hoping to appropriate the wealth of others for their own. After they use it up, they try to take more again. Spiritual beings of heaven and earth will record their deeds and eventually they will fall into the evil paths.


44. People in this world are born from interrelated karmic causes. How long can one live? Unvirtuous people are not proper in their behavior and thoughts. They usually harbor evil intentions and their minds are constantly preoccupied with immoral lust. Restlessness fills their minds, and their exterior persona reveals wantonness. They waste away their family fortune. What they do is unlawful. Things that they should seek, they are unwilling to.


45. People in this world do not think of practicing goodness. They use divisive speech, harsh speech, false speech, and enticing speech. They detest and are jealous of virtuous people. They discredit the worthy and the wise. They are not filial to their parents, and they are not respectful to their teachers and elders. They are not trustworthy to their friends, and it is difficult for them to be sincere and honest. They are conceited and claim that they have attained the Way. They are wild and bully others. They encroach on the rights of others. They want others to fear and respect them, while they themselves feel neither fear nor shame. These people are stubborn and hard to transform. They constantly harbor arrogance and haughtiness. They rely on the protection of the good fortune from past lifetimes. They commit evil deeds in this lifetime and use up their good fortune. At the end of their lives, all their evil deeds will come back to overwhelm them.


46. People in this world are indecisive and indolent. They are unwilling to do good deeds, be disciplined in their behavior, or cultivate [proper] karmas. They disobey their parents and rebel against their teachings. They are like foes to their parents, who may as well not have them as children. They are ungrateful, go against ethics, and do not repay kindness shown to them. They are dissolute, fool around, and indulge excessively in alcohol and good food. They are rash, overbearing, and contradictory, ignorant of the ways of the world. They have no sense of righteousness or propriety, and cannot take advice or guidance.


47. Between heaven and earth, the Five Paths are separate and distinct. Good retribution, bad retribution, good fortune, and misfortune intermingle continually with one another. One has to bear them alone. No one else can take one’s place.


48. If in that environment, one can single-mindedly suppress one’s thoughts, correct one’s behavior and mind, have one’s deeds match one’s words, have one’s actions be of the utmost sincerity, do only good deeds, and commit no evils, then one will be liberated and obtain virtues and good fortune from these.


49. Trivial matters can develop into matters of great angst and extreme severity. This is all due to a desire for wealth, lust, and an unwillingness to give. Each one thinks of nothing but one’s own enjoyment and disregards what is right or wrong. Compelled by ignorant desires, people want to benefit themselves and compete for gains. During the time of enjoying rank and riches, they cannot endure insults and do not cultivate virtuous deeds. Power and influence will not last long and will soon disappear. The law of nature will prevail and will eventually set things right.


50. Honor the sages and respect the virtuous. Have compassion and loving-kindness.


51. Rectify your mind. Rectify your behavior. Rectify your ears, eyes, mouth, and nose. Behavior and mind should be pure and clean, and accord with virtuousness. Do not let your leisure pursuits or desires take control. Do not commit any evil deed. Speech and facial expressions should be gentle. Cultivation should be focused. Body and eye movements should be calm and composed. Doing things in haste will result in failure and regret.


52. Extensively plant roots of virtue. Do not violate the precepts of the Way. Practice patience and diligence. Be compassionate and single-minded.

53. Only in this world are there little good and plenty of evil. What people drink is suffering and what they eat is poison. There is no peace or ending.

54. To your elders and juniors, men and women, family members, and friends, you should impart my teachings. Discipline and reflect upon yourself. Be in harmony and conform with justice and truth. Be happy, compassionate, and filial. If your action is a transgression, feel remorse about the offense. Eradicate evil and cultivate virtue. When you learn about a fault of yours in the morning, correct it by evening.

55. Correct your past wrongs and cultivate good karma for your future. Cleanse your mind and change your behavior. You will naturally receive a response. Your wishes will be fulfilled.

56. Wherever the Buddha goes, whether to a country, a city, or a village, people will be moved and will benefit. All the lands will be enveloped in peace and harmony. The sun and moon will shine clear and bright. Wind and rain will come when needed. Disasters and epidemics will not occur. The country will flourish and the people will enjoy peace. There will be no need for soldiers or weapons. Virtue will be revered and benevolence will be promoted. People will practice courtesy and humility. There will be no thieves or robbers in the country. There will be neither injustice nor resentment. The strong will not dominate the weak. Everyone will naturally get their fair reward.

57. Ajita, you should know that doubt and delusion will do bodhisattvas great harm and cause them to lose great benefit. Therefore, you should understand and believe the supreme wisdom of all Buddhas.


58. The Buddha said: “They plant the good roots, and they are unable to detach from form. They do not seek the Buddha’s wisdom. They are deeply attached to worldly pleasures and the good fortune of the human world. Although they repeatedly cultivate good fortune, the rewards they seek are in the human and heavenly paths. When they obtain the rewards, everything will be abundant, but they are unable to leave the prison of the Three Realms.”


59. There are beings who plant good roots and create immense fields of good fortune. But they hold on to form, discriminate, and have a deep and strong attachment to feelings. They seek to transcend samsara but ultimately will be unable to do so.


60. Be filial to the Buddha and be constantly mindful of the teachers’ kindness. Let this teaching stay in this world for the longest time and do not let it die out. Firmly uphold it and do not let it be destroyed or lost.






The Essence of the Infinite Life Sutra


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