其直如矢 其智如神 勢力廣大 入無礙門
震動三千 降伏波旬 眾生皈依 證妙法身
We bow to the Buddha and recite the Buddha's name in order to be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. Everyone knows that Amitabha Buddha is the host in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss. Guanyin Bodhisattva is the figure to the left of Amitabha Buddha, and Great Strength Bodhisattva is the figure to his right. They both help Amitabha Buddha to propagate the Dharma-door of Buddha-recitation.
Today we are going to talk about Great Strength Bodhisattva. Why is he called Great Strength Bodhisattva? Because he has great strength. How great? When he raises his hands or takes a step he shakes the entire three thousand great thousand world system.
There are countless worlds in the three thousand great thousand world system. A sun, a moon, one Mount Sumeru, and one set of four continents together make up one world system. A thousand suns, a thousand moons, a thousand Mount Sumerus, and a thousand sets of four continents together make up one "small" thousand world system. A thousand small world systems make up a "middle-sized" world system. A thousand middle-sized world systems make up a "large" world system. Nowadays, sending a rocket to another planet isn't anything extraordinary. Moving from this planet to another planet is just a small step within the three thousand great thousand world system. It's nothing much to talk about.
Great Strength Bodhisattva moves his hands and feet and shakes the entire three thousand great thousand world. systemNot only does he shake the earth, but he smashes and shakes all the six desire heavens and the demon king's palace as well. So this Bodhisattva can't walk or gesture casually. He can't be like us and wave his arms or stamp his feet with joy. If he just moved his hands and feet slightly, the entire three thousand great thousand world system would vibrate. If this Bodhisattva danced around a bit, the whole three thousand great thousand world system would be destroyed. But because he has samadhi, he keeps unmoving and is always in samadhi in the Land of Ultimate Bliss.
This Bodhisattva belonged to the retinue of Amitabha Buddha. He followed Amitabha Buddha in leaving the home-life and in cultivating life after life. So when Amitabha became a Buddha, he accompanied him to help him propagate the Buddhadharma.
Because he vigorously cultivated the Dharma-door of recitation, he could achieve the samadhi of reciting the Buddha's name. Since he had perfected his cultivation of merit and virtue, he received a prediction from the Buddha. The Buddha predicted that in the future he would be named Skillfully Dwelling Merit and Virtue Treasury King Thus Come One. His title will be Skillfully Dwelling Merit and Virtue Treasury King Buddha. This Bodhisattva's wisdom light shines everywhere. It can break through the darkness and ignorance of all living beings.
Great Strength Bodhisattva cultivated the Dharma-door of Buddha-recitation. The first method of the Dharma door of Buddha-recitation is holding the name Buddha-recitation. How does one practice it? Holding the Buddha's name means reciting "Namo Amitabha Buddha, Namo Amitabha Buddha..." Great Strength Bodhisattva does not recite the Buddha's name only after having accomplished Buddhahood in this life. Throughout countless kalpas, in life after life, he has been cultivating the Dharma- door of Buddha-recitation, and the Buddha-recitation Samadhi. What does samadhi mean? Samadhi means proper concentration, which comes from Buddha-recitation. After proper reception, he obtained samadhi, and thus obtained the benefit that he could recite to the point of being mindful without confusion. So in the Buddha-recitation of holding the name, you need only recite the words "Namo Amitabha Buddha."
We should think it over, what are Great Strength Bodhisattva and Guanyin Bodhisattva doing? They are mindful of the Buddha, and so are Manjushri Bodhisattva and Universal Worthy Bodhisattva. Earth Store Bodhisattva is also reciting the Buddha's name. All day long these four great Bodhisattvas are mindful of the Buddha. Even as Bodhisattvas who have already obtained the fruition, they are still mindful of the Buddha, so how much the more should we ordinary people be so. We should hold and recite the Buddha's name.
So we should not take this Dharma-door of Buddha-recitation lightly. We shouldn't say, "Oh, that's just for silly old people; me, I'm smart and educated, I don't need to recite the Buddha's name." If you say you are wise, are you wiser than Guanyin Bodhisattva, Great Strength Bodhisattva, Manjushri Bodhisattva, Universal Worthy Bodhisattva, or Earth Store Bodhisattva? Is your wisdom greater than the wisdom of these Bodhisattvas? They are all reciting the Buddha's name. Is your eloquence greater than that of Manjushri Bodhisattva, Universal Bodhisattva, Guanshiyin Bodhisattva, Earth Store Bodhisattva, or Great Strength Bodhisattva? Can you surpass them? Are your spiritual penetrations greater than theirs? Don't think that the scientists putting together a rocket and sending it off to space is something very wonderful. This is happening because now everyone can manufacture these things. We have now reached the level where we have the knowledge and understanding to make this happen. There's nothing special to it. But the wonderful functioning of the spiritual penetrations of Guanyin Bodhisattva, Great Strength Bodhisattva, Manjushri Bodhisattva, Universal Worthy Bodhisattva, and Earth Store Bodhisattva are way beyond our imagination and conception, and they are all reciting the Buddha's name. So the Dharma-door of Buddha-recitation is unsurpassed, it is the most supreme one. It saves you energy, time, and money. You don't have to spend anything, all you have to do is recite "Namo Amitabha Buddha, Namo Amitabha Buddha...," and then you can become a Buddha.
In the Dharma-ending Age, all the Sutras will disappear and become extinct. Only the Amitabha Sutra will still remain in this world for a hundred years, and it will take across countless people. When the Amitabha Sutra is extinct, only the six syllables of "Namo A-mi-to-fo" (Homage to Amitabha Buddha) will be left in this world, and they will remain for one hundred years. After a hundred years, there will be no Buddhadharma in this world, and only the four syllables "A-mi-to-fo" (Amitabha Buddha) will remain for another one hundred years. After this, the Buddh-dharma will disappear completely, and at that time no one will understand what the Buddhadharma is. Nobody will know anything about it. So the Dharma-door of Buddha-recitation is the most wonderful one. Because of this Great Strength Bodhisattva as well as the other Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas all recite the Buddha's name.
Holding the name Buddha-recitation means holding and reciting the Buddha's name, which is very convenient, very easy. It saves your money and your energy. It is the most direct method.
The second method of recitation is contemplating an image Buddha-recitation. You only need to contemplate Amitabha Buddha's thirty-two marks and eighty minor characteristics. Contemplate his golden-hued body and his adornment with the special marks of a Buddha. Not to mention his other marks, his white hair-mark light can shine around five Mount Sumerus, which means his white light is as high as five Mount Sumerus. Amitabha's eyes are as wide as the four great seas--can you imagine that? His eyes are as large as four great seas, have you ever seen that? And how big do you think his body is? It won't be easy to describe. You could say his body is as huge as a gathering of hundreds of thousands of millions of planets. If you can figure it out by contemplating Amitabha Buddha's image, you will attain the Buddha-recitation Samadhi.
If you wish to obtain the Buddha-recitation Samadhi, first you should purify your three karmas of body, mouth, and mind. You cannot recite the Buddha's name and scold people at the same time; you cannot be mindful of the Buddha and think about other things recklessly at the same time, or have any evil thoughts. If your body is involved in killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct; if your mouth is involved in loose speech, false speech, harsh speech, or double-tongued speech; and your mind is filled with greed, hatred, and stupidity, your three karmas are impure. Your three karmas being pure means that your body is without the karma of killing, stealing, or sexual misconduct; your mouth is free from the four evil karmas of loose speech, false speech, harsh speech, and double-tongued speech; and your mind has none of the three poisons of greed, hatred, and stupidity. Then the three karmas of body, mouth, and mind are pure. If you are able to purify your three karmas, reciting the Buddha's name is like throwing a pearl into muddy water so that the muddy water becomes clear. Recitation of the Buddha's name enters a confused mind--originally you have a lot of false thoughts--but if you can recite the Buddha's name in the middle of these false thoughts, the false thoughts will gradually merge with the sound of the Buddha-recitation and slowly they will become Buddha-recitation. So there is a saying:
When the water-clearing pearl is tossed in muddy water,
The muddy water will certainly become clear.
When the Buddha's name enters a confused mind,
The confused mind will certainly become a Buddha.
Contemplating and thinking Buddha-recitation. Contemplation means that you contemplate and think about the Buddha, whether you are walking, standing, sitting, or lying down. This method also consists of the contemplation of the Buddha's wonderful and adorned marks. Contemplating an image means that you face the Buddha's image and contemplate it.
There is also real mark Buddha-recitation. Real mark also means investigating Chan. Investigating Chan, real mark, has no mark. Real mark has no mark and yet it contains all marks. If you say there's nothing there, it still contains everything; if you say there's something there, there is nothing. When you reach this kind of a state, you will naturally understand the principle of real mark. Real mark: reciting and yet not reciting, not reciting and yet reciting. The wind can't blow you about, the rain can't fall on you. When you reach the state of real mark Buddha-recitation, you can't help reciting. If you want to recite, you won't be aware of it; if you don't want to recite, you won't be aware of it, either. In this kind of samadhi, one can practice Buddha-recitation in samadhi. If you can attain this level, you will definitely be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss and will see the Buddha when your lotus flower opens.
People in the Saha world are born from wombs; people in the Land of Ultimate Bliss are born transformationally. People who wish to learn from the Buddha should spend time studying the Buddhadharma. Don't settle for partial understanding or be unwilling to learn when you realize you don't understand something. Don't think that since you can't understand something thoroughly, you won't even try to understand. Don't have an attitude of setting up a restricted area for yourself, of not wanting to go forward. That is simply destroying your future. We must reach the ultimate point of:
Passing beyond the mountains and rivers, there seems to be no road ahead;
Beyond the bright flowers and dark willows lies another village.
If you can recite to the point of reciting and yet not reciting, not reciting and yet reciting, you unite with the Buddha-recitation. Being unconfused, you will certainly be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss and see the Buddha when your lotus flower opens.
We are now discussing Great Strength Bodhisattva. How can he have such great strength? Because he has a straight mind. He had straight mind when he started to cultivate. "The straight mind is the Way-place." Because he had a straight mind, he could influence other people to recite the Buddha's name. Helping others to recite enabled him to become the Dharma protector of Amitabha Buddha. Being a Dharma protector means helping and protecting one's teacher's vow power to be accomplished. So Great Strength Bodhisattva still recites the Buddha's name. He recites and you also recite, and so his and your Buddha-recitation become one, two and yet not two. You recite and he recites, both of you recite, so there is a response with the Way.
When your skill fully ripens, Great Strength Bodhisattva will welcome you and take you to the Land of Ultimate Bliss as you wish. Why does he want to take you there? Because of his great vow power. He wants to protect his master, since his master has vowed, "After I have accomplished Buddhahood, if anyone who recites my name were to fail to become a Buddha, I won't become a Buddha in the first place." So he protects his master's vow power. If anyone recites the Buddha's name, Great Strength Bodhisattva has made the vow that he will take that person to the Land of Ultimate Bliss. Applying both self-power and other-power in this way, one can then attain to the Land of Ultimate Bliss.
A verse in praise says:
He is as straight as an arrow, his wisdom is god-like;
With vast and great strength he enters the door of nonobstruction.
Shaking the three thousand world system he subdues the demon kings;
Living beings take refuge with him and certify to the wonderful Dharma body.
He is as straight as an arrow: His mind is straightforward. The straight mind is the Way-place. His wisdom is god-like: His wisdom is as inconceivable as that of a god. Vast and great strength: His strength is much greater than that of any other Bodhisattva. He enters the door of nonobstruction: He attains the Dharma door of perfect nonobstruction. Shaking the three thousand worlds system: He shakes the three thousand great thousand worlds. He subdues the demon kings: He subdues all demon kings. Living being take refuge with him: All living beings take refuge with him. And certify to the wonderful Dharma body: All beings can become Buddhas.
Another verse says:
Amitabha Buddha's light is limitless;
Great Strength Bodhisattva protects this Dharma king.
He guides living beings to return to the Pure Land,
Universally gathering all sentient beings into the Lotus Land.
The nine grades of lotuses appear in the pools of seven jewels;
The myriad conducts are perfected in the water of eight virtues.
Cultivators with faith and vows uphold and recite the name,
And board the boat of wonderful enlightenment together.
Amitabha Buddha's light is limitless: Amitabha is a Sanskrit word which means limitless light. Amitabha, the Buddha of Limitless Light is also named Amitayus, the Buddha of Limitless Life. Great Strength Bodhisattva protects this Dharma king: Great Strength Bodhisattva has vowed to protect and uphold the Dharma of Amitabha Buddha, the Dharma king.
He guides living beings to return to the Pure Land: He gathers in living beings to get them to return to the Pure Land: He has vowed to gather in all living beings to the Land of Ultimate Bliss.
Universally gathering in all sentient beings into the Lotus Land: He universally gathers in all creatures to the Land of Ultimate Bliss.
The nine grades of lotuses appear in the pools of seven jewels: There are nine grades of lotus flowers. 1. superior superior 2. superior middle 3. superior inferior 4. middle superior 5. middle middle 6. middle inferior 7. inferior superior 8. inferior middle 9. inferior inferior. Each of the nine grades also has nine ranks, making eighty-one in all. So the lotuses appear in the seven-jeweled pool.
The myriad practices are perfected in the water of eight virtues: The water of eight meritorious virtues fills the pools. The eight meritorious virtues of this water are such that the water is 1. pure 2. tepid 3. sweet 4. soft 5. moistening 6. harmonizing 7. banishing hunger and thirst, and 8. nourishing all roots, and so perfects the myriad practices.
Cultivators with faith and vows uphold and recite the name: Cultivators of the present day only need to hold and recite the Buddha's name.
And board the boat of wonderful enlightenment together: At this time, all of us gather together to get on Amitabha Buddha's boat of unsurpassed, wonderful enlightenment. What is the boat of wonderful enlightenment? The Dharma door of Buddha-recitation. If you can recite the Buddha's name, in the future you will definitely become a Buddha--this is the boat of wonderful enlightenment.