Therefore, plant a Bodhi seed. Till with the plow of mindfulness of the Buddha. We need to plant a Bodhi seed and then recite the Buddha's name as if it were a plow which can till the field of our minds. And the fruits of the Way will naturally grow. As we recite the Buddha's name, our lotus in the Land of Ultimate Bliss will bloom. Ride the ship of great vows to enter the ocean of the Pure Land. Making the great resolve for Bodhi is like riding a boat of great vows. Then we will certainly be reborn in the West: When we ride the ship of great vows and uphold the Buddha's name, we will definitely be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. This is the ninth cause and condition for resolving the mind upon Bodhi.
What is the wish to cause the Proper Dharma to remain long in the world? It is that our World Honored One, for our sakes, cultivated the Bodhi Way for an infinite number of eons. He could practice what was difficult to practice and could endure what was difficult to endure. When his causes were perfected and his results were fulfilled, he attained Buddhahood. After attaining Buddhahood, he finished transforming those with whom he had affinities, and then he entered Nirvana.
The Proper Dharma Age and Dharma Image Age have already ended. In the present Dharma Ending Age, there are teachings but no adherents. No one can distinguish the deviant from the proper; no one can tell right from wrong. We compete and struggle with each other. We pursue profit and fame. Look around: the deluge has spread throughout the world.
No one knows who the Buddha is, what the Dharma means, or what constitutes the Sangha. The decay has reached such a perilous point that one can scarcely bear to speak of it. Every time I consider it, my tears fall without my realizing it. I am a disciple of the Buddha, yet I am unable to return the kindness that has been done to me. I do not benefit myself; I cannot benefit others. While alive, I am of no benefit to posterity. Although the heavens are high, they cannot cover me. Although the earth is thick, it cannot bear me. If my own offenses are not extremely grave, then whose are?
What is the wish to cause the Proper Dharma to remain long in the world? It is that our World Honored One, who is known as Shakyamuni Buddha, World Honored One being another title of the Buddha, for our sakes, cultivated the Bodhi Way for an infinite number of eons. Why did the Buddha cultivate to realize Buddhahood? He did it so that living beings could be free from their sufferings, attain bliss, be liberated from birth and death, and not have to undergo the cycle of birth and death. It is said that the Buddha "cultivated blessings and wisdom for three great asamkhyeyas and developed the Thirty-two Hallmarks and Eighty Subsidiary Characteristics for a hundred eons."
Three asamkhyeyas is three great asamkhyeyas of eons. Asamkhyeya is a Sanskrit word meaning an infinite number. This infinite number is one of the sixteen largest numbers. Just imagine how long three great infinite numbers of eons is: It's a very, very long time. During these three great asamkhyeyas of eons, for the sake of transforming all living beings, cultivating to attain Buddhahood, and bringing forth the resolve for Bodhi, Shakyamuni Buddha gave up his life and was reborn, over and over again. Every single mote of dust is a place where the Buddha sacrificed his life. For example, he once fed a starving tiger with his own flesh. He sacrificed his own life to feed the tiger so that it could survive. No one can match the great sacrifice that he made. All of us want to live and are afraid to die, and no one is willing to sacrifice his own life to save another's life. None of us has done this.
In life after life for three great asamkhyeyas of eons, for three infinite periods of time, the Buddha gave his life away to all living beings. Therefore, we must repay the kindness of the Buddha. In the past we may all have eaten the Buddha's flesh and drunk his blood, thus enabling us to now have faith in the Buddha. Therefore we have to repay the Buddha's kindness. We should be grateful to the Buddha for sacrificing his life so that we could live.
In cultivating the Bodhi Way, he could practice what was difficult to practice. What does that mean? It means he could do what most people cannot do. For example, he was able to give away his head, eyes, brain, and marrow. He was able to give his own head and his own eyes to other people. He didn't tell them they could have these parts of his body after he was dead; he gave his body parts to him when he was still alive. If you needed eyes, he would give his eyes to you. If you were ill and needed a human brain to cure your illness, he would sacrifice his life and save you by giving you his own brain. He would also donate his own bone marrow to others.
To be continued