Moreover, if we perceive cultivation as suffering, it is because we do not know that laxity will make us suffer even more. Cultivation entails a brief period of diligent toil, but it yields peace and joy for eons without end. One lifetime of laxity and shirking from work results in suffering for many future lives. Furthermore, with the Pure Land as our ship, what fear is there that we will retreat? Once we attain the power of patience with nonproduction, what difficulty can trouble us? When we know that in past eons there were even offenders in the hells that resolved themselves upon Bodhi, how can we human disciples of the Buddha fail to make great vows in this life? Since time without beginning, we have been muddled and confused. It is useless to remonstrate with ourselves about the past, but now that we are awake, we can make amends in the future.
To be confused and unenlightened is pitiful, but to know and still not cultivate is even more sad. If we fear the suffering in the hells, then vigor will naturally come forth. When we are mindful of the speed of impermanence, then laziness will not arise. Further, we should use the Buddhadharma to encourage ourselves and associate with wholesome friends as our guides. Relying on them to the ends of our days without even momentarily forsaking them, there will be no need to fear retreat. Don't say that one thought is a trifle; don't assume that vows are empty and of no benefit. If our resolves are true, then we can realize our goal. When our vows are vast in scope, then our practice will be profound. Space is not big, but the mind-king is. Vajra is not durable, but our vow-power is.
Great assembly! If each of you can sincerely accept my words, then from now on, let us all pledge fraternity in the retinue of Bodhi. May all the members of the Lotus Society unite. Let us vow to be reborn in the Pure Land, to see Amitabha Buddha, to transform living beings, and to realize Proper Enlightenment together. How do we know that our future perfection of the Thirty-two Marks and the adornments of the hundred blessings does not begin on this day that we resolved our minds and made our vows? May the members of the great assembly urge each other on. How lucky we are!
I believe there is one paragraph missing. I remember it was there before, but now it's not. Whoever has the book can look it up; maybe I skipped something. [Disciple: Okay.]
Moreover, if we perceive cultivation as suffering: We feel it's difficult and cannot take it. Eating one meal a day is hard, and we can't satisfy our palate by not eating meat. There are all kinds of restrictions on our freedom when we cultivate.
It is because we do not know that laxity will make us suffer even more. Yet we do not understand! We think cultivation is suffering, but if we are lazy and don't cultivate, we will suffer more. When we cultivate, we experience a short period of hardship and then attain bliss forever. On the contrary, if we don't practice, we will drift perpetually on the sea of suffering. We may enjoy living in a fine house, wearing good clothes, and eating delicious food, but these pleasure are evanescent and not eternal. We will suffer forever for the offenses we commit.
Cultivation entails a brief period of diligent toil, but it yields peace and joy for eons without end. If we refrain from enjoyments temporarily until we succeed in our cultivation, then we will dwell forever in the Land of Ultimate Bliss and never suffer.
One lifetime of laxity and shirking from work results in suffering for many future lives. If we are lazy and shirk work, then although we enjoy some pleasure in this lifetime, in the future we may fall into the hells or be reborn as a hungry ghost or an animal, which will really be unbearable.
Furthermore, with the Pure Land as our ship, what fear is there that we will retreat? With the Pure Land Dharma as the vessel to leave the sea of suffering, we need not worry about suffering anymore. If we retreat, however, we will suffer.
Once we attain the power of patience with nonproduction, so that there is no suffering to endure nor any happiness to seek, so that one is free from perceptions of suffering, bliss, production, and extinction,
what difficulty can trouble us? Do not be afraid of difficulties.
When we know that in past eons there were even offenders in the hells that resolved themselves upon Bodhi... We should know that although people have fallen due to their offenses into hells they are able to leave the suffering of the hells and attain bliss because before they resolved themselves upon Bodhi.
How can we human disciples of the Buddha fail to make great vows in this life? If even hell beings can leave suffering and attain happiness by making the resolve for Bodhi, now that we are good disciples of the Buddha, how can we fail to make great vows in this life?
Since time without beginning, we have been muddled and confused. We all have been muddled for limitless eons.
It is useless to remonstrate with ourselves about the past. Whatever happened in the past cannot be reversed; it is over and done with.
But now that we are awake, we can make amends in the future. Now that we have understood, there is still a chance to make amends in the future.
To be continued