Questions and Answers about the Amitabha Sutra - Q3: Why are the teachings expounded by the Lord Buddha in the Amitabha Sutra difficult to believe?A: The Buddha has stated several times that the teachings he gave in the Amitabha Sutra are difficult to believe, and it is even more difficult to expound this sutra in the world of five defilements. Master Kuiji said in his book "Praise Commentary on the Amitabha Sutra": this is because the Amitabha Sutra states that reciting the Buddha's name between one to seven days will lead you to rebirth in the Pure Land. Most people do not believe that such "small" merit of reciting the Buddha's name can lead to such "great" blessings. So they think that the method of reciting the Buddha's name is only an expedient method that the Buddha taught in order to receive sentient beings; hence, they do not believe that reciting the Buddha's name can lead to rebirth in the Pure Land.
Master OuYi also said in his book "The Essential Explanation of the Amitabha Sutra" that the Amitabha Sutra is an incredible sutra. Buddha Amitabha opened an expedient door for people, namely, the method of reciting the Buddha's name to be reborn in the Western Pure Land. Countless eons ago, Buddha Amitabha made forty-eight great vows that as long as people have faith and vow to be reborn in the Pure Land, they can rely on the power of Amitabha's original vows to be reborn there. Furthermore, they will never be bound by the karma that leads to the Three Realms of rebirth and death. In addition, reciting the name of one Buddha is the same as reciting the name of all Buddhas; one can be blessed and protected by all the Buddhas, so people find it inconceivable and unbelievable.
The "Amitabha Sutra" is easy to understand and practice, but arrogant sentient beings-- particularly those who think that they have achieved some success in the practice-- find it hard to believe what the Buddha said in the sutra, thinking that this violates the law of cause and effect. After all, if one doesn't commit oneself to Buddhist practice, how can one be reborn in the Pure Land just by relying on the power of Amitabha's original vows? However, the Amitabha Sutra tells us that if one has faith and makes vows, accumulates merits, and recites the Buddha's name wholeheartedly without distractions, one will surely be reborn into the Western World of Ultimate Bliss. Compared to the other methods that are "difficult to practice and easy to believe", the methods of Pure Land are easy to practice yet difficult to believe and not accepted by people. However, the Buddha still tirelessly preaches these methods in the mundane world of five defilements. This not only clearly shows the Buddha's compassion, but also forms the reason why the methods of Pure Land are praised by all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
When practicing any Dharma method, one must first have faith. The faith that Buddhism talks about is to believe in the Triple Gem, the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha, as well as to believe in one's own inherent potential to become future Buddha. The Pure Land method especially emphasizes faith; that is, to believe in the Dharma taught in the Amitabha Sutra, the Western World of Ultimate Bliss described in the sutra, and the power of Buddha Amitabha's original vows, as well as not to doubt that the Amitabha Sutra are teachings difficult to believe.
The Amitabha Sutra (the Shorter Sukhavativyuha Sutra)
Practice Method of Amitabha Buddha
Questions and Answers about the Amitabha Sutra - Q1: Why did the Buddha expound the Amitabha Sutra without being asked?
Questions and Answers about the Amitabha Sutra - Q2: Why is Amitabha Buddha's land called "World of Ultimate Bliss"?
Questions and Answers about the Amitabha Sutra - Q3: Why are the teachings expounded by the Lord Buddha in the Amitabha Sutra difficult to believe?
Questions and Answers about the Amitabha Sutra - Q4: Why is it possible to be reborn in the Pure Land by reciting a single Buddha's name?
Questions and Answers about the Amitabha Sutra - Q5: Why is "Amitofuo" considered a phrase for blessing?
Questions and Answers about the Amitabha Sutra - Q6: Is the "Amitabha Sutra" a sutra chanted exclusively for the deceased?
Resource: Issue 344 of Life Magazine, Dharma Drum Publishing Corporation
Photos: Issue 344 of Life Magazine, Dharma Drum Publishing Corporation
Translation: Glen Sha
Editing: YKL, Keith Brown