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行策《淨土警語》之研究 A Study on the Admonitions of Pure Land (Jingtu Jingyu)

by Xingce




Xingce Jieliu 行策截流 (1626-1680) was a famous Pure Land Master during the

Qing Dynasty. He devoted himself to the Pure Land practice for self liberation in his early

years, and propagated the Pure Land practice for liberating sentient beings in his later


The Admonitions of Pure Land (Jingtu Jingyu 淨土警語) is Xingce's representative

work. Within this work, Xingce emphasized the True Faith for rebirth in the Pure Land

and argued that the most expedient Buddhist teaching for rebirth in the Pure Land is the











theoretical foundations to support Pure Land practice. In recognition of his great

dedication, Master Yinguang honored Xingce as the 10 th patriarch of the Pure Land


Xingce promoted the Lotus Society and the seven days of Buddharecitation retreat

for both monastics and devotees at Puren Temple. He established a set of new regulations

for seven days of Buddha-recitation retreat, which he compiled into a work entitled “The

Regulations of Wholesome Practice of Buddha-recitation in Seven Periods (Qi Yixin

Jingjin Nianfo Qiqi Guishi 起一心精進念佛七期規式).”

Key words: Xingce, Jingtu Jingyu, Qi Yixin Jingjin Nianfo Qiqi Guishi, Seven days retreat, Buddha -




The Admonitions of Pure Land (Jingtu Jingyu 淨土警語 1 , hereafter abbreviated

as Admonitions,) in one fascicle was written by Xingce 行策 (1626-1680) during the

Qing dynasty. From the title of the treatise, one can come to the general conclusion that

it discusses the “Admonitions” ofPure Land Buddhism. To start, there are many

different definitions of “Pure Land 2 .” In Xingce’s Admonitions, “Pure Land” indicates

the Amitabha’s Pure Land, which is also known as the Western Pure Land of Amitābha

(西方淨土), or the Land of Bliss (St. Sukhavāti 安樂國). The goals of Xingce’s Pure

Land practice is not only to be born in Amitabh’s Pure Land in one's next life for

attaining enlightenment expeditiously, but also to liberate other sentient beings as well.

1 X62, no. 1174.

2 See David Chappell, Chinese Buddhist Interpretations of the Pure Land.In Buddhist and Taoist Studies. Honolulu: University Press of Hawaii, 1977, pp. 23-43.


Chapter 1

The Life of Xingce and Structure of the Admonitions

Three biographical resources are used for discussion on the life of Xingce in this

chapter. The first is the Direct Point orReturning to the West (Xigui zhizhi 西歸直指 1 ,

hereafter as “Direct point”) compiled by Zhou Mengyan 周夢顏 (1656-1739) during

the Qing dynasty. The second is the Record of Pure Land Sages (Jingtu shengxian lu

土聖賢錄 2 , hereafter as “Sages”) compiled by Peng Xisu 彭希涑 (1761-1793) in the

Qing dynasty as well, and the last is the Four Volumes of New Continuation of the

Biographies of Eminent Monks (Xinxu gaoseng chuan siji 新續高僧傳四集, hereafter

as “NCBE”) 3 compiled by Yu Meian 喻昧庵 in the modern time. The second uses the

first as its source, and has more details about Master Xingce.

The first two biographies were recorded in the Qing dynasty, composed in a few

years after Xingce’s death, and considered as the earliest resources on Xingce’s life.

The last biography was composed in the modern time. Among these three biographies,

each composer placed different emphases on Xingce’s life. In this paper, the above

three books are used as references in writing the biography of Xingce.

Life of Xingce

Xingce was the eighth son of Jiang Sinong 蔣司農

(d.u.), who had close

relationship with Ch’an Master Hanshan Deqing 憨山德清 (1546-1623). Jiang Sinong

was proficient in both Confucianism and Buddhism. Three years after Hanshan’s death,

Xingce was born.

During the Ming dynasty, in the sixth year of Tianqis 天啟 (1626) ruling, while

1 X62, no. 1173.

2 X78, no. 1549.

3 Yu Meian 喻昧庵 , Xinxu gaoseng chuan siji 新續高僧傳四集 , Guangwen shuju 廣文書局 , 1977.


staying in Jiangsu Yixing 江蘇宜興, Jiang Sinong dreamt of Master Hanshan walking

into his room with a stick 4 . Xingce was called Menghan 夢憨 as an “alternative name”

(zi ), which meant dreaming of Master Hanshan.

Direct Point stated that Xingce’s father passed away when he was eighteen years

old. After that, Xingce became a monk with Master Ruoan Tongwen 箬庵通問

(1604-1655) in Lian 理安 Temple at Wulin 武林 of Hangzhou 杭州 5 . However, the

Sages stated that Xingce renounced after his parents passed away at age ofwhen he was

twenty- three years old. 6 We can see that there are two claims on his renunciation, one

stated he renounced after his father passed away. The other after his parents passed


According to Sages, Xingce practiced diligently for five years without lying down

on the bed. It was then he realized the dharma nature 7 (faxin 法性). After his Master,

Yanan Tongwen, passed away, he moved to Baoen 報恩 Temple in Jiangsu 江蘇.

After that, mainly there were two Masters who influenced Xingce. He was

encouraged by Master Sian Ying 息庵瑛 (d.u.) to cultivate the Pure Land practice.

Then, he was introduced by Master Qiantang Qiao 錢塘樵 (d.u.) in reading the Tiantai

doctrines. They went on a retreat together. At the retreat, they practiced the Fahua

Samadhi 法華三昧, and were able to penetrate true wisdom and understanding of

Buddhism. 8

In 1663, the second year of Kangxi’s ruling, Xingce established a small temple

named Liantuo An 蓮柝庵 9 , where he cultivated the Pure Land practice. The temple

4 Yu Meian 喻昧庵, Xinxu gaoseng chuan siji 新續高僧傳四集, pp. 1134-1136.

5 X62, no. 1173, p. 123a1-2.

6 X78, no. 1549, p. 277a3-4.

7 The true nature of phenomena, means the reality.

8 X78, no. 1549. The samādhi that sees into the three truths (sandi 三諦) of emptiness, dependent reality, and transcendence

9 Lianfu An 蓮柎庵 in Xinxu Gaoseng Chuan Siji.


was located on an small island, which was in the western river of mountain Fahua

in Hongzhou. 10

In 1670, the ninth year of Kangxi’s ruling, Xingce was invited by Puren Yuan

仁院 to propagate the Pure Land teachings, and promote the Lotus Society (Lianshe

蓮社). His teachings were well accepted. 11

Although he was busy, Xingce would chant the Buddha’s name 10,000 times every

day without fail. His work, Liancang 蓮藏, had led monastics and lay people to

cultivate the Pure Land practice. 12

The mindfulness of the Buddha has been practiced for quite some time, but the

practitioners could not achieve Samadhi. 13 Xingce reckoned that the reason was

because they did not have True Faith. To Master Xingce, True Faith has three beliefs:

First, there are no differences between the mind 14 , the Buddha and the sentient beings.

Second, we have Buddha nature, and we are not at the level of Amitābha Buddha yet,

thus it is important that we continue to practice and vow to be born in the Pure Land of

Amitābha. Third, sentient beings exist in the mind of the Amitābha Buddha, and the

Amitābha Buddha also exists in the minds of all sentient beings. 15

Moreover, Xingce composed a new ritual of 7-day recitation retreat in the Qing

dynasty. He claimed that if a person practiced the 7-day recitation retreat and achieved

the single-mindned without scattering the mind is considered to be precious.

For chanting the Buddha’s name, Xingce advised that it was not necessary to chant

fast or more, one only needed to chant the Buddha’s name in the medium speed with a

10 X78, no. 1549, p. 277a8-9.

11 Ibid., p. 277a8-10.

12 X62, no. 1173, p. 123a2-4.

13 Means the mindfulness of the Buddha

14 Refers to the world is manifested by the mind.

15 X78, no. 1549, p. 277a10-b9.


clear mind. 16 Table below shows the Life of Master Xingce.

Table 1-1: The Life of Master Xingce

Christian era

Emperor era


Direct Point





th of Tianqi



in the Ming dynasty




rd of



Xingce’s father


passed away



th of






Establishing “Liantuo An 蓮 柝庵” or “Lianfu An 蓮柎庵






nd of Kangxi

An” in

An” in






th of Kangxi

dwelt in the Puren Yuan 普仁院



th of








st of


th of

th of July in Sages







July in


In terms of Xingce’s date of death, Sages and NCBE stated that he passed away at

the age of 55, on the 19 th of July in 1682. 17 However, the Direct Point stated he passed

away on the 9 th of July in 1680.

Master Xingce was born after three years of Master Hanshan’s death. 18 If Master

Hanshan passed way in the year three of Tianqi (1623), 19 then Xingce should be born in

1626. From calculation, the year of Master Xingce’s death should be 1680, which is

closer to the year stated in Direct P oint . This find ing was also consistent with Yu

16 Ibid., p. 277b9-c3.

17 X78, no. 1549, p. 277c3-4.

18 Ibid., p. 277a2-3.

19 Ibid., p. 271a22-23.

Yu Meian, Xinxu gaoseng chuan siji, p. 1134.


Haibo’s finding. 20

The Reference of Xingce as the Tenth Patriarch of Pure Land School

Yinguang honors Xingce as the tenth patriarch. The key point of Xingce becoming

the tenth patriarch is recorded in Yinguang’s works. The time that Xingce was honored

as the tenth patriarch should be around 1938 to 1939. Yinguang’s disciple Desen 德森

(1883-1962) publishes the Third Compilation of Pure Land Sages (Jingtu shengxian lu

sanbian 淨土聖賢錄三編) in 1933 and is revised by Yinguang. According to the

work, there are eleven Pure Land patriarchs including Ouyi and Chewu. We can see

that Yinguang did not honored Xingce as a Pure Land patriarch in this work. 21

According to Yinguang’s “The Verses of Praising Twelve Pure Land Patriarchs

(Lianzong shier zu zansong 蓮宗十二祖讚頌)”, which is written around 1938 to 1939,

the twelve patriarchs of Pure Land Buddhism are settled by Yinguang. Yinguang moves

Xingan from the ninth patriarch to the eleventh patriarch, and adds Ouyi as the ninth

patriarch, Xingce as the tenth patriarch, and Chewu as the twelfth patriarch.


reasons for Master Yinguang honors Xingce as a patriarch may because Xingce

cultivates diligently, composes the 7-day retreat ritual, establishes Lotus Society, and

promotes the dharma gate of remembrance and mindfulness of the Buddha (yifo nianfo

憶佛念佛) in “The Section of Mahāsthāmaprāpta’s Perfect Penetration by Mindfulness

of the Buddha 22 ” (Dashizhi nianfo yuantong zhang 大勢至念佛圓通章) just the same

as Master Yinguang.

Below is the verse of Xingce written by Yinguang in “Lianzong shier zu zansong,”

in Yinguang fashi wenchao xubian xiace 印光法師文鈔續編下冊 23 ,

20 Yu Haibo 于海波 , Qingdai Jingtu Zong Zhushu Yanjiu 清代淨土宗著述研究 , p. 96.

21 Ibid.

22 T19, no. 945, p. 128a21-b6.

23 Yinguang fashi wenchao xubian xiace 印光法師文鈔續編下冊, p.658.


清十祖虞山普仁行策大師 Great Master Xingce of Puren Temple in Mountain Yu in the Qing dynasty is the tenth patriarch of the Pure Land school.

闡揚淨土,懇切少儔, 24 Sincerely propagating the Pure Land teaching with little rest

以深信願竭誠修,心佛兩相投, Cultivation with deep faith and vows will lead our minds towards the Buddha

萬念俱休,決定出苦邱。 If one’s ten thousands of thoughts were all ceased, one’s liberation from the suffering-hill will be achieved for sure



The long-cherished vow of Hanshan 憨山 (15461623) 26 have yet to be fulfilled, therefore rebirths as Jieliu 截流 27 [to complete his vow] He rejects people cultivating for pursuing the merits of human realm and heaven realm, and claims those people is the same as caṇḍāla 28 and icchantika 29



The nature of Buddha and I are not different originally, [The only different is] The Buddha has already been enlightened and I have not, If I want to make my mind indifferent with the Buddha I should strive for remembrance of the Buddha

24 Ibid. P.658. The form of praising of six-sentence: totally six sentences, 29 words. The order of word numbers from the first sentence to the sixth sentence are: 4, 4, 7, 5, 4, and 5.

25 Ibid.

26 As known as Deqing 德清, a Ming period Ch’an monk.

27 As known as Xingce 行策.

28 The lowest class of the Indian caste-system.

29 a category of sentient beings who are deemed incapable of attaining nirvāa

30 Yinguang fashi wenchao xubian, p. 658. The form of the verse of seven-word: seven words per sentence, four sentences per verse.


The Structure of the Admonitions

There are fifteen sections on Admonitions as follows,

(1) An exhortation for people to generate the True Faith (quanfa zhenxin 勸發真信),

(2) The explanation of the exhortation (shenquan 申勸),

(3) The once more explanation of the exhortation (you shenquan 又申勸),

(4) A teaching for the multitude to practice the three-year long period cultivation (qi

sannian zhangqi shizhong 起三年長期示眾),

(5) An initiated instruction for the multitude to (attend) the 7-day intensive retreat (qi

jingjin qiqi shizhong 起精進七期示眾),

(6) A measuring and selecting of the practical ways of Buddhist teachings (liaojian

famen 料柬法門),

(7) A brief discussion on the nine levels of rebirth (jiupin lüebian 九品略辯),

(8) An indication to the lay disciple Xia Ziyi (shi xia ziyi jushi 示夏子彝居士),

(9) A teaching to the lay disciple Ding Gengye (shi ding gengye jushi 示丁耕野居士),

(10) A letter to lay disciple Gu Zhaozhen (jian gu zhaozhen jushi 柬顧兆禎居士),

(11) The answer to lay disciple Gu Zhaozhen (da gu zhaozhen jushi 答顧兆禎居士),

(12) The designation identity and the lay practitioner Jin Shuiruo (mingzi shuo yu jin

shuiruo jushi 名字說與金水若居士),

(13) The section on perfect interpenetration of Mahāsthāmaprāpta in the Shurangama

Sūtra (shoulengyan jing shizhi yuantong zhang 首楞嚴經勢至圓通章),

(14) The meaning of a style name Lüsan (lüsan zishuo 旅三字說),

(15) A contemplation on the tuft between the eyebrows of Buddha (guanfo haoxiang fa

觀佛毫相法). 31

The contents showed that, Xingce mentioned the True Faith of Pure Land practice in

31 X62, no. 1174, p. 130a6-12.


the begining, indicated both short term seven days retreat and long period of three years

cultivation, explained some theoretical understandings, such as dharma gates, nine

levels of rebirth and recitation, as well as good relationships with his lay disciples.


Chapter 2

Xingce’s Teachings in the Admonitions

This chapter discusses the theoretical understanding and practices which Xingce

expressed in Admonitions, including the basic demeanor of cultivating the Pure Land as

practised in sections one to three. Xingce referred to the concepts of “Fourfold nianfo

in section six and the “Nine Realms of Rebirth” in section seven which indicated that

the vocal Buddha recitation is an excellent expedient means.

Moreover, Xingce

justified that by gathering the six faculties to recall the image of the Buddha and be

mindful of the Buddha are appropriate for practioners in this dharma-declining age as











sharpfaculties to practice the contemplation of the white tuft as denoted in the fifth


Xingce's Exhortations in the Admonitions

This sub-chapter discusses three sections on the exhortations by Xingce in











Exhortation” and “Explaining the Exhortation Once Again.” These three sections are

found in the first three sections of Admonitions and signify the foundation of this work;

a basic idea before cultivating the Pure Land practices.

In the section “Exhorting to Generate True Faith,” Xingce discusses on the three

approaches to develop true faith for Pure Land practitioners. In the section on

“Explaining the Exhortation,” Xingce included generating great vows besides instilling

True Faith. The great vow is to be mindful of reciting the Buddha’s name for the

opportunity to be reborn in the Pure Land quicker thereafter, return to the Sahā world to

assist others to be born into the Pure Land as well. 1 In the section “Explaining the

1 X62, no. 1174, p. 131a9-14.


Exhortation Once Again,” Xingce mentioned that the teachings in Avatasaka-Sūtra

(Flower Garland Sūtra, huayan jing 華嚴經), Ratnakūa-Sūtra (baoji jing 寶積經),

Mahāsanipata-Sūtra (daji jing 大集經), Awakening of Faith (qixin lun 起信論), and

several other Sūtras and commentaries motivate sentient beings to be born in the

Western Pure Land.

Selecting the Dharma-Gate or Fourfold Summary (Liaojian famen)

Xingce considers that the time period that he lived in is known to be the

dharma-declining age. Most sentient beings have fewer roots of goodness. Therefore, in

this section, he provides a concise and comprehensive explanation to encourage people

to choose the most expedient way that is suitable for their cultivation.

The word “Liaojian 料柬” in the Admonitions means to identify then select one’s

choice. 2 In this section, Xingce identified the most expedient way for practicing this

thought. He uses the teachings of both Huayan and Taitai schools to explain his

thoughts. This section “Measuring and Selecting Dharma gates” mainly discusses the

fourfold nianfo.

The term “nianfo” has being interpreted into many different meanings in Chinese

Buddhism. The meaning range from “Think of the Buddha” in the Agama Sūtra,

“Attaining Mindfulness by Contemplating the Expound Appearances or Merit of






Sammei Jing 般舟三昧經), so on and so forth. Eventually, Tanluan established the

name recitation of Buddha, 3 which is nowadays, in Chinese Buddhism, people are more

acquainted with reciting the Buddha’s name as in the literal meaning of the term

2 See “liaojian 料揀” in Hanyu dachidian 漢語大詞典. Honkong: Shangwu yinshuguan (xianggang) youxian gongsi 商務印書館 (香港) 有限公司, 1990.

3 T40, no. 1819, p. 834c15-17.



Some scholars are in the view that Pure Land is not reflective of an independent

school. 4 However, the putative first patriarch of Pure Land School, patriarch Master

Huiyuan promotes the Lotus Societies of nianfo in eastern Jin dynasty. It can be certain

that the recitation of Buddha’s name is not included in the practices of Huayuan’s Lotus

Society. Nianfo during that time signifies the mindfulness of contemplating the Buddha

of the Bozhou Sanmei Jing. Next, Tanluan

interprets the ten thoughts into ten

recitations in his Commentary on the Treatise on rebirth in the Pure Land (wangsheng

lunzhu 往生論註) 5 and also differentiates the difficult path (nanxing dao 難行道) and

the simple path (yixing dao 易行道). Before Tanluan, the recitation of Buddha’s name

has always been used in ritual ceremonies for devotees in their daily lives. After Master

Tanluan, Daochuo and Shandao also promoted the recitation of the Buddha’s name.

From then on, the recitation of Amitābha Buddha’s name became extensively popular.

Xingce adopts Master Zongmi’s classification on the four approaches to nianfo:

the recitation of the Buddha’s name (chengming nianfo 稱名念佛), Mindful of the

reality of the Buddha (shixian nianfo 實相念佛), Mindful of the Buddha’s dharma

gates (nianfo famen 念佛法門), and Mindful of the 32 marks and 80 signs of the

Buddha (guanxian nianfo 觀想念佛) 6 . However, in Xingce’s classification of nianfo,

he inserts Reciting on the Buddhas name (nianfo famen 念佛法門)to replace

Zongmi’s “Guanxiang niango 觀像念佛”. Xingce clarified and defines the fourfold

dharma gates in the Admonitions in the following table,

4 Daniel Stevenson, “Pure Land Buddhist Worship and Meditation in China.” p. 359.

5 T40, no. 1819, p. 834a5-7.

6 X05, no. 229, p. 280c8-9.


Table 2-1: Xingce’s definition of fourfold nianfo (X62, no. 1174, p. 133a17-23.)


Fourfold summery of nianfo





The Original awareness and the fundamental principle. 8



Mindful of the


reality of the Buddha 7

Mahāsanipata-Sūtra (Daji jing 大集經) and

Extraordinary, but not the most expedient way. Already difficult for sharp faculties, besides dull faculties. 10

so forth. 9


Mindful of the



Buddha’s dharma gates 11

All kinds of samādhis 12

Mahāyāna Sūtras 13


Mindful of the 32

Superior and inferior

The Sixteen contemplations Sūtra (Guanjing 觀經) 16


marks and 80 signs of the Buddha 14

characteristics of bodies. 15


With one mind to call


The most expedient way suitable for all faculties. 20


Reciting on the Buddha’s name 17

on the Buddha’s name 18

The Smaller Amitābha Sūtra 19

From the above table, we understand that Xingce considers Mindful of the reality

of the Buddha, Mindful of the Buddha’s dharma gates, and Mindful of the 32 marks

and 80 signs of the Buddha as not to be very distinct expedient practices (feiyi fangbian

非異方便). The name recitation is the incredible expedient way of cultivation (busiyi

fangbian 不思議異方便). This is due to the vows of Amitābha Buddha which sentient

beings joyfully entrust in. If by the visualizing Amitābha for only ten times, one is not

born in Amitābha’s land, Amitābha may not attain perfect enlightenment 21 . By holding

7 X62, no. 1174, p. 133a17-18.

8 Ibid., p. 133a18.

9 Ibid., p. 133a18.

10 Ibid., p. 133a21-22.

11 Ibid., p. 133a18-19.

12 Ibid., p. 133a19.

13 Ibid., p. 133a19.

14 Ibid., p. 133a19-20.

15 Ibid., p. 133a20.

16 Ibid., p. 133a20.

17 Ibid., p. 133a22.

18 Ibid., p. 133a22-23.

19 Ibid., p. 133a23.

20 Ibid., p. 133a23b4.

21 Based on Inagaki Hisao’s translation, The three pure land Sūtras, p. 16.


onto Buddha’s name from one to seven days with a single and undistracted mind, one

gains an even greater extent to the roots of goodness and an abundant accumulation of

merits. 22 Therefore, Xingce highly recommends and praises the name recitation


Furthermore, Xingce made comparison on the four differrent realms in the

Admonitions (situ 四土) 23 established by Tiantai Master Zhiyi. This is listed in the

following table:

22 Based on Ibid., p. 105.

23 T37, no. 1750, p. 188 b16-c8.


Table 2-2: Four Realms in the Admonitions







The realm of eternal tranquil and light

For sages who have attained

To cease the illusion of ignorance. 26


(Changji guangtu 常寂 光土) 24

perfect Buddha-enlightenment. 25

Although those realms are excellent, they are not the most expedient, because destructing illusions are needed. 27


For those who have attained


The realm of true reward and

To destruct of the illusion that numberless as dusts and sands. (塵沙惑) 32


non-obstacle (Shibao wozhangai tu 實報無 障礙土) 28

bodhisattva rank of Abodes (zhu ) of Distinct Teaching (biejiao

別教) 29 , or rank of the Stage (di ) of Perfect teaching 30 (yuanjiao 圓教). 31


The realm of expedient transformation with

For arhats, the three virtuous three virtuous stages of a bodhisattva

To destruct of the illusory views and thoughts. (見 思惑) 36


remainder (Fangbian youyu tu 方便有餘 土) 33

三賢 34 of Distinct Teaching, and the ten grades of faith of


bodhisattva of Perfect

Teaching. 35


The realm where ordinary beings and

sages dwell together (Fansheng tongju tu 凡 聖同居土) 37


No need to cease illusions. The sympathetic resonance of Buddhas’ gathering powers, and practitioners’ beliefs and vows. 39

The most


Where the sages of expediency

and trueness, and worldly sentient beings dwell together. 38

special and


expedience. 40

Xingce considers that “Changji guangtu,” “Shibao wozhangai tu,” “Fangbian

youyu tuare not expedient means. This is because residents in these three realms need

to eradicate their delusions and be liberated from Sahā by themselves. On the other

hand, residents in “Fansheng tongju tu” do not need to eradicate their delusions. They

are dependent on the attributes Buddha’s virtues, and also their faith and vows. People

who have superior wisdom can attain into the four realms in a subtle manner. However,

the sentient beings with the least faculties can cross over the three realms of sasāra

24 X62, no. 1174, p. 133b5.

25 Ibid., p. 133b5.

26 Ibid., p. 133b5-6.

27 Ibid., p. 133b9-10.

28 Ibid., p. 196b4.

29 In Tiantai, one of the four classifications of the Buddhist doctrine directly means Mahāyāna.

30 In Tiantai, the fourth classification, the inclusive, complete teaching.

31 Ibid., p. 133b6-7.

32 Ibid., p. 133b7.

33 Ibid., p. 133b7.

34 The three virtuous stages of a bodhisattva: ten abodes, ten practices and ten dedications of merit.

35 Ibid., p. 133 b7-8.

36 Ibid., p. 133b8-9.

37 Ibid., p. 133b10.

38 Ibid., p. 133b10-11.

39 Ibid., p. 133b11-14.

40 Ibid., p. 133b14-16.


without going through the nine steps of meditations for three incalculable eons by

attaining “Fansheng tongju tu.” Therefore Xingce holds the view that this is the most

expedient place to be reborn.

In conclusion, Xingce chooses “Buddha recitaion” and “Fansheng tongju tu” to be

the most expedient approach to cultivation and the most expedient place to attainment.

A Brief Illustration of the Nine Grades of Rebirth

The teaching of the “nine grades of rebirth (jiupin wangsheng 九品往生) 41 ” is

included in the Guanjing. It constitutes three grades and in each, it includes three levels

which are the higher, middle and lower levels. The content of nine grades of rebirth can

be found in sections 14 th , 15 th and 16 th visualizations of the Guanjing.

The reason for Xingce to provide explanations to the nine grades is that, it contains

an extensive details compared to “three grades (sanbei 三輩)” in the Lager Amitābha

Sūtra 42 . Although the practices of Pure Land is appropriate for everyone to engage in,

and it provides support to other sentient beings to attain the stage of non-retrogression

after they are reborn in the Pure Land. However, the time they get to meet the Buddha,

hear the Dharma and the moment they may attain enlightenment are totally different.

Xingce indicated his distinctive idea of rebirth in the Pure Land: Once Ch’an

practitioners, both of “aspiring for rebirth after attaining enlightenment” and “aspiring

for rebirth without attaining enlightenment,” will attain the higher grades or rebirth in

the Pure Land. Pure Land practitioners who commit severe evil deeds can only attain

the lower level. In addition, if some practitioners defame the Mahayana Buddhism, they

cannot be reborn in the Pure Land definitely.

41 Translated by Charles B. Jones in “Foundations of ethics and practice in Chinese Pure Land Buddhism”, Journal of Buddhist Ethics 10(2oo3), p. 7.

42 T12, no. 360, p. 272b16-c10.


參禪者,無論悟與未悟,但獲往生,皆躋上品; 修淨者,雖五逆十惡懺悔猶預下生。 43 Whether Ch’an practitioners attain enlightenment or not, they will attain higher levels as long as they are reborn in the pure land. Pure Land practitioners who commit the five severe offences and the ten evils can only attain the lower levels if they repent.

Xingce considers that it is preferred to practice the teaching of Ch’an school and

Pure Land school separately and exclusively. Although these two practices should be

cultivated separately, they do not contradict each other, because these are the teachings

taught by the Buddha.

In Xingce’s views, Ch’an practitioners who attain enlightenment first and then

aspire for rebirth in the Pure Land will consummate their practices very quick; just like

a big sail which follows the movement of the wind. Pure Land practitioners who

practice nianfo but calumniate Ch’an practitioners are deemed to be defaming

Mahayana Buddhism. Like sowing a fertile ground with bad seeds, it will never grow

well. Xingce emphasizes this idea clearly. In his thoughts, although name recitation of

the Buddha is the most expedient way, practitioners cannot defame the teachings in

Ch’an school or any other Mahayana practices. It seems during Xingce’s times,

someone calumniates Ch’an cultivation or other practices in order to show that the Pure

Land practices were the most ideal.

In conclusion, Xingce mentioned that the vocal recitation of the Buddha’s name is

the most excellent cultivation for everyone. By practicing the vocal recitation,

practitioiners do not need to have sharp-faculties, but need to have "true beliefs" as their


43 X62, no. 1174, p. 134b5-7


“Mahāsthāmaprāpta’s Perfect Penetration by Mindfulness of the Buddha

in the Shurangama Sūtra

In Xingce’s article on the Mahāsthāmaprāpta section, he implied most of Tiantai’s

ideas and structures to analyze the small Sūtra.

This section carries out discussion

based on the Mahāsthāmaprāpta’s perfect penetration by Mindfulness of the Buddha in

the Shurangama Sūtra. 44

Xingce stated the Shurangama Sūtra as the most profound flavor 45 of Buddhist

teachings and he also reckoned that this Sūtra would be the last flavor (the ultimate

truth from the Buddha) instead of the Lotus Sūtra, if Master Zhiyi had read this Sūtra

before he classified Sūtras. Xingce even thought that if Master Zhiyi had seen the

Shurangama Sūtra, he would write a treatise of it. Unfortunately, Master Zhiyi had not

read the Sūtra, and let alone, write a treatise of the Shurangama Sūtra. Although many

people from different dynasties had written various treatises on the Shurangama Sūtra,

these treatises bring forth very different views.

Since the Shurangama Sūtra expounds various teachings, some people claim that

it is unnecessary to read the Sūtra. Xingce dissentingly thought that such claim is

simply too extreme. Although some people argue that the Sūtra is spurious, it is of great

contribution in the practice of abandoning consciousnesses and returning to faculties. It

is difficult for Pure Land practitioners to understand the Sūtra, and if Pure Land

practitioners are unable to understand the significances of Avalokiteśvara -bodhisattva

and Mahāsthāma-prāpta-bodhisattva in the Shurangama Sūtra, they would not be able

to use their intendment to firm their practices and vows.

44 X62, no. 1174, pp. 136b23-138a20.

45 In Buddhism, the five flavors, or stages of making ghee is used by Tiantai to illustrate the five periods of the Buddha's teaching. The fifth flavor is the clarified butter, ghee (tihu wei 醍醐味) sarpirmaṇḍa which the Lotus and Nirvāa Sūtras were classified. This fifth flavor is likened to the Mahāyāna Perfect Teaching in the doctrinal classification.


Xingce thought that if practitioners misunderstand the true meaning of the

Shurangama Sūtra, the Sūtra is like the most delicious flavor with poison. Among

various treatises of the Shurangama Sūtra, Xingce most preferred the treatise annotated

by Master Zhenjian 真鑑 (d.u.) from West Lake. However, Master Zhenjian also

noted that the dharma gate of Mahāsthāmaprāpta is not the main idea of the

Shurangama Sūtra, therefore he only briefly mentioned the Mahāsthāmaprāpta section

in his treatise, not elaborating it. Thus, Xingce first classified the Dharma-gate of

Mahāsthāmaprāpta and then revealed the profound meaning of the Mahāsthāmaprāpta


The Classification of the Dharma gate of the Mahāsthāmaprāpta Practice

According to the Admonitions, the Dharma-gate of Mahāsthāmaprāpta gathers the

six faculties (dushe liugen 都攝六根) which belongs to the practice of faculty (the

sight element presents faculties) under the seven elements. 46 Moreover, Xingce

elaborated the Buddha’s three kinds of mindfulness which depend on the six faculties.

Firstly, the mindfulness of the self Buddha: All sages attain perfect enlightenment

through the cultivation of this Dharma-gate and this Dharma-gate which covers the

entire Buddhist teachings is similar to the Dharma-gate of direct pointing of the Ch’an

School. Taking the six faculties as an example, the field of the eyes is called sight, the

field of the ears is called listening… and the field of consciousness is known to be the

Buddha nature.

Secondly, the mindfulness of other buddhas: All that the six faculties are

concerned with are nothing but the stage of the Buddha. A cultivation that different

from the cultivations of the other 24 bodhisattvas mentioned in the Shurangama Sūtra,

46 DDB: As taught in the Śūragama-Sūtra. Earth, water, fire, wind, space (or ether), sight, and consciousness. The sixth in this set, sight, as a sensory function serves as an example for the rest of the senses, such as hearing and taste, thus it can be understood as representing the character of the six faculties.


this cultivation takes the six faculties as the subject of consideration and the enlightened

Buddha as the object of consideration. Such is the cultivations of Amitābha Buddha,

Medicine Buddha, Maitreya bodhisattva, and lotus societies. Take six faculties as an

example, practitioners should always let the eyes look forward to the appearance of the

Buddha, let the ears listen to Buddhist teachings, and let the thoughts anticipate

Buddhist dharmas.

Thirdly, mindfulness of both self and other Buddhas: this mindfulness is the same

and at the same time, not the same with the perfect enlightenment of sages. It is the

same because it is necessary to understand beforehand the meaning of perfect and

sudden wisdom, to know the profound meaning of one suchness among sentient beings

and the Buddha, and the non-duality between the mind and the earth. The difference is

that practitioners have to depend on the indirect and direct rewards of perfect

enlightenment of sages in order to reveal the nature in them. In other words, the lands of

sages are not the minds of sentient beings. The third mindfulness is the most expedient

cultivation in the Guanjing, and if one cultivates according to the Mahāsthāmaprāpta

section, there is no need for any other expedient cultivation.

According to the above, Xingce argued that the first mindfulness can only be

practiced and accepted by the sharp faculties. Therefore, all sages do not preach this

practice to sentient beings. Practicing the mindfulness of the self Buddha, on the other

hand, one is able to attain the land of Buddha-reward and the land of tranquil light.

In addition, the second and the third mindfulness are the main cultivations that

Mahāsthāmaprāpta Bodhisattva preaches to sentient beings. The attainment of the

second and third mindfulness is a kind of the benefit of interaction of empathy and

response (ganying daojiao 感應道交). The mindfulness of the self Buddha and the

mindfulness of both self and other Buddha can lead practitioners to achieve attainment

to the land where sentient beings and enlightened ones live together, and the other three


lands, namely the land of expedient transformation with remainder, the land of true

reward, and the land of tranquil light.

To Reveal the Profound Meaning of the Mahāsthāmaprāpta Section in the

Shurangama Sūtra

According to the Shurangama Sūtra, the Buddha asked 25 Bodhisattvas about

their ways of practice and if the practice lead them to attain the perfect enlightenment.

The 25 Bodhisattvas practice in 25 different ways and their 25 practices can be

categorized into four series that are the six fields (liuchen 六塵), six faculties (liugen

六根), six consciousnesses (liushi 六識), and seven elements (qida 七大). These add

up to the 25 aspects that the 25 Bodhisattvas answered to the Buddha. The Six fields,

six faculties and six consciousnesses are called the 18 realms.

Xingce argued that the

arrangement of the 25 cultivations of 25 bodhisattvas in the Shurangama Sūtra has

special implications of the Buddha. Following is a table that explains the arrangement

of 25 bodhisattvas’ cultivations in the Shurangama Sūtra.


Table 2-3: The comparison of the arrangement of 25 cultivations (five series buddhist terms) in general order and the Shurangama Sūtra


General order

Shurangama Sūtra

Eighteen realms (shiba jie 十八 界)

faculties (gen ), fields (cnen ), consciousness (shi ).




Six fields

form (se ), sound (sheng ), odor (xiang ), gustatory (wei ), tactile (chu ), conceptual field (fa ).

sound , form , odor , gustatory , tactile , conceptual field .

Six faculties

eye (yan ), ear (er ), nose (bi ), tongue (she ), body (shen ), mind (yi ).

eye ,

nose ,

tongue ,

body ,


after 24 bodhisattvas’ sections in the Shurangama Sūtra ear


Eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind

the same with general order


Seven elements

earth (di ), water (shui ), fire (huo ), wind (feng ), space (or ether) (kong ), sight (jian ), consciousness (shi ).

fire , water , earth , wind , space (or ether) , consciousness , sight .

(qida 七大)

From the table above, in the Shurangama Sūtra, the sound field is in the first

position, while the ear faculty is in the last. According to Xingce’s idea, the sound field

is like a vanguard who takes the lead, and the ear faculty is like the chief who brings up

the rear. Therefore Xingce considered that based on the arrangement of the faculties and

fields in the Shurangama Sūtra, the cultivation of the ear faculty is the emphasis.

In the Shurangama Sūtra, the fire element which always represents the sexual


desire, is arranged in the top position. However the sexual desire is the hardest hinder

for Pure Land practitioners to be reborn in the Pure Land.

Furthermore, the sight

element that represents faculties (gen ) is arranged after the consciousness element

in the Shurangama Sūtra.

The cultivation of faculty includes the recollection and mindfulness of the Buddha.

From above arrangements, the fire element is arranged in the beginning like a vanguard,

and the sight element is arranged in the last just as a main chief. Xingce argued that the

mindfulness of the Buddha is the concealed teaching that the Buddha had wanted to

transmit to people. However, due to the desire fire that is placed in the front among the

seven elements in the Shurangama Sūtra, it is the biggest obstacle that hinders Pure

Land Practitioners to be reborn in the Pure Land. On the other hand, the sight element,

which the cultivation of the mindfulness of the Buddha belongs to, is placed in the last

of the seven elements in the Shurangama Sūtra, and represents the main practice.

In conclusion, Xingce indicated that the cultivation of the Avalokiteśvara which is

clearly preached by the Buddha in an individual section can only benefit people who

have sharp faculties in the present, future, and the Buddha’s time. Moreover, the

cultivation of the Mahāsthāmaprāpta which the Buddha had concealed and not

preached, can benefit everyone and all different faculties of the evil world, the

degeneration and extinction of the Buddha-law and the time without the Buddha.

According to the Shurangama Sūtra, the Buddha asked Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva

towards the end which practice of the 25 Bodhisattvas’ practices he will choose.

Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva answered that he will choose the practice of the ear faculty which

is the Avalokiteśvara’s practice, because he considered it is suitable for the sentient

beings in this Sahā world. Owing that, a question that Xingce further brought out is that,

according to the Shurangama Sūtra, why had Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva not specifically

choose the practice of Mahāsthāmaprāpta? The answer is because gathering six


faculties in order to let the pure thoughts continue belongs to the arising and ceasing

aggregate of volition (xingyün 行蘊). Therefore, depending on the pure cause, the

Buddha can be seen by practitioners after they are reborn in the Pure Land, but the

enlightenment of non-arising and non-ceasing cannot be attained directly with that

arising and ceasing of pure cause.

Moreover, Xingce thought only the people who are not strong in faith will have the

doubt mentioned above. Xingce said, if the Shurangama Sūtra did devalue the

Mahāsthāmaprāpta’ practice, other Sūtras still broadly praise it. Therefore, Xingce

regretfully said that while the sentient beings in the degeneration and extinction of the

Buddha-law period 47 read the Shurangama Sūtra, they do not cultivate and attain the

perfect enlightenment from the cultivation of ear faculties, but they do raise doubts to

the mindfulness of the Buddha. These people, who have bad habits which break others’

pure belief and good practices, are bounded to have fewer merits and less wisdom.












Mahāsthāmaprāpta section into the fundamental readings of Pure Land Buddhism. In

his life, he arduously promotes this small Sūtra by preaching, writing calligraphy and

praising it. He even claimed that this Sūtra is the most profound teaching of the

mindfulness of the Buddha (nianfo). By gathering the six senses through pure

mindfulness continuously, now and future, people can affirmatively see the Buddha in

front of them.

In 1934, Master Yinguang was determined that the five Pure Land Sūtras 48 are the

essential Sūtras of Pure Land Buddhism and he also had also included one treatise as

the mandatory. From then on, the establishment of the five Pure Land Sūtras and one

47 The true Dharma, the resemblance Dharma, and the declined Dharma.

48 Five Pure Land Sūtras.


treatise 49 are agreeable to Pure Land practitioners all over the world. 50

Perhaps, the reason Master Yinguang honored Xingce as the tenth patriarch of

Chinese Pure Land School is due to his treatise about the Mahāsthāmaprāpta section

and also his great effort in promoting the teaching.

Contemplation on the White Tuft Between the eyebrows of the Buddha

According to Admonitions, “Contemplation on the white tuft between the

eyebrows of the Buddha” is found in the fifteenth (the last) section, of Admonitions.

The white tuft is the one of the thrity-two characteristics 51 of the Buddha and is

included in the ninth contemplation, the contemplation of the true body, under the

sixteen contemplations of the Guanjing.

The benefit of contemplating the Buddha’s white tuft is easier for practitioners to

concentrate and cultivate. According to the Buddha-dhyāna-samādhisāgara-Sūtra

(guanfo sanmeihai jing 觀佛三昧海經 52 ), people can eradicate 100 koīs- nayutas 53

(baiwanyi nayouta 百萬億那由他) crimes of birth and death by listening only to this

white tuft contemplation delightfully. 54

In addition, according to Admonitions, Xingce cites from Ggungjing 55 :

“…If you sincerely desire to be born in the Western Land, you should first visualize an image , sixteen feet tall, on the surface of a pond 56 …. When









Treatise on the Rebirth in the Pure Land (Sukhāvatīvyūhôpadeśa)

Weilei 魏磊, Jingtu zong jiaocheng 淨土宗教程, p.108.

The thirty-two distinctive bodily characteristics of a Buddha. (Skt. dvātriṃśan mahā-purua-lakaṇāni, dvātriṃśadvaralakṣaa). The thirty-two distinguishing marks on the body of a Buddha; also called 'marks of a great personage.

10 fasc.; trans. attributed to Buddhabhadra. The “Sūtra on the Ocean-Like Samādhi of the Visualisation of the Buddha.” The text is one of a group of contemplation Sūtras, appearing around the same time in China, which share certain conditions: apparent debts to earlier texts in the Chinese tradition; the absence of parallel texts in other Buddhist languages, etc.

Both wanyi 萬億 (koṭī), and nayouta 那由他 (nayuta) mean an inconceivably large number.

T15, no. 643, p. 682c26-27.

T12, no. 365, p. 343c5-10.

Translated by Inagaki Hisao in collaboration with Harold Stewart. the three Pure Land Sūtras P.91. 2003. Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research. USA


contemplating him, begin with one of his physical characteristics. Visualize first the white tuft of hair 57 ….”

Based on the above citation, the “sixteen feet tall” and “him” refers to the Buddha.

The citation means that if practitioners desire to contemplate on the Buddha’s true body,

the first entry is to contemplate on the white tuft of Buddha. Only after successfully

contemplate the white tuft, the other characteristics of the Buddha will appear naturally


The Description of the White Tuft

Xingce further describes the white tuft is one zhang and five chi 58 (feet)

long, slightly shorter than Buddha’s height (one zhang and six feets), and the

circumference of the white tuft is five cun 59 and has eight edges. Since it is empty

in the middle of the white tuft like a glass tube, it represents the middle path. 60

The white tuft of hair curls to the right, 61 and it sparkles very brightly just like

white snow. The white tuft reflects the golden body of the Buddha as well. By

practicing on such contemplation of white tuft, minds will abide firmly, and become

clearer and even steadier. 62

The White Tuft and Threefold Contemplation in One Mind of Tiantai

“Brightness (ming

)” means non-dark, and “Stillness (jing

)” means

non-scattered. Brightness and Stillness are the effects of calming (zhi ) and

contemplation (guan ). The essence of both meditation and wisdom is the same with

the substance of minds. Xingce further explains the different roles in the three pairs of

grouping in Buddhist terms: Calming and Contemplation refer to abilities; Meditation

57 the three Pure Land Sūtras P.87

58 One zang = 355 cm, one chi = 35.5 cm.

59 One cun

60 X62, no. 1174, p. 139a1-6.

61 Based on Inagaki Hisao’s translation , The three Pure Land Sūtras, p.86.

62 X62, no. 1174, p. 139a6-8.

= 3.55 cm. a unit of length (=1/3 decimetre)


(ding ) and Wisdom (hui ) refer to the causes; Brightness (ming ) and Stillness

(jing ) refer to the effects. When the effects of brightness and stillness achieve to the

ultimate state, they will suddenly harmonize with the essence, and attain the adornment

of merit and intelligence 63

Brightness in the white tuft contemplation is to let the tuft stay clear. Stillness in

the white tuft contemplation is to let the form of white tuft abide firmly. The method of

white tuft contemplation contemplates upon Buddhas’ characteristics to permeate the

minds of sentient beings. Therefore, when the contemplation is completed, the wisdom

of Buddhas will reveal naturally. 64

If practitioners would like to practice the contemplation of white tuft, they have to

understand that all phenomena are nothing but mind only. Therefore, minds are

originally endowed with the white tuft of Amitābha, and the shape of tuft is created by

the minds. Practitioners have to realize that the mind creates the tuft form, mind

becomes the tuft form, and the mind is the tuft form. Therefore, the tuft form is not

conditioned from others and external factors. It is endowed within everyone’s mind.

Xingce further justified that by only practicing with the above teaching one follows the

Buddha's teachings. 65

The white tuft which appears in front due to the cause of thinking; therefore, it

does not have true substance. Just like the moon reflecting on the water with no true

substance. The above explanation is known as the identical to emptiness and reality. 66

Since the tuft form can be seen by thought, it is called the identical to nominal and

conventional. Because of the identical to nominal and conventional, it cannot be the

true emptiness. Since the identical to emptiness and real, it is not the nominal and

63 Ibid., p. 139a8-1.

64 X62, no. 1174, p. 139a11-13.

65 Ibid., p. 139a13-17.

66 Ibid., p. 139a17-19.


conventional as well. If practitioners include above understandings in one thought, they

would know that departing from identical is the same with non-departing from identical,

and the identical is non-identical in actually. The inconceivable contemplation on the

interfusion of the three truths is the contemplation of the Middle Way. 67

Xingce argues that above sentences are explains fully the subtle principle between

the infusion of phenomena and contemplation. To understand that: “Phenomena are

marvelous provisional and contemplation is true emptiness. The middle path will reveal

when both phenomena and contemplation cease. Finally, there is neither distinction

between phenomena and wisdom, nor traces in the infused of one’s mind.” It is ideally

better than to read hundreds of volumes of books of Tiantai School. 68

To sum up, the subject and the observed wisdom are simultaneous included in the

three insights in one thought 69 , and the object; tuft form, is simultaneous containthe

three truths in one object. 70 Xingce adopts Tiantai’s thoughts on the contemplation of

white tuft. He applies the method of one mind and three contemplations (yixin sanguan

一心三觀) to explain the meaning of the contemplation of white tuft

The White Tuft Contemplation for Sharp-Faculty Pure Land Practitioners

Xingce does not encourage everyone to practice the white tuft contemplations. If

Pure Land practitioners can uphold in chanting of Buddha’s name single-mindedly,

they can be born in the Pure Land, for sure. Therefore, Xingce only encourages

practitioners who have sharp faculties to practice simultaneously the white tuft

67 X62, no. 1174, p. 139a23-b1.

68 Ibid., p. 139b14-15.

69 The three viewpoints in a single thought. A type of Tiantai 天台 meditation in which one views a phenomenon from three viewpoints within the same instant: (1) empty; being produced by various causes, it is in its essence devoid of any permanent existence and is therefore empty. (2) provisional; nevertheless, it does have a real, if only provisional, immediate existence. (3) the mean; since the phenomenon is a blending of both empty and provisional, it should be seen as occupying midway position between both poles. For the Tiantai follower, these three views are performed simultaneously within the same instant of thought, and hence are termed 'the integrated three views.

70 The three are emptiness, the provisional, and the mean, which exist in every object.


contemplation to attain the higher grades of rebirth. 71

71 X62, no. 1174, p. 139b19-20.

Chapter 3

Xingces Pure Land Retreat

This chapter introduces two types of Pure Land retreats recorded in Admonitions

by Xingce. One type is mentioned in the fourth section of the text “A teaching for the

multitude to practice the three-year period cultivation 1 ”, and the other is dealt in the

fifth section “An initiated instruction for the multitude to participate in the 7-day

intensive retreat. 2 Xingce also wrote the Regulations for the 7-day period Buddha

recitation retreat (起一心精進念佛七期規式 Qi Yixin Jingjin Nianfo Qiqi Guishi).

Three-Year Retreat

凡欲與期念佛, 令功行不虛者, 當發三種心, 以為方便。雖約三年,光陰無幾。 3 Those who participate in the Buddha-recitation retreat To not let their cultivations go to waste Should make up three kinds of mental aspiration as expedient means. Although the retreat is set as three years, it is very little time in fact.

The three kinds of mental aspiration are: firstly, make up the mind of cherishing

time (tongxi guangyin xin 痛惜光陰心 ); secondly, make up the mind towards

liberation (zhuanqiu chuli xin 專求出離心); and thirdly, make up a submissive and

disciplined mind (he shun shou yue xin 和順守約心) 4

Participants of the three-year retreat are

determined to have some



attainment during the three year period, renouncing the secular life and complying with

the stipulated rules of the three-year retreat.

1 qi sannian zhangqi shizhong 起三年長期示眾, X62, no. 1174, p. 132b4.

2 qi jingjin qiqi shizhong 起精進七期示眾, X62, no. 1174, p. 132c14.

3 X62, no. 1174, 132 b5-6.

4 X62, no. 1174, 132b5c13.











participants should perceive three years to be but one moment and cherish their

opportunity to



practitioners only need


make up


single-minded vow which is the vow to be born in the Pure Land at the end of their life,

during the three-year retreat. This is because the single-minded vow is also endowed

with other immeasurable great vows. Finally, participants should adhere to the rules of

the three-year retreat strictly, no matter what happens. Even their families or relatives

cannot stir them from their determination.

7-day Retreat

Xingce not only set up the three year retreat, but he also established the 7-day

retreat. In addition, Xingce composed the Regulations of the 7-day period recitation

retreat 5 and began the 7-day Buddha-recitation retreat in the early Qing dynasty. With

regards to Xingce’s 7-day retreat ritual, this will be discussed further in sections 4.3 and

4.4 below.

According to the fifth section of the Admonitions “An initiated instruction for the

community to participate in the 7-day intensive retreat,” Xingce indicates that “a

single-pointed mind without being scattered (yixin buluan 一心不亂)” is the most

valuable achievement of the 7-day Buddha-recitation retreat. Single-pointed mind

without being scattered” does not mean reciting more times or more quickly.

On the

other word, practitioners should keep the medium speed recitation, and let every sound

of Amitābha’s name remain clearly in the mind without any interval and with no mixed

thoughts. In addition, recite continuously the Buddha’s name even during eating,

walking, lying down, wearing, cooking, at work, while studying or any other activity

5 X62, no. 1175.


you engage in. If practitioners are habituated to reciting the Amitābha’s name

continuously, it will become a routine similar to our natural breathing. This is called the

diligence of single-mindedly reciting the Buddha’s name from the aspect of phenomena

(shi ). 6

In accordance with the Admonitions, the stream of truth is to understand that all

phenomena are the same; non-dual beyond forms. There is no distinction between

sentient beings and Buddhas, ourselves and others, direct or indirect rewards and

punishment, pure and impure, suffering and happiness, like and dislike, attach and

abandon, enlightenment and defilement, sasāra 7 and nirvāa 8 .

The ultimate truth

of all dualities is the same. Therefore, even in the act of dressing and eating, one is in a

state of Samādhi samādhi, laughing and playing are actions of the Buddha. The

distinction between a focussed and an unsettled mind finally becomes mere conceptual

elaborations. One has to understand that there is not the slightest difference between

anything. Tough chanting is the same as scolding, and diligent cultivation is just like











practitioners who practice diligently and single-mindedly on name-recitation, recite

from the aspect of this principle. 9

To achieve single minded diligence from the aspect of phenomena seems more

difficult, but in fact, it is easier, whereas to attain one-minded diligence from the aspect

of principle appears to be easier, but in fact, it is more difficult. Practitioners who attain

the former one-minded state can definitely be born in the Pure Land. Moreover,

practitioners who attain both the former and latter one-minded states can not only be

born in the Pure Land but also accomplish the highest realm of rebirth. However, the

6 X62, no. 1174, p. 132c15-19.

7 Repeated pass through life and death.

8 Basic means extinction.

9 X62, no. 1174, pp. 132c19-133a4.


two kinds of one-minded states are the stages that can be attained by sentient beings;

therefore, practitioners who have the aspiration and want to attain the stages can

acquire these skills and put it into practice. Be sure to know that everyone has the

ability to become a Buddha. Practitioners can achieve this within one lifetime, or in as

little time as just seven days. In addition, even if they did not attain enlightenment, by

their strong causes which are constantly having faith, belief and in diligent cultivation,

they can be born in the Pure Land, with a rebirth no less than the lower of the middle

grade. 10

However, Xingce exhorts

practitioners to remember that even if they are

uninterested in cultivating after a 7-day retreat and could not achieve the state of

“Single-pointed concentration without scattering” in the 7-day retreat, they perhaps do

not have enough firm foundational roots and favorable merits for rebirth in the Pure

Land by cultivating merits within the 7-day retreat. 11

To sum up, Xingce encourages practitioners to have confidence in becoming

enlightened, because of the non-duality perspective between sentient beings and

Buddhas, however, it is impossible to become bodhisattvas without diligent cultivation.

Summary of the 7-day Retreat Ritual

According to Xingce, there are two parts in his ritual procedure. One is the “case

for example” (shili 事例), the other is about the “guidelines for punishments(faze


The Case for Example

The first step of this ritual is to choose a clean and spacious hall suitable for

10 X62, no. 1174, p. 133a4-10.

Since it is too concise in the original Chinese text, here is not clear if it

meant, middle and lower grades or middle and lower of higher grade.

11 X62, no. 1174, p. 133a10-14.


cultivation for seven days.

cultivation for seven days. Chart 3-1 Three groups See above Chart 4-2. The first group (P1-R1)

Chart 3-1 Three groups

See above Chart 4-2. The first group (P1-R1) is the one in the middle and facing

the Buddha (A), the member near the western side (P1) is the head of this group and

also the head of this 7-day retreat. The group at the right side of the Buddha statue or

facing to the eastern side is the second group (P2-R2). In the second group, the member

near the Buddha statue is the head of this group (P2). The group at the left side of the

Buddha statue or facing to the western side is the third group (P3-R3), and the member

who is near the opposite side of the Buddha statue is the head of this group (P3). 12

Monastics and lay disciple should bathe, and then gather together before the 7-day

retreat for practicing how to invite the master monastic (qizhu 七主) who presides over

the 7-day retreat, how to divide into groups, and to make sure of their positions. Each

group should practice circumambulation and recitation for one hundred recitations of

the Buddha’s name. After one hundred recitations of chanting, they return to their

original place and the next group takes its turn. 13

Due to silence is observed during the retreat. Therefore, a prior preview is needed.

12 Ibid., p. 139c19-24.

13 X62, no. 1175, pp. 139c23- 140.


After this preview, the participants should sincerely prostrate to the Buddha, and

request the Buddha to bless them to attain enlightenment, and be free from personal

and external obstacles. Participants should go to sleep earlier on the night when those

previews are all done and should not be too tired for when the retreat actually begins

the next day. 14

The procedures for the first day of cultivation are as follows:

1. Three prostrations to the Buddha, 2. Incense Praise Anthem (xiangzan 香讚), 3.

The Smaller Amitābha Sūtra (foshuo amituo jing 佛說阿彌陀經), 4. Mantra for

Rebirth in the Pure Land (wangsheng zhou 往生咒) 15 three times, 5. The Verse of

Praising the Buddha (zanfo ji 讚佛偈) and 6. The Buddha’s Name Recitation (nian fo


The presiding monastic for the 7-day retreat sounds the small gong to signal the

three prostrations to the Buddha. Participants stand in their positions to sing the Incense

Praise Anthem and chant the Smaller Amitābha Sūtra. The sound of the chanting should

be serene and in a rather slow pace. 16

For the name recitation procedure, the the first group (in the middle) should sound

the small gong two times, bow and circumambulate. The left and right groups are seated

and they follow the ongoing circumambulating group in silently reciting the Buddha’s

name. If some people are dozing, they should move their lips slightly to chant the

Buddha’s name to avoid sleepines without interrupting others. If the participants are in

control of their own minds, they should close their eyes and listen to the recitation

peacefully. 17

Practitioners should concentrate on the Buddha’s name. The succesive Buddha’s

14 X62, no. 1175, p. 140a1-7.

15 Charles B. Jones’ translation, Approaching the land of bliss, p. 269.

16 X62, no. 1175, p. 140a7-16.

17 X62, no. 1175, p. 140a7-16.


name recitations are just like stringed pearls in the mind, neither mixed nor interrupted.

After the first group completes their circumambulation, they stand at the back of the

hall and strike the small gong once when the character “tuo ” is being recited.

Thereafter, the next group stands up from their seat, goes out unhurriedly and assembles

close to the table where the Buddha statue is placed. Then, the participant in the first

group sounds the small gong once. After four to five times of name recitation, the first

group sounds the small gong when the last two characters “tuo fo 陀佛” are being

recited. This is also the signal to bow to the Buddha. 18

Thereafter, the participants of the first group move towards the right side of the

Buddha statue to occupy the seats which were occupied earlier by the participants of the

second group. The second group makes a bow and follows to recite the Buddha’s name

in the center of the hall, circumambulating like the preceding group. At the end of the

second round of recitation, the second group assembles in front and strikes the small














circumambulating, in the same procedure as the preceding group. 19

The procedure is the same as before, the second group moves towards the

unoccupied seats on the left side of the Buddha statue and they follow the recitation of

Buddha’s name silently. These three groups diligently recite the Buddha’s name

without stopping; they go round and round, beginning again and again, from morning

until evening.

When night falls, the long candles are still burned on the table. After every group

does circumambulations for two times (about 6,000 times of reciting the Buddha’s

name in total), the master monastic of the 7-day retreat will go out and sound the small

gong once, then all participants stand up, recite aloud and circumambulate together, no

18 Ibid.

19 X62, no. 1174, p. 140a16-19.


matter the order of three groups. Around ten times of circumambulations, the master

monastic of the 7-day retreat stands at the back in the center and faces the Buddha

image. 20 Next, after the master sounds the small gong three times, the sound of the

wooden fish follows as the signal to end the recitation.

Then, all participants face the

Buddha and follow the sounds of the small gong to chant the verse of generating vows,

願命終時神不亂,正念直往生安養; 面奉彌陀值眾聖,修行十地勝常樂。 21

May the mind be clear at the end of life. Having right thought and being reborn directly in the Pure Land. Facing Amitābha Buddha and meeting all the saints. Cultivating the tenth grounds to attain the supreme (sheng ) eternal (chang ) bliss (le ).

After chanting the above verse, the master monastic slowly sounds the small gong

three times on each of the last three words in order to guide the participants in

prostrating to the Buddha three times. 22

After that, practitioners should go to bed and sleep. Participants should guard and

protect their three modes of karma 23 especially during this time, falling asleep with

right thought, and must not do other things, speak other words or arise other thoughts.

After the first day, participants only chant the verse of praising Buddha after

prostrating to the Buddha, recitation of the Sūtra and mantra are not included during

the remaining six days. 24

At the last fulfilled day of the retreat, when the six thousand times of chanting are

20 X62, no. 1174, p. 140b22-c1.

21 Ibid., p. 140c4-5.

22 Ibid., p. 140c1-5.

23 Deed, speech, mind.

24 X62, no. 1174, p. 140c11-13.


finished, the master monastic of the 7-day retreat sounds the small gong as usual. The

three groups stand up at the same time and circumambulate together. The master

monastic of the 7-day retreat stands at the eastern side and sounds the big gong one time.

All participants face the Buddha, and at the third sound follow the bell and drum. Next,

the master sounds the big wooden fish, and everyone kneels and recites both Guanyin

觀音 25 and Pure Great-Ocean Assembly (qingjing dahai zhong 清淨大海眾) ten times

as the evening chanting. The evening chanting includes the “Smaller Pure Land Litany

(xiao jingtu wen 小淨土文) 26 , transformation of merits, twelve prostrations to the

Buddha, three prostrations to the bodhisattvas, and the three refuges as well. 27

Next, the main master of this 7-day retreat stands in the middle at the back, unfolds

his sitting mat, prostrates to the Buddha and kneels. Everyone chants “nanmo dasheng

changzhu sanbao 南無大乘常住三寶”, literally means respect to the eternal and

unchanging Three Treasures (Buddha, Dharma and Sagha) of Mahāyāna Buddhism.

Then, the protector master of this retreat reads out the dedication of merit statements

(wenshu 文疏), chants the rebirth dhāraī and recites the verse of making vows. The

community follows the protector master in making three prostrations to the Buddha and

then goes to thank the main master of the 7-day retreat. After that, the main master and

all participants go around together to thank people that serving them during the retreat.

Finally, they go back to the cultivation hall to fulfill the retreat. 28

Case of Punitive Terms (fali 罰例)

According to Xingce’ ritual, there are three levels of punishment. The highest level,

forfeiture of one hundred value (wen ); The middle level, forfeiture of fifty value

(wen ); The lower level, forfeiture of ten value (wen ). Regardless of the amount

25 Avalokitêśvara.

26 T47, no. 1968, p. 147a24-b6.

27 X62, no. 1175, p. 141a5-10.

28 X62, no. 1175, p. 141a10-16.

Written by Zunshi 遵式 (9641032), a Song Dynasty Tiantai monk.


of money, the punishments are the same as the criteria mentioned earlier. 29 The end of

the retreat is the day for taking account. This money is used to buy incense for offering

to the Buddha or releasing




放生 ). If the


concerned have no money, they can chant the rebirth dhāraī as a substitution. Ten

times of dhāraī expiates one dollar of value. There are a total of twenty three punitive

terms in Xingce’s ritual. 30

Analysis of the 7-day Retreat Ritual

This ritual made by Xingce is rather creative and interesting



practitioners feel boring and keeping them aware. He creates a new approach to

Buddha recitation.

The Characteristics of Xingce’s Ritual of 7-day Retreat

There are five characteristics of Xingce’s 7-day retreat ritual as follows:

1. Simple Procedure Yet Active to Avoid Boring

The procedures of this ritual are almost the same every day, except for the first day

and the last day. However, it does not allow practitioners to feel bored or dull, because

they have to change their places every short while. Similar to the musical chairs” game,

there will be a group without seats, since that group needs to chant the Buddha’s name

out loud and also circumambulate in the center of the shrine hall. The music for

musical chairs” game stops a few times, however, the recitation of this ritual does not

stop. It stops only when there are changes to the participants of the group which are

represented to chant. Three groups take turns in circumambulating and chanting in the

middle of the floor, and whenever a group finishes circumambulation, the next group

comes forward to the middle to replace the preceding group and continue chanting and

29 Ibid., p. 141al-19.

30 X62, no. 1175, p. 141a18-22.


circumambulation. Then, the participants of the preceding group replace the seats that

were emptied by the previous group participants.

The unique feature in Xingce’s ritual is that the participants are divided into three

groups and take turns to circumambulate. In Xingce’s ritual, the criteria for changing

group are based on the number of Buddha’s name being recitated. The group which

chants and circumambulate in the middle changes to the next group after every 1,000

sounds of Buddha’s name. Therefore, in Xingce’s ritual, the sound of chanting is

continuous, with the exception of stopping for meal times and to take a rest.

However, the procedure of the Buddha-recitation seems to begin with the



Zhongfeng Mingben’s

中 峰 明 本

(1263-1323) The Buddhist

Service Of Thinking Of The Buddha In Three Periods(Sanshi xinian foshi 三時繫念

佛事). Both Xingce’s 7-day retreat ritual and the evening section in the Buddhist

Breviary are abbreviated versions of the Thinking of the Buddha in Three Periods

(Sanshi xinian foshi). 31

2. Half-Walking and Half-Sitting, and Constantly Walking

The approach of Xingce’s ritual is like Tiantai’s “samādhi of half-walking and

half-sitting” (banxing banzuo sanmei 半行半坐三昧), but the purpose and spirit is

similar to Tiantai’s “Samādhi of walking constantly” (changxing sanmei 常行三昧).

Since Xingce uses the Tiantai school idea to illustrate the Buddhist Dharma very often,

it is possible that Xingce adopted Taintai school’s method of cultivation to compose his

7-day Buddha-recitation ritual. In fact, the cultivation ways of Pure Land Buddhism,

such as Xingce’s 7-day retreat ritual, were influenced by the Taintai School in many

other ways, too.

31 R128, p. 111a1. There seems a mistake in CBETA, Since I type “sanshi xinian foshi 三時繫念佛事”, it appears that this work is stated by Yenshou 延壽 (904-975), how can a early person to state Mingben’s (1263-1323), a later person, work?



Integration Between Dynamic and Passive Cultivation

Xingce’s ritual procedure presents an appearance which is both dynamic and

passive at the same time. Therefore, practitioners should be mindful at all times. During

the change between activity and passivity, groups for circumambulating and chanting

in the middle or sitting on either side, need to know when to prepare to come forward,

where to place themselves in the standing position and where to sit. In addition, the one

to be the group leader must count the numbers of times of their chanting. Every group

chants out the Buddha’s name 1,000 times per session, and thereafter they take turns.

Therefore, being aware of what is happening is critically needed in this ritual.


Unique Punitive Rules

It is rather special that this ritual procedure has punitive terms. Generally, based on


Chan school’s regulations or other rituals, there are

rare literature had


indevidual section to record such punitive terms. Most of them provide the rules of











punishments were scattered in different part of a work. In this case, Xingce may be

influenced by Zhuhong. In Zhuhong’s Dharma Records of Yunqi (Yunqi fahui 雲棲法

) 32 , it contains not only punitive terms but also terms for reward (shanfa li 善罰例):

If one takes care of patients, one is awarded one merit point per day for a slight illness,

three merit points per day for a serious disease, five merit pionts per day for a very

serious disease per day, and so forth. 33 In Zhuhong’s rule, there are three levels of

punishments which are similar to Xingce’s.

The first level of Zhuhong’s rule contains

a forfeit of five hundred cents, or having to kneel in repentance for the time to burn

100 units 34 of incense, or are

forfeited 100 merit

32 J33, no. B277, pp. 164c27-165b4.

33 J33, no. B277, p. 164, c29-30)

34 One unit is about three centimeters.



(people should leave

Zhuhong’s society when they have no merit points left).

However, for serious offenders, they have to pay money, or even a heavier

punishment, they need to pay money and also to kneel for the time period of burning ten

units of incense. The second level relates to forfeiture which is worth fifty cents,

kneeling for the time of ten units of incense or loss of ten merit points.

The third level

relates to forfeiture worth five cents, or kneeling for the time of burning ten units of

incense, or reduction of one merit point. Some penalty rules only accept money in

circumstances when the people chant or repent without sincerity. 35 In Zhuhong’s

temple, the penalties received from punishment became a supplementary income to his

monastery. 36

Xingce applies these punitive terms seriously. The goal of punitive terms is to

prevent practitioners from engaging in further undisciplinedand sloppy behavior, to

support practitioners in their accomplishments, and also to treasure their precious time

in cultivation. The purpose is that all participants put forth conscientious effort and full

attention to the event, live righteously to recite the Buddha’s name during this 7-day

retreat, and let Amitābha’s name remain unceasingly in the mind without break just

like one’s very own breath. 37

5. Fusion of Ch’an and Pure Land Styles

This ritual procedure combines the styles and procedures of the Ch’an and Pure

Land schools. The layout arrangement for the cultivation hall is similar to the Ch’an

hall, especially the circumambulation before the end of Xingces ritual is similar to the

walking meditation in Chan hall.

In Xingce’ ritual, participants practice silent recitation more frequently than recite

35 J33, no. B277, p. 165a15-21 and J33, no. B277, p. 171b13-21

36 Xu Yizhi 徐一智. “Wanming Senglv Dui Siyuan Jingji Zhi Jingying – Yi Yunqi Zhu hong Weili 晚 明僧侶對寺院經濟之經營-以雲棲袾宏為例.” Faguang Zazhi 法光雜誌 155.

37 X62, no. 1175, p. 142a16-20.


out the Buddha’s name aloud. Xingces ritual keeps the recitation of the Buddha’s name

continuousby taking turns. In general Buddha recitation retreats, there is usually a short

silence time between two long chanting sessions.

In fact, although Xingce’s style is

different from general rituals, all of them have the same goal, which is concentrating on

the Buddha’s name and attaining the mindfulness of the Buddha in order to get rebirth

in the Pure Land at the end of life.

In modern Taiwan, the goal and effect of silence recitation are the similar to that of

Xingce’s ritual. Mindfulness of the Buddha’s name in order to be born into the Pure

Land is the purpose of silent recitation. Usually, there are two groups seated on either

sides, following the circumambulation, observing silent recitation as in Xingce’s ritual.

However, nowadays in Taiwan, there is a separate silence part in the procedure during

cultivation. Although participants of the Buddha recitation retreat are doing meditative

postures and observe silences during the retreat, it is not like when one practices Ch’an

meditation, it is the change from vocal recitation into recitatition in the mind.


The diagrammatical presentation of the retreat

As mectioned before, the location of the Amitābha staute could not be sure by

reading the original Chinese text. However, since Xingce belongs to the Linji lineage,

and by comparing Xingces and other Mastersdescripitions of the Amitābha staute in

Chinese Pure Land Retret Rituals. It is very possible that the Amitābha staute is

located in the center of cultivation hall in Xingces ritual.

In accordance with Shandaos work, people who want to enter a Pure Land

retreat, should choose a suitable cultivation hall first, and then enshrine the Amitābha

staute in the western wall of the hall. (xibi anzhi 西壁安置) 38 In addition, according

to Zunshi’s Pure Land ritual, he mentioned that the Amitābha staute should be located

at west and face to east (xizuo dongxiang 西坐東向). 39 Shandao and Zunshis

description about the location of Amitābha staute was adopted by many Pure Land

Masters, and usually was mentioned in the beginning of Pure Land rituals.

However, Xingce did not mentioned the direction of the Amitābha staute in his

ritual, therefore, he should not take the location as predecessors, and it is possible that

he located the Amitābha staute in the center as similar as Chan hall with Linji style.

Nevertheless, the exact location of the Amitābha staute and other tables in Xingces

ritual should be still depending on spaces of cultivation hall.

The diagram below provides an illustration

of Xingce’s



procedure. (Group head (banshou 班首): a group leader of a group. “1”: group 1; “2”:

group 2; “3”: group 3)

38 T47, no. 1959, p. 24a26-28.

39 T47, no. 1984, p. 491a24.


Chart 3-2 above: In the center of the floor are the participants for the group

Chart 3-2 above: In the center of the floor are the participants for the group 1; on Buddha’s right hand side, the participants for the group 2 with participant of group 3 on the opposite side.

group 2 with participant of group 3 on the opposite side. Chart 3-3 above: In the

Chart 3-3 above: In the beginning, group 1 starts to chant the Buddha’s name and circumambulate in the middle. group 2 and 3 participants sit on either side and recite the Buddha’s name silently in their minds.


Chart 3-4 above: When group 1 completes chanting the Buddha’s name 1,000 times, it goes

Chart 3-4 above: When group 1 completes chanting the Buddha’s name 1,000 times, it goes to the rear of the lower table and assembles there. At the same time, group 2 goes out and assembles in front.


Chart 3-5 above: Next, group 2 takes its turn to chant the Buddha’s name out

Chart 3-5 above: Next, group 2 takes its turn to chant the Buddha’s name out loud and circumambulate in the middle. group 1 goes to the unoccupied seats that group 2 sat in a moment ago. group 1 and 3 sit on either side and chant the Buddha’s name silently.

sit on either side and chant the Buddha’s name silently. Chart 3-6 above: After reciting the

Chart 3-6 above: After reciting the Buddha’s name 1,000 times, group 2 goes forward to the front as at the same the beginning, and then group 3 goes to the rear of the lower


table and arrange themselves seated in a row.

table and arrange themselves seated in a row. Chart 3-7 above: group 3 goes to the

Chart 3-7 above: group 3 goes to the center, and starts to chant out loud Buddha’s name and circumambulate, group 2 goes back to the seats which were seated by group 3 previously.

back to the seats which were seated by group 3 previously. Chart 3-8 above: After reciting

Chart 3-8 above: After reciting the Buddha’s name1,000 times, group 3 goes to the back and assembles as before, and then group 1 goes forward to the front and joins in the



assembly. Chart 3-9 above: group 1 goes to the center, circumambulating and chanting. group 3 goes

Chart 3-9 above: group 1 goes to the center, circumambulating and chanting. group 3 goes to the unoccupied seats which group 1 was previously just sitting in.

The circumambulation thus goes on continuously, as the three groups take turn to

circumambulate and chant.

Possible Modern Uses of Xingce’s Ritual

Since Xingce’s ritual is very active, I am of the view that it would be more

appropriate to engage in this kind of Buddha-recitation program for participants who

are new to Buddhism, youths and even children. For new or younger participants,

perhaps the number of times to recite Buddha’s name could be reduced, and the

duration shortened. It would also be appropriate to allow children or teenagers to count

the number of recitation and to be the group leaders.

I am of the view that Xingce’s

ritual procedures will not let them get bored or drowsy as they have to track the count

for the Buddha name which they have recited, to be mindful when and where to

position themselves whether assemble in line, or to be aware where to sit.


In conclusion, both the three-year retreats and sevenday retreat are the activities

included in Xingce’s “Lotus Society” (蓮社). The significance of a Lotus society is the

vows to be born in the Pure Land as the goal, hence the name, as rebirth in the Pure

Land takes place within a lotus flower. The participants of a Lotus Society are not only

monastics but also include the laity. In this case, the movement of Lay Buddhists can be

seen clearly. The practices and behaviors of such Pure Land lay Buddhists will be

discussed further in the next chapter.


Chapter 4

Xingce and His Lay Buddhist Disciples

Based on historical records, the Admonitions proclaims that Xingce had lots of

interactions with his lay disciples. He writes letters to his lay disciples and actively get

his laity involve in his three-year Lotus Society and 7-day Buddha-recitation retreat.

From the above description, it highlights an issue of Lay Buddhism. Lay Buddhists play

an important role in Chinese Buddhism. In modern times, lay Buddhists even have the

ability to propagate dharma, write Buddhist works and conduct scholarly research. As

such, they lead the role of dharma protector.

The observations during the Qing dynasty were that, lay Buddhists were rather

active. In Xingce’s Admonitions, there are six sections with records on Xingce and his

lay disciples; about one third of the entire Admonitions. These sections indicated that

occasionally Xingce would contact his lay disciples directly to answer questions, also

propagate dharma by means of letter-writing as well.

Historically, the active participation of lay Buddhists began from the great Master,

Huiyuan 334-416who established the Lotus Society, thereafter; it was transmitted

to Tsunshi 遵式(964-1032and Zhili 知禮(960-1028in the Song dynasty. Until the

Ming dynasty, Lay Buddhism experienced tremendous changes and movement. In the

Ming and Qing dynasties, several lay disciples even wrote and published Buddhist

books. In modern times, an extensive amount of Buddhist related work are written by

lay Buddhists and have significant influence. This Chapter will mainly discuss the ideas

that Xingce expresses to his lay disciples and the interaction between Xingce and Laity.

The Interaction between Xingce and His Lay Disciples

According to the Admonitions, there are six sections relating to Xingce’ lay

disciples. However, there was only record of Wang Lüsan’s 汪旅三 (d.u.), where the

dates could be inferred. The details relating to their dates of birth and death could no


longer be found. In accordance to the different circumstances of most people, Xingce

provided different idea to them and each of this idea are listed as follows.

An Indication to the Lay Disciple Xia Ziyi

According to the Admonitions, Xingce describes that Xia Ziyi 夏子彝 (d.u.) has

deep and solid root of wholesomeness, and his strength of faith is sincere and attentive.

He thought for a long time and concluded that being in the officialdom is not

comparable to entering temples to cultivate to become a Buddha. 1 However, Xingce

emphasized that everywhere the practitioners go, the place is a representation of the

temple for the practitioners to cultivate. Xingce had a further conversation with Xia

Ziyi, that wherever he goes, he should not forget the pure vows and slack in the virtuous

practices. His mind should be like the southward-pointed cart pointing in the right

direction, and his vow should be a reminder to lead him onto the right path. In addition,

Xingce mentioned to Xia Ziyi that it is true that the merit for cultivating for each day in

the worldly world is even more effective than cultivating for hundreds and thousands of

days in peaceful temples in the deep mountains. 2

Xingce reminds Ziyi that everywhere and anywhere are possible places to attain

enlightenment. Even any moment in time is an opportunity for one to get Buddha-deed

(foshi 佛事) done. Let the pure vow and practice appear in us all the time, thus one can

be reborn in the Pure Land accordingly and be received by Amitābha as he desire.

However, it is easier said but rather difficult to practice. Cultivation in the tranquil

monastery can be easier; however, cultivation in the worldly world will be even more

difficult. Xingce encourages Ziyi to practice the difficult approach, because cultivating

in the worldly world can assist other practitioners to instill strong faith in the future. In

addition, Xingce advises Ziyi that time is transient and aging is momentary, therefore,

1 X62, no. 1174, p. 134b16-17.

2 X62, no. 1174, p. 134b10-c1.


time should not be wasted. If time permit, besides the daily routine cultivation, only

recites the Amitābha’s name, other mantras such as dhāraī of great compassion (dabei

zhou 大悲咒) and sitātapatroṣṇ