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The Path of Easy Practice | Nāgārjuna

The Path of Easy Practice | by Bodhisattva Nāgārjuna

from The Ninth Chapter of the Discourse on the Ten Stages
(Translated from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki)

The Path of Difficult Practice and the Path of Easy Practice

To the practitioners of Mahāyāna, the Buddha said:

To make vows and seek the Path to Buddhahood is a task harder than lifting the whole universe.

You say that the Stage of Non-retrogression is extremely difficult to enter, requiring a long period of practice, and ask me if there is a path of easy practice whereby you can attain this stage quickly.

These are words of a cowardly and contemptible man, and not those of a brave man with a strong aspiration. If, however, you insist on hearing from me about this method of practice, I will explain it to you.

There are innumerable modes of entry into the Buddha's teaching.

Just as there are in the world difficult and easy paths - travelling on foot by land is full of hardship and travelling in a boat by sea is pleasant - so it is among the paths of the bodhisattvas.

Some exert themselves diligently, while others quickly enter Non-retrogression by the easy practice based on faith.

The Path of Easy Practice Based on Amida's Vow

Amida Buddha's Primal Vow is as follows:

If anyone contemplates me, recites my name, and takes refuge in me, he will instantly enter the Stage of Assurance and subsequently attain the highest perfect Bodhi.

For this reason, you should always be mindful of him. I will now praise him in verse:

The Buddha of Infinite Light and Wisdom,
whose body is like a mountain of genuine gold,
I worship with my body, speech and heart
 by joining hands and bowing down toward him. | 40

His glorious golden radiance reaches all the worlds,
Manifesting its forms in accordance with the beings he saves.
 So I bow down and worship him. | 41

If anyone, after the end of his life, obtains birth in Amida's land,
He will be instantly endowed with immeasurable merit.
 So I take refuge in Amida. | 42

If anyone is mindful of that Buddha's infinite power and merit,
He will instantly enter the Stage of Assurance.
 So I am always mindful of Amida. | 43

Even though people of his land may be subject to various sufferings after death,
They will not fall into the evil realm of hell.
So I take refuge in him and worship him. | 44

If anyone is born in that land, he will never again
 fall into the three evil realms or the realm of asuras.
So I now take refuge in him and worship him. | 45

Human and heavenly beings [in his land]
 are all alike in physical appearance,
each as glorious as a golden mountain.
He is the refuge for all superior beings.
So I prostrate myself and worship him. | 46

Those born in his land are endowed with the divine eye and ear.
 Nothing in the ten directions can hinder [their sight and hearing].
So I bow down to the Most Holy One of all Sages. | 47

People of that land have supernatural powers
of transforming themselves at will, of knowing the thoughts of others,
And of knowing the previous lives of themselves and others.
So I take refuge in him and worship him. | 48

Those born in his land are free
 from attachment to 'myself' and 'mine.'
They do not produce discriminative thoughts.
 So I bow down and worship him. | 49

There are innumerable shravakas [in his land],
who have attained release from the prison of the Three Worlds;
Their eyes are like lotus-petals.
So I bow down and worship him. | 50

All the sentient beings of his land have a gentle nature,
And spontaneously perform the ten good deeds.
 So I bow down to the King of Sages. | 51

They shine brightly and purely through performing good deeds;
their number is infinite and incalculable.
They are the most distinguished of all humans.
So I take refuge in him. | 52

If anyone, aspiring to become a Buddha,
 contemplates Amida in his heart,
Amida will instantly manifest himself before him.
So I take refuge in him. | 53

By the power of the Buddha's Primal Vow,
bodhisattvas of the ten directions
Come to make offerings to him and hear the Dharma.
 So I bow down to him. | 54

Bodhisattvas of this land possess
excellent physical marks and characteristics
Which glorify their bodies.
So I now take refuge in him and worship him. | 55

The Great Bodhisattvas of his land can make offerings
to the Buddhas of the ten directions
Three times daily.
So I bow down and worship him. | 56

If there is anyone who plants roots of goodness but entertains doubts,
the flower [he will be born into] will not bloom;
For those who have pure faith, flowers will bloom,
and they will see the Buddha. | 57

The present Buddhas of the ten directions
praise this Buddha's merit in various ways.
So I now take refuge in him and worship him. | 58

The land is adorned everywhere
and is superior to the heavenly palaces;
His merit is exceedingly vast and deep.
So I kneel at the Buddha's feet. | 59

Each sole of the Buddha bears the mark
 of a thousand-spoked wheel and is soft and lotus-coloured.
Anyone who sees this rejoices.
So I prostrate myself and worship at his feet. | 60

The light emanating from the white curl of hair between his eyebrows
resembles that of the pure moon,
And adds to the lustre of his countenance.
So I kneel down at his feet. | 61

When he was seeking the Path to Buddhahood,
he performed many marvellous practices
As described in various sutras.
So I prostrate myself and worship him. | 62

The Buddha's sermons destroy the roots of evil;
They are beautifully worded and bring great benefit.
So I bow down and worship him. | 63

With these beautifully worded sermons,
he cures people's addiction to pleasures;
He saved beings in the past and is saving beings now;
 all gods kneel down and worship him. | 64

He is the most honoured of all human and heavenly beings;
all gods kneel down and worship him,
With their crowns made of seven treasures touching his feet.
So I take refuge in him. | 65

All wise and holy sages and multitudes of human and heavenly beings
Together take refuge in him. So I, too, worship him. | 66

Boarding the boat of Eightfold Noble Teaching,
he ferries people over the sea that is difficult to cross;
He has crossed it himself and now carries others across.
So I worship the one who possesses unrestricted power. | 67

Even if all the Buddhas praised his merit for innumerable kalpas,
They could not fully honour it. So I take refuge in the Pure Person. | 68

Like those Buddhas, I have praised his boundless virtue.
By this act, I pray that the Buddha may always think of me. | 69

With whatever merit I have acquired in this and previous lives,
I wish to be in the presence of the Buddha and attain eternal purity of heart. | 70

May the supreme merit I have acquired by this meritorious act
Be shared with all other sentient beings. | 71