"The worthies in the above passages all directly point at the Original Mind. There is no other method. This holds true at the level of ultimate reality; however, in the phenomenal realm, paradise and Amitabha Buddha with his forty-eight vows, really exist. So anyone who recites Amitabha's name just ten times will ascend with the power of Amitabha's vows and be reborn on a lotus leaf. In this realm, he will soon break free from the wheel of transmigration. All the Buddhas of the Three Dimensions of time say that this is so. The Bodhisattvas of the Ten Directions85 all vow to be reborn there. In addition, the records describing all of those who have been reborn there in the past or present have been transmitted accurately. All of you practitioners who have made a vow to be reborn there should beware of mistaken views. You must be diligent!
The Sanskrit "Amita" means "unlimited life-span" or "unlimited brilliance." It is the name of the most excellent Buddha throughout the Ten Directions and the Three Dimensions86 of time. When this Buddha was practicing, he was called Dharmakara. He made forty-eight vows in front of Lokesvararaja Buddha. He said, "When I become a Buddha, if any deva or human being — or even the smallest insect — residing in any of the myriad worlds in any of the Ten Directions chants my name just ten times, I will cause that being to be reborn in my realm. For, until I am able to fulfill my vow, I will not enter Buddhahood." The sages of the past used to say, "Each time one praises the Buddha, the demons lose their courage. In addition, one's name is removed from the register in hell, as a lotus flower87 blooms in a golden pond." It has also been said in the Dharma of Repentance, "There is your own power and the power of others. The former is slow, whereas the latter is fast. It is like a man who wants to cross the sea. If he plants trees for timber to make a boat, it will take a long time. This is like using your own power. But if he borrows someone else's boat and crosses the sea, he will get there fast. This is like the power of the Buddha." It has also been said, "If a child approaches water or fire and then yells, his parents, hearing his shout, come quickly to save him from danger. It is the same with a man on his death bed who shouts the Buddha's name. The Buddha, who is in possession of mysterious powers, will definitely come and greet such a person. In this sense, the compassion of the great sages surpasses that of parents. Moreover, sentient beings' birth and death is much more dangerous than water and fire."
There are those who say, "The mind is the Pure Land. You cannot be 'born' in the Pure Land. Your Self Nature is Amitabha Buddha. There is no other Amitabha to meet with." These words seem to be correct, but in fact they are not. Amitabha Buddha has no desire or hatred. Do we likewise have no desire and hatred? The Buddha transforms hell into lotus flowers as easily as you might turn your hand over. Yet, we are constantly afraid of falling into hell through the force of our own karma; we certainly could not even consider transforming hell into lotus flowers. Amitabha Buddha observes infinite worlds as if they were right in front of his eyes. For us, even the things happening right outside our wall cannot be seen, let alone the worlds in all the Ten Directions. Therefore, man's nature may be Buddha but his actions are characteristic of a sentient being. If we discuss both character and function, they are as far from each other as the sky and the earth.
Master Kuei-feng once said, "Even though you actually awaken suddenly; in the end, you must cultivate gradually." These words are true indeed!
Then, what could we say to someone who insists that this Self Nature is Amitabha Buddha? How is it that Sakyamuni was born with his fine endowments? How is it that one like Amitabha Buddha appeared through spontaneous birth? If you think about it, you cannot help but understand. When you are on your death bed, suffering and on the verge of death, are you confident that you will be completely free? If you aren't, then you should do something to avoid falling into some long-lasting torment as a result of a moment's pride.
Even Asvaghosa and Nagarjuna, both of them patriarchs, clearly bestowed upon us their words and teachings which strongly advocated working for a good incarnation in the next life. Who am I to say that one should not concern oneself with the next life? Even the Buddha himself said, "The Western Paradise is far from here. One must pass through 180,000 worlds to get there." This is an explanation of characteristics for the sake of those with dull faculties. "The Western Paradise is not far from here. This very mind/sentient being is the Buddha/Amitabha Buddha." This is an explanation of the Self Nature for the sake of those with "sharp faculties." The teachings consist of both the provisional and the actual. Speech has an exoteric and an esoteric aspect. One whose understanding and actions are in agreement can penetrate both what is near and what is far. Consequently, the School of the Patriarchs has those, like Hui-yuan, who called out to the Amitabha Buddha and those, like Jui-yen, who called out to his own self."
(Seosan Daesa: Mirror of Seon, 53
.; Mirror of Zen, 52)