The Amitabha Sutra - The Unified and Not Chaotic Mind
When they die, their minds being unified and
not chaotic they will attain rebirth in
Amitabha’s Land of Ultimate Bliss.
A “unified and non-chaotic mind” is a mind that is not deluded. With such a mind and by mindfully chanting the buddha-name as we breathe our last breaths, we will be born in the Pure Land. At that point, we have achieved constant mindfulness of Amitabha Buddha. This is the state that is referred to - a mind that is unified and not chaotic.
At this point, we have not yet attained one-mind undisturbed. Fortunately for us, one-mind undisturbed is not a prerequisite for being born in the Pure Land. Fortunate, because few people can achieve this state.
If, however, we are unconscious, it will be extraordinarily difficult to be born in the Western Pure Land. In an unconscious state, our mind is not one that is unified and not chaotic. In this state, the force of our karma will easily control us. As a consequence of having predominantly committed bad deeds, we will likely go to one of the three evil paths. Our very heavy negative karma carries with it the retribution of much suffering. As the Diamond Sutra says, were it not for our practice, our suffering would be much worse. This holds true not only for everyday life but also for when we are dying. When unawakened people are dying, they find it very arduous to maintain a calm, clear mind.
As practitioners, we know that if we can always have an undisturbed mind and always mindfully chant Amitabha’s name, it is due to the support of Amitabha. Without such support, it would be almost impossible for us to remain calm, clear, and mindful of him. The pull of our bad karma is too strong.
With this bad karma, coupled with a chaotic mind, we could easily find ourselves unable to chant while we are breathing our last breaths. A chaotic mind is a deluded mind. In this deluded state, it will be very easy for those whom we have hurt or treated unfairly over countless lifetimes to come seeking revenge. These enemies are not evil. Like us, they are unawakened. But having been harmed by us, they wish to hurt us in return. And they know that as long as we continue to be reborn in samsara, their opportunities to do so can still arise.
If we are born in the Pure Land, however, our karmic enemies will forever lose the chance to get even. Knowing this, they will do everything possible to prevent our birth in that land. And the easiest time to impede us is when we are in a weakened state, when our concentration can falter and our mind become chaotic and deluded. It thus becomes vitally important that we manage to chant mindfully, for the power generated by our chanting can hold these karmic enemies at bay.
But we should do even more. We can dedicate the merit from our chanting to these karmic enemies so they too can be born in the Pure Land. This way, our past enemies can transform into fellow practitioners.
To be single-minded and not deluded as we are breathing our last breaths, we need good fortune. To accumulate good fortune, we need to share that which we already have. We must not waste it. This is accomplished by giving to others and by not indulging ourselves. We also need to cultivate wisdom so that we will know how best to use our good fortune and not inadvertently commit more bad karmas. If we are unwise, we will use up this good fortune. Having none left at the end of our life, we may then become deluded at the time of death.
So if we are wise, we will live simply, avoid committing bad karmas, and share our good fortune. Having an ample supply of good fortune at the end of our life, we will be clear minded as we chant the name of Amitabha Buddha and see him come to guide us home to the Pure Land.
— Chapter 34, "Pure Mind, Compassionate Heart: Lessons from the Amitabha Sutra", Venerable Wuling
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