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A General Guide to the Pure Land School
This book is a “professional textbook” on the Pure Land School. As a “general guide,” it outlines the principles of Pure Land as a framework for Amitabha-reciters. The arrangement of the chapters and sections, as well as the book’s division of content, is clear and tidy. From start to finish, the materials interlink, forming an organic whole. The text provides beginners with an overview and helps them browse and quickly grasp the origins and fundamentals of the Pure Land School. As the Preface says: 1) It uses Shandao’s teachings as its sole yardstick. Taking in the expositions of such lineage masters as Nagarjuna, Vasubandhu, Tanluan and Daochuo, it focuses on the foundations of Pure Land thought. 2) It strives to lay out the full scope of Pure Land teaching, so that practitioners can have a comprehensive understanding. It does not avoid the finer points. The lineage of Master Shandao’s thought and teaching is complete and systematically rigorous, in terms of Dharma classification, aims of the school, its principles and forms of practice. That is clearly laid out in the ten chapters and 42 sections of the book. xii A General Guide to the Pure Land School Preface xiii Having read it once, from beginning to end, a beginner would have an overall map in his or her head. From the core teachings, the vista expands extensively. A second reading would pick up the details and their inherent logic as well as interconnections. The learner would gain a more multidimensional, dynamic understanding. “From this, one can cope with countless circumstances,” as the saying goes. We would not err when teaching or explaining the material to others. The book takes a comprehensive, macro approach to the substance and the external circumstances relating to the Pure Land School. It does not drill down deeply into specialized topics. Besides facilitating self-study by beginners, the book helps longtime learners review what they know as well as gain new knowledge. It is a readable, convenient tool. The karmic conditions have made possible this English translation and its circulation. After initial and secondary perusals, readers will hopefully have a comprehensive understanding of the Pure Land teachings. If they then believe in the deliverance of Amitabha Buddha and recite his name, they would certainly derive real benefits during this lifetime and the next. Namo Amitabha Buddha!
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