The trend for the concept of the end of dharma in China had its origins in the Southern and Northern dynasties. All schools had their own perspectives on repentance. Scholars such as Zhìyǐ (538-597) and Dàoxuān (596-667) formulated a set of Buddhist rituals and practices for repentance based on meticulous doctrinal interpretation. As far as Pure Land teaching is concerned, due to the advent of the end of dharma, the world has become a terrible world with the “five defilements,” and sentient beings’ spiritual inclinations have become insignificant. Therefore, only through repentance and Buddha recitation, can they take rebirth in the Pure Land of Amitābha Buddha to liberate themselves from suffering, birth, aging and death.
Among the preachers of Pure Land teaching, Dàochuò (562-645) was the first to integrate repentance and the concept of the end of dharma into his tenets. He is considered to have established the Pure Land School. His disciple, Shàndǎo (613-681?), was deeply influenced by his views, but Shàndǎo had also developed his own tenets. Shàndǎo advocated repentance and extinguishing one’s sins, and verbally reciting Amitābha Buddha’s name. Shàndǎo also proselytized on the practice of the Samādhi in Buddha recitation.
As Shàndǎo reached a high level meditative concentration, he went to visit Dàochuò. He went into a state of meditative concentration in order to see Dàochuò’s karma. Dàochuò often practiced Bānzhōu sānmèi xíngfǎ (般舟三昧行法 practice of reaching meditative concentration) and Fāngděng sānmèi chànfǎ (方等三昧懺法 a Samādhi repentance ritual), Shàndǎo had written a number of publications on the topic of repentance such as Guānniàn Amítuófó xiānghǎi sānmèi gōngdé fǎmén (觀念阿彌陀佛相海三昧功德法門), Jìngtǔ fǎshì zàn (淨土法事讚), Wǎngshēng lǐzànjì (往生禮讚偈) and Bānzhōu sānmèi wǎngshēng zàn (般舟三昧往生讚). In these works, Shàndǎo used the term “repentance” more than one hundred times. Thus it can be concluded that repentance is an important concept in
Dàochuò; Shàndǎo; repentance; the end of dharma; the Samādhi of Buddha recitationPure Land teaching. And repentance has a close relation to meditation and verbal Buddha recitation. In the minds of Shàndǎo and Dàochuò, repentance is an essential part of meditation.