Q&A

Pure Land Practice & the 12 Links of Dependent Origination

Question: If we look at being reborn in Pure Land from the perspective of the 12 links of dependent origination, which should we eliminate?

Answer: Please see http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/snapshot05.htm for a summary of the 12 links. These are the key links we can more readily work at – Link 8 (Craving), which leads to Link 9 (Grasping), which leads to Link 10 (Becoming/Existence). To be reborn in Pure Land, none of the above links need to be broken (while they should be weakened).

When any of the 12 links are broken, there would be no more rebirth [Link 11 (Rebirth)]. The difference between rebirth in Pure Land and rebirth elsewhere is that it does not lead to the next stage [Link (Ageing & Death)]. Instead, it leads to the breaking of the 12 links – the end of rebirth – within that very lifetime in Pureland.

The chain of links is usually broken (which implies liberation) at Link 8 (Craving), while Link 1 (Ignorance) is weakened – as Craving arises from Ignorance. There is a subtle form of Craving at work, in the form of an unenlightened aspiration, which helps direct rebirth in Pure Land. If there is no Craving at all, there would be no urge or need to be reborn in Pure Land – the purpose of which is to rid Craving and Ignorance completely there.

We need to note that it is relatively difficult to rid Craving and Ignorance completely in this life (unless one is an accomplished practitioner), which is why we seek birth in Pure Land – where it is relatively much easier – as there are enlightened teachers to teach us the Dharma there, while nothing in the environment spurs the arising of Craving or the increase of Ignorance. As such, in Pure Land, Craving and Ignorance can only decrease till they become non-existent.

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2 Comments

  • No breaking of any link is needed because if it is broken, rebirth in any realm (pureland included) is off. The cycle of birth and Death is done, and nothing is left to be done. However, I rather think link 9 (Grasping or attachment) is to be eliminated at all cost. Attachment to this world of desires, and family or unfinished work. Though, in Pureland, one is relying solely on Amitabha’s Vows, with this attachment we will fail at rebirth in Pureland. With this attachment means we do not have the vow to be born in the pureland. When one leg of the “Three Provision” is missing, we are slept up again in this life cycle (samsara) again.

    • [1] The first line was already mentioned in the article – ‘When any of the 12 links are broken, there would be no more rebirth ‘

      [2] Even after self-liberation, there is much to be done – the walking of the Bodhisattva path to guide beings to Buddhahood.

      [3] Link 9 (grasping) cannot be cut off if link 8 (craving) is active.

      [4] When there is less craving, there will be less grasping.

      [5] Attachment to unfinished good work is alright as it can be transformed to be Aspiration to reach Pure Land to train well, before return to continue.

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!