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Causes & Conditions for Birth in Pure Land

In the Contemplation Sutra (观无量寿佛经), the Buddha stated that those who wish to be born in Amitabha Buddha’s Pure Land should cultivate the 3 pure conditions (净业三福), which are also the timeless causes of Buddhahood. They are related to the teaching from the Amitabha Sutra (阿弥陀经) that one cannot be born in Pure Land through minor good roots, blessings, merits and causal connections. (不可以少善根、福德、因缘,得生彼国.)

As such, the 3 pure conditions are needed for extending good roots, increasing blessings and merits, and strengthening causal connections. Along with these conditions, the key method for successful birth in Pure Land relies on single-minded mindfulness of Amitabha Buddha based on having strong faith in him, having strong aspiration to meet him and having strong corresponding practice. With these interconnected causes and conditions [3 provisions: faith, aspiration and practice (三资粮: 信愿行) and 3 pure conditions] in place, reaching Pure Land is further guaranteed.

一福 : 1st Condition

孝养父母 : Caring for our parents with filial piety.
奉事师长 : Serving our teachers and elders with respect.
慈心不杀 : Cultivating compassion by not killing.
修十善业 : Practising the ten wholesome deeds.*

二福 : 2nd Condition

受持三归 : Taking refuge in and upholding the Triple Gem.
具足众戒 : Abiding by the precepts fully.
不犯威仪 : Conducting ourselves in proper and dignified ways.

三福 : 3rd Condition

发菩提心 : Generating Bodhicitta.
深信因果 : Having deep faith in the law of cause and effect (Karma).
读诵大乘 : Studying and reciting Mahayana sutras.
劝进行者 : Encouraging others to advance on the path to Enlightenment.

* Abstention from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying,
tale-bearing, harsh speech, idle talk, greed, anger and wrong views.

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7 Comments

  • There seem to be many contradictory teachings mentioned in this article. Just one, for example, is that the Amitabha sutra say one cannot have minor good roots, etc. Yet the Contemplation sutra say the most evil person can be born in the Pureland with a simple ten calling of Amitabha Name. Please explain.

    I think the Amitabha Sutra was emphasizing that it’s not our karma that brings about rebirth in the Pure Land.

    That seem to be the case with all Pureland sutras, that karma is not at play here with rebirth into the Pureland. Yet, not going into details, the Amitabha sutra seem really to suggest that only people with deep good roots and merits only are able to be reborn there. When posting such an article, perhaps one needs to explain carefully to avoid causing more confusion. Just saying. 🙂

    • There are no contradictions in this article. When one practises mindfulness of Amituofo wholeheartedly, with the right faith and aspiration, one already does not have minor good roots, blessings, merits and causal conditions. The more one practises mindfulness of Amituofo well, the more good roots and such there are. This is the explanation by the 8th Pure Land Patriarch Great Master Lianchi too. All good done without the Three Provisions will be short of good roots and such.

      It is our good karma, linked to the Three Provisions, that link to Amituofo’s pure karma, that brings about rebirth in Pure Land. All rebirths operate on the law of karma.

      • Then why does an evil person, who presumably have no good roots, also can be born in the Pureland?
        One sutra says something different from another. Dont you think this is termed contradictory or inconsistency. Unless each is explained properly the meaning, confuses like what I have can arise. Even with your words: “When one practises mindfulness of Amituofo wholeheartedly, with the right faith and aspiration, one already does NOT have minor good roots, blessings, merits and causal conditions.”
        Chant “Amitofo” also have not minor good roots? What to say of gaining major good roots. 🙂

        • The sutras are the Buddha’s words. As a Buddhist you should not doubt the Buddha. You keep enphasizing Buddha contradict himself. What is your motive? Create disharmony or conflict? U should just faithfully accept the Buddha’s words and practice accordingly

        • Who are we to assume someone is totally evil, has absolutely no good roots and thus cannot be born in Pure Land? Even apparently evil people who encounter the Pure Land teachings in time, sincerely repent and give rise to the Three Provisions are able to make it to Pure Land. There are no contradictions in the sutras.

          ‘When one practises mindfulness of Amituofo wholeheartedly, with the right faith and aspiration, one already does NOT have minor good roots, blessings, merits and causal conditions.’ Because one will have ENOUGH good roots, blessings, merits and causal conditions as a result. As Great Master Lianchi explained, the more one practises well, the greater these become.

          • Well, you make things clearly here. The article should have said, “When one practises mindfulness of Amituofo wholeheartedly, with the right faith and aspiration, one already have enough of good roots, blessings, merits and causal conditions.’ Period.

            Is it true that with the right faith and aspiration, one already does NOT have minor good roots? Do you otherwise mean one does not have minor good roots but great good roots?

  • ‘… one cannot, with few good roots, blessed virtues as causes and conditions, attain birth in that land… if there are good men and good women, who hear of Amita Buddha (Amituofo), FAITHfully [and firmly] UPHOLD [mindfulness of] his name… wholeheartedly without being scattered, when these persons approach the end of life, Amita Buddha… will appear before them… and they will immediately attain rebirth in Amita Buddha’s Land Of Ultimate Bliss.’

    All Three Provisions of having Faith, Aspiration and Practice (of upholding mindulness of Amituofo) are needed to have enough good roots and such; not mere Faith and Aspiration. This is stated clearly in the Amitabha Sutra quote by the Buddha above. Yes, having the provisions means one’s good roots and such are not minor, but they are great only when they are strong.

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!