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Pure Land’s Lotus Flowers in the Lotus Sutra

Although the Pure Land tradition sees the three Pure Land sutras to be its main ones (Amitabha Sutra, Infinite Life Sutra and Contemplation Sutra), teachings related to Amitabha Buddha are mentioned in more than 200 other sutras. The below are some instances, as found in the Lotus Sutra. The heavy cross-recommendations on attaining birth in Amitabha Buddha’s Pure Land underlines its great importance in Mahayana culture – due to its immeasurable and universal advantages, as a crucial turning point on the path to Buddhahood.

From Chapter 7 (The Parable of the Fantastic Castle-City)
(The Lotus Sutra, tr. Gene Reeves, 2008, p.196-197):

‘Monks, I [Shakyamuni Buddha] tell you, that these disciples of the [Excellent in Great Penetrating Wisdom] Buddha, the sixteen [bodhisattva] novices, have all attained supreme awakening. In all the lands in every direction at the present time they preach the Dharma and have innumerable hundreds of thousands of billions of bodhisattvas and shravakas as their followers. Two of those novices became buddhas in the eastern region. one named Lion’s Voice, the other Lion’s Character. Two buddhas are in the southern region, one named Space Dweller, the other Ever Extinguished. One of the two buddhas in the southwestern region is named Imperial Character, the other Brahma [Pure] Character. Of the two buddhas in the western region, one is named Amida [Amitabha], the other Saving All Worlds from Suffering. Of the two buddhas in the northwestern region, one is named Tamalapatra Spiritually Powerful Sandal Fragrance. The other Sumeru Form. Of the two buddhas in the northern region, one is named Cloud Freedom, the other Cloud Freedom King. The Buddha in the northwestern region is named Destroyer of All the World’s Fear. And the sixteenth is I, Shakyamuni Buddha, having attained supreme awakening in this world.’

From Chapter 23 (Previous Lives of Medicine King Bodhisattva)
(The Lotus Sutra, tr. Gene Reeves, 2008, p.359):

After the extinction [or rather, parinirvana] of the Tathagatha [Shakyamuni Buddha], in the last five hundred years [probably of the Dharma-ending age], if there is a woman [or man] who hears this [Lotus] Sutra and acts according to its teaching, at the end of this life she will be born on a jeweled seat in the middle of a lotus flower in the world of peace and happiness [Western Paradise; Pure Land] where Amida [Amitabha] Buddha lives, surrounded by a multitude of great bodhisattvas. Never again will she be troubled by pride and arrogance, envy, or other filth [defilements]. She will attain the divine powers of a bodhisattva and accept the non-arising of all things [realise the truth of dependent origination and emptiness]. Having accepted this, her vision will be clear and pure, and with this clear and pure vision, she will see buddha-tathagatas [so as to learn from them] as numerous as the sands of seven million, two hundred billion myriads of Ganges.

Comments:
Just as the Lotus Sutra firmly anchors the Mahayana attitude of spiritual altruism (Bodhicitta), the Pure Land practice is likewise based upon Bodhicitta – of Amitabha Buddha, and of ours. The stronger Bodhicitta one has, along with strong faith in Amitabha Buddha, strong aspiration to learn from him (and other Buddhas), and strong practice of being mindful of him, the more we align with his Bodhicitta, and the easier it will be to be born in his Pure Land.

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