Q&A

Is Pure Land Within or Beyond Samsara?

Question: Is Pure Land within or beyond the six realms of existence? I asked two Buddhists, who gave me different answers.

Answer: Pure Land can be seen as both within and/or beyond the six realms of existence (Samsara). (There is a third answer too.)

(1) It can be seen as within Samsara because:

a. Being born in Pureland does not equate to exit from Samsara immediately, as one needs to practise there.
b. If being born in Pureland is to exit Samsara straightaway, Pure Land would be the same as Nirvana already.

(2) It can be seen as beyond Samsara because:

a. Being born in Pure Land equates to a sure exit from Samsara within that lifetime (unless one made other vows).
b. Being born in Pure Land equates to never being subject to samsaric rebirth again (even upon return to help in Samsara).

(3) It can be seen as between Samsara and Nirvana because:

a. Being born in Pure Land is to be on the brink of leaving Samsara due to the above.
b. Being born in Pure Land is to be on the brink of attaining Nirvana due to the above.

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  • Q: When we are in Pureland, we live in the mind and merits of Amitabha Buddha.
    A: When in Pure Land, we live in our minds and among the blessings of Amituofo. We can’t live in anyone’s mind.

    Q: Are mind and merits of the Buddha within or beyond samsara? If former, wouldn’t it be contaminated?
    A: His blessings are not of Samsara, thus not tainted.

    Q: If latter, isn’t that duality?
    A: Duality is perceived only be unenlightened beings.

    Q: Why are the beings in Pureland as innumerable almost like samsara? A parallel universe?
    A: Because Pure Land arises from immeasurable compassion, wisdom and skilful means, able to encompass the immeasurable.

    Q: How can the term ‘suffering’ not heard in Pureland, when clearly beings born there will be mindful of the Four Truths and other teachings?
    A: No sutra mentioned that ‘suffering’ is not heard in Pure Land. (This idea probably arose from poor translations.)

  • Q: Pureland is the expedient means of Buddha. If one is attached to it, it will turn into hell. Cuz 有極樂,就会有極苦。Pure and impure are duality. Prajnaparamita.

    A: The Buddha spoke of 善法欲, the aspiration to learn and practise the good and pure. Aspiration to reach Pure Land is not like a worldly attachment. Without the 極樂 of Pure Land, there is already 極苦 of the hells by default. True purity is non-dual, and Pure Land is the swiftest expedient means to realise this. It is good and evil that is dualistic. Amituofo.’s Pure Land is created with his Prajnaparamita. It is expression of Prajnaparamita.

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!