Question: Who has been to Amituofo’s Pure Land and back? How do we know if it really exists?
Answer: If someone not particularly special tells us he had been to Pure Land and back, we will tend to doubt him. If he describes Pure Land as it is described in the sutras, we will wonder what is the point of listening to his description. If he describes Pure Land as it is not described in the sutras, we will doubt him too.
Yet, there are especially great masters such as 13th Patriarch Master Yinguang who expounded on the Pure Land teachings detailedly… because he is from there, because he is a manifestation of Dashizhi Pusa from Pure Land.* There are many who have visions of Pure Land when they practise well too.
Those who have been to Pure Land and back would be Bodhisattvas, who will not reveal their identities to attract attention, but let their Dharma teachings and actions speak for their worth. This is in line with the Buddha’s strict instruction in the Surangama Sutra as below, given out of compassion to avoid the prevalence of false claims for selfish gain in terms of fame and fortune, while confusing the masses with false ‘Dharma’ teachings:
“I command that after my [Pari]Nirvana, Bodhisattvas and Arhats appear in response-bodies in the Dharma-ending Age [the period we are in now], and take various forms in order to rescue those in the cycle of rebirth.
They should either become Shramanas [monastics], white-robed laypeople, kings, ministers or officials, virgin youths or maidens, and so forth, even prostitutes, widows, profligates, thieves, butchers, or dealers in contraband, be confreres of these kinds of people, praise the Buddha Vehicle [Mahayana teachings which lead to Buddhahood] and cause them to enter Samadhi in body and mind.
But they should never say of themselves, ‘I am truly a Bodhisattva’; or ‘I am truly an Arhat,’ or let the Buddhas’ secret [esoteric] cause leak out by speaking casually to those who have not yet studied, other than at the end of their lives and then only to those who inherit the teaching [to inspire them one ‘final’ time after a life of pure conduct]. Otherwise, aren’t such people deluding and confusing beings and indulging in gross false claims?”
The truth is, even if there is no Pure Land, mindfulness of Buddha has to by default lead to the best rebirth as we ride upon his merits, as there is no more meritorious subject for mindfulness of, especially on the deathbed. That good Pure Land practitioners can know and announce in advance the time of their blissful departure is also a powerful proof that the Pure Land teachings hold true.
* [It is universally recognised in the Mahayana tradition that Master Yinguang is a manifestation of Dashizhi Bodhisattva. The identity of Master Yinguang was disclosed after his departure by a laywoman who had nothing to gain from doing so. Her testimonial as to how she came to know his identity can be seen at http://www.xuefo.net/show1_26706.htm The best proof of his identity is in his great efforts and ability to encourage countless, including us, to practise the Pure Land teachings.]
Why Pure Land Must Exist
How Do We Know Amituofo And His Pure Land is Real?
Are The Enlightened Among Us Now?