Question: Why is it not possible to attain immeasurable life in this life by practising mindfulness of the Buddha of Immeasurable Life (Amituofo) well?
Answer: It is extremely difficult to attain immeasurable life in this life per se due to various reasons. The fact that we wish to stay in Samsara instead of being born in Pureland usually means we are already bound by excess worldly attachments. Such heavy defilements means one’s mind is far from being purified. Thus, it is hard to continually tune in to and experience the endless stream of merits shared by Amituofo to deserve immeasurable life here and now. We are simply currently neither pure nor meritorious enough by karmic force of habit and environmental influences.
However, if our minds are sufficiently pure during our last moments, as built up from the momentum of regular attempts to purify our minds in everyday life, while being mindful of Amituofo with the right faith, aspiration and practice, this would be adequate in connecting us to Amituofo, to let his immeasurable merits mingle with our limited merits, and bridge us across to his Pure Land, where actual immeasurable life will be attained. The Dharma-suffused environment there does not allow its inhabitants to create negative karma, while much merits are created daily, thus sustaining our qualification for immeasurable life. This is why birth in Pure Land is invaluable. The moment of death thus offers an unique opportunity for upgrading our spirituality, as the nature of our final thoughts links us to a future life of similar nature.
Note though, that ‘immeasurable life’ in Pure Land is not exactly ‘infinite’ per se. It is immeasurable in the sense that individuals can take as long as required to stay there to learn and practise the Dharma, but departure is a matter of time. This is so as Pure Land is a school for training us to become enlightened, so as to undertake the great tasks of Bodhisattvas; it is not a destination for eternal rest, relaxation or ‘retirement’. Even if some take a long time to ‘graduate’, one will still do so eventually. After all, it is the best school with the best teachers! Thereafter, we will return to Samsara as enlightened Bodhisattvas to guide other beings to Pure Land and/or enlightenment, thereby becoming Buddhas.