Question: Since Amituofo has perfect compassion and wisdom, why is the practice of Nianfo (e.g. by mindfulness of his name) necessary to reach his Pure Land? Wouldn’t Amituofo know who are worthy to be guided to his Pure Land? If someone is very good in all other aspects of life, but is not aware of Amituofo (e.g. due to being born where Buddhist teachings do not exist), isn’t he worthy of Pure Land? Does Amituofo only pick and choose those who practise Nianfo?
Answer: Indeed, Amituofo has perfect compassion and wisdom, which is why he created Pure Land and taught us how to reach it, welcoming everyone, including beings suffering in the hells (though it is most challenging for them to practise Nianfo). Amituofo does know who are worthy to reach his Pure Land – those with the Three Provisions of Faith, Aspiration and Practice. As everything depends on cause and effect, there must be specific causes for specific effects. He did not make the practice of Nianfo necessary to reach his Pure Land. It just so happens, according to the natural laws of the universe discovered by him, that for anyone to reach the domain of a Buddha, there must minimally be the Three Provisions. This is simply the way things are.
For example, if someone tells us that the Buddha is in town (and if it so happens to be true), but because we lack Faith that it is true, we will also lack Aspiration to check it out, much less to go through the actual ‘Practice’ of travelling to town. Even if someone is very good in many aspects of life, but refuses to believe the above, he will not even think of going to town at all, much more to take the effort to go there. This principle likewise applies to connecting to Amituofo for reaching his Pure Land. Sincere Nianfo is the crystallisation and functional expression of the Three Provisions, which naturally makes one truly worthy of reaching Pure Land.
It is due to already having very good (spiritual) roots, merits and karmic affinity that someone can be born in a place to be able to encounter the Pure Land teachings, and to be willing to cultivate the Three Provisions accordingly to reach Pure Land. This does not happen by chance. Even if someone is good in many aspects of life, as long as he has yet to encounter the Pure Land teachings, his karma is not good enough for this very purpose yet. Since Amituofo has perfect compassion and wisdom, he definitely wishes to guide all beings to his Pure Land, but not all beings are qualified with the Three Provisions yet.
Having equanimous boundless compassion, Amituofo does not pick and choose who to guide to his Pure Land with favourtism, while it is ordinary beings who are karmically not yet ready to learn about his Pure Land and the Three Provisions for reaching it, or who wilfully refuse to give rise to the Three Provisions due to lack of understanding and appreciation of his Pure Land. Amituofo wishes all to opt in to his Pure Land, while many either opt out or have yet to opt in. Yet, since his compassion is endless, he will continue to manifest in countless appropriate skilful forms to guide more and more beings to give rise to the Three Provisions, to be worthy enough to reach his Pure Land. Some of the great Pure Land Patriarchs recognised to be manifestations of Amituofo are just a few inspiring examples. Out of compassion, we too can play our part by sharing the Pure Land teachings with our family and friends!
The Differences Between Heaven(s) & Pure Land(s)