Question: Is it possible to attain Buddhahood in a single lifetime, as in this very life?
Answer: Many practitioners reach Pure Land via this process:
- First becoming very old and sick,
- before realising they are dying,
- thus practising Nianfo (mindfulness of the name of Amitabha Buddha – ‘Amituofo’) with utmost sincerity (faithful aspiration),
- and finally reaching Pure Land (before or shortly after death).
However, if Nianfo is practised very well in everyday life before dying, the process can be ‘shorted’ to be so:
- Without becoming aged, sick or dying, practising Nianfo with utmost sincerity,
- thus reaching Pure Land (without dying; with the consciousness simply leaving the body behind).
Such good practitioners are able to depart for Pure Land while very much young, healthy and alive, if they so wish, skipping the entire ageing, sickness and dying stages. Thus, they do not even die before leaving for Pure Land. Once Pure Land is reached, there will only be non-retrogressible and swiftest progress towards Buddhahood, if one trains there spiritually all the way. This is possible due to the most skilful enlightened teachers and teaching means present. Upon reaching this highest grade of Bodhisattvahood, one freely manifests birth for attaining Buddhahood in a suitable defiled land to guide other beings to Buddhahood.
As such a birth is merely a skilful manifestation, it entails no actual physical or mental suffering, and is not preceded by any actual death. This is how, with good practice beginning from now, Buddhahood can be advanced towards seamlessly and attained in this very one life, instead of 3 great asamkhyeya kalpas (incalculable world cycles) after countless lives. Such Pure Land practice is without interruption or suffering of death at any point at all. Note that even those who are already old, sick and/or dying are able to depart for Pure Land before actual death if they practise swift enough and well enough. Thus did Great Master Yinguang teach the following –
Those [who] cultivate [the] Pure Land [path],
since [to be] born [in the] Western [Pure Land],
[will] immediately end [the cycle of] birth [and] death,
[which] also is [to], in this present life accomplish Buddhahood.
– The Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yinguang (Essentials Of Great Master Yinguang’s Dharma Sayings)
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