Question: Is there suffering in Amituofo’s (Amitabha Buddha) Pure Land? If there is, we might as well practise in this human realm?
Answer: As taught by Sakyamuni Buddha in the Amitabha Sutra (阿弥陀经) – ‘That [Pure] land’s beings are without the many kinds of suffering, and only experience all kinds of bliss, which is why it is named “Ultimate Bliss”.’ (其国众生，无有众苦，但受诸乐，故名极乐。) Thus is the Pure Land named ‘Ultimate Bliss’, as there is pure bliss there, that advances without interruption or backsliding, going towards the ultimate bliss of Buddhahood.
‘All kinds of bliss’ refers to both physical and spiritual bliss. The Pure Land, being an embodiment and expression of the perfect compassion, wisdom, meritorious virtues and skilful means of Amituofo, the magnificent physical splendours of his Pure Land are all means created and sustained to maximise propagation of the Dharma via sensory inputs of sights, sounds, smells, taste and touch.
As such, blissful as all the physical attributes are, they only inspire spiritual bliss, never distracting from Dharma practice, which is the case for many physical people, matters and things in our defiled world. This is a major reason why most here are not interested in walking the path to Buddhahood, thus remaining stuck in this doubly spiritually and physically dangerous evil period of Five Defilements (of kalpa, views, afflictions, sentient beings and lifespan) in this Dharma-Ending Age (with general decline of quality of the true Dharma being taught, learnt, practised and realised).
Q: If there is no suffering, what motivates Pure Land beings to practise the Dharma?
A: Bodhicitta, which is the most noble aspiration to guide all beings, along with oneself to Buddhahood is the perfect motivation. Coming face to face with a Buddha (Amituofo) and many great Bodhisattvas like Guanyin Pusa in the Pure Land, we will have the best motivational spiritual teachers who will urge all to give rise to Bodhicitta fully. As empowered by the blessings of Amituofo’s vows, all beings in Pure Land can see all realms defiled and pure both calmly and clearly, thus becoming supremely aware of the immense suffering of many beings, which encourages them to most diligently and perfectly practise the Dharma, to best deliver all from suffering as great Bodhisattvas and Buddhas.
The above is in sharp contrast to us in this world now, who only catch occasional glimpses of suffering in the human and animal realm via news images and short video footages, thus not fully seeing the magnitude of suffering across all realms in the universe. This in turn deters many from giving rise to Bodhicitta fully. Without the spiritually objective vantage point of Pure Land, it is also easy to be enmeshed, caught up in the mass suffering of our world with passionate grief too, becoming too disheartened to personally depart from it personally, what more to help others do the same.
Facing some suffering in our world can motivate our Dharma practice. However, there is either too little or too much suffering, depending on the individual’s karma ripening. With too little suffering, there is spiritual complacency. With too much suffering, it becomes discouraging. It is difficult to have the optimum amount of suffering, or to adjust one’s attitude to suffering perfectly, while it is too easy to be underwhelmed or overwhelmed by it. With their perfect skilful means, Buddhas created Pure Lands precisely for overcoming such problems, to offer perfect Dharma schools to best expedite the path to Buddhahood. Just as we prefer to go to less distracting worldly schools in our world for education, we should all the more aspire to reach the best spiritual school.
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