Great Master Yinguang: ‘As your age is already old, you should quickly [learn and] practise Nianfo [i.e. sincere mindfulness of Amituofo] to seek birth in his Western Pure Land.’
Laywoman: ‘I do not seek birth in the Western Pure Land, as I want to be reborn in this Saha World [with “Endurance” of suffering, in Samsara, this cycle of birth and death].’
Great Master Yinguang: ‘Your ambition is too inferior [i.e. lowly].’
Laywoman: ‘I want to, in this body [and life], accomplish Buddhahood.’
Great Master Yinguang: ‘Your ambition is too lofty [i.e. high].’
‘Why is it that, [already] with that pure world [i.e. Amituofo’s Pure Land created for you, yet] not be willing to be reborn [there], insisting to be born in this defiled and evil world [instead]?
It must be known, that there is [the phenomenon of] “in this body [and life] accomplishing Buddhahood”, but now, [in this Dharma-Ending Age], there is no such person [who accomplished so]. It is also not a matter that you and me are able to accomplish.
Those who do not understand [such] reasoning, like this laywoman, who do not even have [proper] measure [of her own abilities], are truly able to mislead oneself and mislead others.’
– Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yinguang
(Dharma words of guidance in reply letter, from Shanghai to Lingyan Monastery)
When age is catching up, death also approaches. This is so – at any age; not only for the very old. Since death can occur at any time, there should be swift and sincere learning and practice of Nianfo. Without doing so, we will only be reborn in Samsara to suffer again, while forgetting ALL of the precious Dharma learnt but not yet mastered in this life. This is spiritual self-sabotage, that is neither wise nor compassionate for one and all – if we truly wish to liberate ourselves and others. However, in Pure Land, with maximum skilful means there for mastery of the Dharma, no spiritual obstacles from inner defilements and outer evils exist.
The actual attainment and full manifestation of Buddhahood in this lifetime in our era is not possible as it is not the Right Dharma Age, which is when Buddhas are able to arise to benefit many beings. Thus, to insist one and all to be able to completely realise and express Buddhahood in this lifetime, while neglecting the swiftest path to Buddhahood via Pure Land is a serious misgiving. The Buddha also clearly taught that in this Dharma-Ending Age, the Pure Land path is the most feasible one.
To be born in Pure Land is also to, ‘in this body [and life], accomplish Buddhahood’ – if one departs alive (instead of after death) to reach Pure Land, to continue seamless learning and practice till ready to manifest Buddhahood. Since reaching of Pure Land is attainable for all with the Three Provisions of Faith, Aspiration and Practice, despite being of high, medium or low spiritual capacities, this is a spiritual aspiration that is neither too high nor too low, but on the Middle Path for all. We should all be realistically practical thus, instead of being idealistically impractical.
Can Pure Land Practitioners Reach Buddhahood In This Lifetime?