View With Review #8
View: Should we bravely ‘ride on (our) aspirations to return’ (乘愿再来) to this world in the next life, to make this world a Pure Land (创立净土)?
Review: ‘Bravery without a (feasible) strategy’ (有勇无谋) is dangerous. The expression, to ‘ride on aspirations to return’ is reserved for the spiritually advanced who have control, who can remember their past lives, such that they can continue fulfilling their aspirations. If our past lives’ aspirations are forgotten, how can we return to fulfil any of them?
To know if the expression applies to you, just check if you can recall your surname in your immediate past life, which was one of the most personally used words from birth till death. If even this one word cannot be remembered, how can detailed aspirations be recalled, along with the profound Dharma knowledge needed, for continuing practice? Since these cannot be recalled, there will be need to relearn. Yet, in the face of increasing worldly distractions, will there even be aspiration to learn?
What Śākyamuni Buddha (释迦牟尼佛) repeatedly urged instead, for example, thrice in the Amitābha Sūtra《阿弥陀经》, is to aspire for rebirth (发愿往生) in Amitābha Buddha’s (阿弥陀佛) Pure Land. With comprehensive training there by its Buddha and many great Bodhisattvas (菩萨), while empowered to recall all past lives, we will swiftly become capable of ‘riding on aspirations to return’, to guide all others with the same efficient path to Buddhahood.
There is no need to worry that this world will run out of those capable of helping others, as from the same Pure Land and others, are qualified ones also ‘riding on aspirations to return’ now. They are not readily known as the Buddha instructed manifesting Bodhisattvas in this Dharma-Ending Age (末法时期) to conceal their identities, so as to inspire only with the Dharma and their conduct, not with mere claims. If we return unqualified, we will be part of the problem for these Bodhisattvas, as more beings to be guided; not part of the solution with them.
The truth is, all of us who cannot recall why we came, also ‘rode on aspirations to return’ here, but with them powered by the Three Poisons (三毒) of greed, hatred and delusion (贪嗔痴) – in terms of greedy attachment to this Sahā World (贪恋娑婆) and delusion (愚痴) about the great alternative of seeking birth in Pure Land (求生净土).
The Buddha never urged unaccomplished Bodhisattvas to stay in Saṃsāra (生死轮回), to avoid Pure Land, as this would be like asking immature children not to go to school. Just as enroling in a boarding school is not to forsake one’s family, but for essential focused learning to better support one’s family, it is wrong to assume that going to Pure Land means to forsake this world. What more, just as it is possible to come home before graduating from school, going to and returning from Pure Land can be repeatedly done too.
To make this world a Pure Land, it makes absolute sense to first visit a fully functioning Pure Land, to appreciate all its details up close, and to learn how it was accomplished. Not wanting to do so is a kind of arrogance – towards Śākyamuni Buddha’s great efforts of exhortation and Amitābha Buddha’s great efforts of creating a Pure Land for all to learn from. Trying to create a Pure Land without experiencing one is like deludedly imagining how vast and complex the sky really is, as a frog only seeing a small circle of it from the depths of a well (井底之蛙).
Surprisingly, many who wish to return immediately to this world are not very keen on attaining liberation swiftly, while imagining this world can become a Pure Land just by learning and sharing non-liberation inclined teachings. They have forgotten that all teachings are ultimately geared towards liberation, and that Pure Lands can be created only with personal attainment of Buddhahood.
Thus, those keen on liberating one and all should enter the best Dharma school, which is Amitābha Buddha’s Pure Land, that guarantees swiftest liberation, and urge others to do the same. It is unwise to think the path to Buddhahood is supposed to be long, that all can take their time.
In this world, like a sinking ship in this Dharma-Ending Age, with less and less of the Right Dharma (正法) present, precious time is running out. Those aware should urge all onboard to evacuate, to seek refuge beyond by bailing out safely, before returning better equipped to save the rest. The Pure Land teachings powered by Amitābha Buddha’s vows form the steady rescue ship.
Eager as we might be to patch a sinking ship with increasing number of leaks, there are practical limits to our efforts, before it finally does fully sink. Those who disbelieve this is going to happen are ignorant of the Buddha’s clear warnings on the present dangers of this Dharma-Ending Age, and how the Pure Land teachings are our last resort for liberation. Such ignorance is itself a grave symptom of this Age.
Śākyamuni Buddha’s Triple Exhortation To Seek Birth In Pure Land
What If You Are Reborn Here Again?
Do Pure Land Aspirants Forsake Other Beings?
Are You ‘Recycling’ Yourself Every Three Lifetimes?
The Buddha’s Admonition Against False Spiritual Claims
Is Our World Becoming A Pure Land Soon?
Last Sūtra In This Dharma-Ending Age
Verse On Complete Gathering
Is Seeking Birth In Pure Land Cowardly?
Are You Waiting For Your ‘Guru’ To Find You?