[21] Pure Land’s Ponds, Water, Sand, Stairs, Paths, Towers, Pavilions & Lotus Flowers 净土之池水、金沙、阶道、楼阁与莲花


D2: Broad Explanation:


Divided [In] Two [Parts]: First, Further Explanation [On] That Received, Second, Combined Explanation [On Those] Able [To] Receive [And] That Received.


E1: Further Explanation [On] That Received  


Also [In] Two [Parts]: First, Explanation [On] Birthplaces, Second, Conclusive Guidance [On] Buddha’s Power


F1: Explanation [On] Birthplaces

【经】: 又舍利弗,极乐国土有七宝池,八功德水充满其中,池底纯以金沙布地。四边阶道,金、银、琉璃、玻璃合成。上有楼阁,亦以金、银、琉璃、玻璃、砗磲、赤珠、玛瑙而严饰之。池中莲花,大如车轮,青色青光、黄色黄光、赤色赤光、白色白光,微妙香洁。

[Sūtra]: Moreover, Śāriputra, [the] Land [Of] Ultimate Bliss has seven treasures’ ponds, [with] eight meritorious virtues’ waters fully filling them within, [and] pond beds purely with golden sand spread [on their] grounds. [On their] four sides [are] stairways, [of] gold, silver, lapis lazuli [and] crystal composed. Above are towering pavilions, also with gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal, tridacna, red pearls [and] carnelian thus adorning them. [The] ponds within [have] lotus flowers, [as] large as chariot wheels, blue coloured [of] blue light, yellow coloured [of] yellow light, red coloured [of] red light, white coloured [of] white light, refined, wonderful, fragrant [and] pure.

[解]: 上明住处,今明生处。

[Explanation]: [With the] above [having] explained dwelling places, now [being] explained [are] birthplaces.  


[The] treasure ponds [are with] gold, silver [and] others as formed, not [the] same [and] this place, [with] earth [and] stones.


Those eight meritorious virtues [are]:


One, pure [and] clear, different [from] this place, [with] muddy impurities.


Second, cool [and] refreshing, different [from being] cold [and] hot.


Third, sweet [and] pleasant, different [from being] salty [and] tasteless, [with] inferior taste.


Fourth, light [and] soft, different [from being] heavy [and hard].  


Fifth, moisturising, different [from that] reducing, spoiling [and] fading [in] colour.


Sixth, peaceful [and] harmonious, different [from being] hurried [and] violent.


Seventh, [able to] eradicate hunger [and] thirst, different [from being] raw [and] cold.


Eighth, [able to] grow [and] nurture all [sense] roots, different [from] injuring [and] damaging [of] all roots, and [with] epidemics, increasing sickness, [causing] sinking, drowning [and] others.


‘Fully filling them within’, different [from being] dried up [and] flooded. 


[With] bottoms purely [with] golden sand, different [from] filthy mud.


[With] stairs [and] paths [of] four treasures, different [from] bricks [and] stones.


Levels [of] steps [are] named [as] ‘stairs’, level roads [are] named [as] ‘paths’, buildings [of] several stories [are] named [as] ‘towers’, [and] high buildings [are] named [as] ‘pavilions’. 


[The] towering pavilions [of] seven treasures, [are] different [from] this place, [with] earth [and] wood built [and] painted.


[These] ‘towering pavilions’ are dwelling places, and Dharma assembly places. 


Only [upon] attaining [the] treasure ponds’ lotus wombs’ opening [in] bloom, then can [there be] ascent [onto the] four shores, [to] enter Dharma assemblies, [to] meet [the] Buddha [for] hearing [the] Dharma. 


Those wheel[-like] flowers, [like] Wheel[-Turning] Kings’ gold wheels, [are as] large [as] forty lǐs. Yet, [this is just] citing [the] most small said.


If according [to the] ‘Contemplation Sūtra’ and [the] ‘Immeasurable Life [Tathāgata] Assembly’, [the] large [and] small truly cannot [be] measured [in quantity], due [to those] together dwelling [in] Pure Land [having] bodily forms not equal [in size] thus.       


[The] ‘blue coloured’ [are] named ‘Utpala’ [i.e. Blue Lotus], [the] ‘yellow coloured’ [are] named ‘Kumudā’ [i.e. Yellow Lotus, [the] ‘red coloured’ [are] named ‘Padma’ [i.e. Red Lotus], [and the] ‘white coloured’ [are] named ‘Puṇḍarīka’ [i.e. White Lotus].    


Due [to their] born bodies having light, thus [do the] lotus wombs likewise have lights.


However, [as the Land Of] Ultimate Bliss’ lotus flowers, [have] lights [and] colours immeasurable, this likewise [is] briefly said.


‘Refined, wonderful, fragrant [and] pure’, briefly praises [the] lotus flowers’ four virtues.


[With] material [quality] yet without [coarse] forms, [thus] called ‘refined’.


Without obstruction, [thus] called ‘wonderful’.


Without [coarse] forms thus without [physical] dust, thus [called] ‘pure’.


[As the] lotus wombs [are] like these, [their] born bodies can [be] known [to be likewise too].

– 净土宗九祖澫益大师

– Pure Land Tradition’s 9th Patriarch Great Master Ǒuyì
(Essential Explanation [Of The] Sūtra [In Which The] Buddha Speaks [Of] Amitā[bha] Buddha)

Note: As lotus flowers in Pure Land are ‘refined, wonderful, fragrant [and] pure’ (微妙香洁), while radiating light with corresponding colours, this exemplifies ‘Adornment [With] Fragrance [And] Light’ (香光庄严), as taught in ‘[The] Great Buddha Crown’s Śūraṅgama Sūtra’s Section [On] Great Power Arrived Bodhisattva’s Perfect Penetration [With] Mindfulness [Of] Buddha’《大佛顶首楞严经大势至菩萨念佛圆通章》:  


‘If sentient beings’ minds recollect [Amitā(bha)] Buddha, [and are] mindful [of the] Buddha, now [or in the] future, [they] will definitely see [the] Buddha. [With the] Buddha not far [away], without use [of] expedient means, [they will], by themselves, attain awakening [of their] minds. Like [a] person perfumed [by] incense, [whose] body has fragrance, this [is] thus named “Adornment [With] Fragrance [And] Light”.’

When we practise sincerely, we will see the Buddha come to receive us, and later in Pure Land, when born from lotus flowers. ‘Adornment with fragrance and light’ does not just occur in Pure Land, when within lotuses, but also now, when our practice connects with the Buddha’s light (through his vow #12 and #33), and the fragrance of his meritorious virtues (through his vow #32). To inspire and to bless us, his immeasurable light and fragrance mingles with and amplifies ours, giving rise to auspicious signs of seeing his light (见佛光) and smelling his ‘extraordinary fragrance filling the room’ (异香满堂), even before reaching Pure Land.

Namo Amituofo : Translation and note by Shen Shi’an

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