Question: Are those who are born in Āmítuófó’s (Amitābha Buddha: 阿弥陀佛) Pure Land (净土) instantly Buddhas?
Answer: This is not mentioned in any of the directly related Pure Land sūtras. It is also not mentioned in sūtras about other Pure Lands.
Only the Buddhas, who are the founders of their respective Pure Lands simultaneously became Buddhas the moment their Pure Lands are completely formed. This is so as their Pure Lands’ full accomplishment according to their perfect vows (愿) goes along with the fruition of their Buddhahood.
(In this sense, Maitreya Bodhisattva’s [弥勒菩萨] Tuṣita Heaven’s Inner Court [兜率内院] is not a full ‘Pure Land’ yet, as he has yet to manifest Buddhahood with his actual Pure Land.)
Thus, with completely pure Pure Lands being the results of perfect spiritual purification, and with us being far from being enlightened, it is impossible to immediately become fully enlightened upon reaching them.
As there must still be the working of cause and effect, non-Buddhas who reach Āmítuófó’s Pure Land, although are born into the pure physical realm of his Ultimate Nirvāṇa (涅槃界) bound for Buddhahood, are not born into the pure ‘mental state’ of Buddhahood directly.
His Pure Land however functions as the most efficient, skilful and blissful school for learning and practice of the Dharma towards Buddhahood, in the swiftest way possible.
Worth noting too, is that other than Āmítuófó himself, the Buddhahood of beings in Āmítuófó’s Pure Land will be manifested outside of it to benefit more beings. To prevent confusion, each Pure Land only has one Buddha – the very one who accomplished it.
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