How Is Right Livelihood Practised In Pure Land? 在净土如何修正命?

Question: The Amitābha Sūtra《阿弥陀经》states that teachings such as the Eightfold Noble Path (八圣道) are taught in Amitābha Buddha’s (阿弥陀佛) Pure Land (净土). Since there is no need to have any livelihood there, how can the path’s Right Livelihood (正命) be relevant?

Answer: Our ‘Right Livelihood’ in Pure Land is not in terms of worldly making of a living for material sustenance and gain. Our full-time ‘job’ there is the most noble spiritual vocation possible – to learn and practise to be a Bodhisattva bound for Buddhahood, and to guide others to do likewise.

It can be said that all our worldly work in innumerable past lives and this present life should ultimately be for support of this ‘work’, to make this spiritual mission possible. Our truest and most fulfilling work is thus spiritual work – for benefiting one and all with the Dharma.

Even if teachings on what constitutes Right Livelihood in terms of worldly work seems irrelevant for application within Pure Land, they are still very relevant knowledge for the Bodhisattvas training there, for later guiding other beings, who have yet to understand them, and have yet to reach Pure Land. It is with knowledge of Right Livelihood, and the other aspects of the Noble Eightfold Path, that makes basic spiritual progress possible.

Thus, mastery of the entire path is not just for oneself, but for others too, as part of Bodhisattva practice. This should be likewise understood for all other seemingly ‘less relevant’ aspects of the path in Pure Land, such as Right Speech (正语), as it is impossible to personally to have wrong speech there, while others elsewhere might, and will find corrective teachings on speech crucial and useful. (E.g. One of the worst forms of wrong speech to have is slander of the precious Pure Land teachings in the scriptures and commentaries due to arrogance and delusion.)

Also, in the above sense and beyond, depending on how detailedly the Noble Eightfold Path for self-liberation is expanded upon, it can even extend to become the Six Perfections (六度) for the liberation of all beings.

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Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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