Q&A

Does Sight Or Enabling Sight Of Pure Land Means One Is Enlightened? 自见或令他见净土者即是圣者吗?

[i] Does Personally Seeing Pure Land Means One Is Enlightened?

Question: Does personally being able to see Pure Land means one is enlightened?

Answer: No, as the teaching below, from the Śūraṅgama Sūtra’s Chapter On Fifty Aggregates’ Demon[ic States] (《楞严经》五十阴魔章) explains, as part of the description by Śākyamuni Buddha (释迦牟尼佛) on those who might be on the verge of succumbing to the Eighth Feeling Aggregate’s Demonic State: With Wisdom And Peace Self-Satisfied (第八受阴魔:慧安自足):

「净心功极,忽见大地十方山河皆成佛国,具足七宝,光明遍满。又见恒沙诸佛如来遍满空界,楼殿华丽。下见地狱,上观天宫,得无障碍。此名欣厌凝想日深,想久化成。非为圣证。不作圣心,名善境界。若作圣解,即受群邪。」

‘[With] purification [of the] mind’s efforts [or skills] utmost, suddenly seeing [the] great earth’s ten directions’ mountains [and] rivers all become [a] Buddha land, complete [with] seven treasures, [with] bright light everywhere filled. Also seeing Ganges’ sands [of] all Buddha Thus Come [Ones] everywhere filling space’s realm, [with] towering [palace] halls splendid. Below seeing [the] hells, above observing heavenly palaces, attaining [sight] without obstructions. This [is] named [as ‘with] rejoice [and] revulsion, [having] concentration [that with the] day deepened’, [with] perception [for] long [having its] manifestation completed. [It is] not as [a] noble realisation [i.e. from having become enlightened]. Not regarding [oneself as having a] noble [being’s] mind, [it is] named [as a] good state. If regarding [oneself as having a] noble [being’s] understanding, [one] immediately receives hordes [of] evil [demons’ influences].’

Notes:

[1] The above experience of perceiving the ordinary world ‘tipping over’ to ‘become’ a Pure Land occurs due to the principle of ‘When the mind is pure, then is the land is pure’ (心净则国土净). In the same sūtra, as taught by the Buddha, ‘[With the] mind retaining [recollection of a] Buddha land, [its] noble realm [will from the] dark [within] appear.’ (心存佛国,圣境冥现。)

[2] If no particular Pure Land was focused upon, that seen reflects the generic nature of Pure Lands, not any specific one.

[3] As what caught is but a glimpse, instead of being a sustained and endless experience, one is still not in a Pure Land, and one’s mind has yet to be purified completely. Even those who experience a Pure Land in a sustainable way upon reaching it still have to learn and practise towards complete purification.

[4] One is certainly not yet a Buddha, as one did not personally create the Pure Land seen, with personally perfected wisdom (智慧) and meritorious virtues (功德).

[5] Many Buddhas are also seen as one is attuned to the universal state of Buddhas in the moment, not to any specific Buddha.

[6] Seeing temporarily with the Buddha Eye (佛眼), one is also able to see the entire spectrum of all ordinary realms, from the hells to the heavens.

[7] The vision is possible due to cultivation of concentration (定), with aspiration (愿) having ‘revulsed renunciation of the Sahā World, and joyful seeking of Pure Land (in general)’ (厌离娑婆,欣求净土). It can also be from visualisation (观) practice, as a means for tuning to the actual.

[8] Although such a practitioner is on the right track of spiritual progress, with this experience being a natural milestone for those very diligent and skilled, there also has to be correspondingly greater caution, so as to not go astray with delusional arrogance, by falsely imagining oneself as being already enlightened, to possibly even forgo the actual reach of a Pure Land to perfect practice. If deludedly doing so, one will be open to many demonic influences, that can even lead to fall into the Uninterrupted Hell (无间地狱).

[9] There is no need for ordinary practitioners to pine for the experience described, as such subtle greed disguised as spiritual motivation might open one to demonic influences too, especially if one’s learning and practice are weak.

[ii] Does Enabling Seeing Of Pure Land Means One Is Enlightened?

Question: Does personally being able to enable others to see Pure Land means one is enlightened?

Answer: No, as the teaching below, from the Śūraṅgama Sūtra’s Chapter On Fifty Aggregates’ Demon[ic States] (《楞严经》五十阴魔章) explains, as part of the description by Śākyamuni Buddha (释迦牟尼佛) on those who have succumbed to the Eighth Perception Aggregate’s Demonic State: Greedy Seeking Of Supernormal Powers (第八想阴魔:贪求神力):

「自言是佛。身著白衣,受比丘礼。诽谛禅律,骂詈徒众。讦露人事,不避讥嫌。口中常说神通自在。或复令人傍见佛土。鬼力惑人,非有真实。赞叹行淫,不毁粗行。将诸猥媟,以为传法。」

‘[S/he (i.e. the evil teacher) will] self-proclaim [to] be [a] Buddha. [With] body wearing white [i.e. lay] clothes, receiving bhikṣus’ bows. Slandering [the] truths [of] dhyāna [i.e. meditation] [and monastic] discipline [i.e. precepts], insulting [my] disciples’ assemblies. Denouncing [and] exposing [their] personal matters, [such that they can]not avoid [being] held in contempt. [With the] mouth within constantly speaking [of having] supernormal [powers with] ease. Perhaps repeatedly enabling people close [to] see “Buddha lands”. [With] ghosts’ powers confusing people, not having [that which is] true. Highly praising acts [of] sex, not condemning coarse acts. [S/he] will [use] all [of that] vulgar [and] lewd, with [them] for transmitting [the] “Dharma”.’

Notes:

[10] Evil teachers (邪师) who claim to be able to show ‘Pure Lands’ to others tend to be those who falsely claim to be enlightened, or to have the enlightened as their teachers, or to be manifestations of the above. Of course, what seen are illusions; not true visions of Pure Lands.

[11] Although they are householders, who are not even proper lay Buddhists, they manage to deceive even ill-informed monastics, who deludedly revere them.

[12] These evil teachers slander proper Dharma practices (i.e. the Threefold Training [三学] of Precepts [戒] [i.e. Morality], Concentration [定] and Wisdom [慧]) and proper Dharma practitioners, using slander and threats to disturb them, and to distract others from learning from them.

[13] They falsely claim to easily wield supernormal powers (神通力) to gain popularity, when what they are ‘borrowing’ are evil ghosts’ (恶鬼) powers (鬼通力).

[14] They promote lustfulness and crude behaviour as ‘practices’, which the worldly might already habitually like, thus riding on these, to further their wrong teachings to confuse others.

[15] If deludedly following them, one will be open to many demonic influences, that can even lead to fall into the Uninterrupted Hell (无间地狱) with them.

[16] While true Buddhas can enable sight of true Pure Lands with their Other-Power (他力), they will not have any of the negative attributes above; only having the opposite – which are pure virtues, for expounding the pure Dharma.

Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an

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https://purelanders.com/2020/11/19/what-did-the-buddha-teach-about-here-now-being-pure-land

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