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Why Is Āmítuófó’s Pure Land The Land Of All Lands, The Land Of Your Dreams? 为何阿弥陀佛的净土即是国中国,您的理想国 Verses On That As Wished 如意偈

The Land Of Your Dreams

In the ‘Immeasurable Life Sūtra’s《无量寿经》’Eleventh Chapter On Land’s Treasures’ Adornments’ (国土宝严第十一), Śākyamuni Buddha (释迦牟尼佛) told Ānanda (阿难) and the great assembly, ‘Moreover, that [Amitā(bha) Buddha’s (阿弥陀佛: Āmítuófó) Pure] Land [Of Ultimate Bliss (极乐世界)] is without Mount Sumeru, and Vajra Wall, with all mountains. Likewise without great oceans, small seas, streams, channels, wells and valleys. With the Buddha’s supernormal power thus, desiring to see them, then seeing them.’ (又其国土,无须弥山,及金刚围,一切诸山。亦无大海小海、溪渠井谷。佛神力故,欲见则见。)

Expressing equanimity and ease, the Pure Land is by default without any physical formations with high ups and steep downs, of mountains, valleys and such, that psychologically hint of inequality, which might also ‘divide’ people with difficulties of crossing them. Yet, there is also the clause, that should anyone there wish to see them, they will manifest accordingly for oneself. With the Buddha’s immeasurable blessings, the empowered scenery will surely be spiritually magnificent and inspiring, just as wanted and imagined. (Surely, the listed objects are not exhaustive.)

The above feature is a very special detail of Āmítuófó’s Pure Land, that perfectly illustrates his meticulousness – that is expressed not only in terms of his faultless default designs, but in terms of letting his citizens ‘(re)design’ them at will too. This instant ‘reshapability’ of his Pure Land surely leaves all with no reason to not reach it. This truly makes it ‘the land of your dreams’, functioning as if as your own Pure Land, accordingly as wished. (With accumulated meritorious virtues and wisdom upon Buddhahood later, you can truly create your ‘independent’ Pure Land too.)

Having covered the physical nature of the Pure Land, the Buddha continues teaching on its spiritual nature, ‘Likewise without realms of hell-beings, hungry ghosts, animals and all difficulties.’ (亦无地狱饿鬼畜生诸难之趣。) Being the Land Of Ultimate Bliss, there are no effects (果) of suffering from the Three Poisons (三毒) there, as great greed (贪) would lead to rebirth as hungry ghosts, great hatred (嗔) would lead to rebirth as hell-beings, and great delusion (痴) would lead to rebirth as animals.

This is also reflected in Āmítuófó’s ‘First Vow Of Land Without Three Evil Paths’ (第一:国中无三恶道愿) in the ‘Seventh Chapter On Giving Rise To Great Vows’ (发大誓愿第七). ‘If I attain Buddhahood, should my land have those as hell-beings, hungry ghosts and animals, I shall not obtain Right Awakening.’ (设我得佛,国有地狱饿鬼畜生者,不取正觉。) Thus, there is attainment of liberation from the three evil paths (or three lower realms) upon reaching his Pure Land.

According to Āmítuófó’s ‘Sixteenth Vow Of Land Without Names Of The Unvirtuous Within’ (第十六:国中无不善名愿), there are no causes and conditions (因缘) of suffering in his Pure Land too. ‘If I attain Buddhahood, should heavenly and human beings within my land, even have those who hear the names of the unvirtuous, I shall not obtain Right Awakening.’ (设我得佛,国中天人,乃至闻有不善名者,不取正觉。) Thus, there is attainment of liberation from all evil influences in his Pure Land.

This also means that despite being able to ‘reshape’ the Pure Land as wished, being without activities of the Three Poisons, which are the most primary evil influences, such practice of reshaping will never conflict in principle with how the Pure Land is meant to be, with all its pure skilful means. No one will be able to ‘sabotage’, even if accidentally, by warping it, to no longer be the swiftest expressway to Buddhahood.

The Buddha concludes this section by reiterating the reshapability of the Pure Land, using subtle examples of weather conditions. ‘Likewise without the four seasons of spring, autumn, winter and summer, neither cold nor hot, constantly harmonious and adaptive.’ (亦无四时春秋冬夏,不寒不热,常和调适。) Being the Land Of Peace And Bliss (安乐国), there is attainment of liberation from climate crises (in terms of all natural and human-made disasters [天灾人祸]) in his Pure Land.

Thus, there is also none of the unseen, like the temperature and winds, that might give rise to discomfort – as they too can be finely tuned by individuals and for individuals. With the above key teachings somewhere near the middle of the sūtra, which might be easily overlooked, on what desired being easily attained there, Āmítuófó’s Pure Land can truly be called ‘the realm as wished’ (如意界), both physically and spiritually. Why then, would anyone not aspire to reach this paradise?

The Land Of All Lands

One of the many great advantages of reaching the Pure Land is that all there will have the heavenly eye (天眼), as empowered by Āmítuófó, to directly see all other Buddha lands (佛土), both the pure and the defiled. By seeing Pure Lands (净土), there can be learning from more Buddhas, on how to attain Buddhahood, thus giving rise to perfect wisdom (圆满智慧). This aids in the higher seeking of the Buddha path (上求佛道). By seeing defiled lands (秽土), there can be learning more about ordinary beings, on how they suffer, thus giving rise to perfect compassion (圆满慈悲). This aids in the lower transforming of sentient beings (下化众生).

The above is so according to Āmítuófó’s ‘Thirty-First Vow Of Pure Land With Illumination And Sight Of The Ten Directions’ (第三十一:净国照见十方愿). ‘If I attain Buddhahood, my land will be pure, with all of it illuminating for seeing the ten directions’ all immeasurable, innumerable and inconceivable all Buddha worlds, similar to in bright mirrors, seeing their faces’ images (i.e. very clearly). If it is not thus, I shall not obtain Right Awakening.’ (设我得佛,国土清净,皆悉照见十方一切无量无数不可思议诸佛世界,犹如明镜,睹其面像。若不尔者,不取正觉。)

It is also possible to swiftly visit these other Pure Lands, to make offerings to Buddhas and learn from them in person, thus cultivating both blessings and wisdom (福慧双修), before returning to the Pure Land Of Ultimate Bliss just as swiftly. The above is so according to Āmítuófó’s ‘Twenty-Third Vow Of In One Instant Universally Offering To All Buddhas’ (第二十三:一时普供诸佛愿). ‘If I attain Buddhahood, should Bodhisattvas within my land, who receive the Buddha’s supernormal power, to make offerings to all Buddhas, in the short time for having one meal, be not able to everywhere reach innumerable and immeasurable koṭis of nayutas of all Buddha lands, I shall not obtain Right Awakening.’ (设我得佛,国中菩萨,承佛神力,供养诸佛,一食之顷,不能遍至无数无量亿那由他诸佛国者,不取正觉。) Even without leaving the Pure Land, making offerings to Āmítuófó and learning from him will suffice for swift progress towards Buddhahood.

Thus, as Great Master Zhìzhě (智者大师) taught in ‘The Treatise On Ten Doubts About Pure Land’《净土十疑论》in ‘The Third Doubt: Doubt Of Particular Mindfulness Of One Buddha’ (第三疑: 偏念一佛疑), ‘Mindfulness of Amitā[bha] Buddha, is mindfulness of all Buddhas. Birth in [his] one Pure Land, is birth in all Pure Lands.‘ (念阿弥陀佛,即念一切佛。生一净土,即生一切净土。) With sincere mindfulness of Āmítuófó, who stands for all Buddhas, we will reach his Pure Land, through which all lands and their benefits can be accessed. This makes it ‘the land of all lands’. Āmítuófó’s Pure Land is the easiest to enter, with the Three Provisions (三资粮) of profound Faith (深信), sincere Aspiration (切愿) and true Practice (实行). Yet, through it, it is easy to access other Pure Lands, that are otherwise more challenging to enter by oneself.

Thus again, is it perfectly understandable, that in the ‘Thirty-Sixth Chapter On Bodhisattvas Reborn’ (菩萨往生第卅六), the Buddha told Maitreya Bodhisattva (弥勒菩萨), that ‘in the ten directions’ worlds’ immeasurable Buddha lands, those reborn [there… are] extremely many and innumerable.’ (十方世界无量佛国,其往生者… 甚多无数。) If so, why not reach this ‘Grand Central’, to join their good company too?

Tan Dang

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Related Articles:

发大誓愿第七
Seventh Chapter On Giving Rise To Great Vows
https://purelanders.com/2020/04/dajing7

国土宝严第十一
Eleventh Chapter On Land’s Treasures’ Adornments
https://purelanders.com/2020/04/dajing11

《无量寿经》第十一品:小结与解释
Immeasurable Life Sūtra’s Eleventh Chapter’s Summary & Explanation
https://purelanders.com/2020/10/18/immeasurable-life-sutras-ninth-chapters-summary-explanation

为何偏念一佛?
Why Be Particularly Mindful Of One Buddha?
https://thedailyenlightenment.com/2014/03/why-be-particularly-mindful-of-one-buddha

诸土偈
Verses On All Lands
https://purelanders.com/2021/09/verses-on-all-lands

胜见偈
Verses On Supreme Sight
https://purelanders.com/2020/12/29/verses-on-supreme-sight

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