Three Pure Land Questions About The Lotus Sūtra
In the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sūtra《妙法莲华经》, Śākyamuni Buddha (释迦牟尼佛) spoke these verses in its Tenth Chapter [On] Dharma Teachers (法师品第十) –
If [there] are those able [to] accept [and] uphold,
[this] Wonderful Dharma Flower Sūtra,
[it] should [be] known [that they are by the] Buddha[s], those dispatched,
[with] sympathy mindful [of] all sentient beings.
Question : Does this mean that those who practise according to the Lotus Sūtra are all ‘ambassadors’ of the Buddha?
Answer: This is certainly so – only if they themselves know with absolute certainty, that they were dispatched by the Buddha(s), that they are practising its teachings correctly, and with universal compassion, including for humans, animals and unseen beings. (For example, as an aspect of practice, they should go vegan to minimise harm to sentient beings.)
This is different from merely ‘romanticising’ that they were ‘sent’ by the Buddha(s), when they have no clear memory of this at all, while lacking great compassion and wisdom in their relationships with all beings. In fact, if they imagine they were ‘sent’ by the Buddha(s), they are already misunderstanding the sūtra with ignorance and arrogance, to that extent not able to practise it correctly, what more teach it to other beings.
All those able [to] accept [and] uphold,
[this] Wonderful Dharma Flower Sūtra,
[with] leaving of Pure Land[s],
[with] sympathy [for] all thus, [are] born here.
Question : Does this mean that all should not practise to be born in any Pure Land, out of compassion, so as to guide all beings here with the sūtra?
Answer: No. To have ‘leaving of Pure Land(s)’, there must be reaching of Pure Land(s) first. With more mindful study of the verse, it will be realised that it says those who are able to truly practise according to the sūtra, are willing to depart from Pure Land(s), out of compassion, for all beings in defiled lands such as this world. This means they have already reached Pure Land(s), to further their practice there, which includes increasing of their compassion and wisdom, thus able to leave the Pure Land(s) to share the sūtra’s teachings, such as its key teaching that all can attain Buddhahood. This verse thus does not denounce the immeasurably great worth of reaching Pure Land(s) at all.
If reaching Pure Land(s) is useless, all Bodhisattvas will not strive to create Pure Lands, which perfect Bodhisattvas as Buddhas continue to preside in, to gather and receive beings, to expedite their progress towards Buddhahood, which is the very goal of the sūtra. In fact, in the Twenty-Fifth Chapter [On The] Universal Door (普门品第二十五), are teachings of Contemplator Of The World’s Sounds Bodhisattva (观世音菩萨) as a perfect example of a Great Bodhisattva who accords with this sūtra, who is famous for continually rescuing being from suffering and guiding beings to Amitābha Buddha’s (阿弥陀佛) Pure Land. (Out of all-encompassing compassion, she also simultaneously stays in the Pure Land to assist Amitābha Buddha to teach.)
Those who do not first reach a Pure Land for training via any Buddha are naturally less likely to be able to practise according to the sūtra well. This is just like those who are unwilling to be ideal students to learn properly from an ideal teacher in an ideal school is unlikely to become an ideal teacher personally.
[It] should [be] known [that] these such persons,
[have] ease [of] where [they] desire [to be] born,
able [to], in this evil period,
widely speak [the] unsurpassable Dharma.
Question : Does this mean that anyone who practises according to the sūtra will be able to be reborn safely wherever they wish, even in our defiled world?
Answer: Yes. However, this ‘anyone’ must fulfil the conditions in the other two verses above. Thus, this verse does not simply apply to everyone unconditionally. For example, according to the Immeasurable Life Sūtra《无量寿经》, those who have trained in Amitābha Buddha’s Pure Land will be able to recollect all they have mastered there and in their past lives, including the Lotus Sūtra learnt and practised incompletely here. According to the Contemplation Sūtra《观经》, it is there that great compassion from the perfect Bodhi Mind (菩提心: Bodhicitta) will be given rise to for sure.
And as inspired by the Buddha(s) in Pure Land(s), they will remember they were indeed, voluntarily or ‘by the Buddha(s), those dispatched, with sympathy mindful of all sentient beings’, for guiding them to Buddhahood, including via reaching of Pure Land(s) first. Being established Bodhisattvas then, also according to the Immeasurable Life Sūtra, they will naturally have great ease of safely manifesting births wherever they wish, even in defiled lands, to share the Dharma perfectly, including the teachings in the Lotus Sūtra.
Sight Of Amitābha Buddha’s Pure Land In This Defiled Land
Immeasurable Life Sūtra
Śākyamuni Buddha’s Pure Land On Spirit Vulture Mountain (And Related Pure Land Concepts)
Sight Of This Defiled Land As A Pure Land In The Vimalakīrti Sūtra
How Are Śākyamuni Buddha And Amitābha Buddha Related? https://purelanders.com/2021/04/13/how-are-sakyamuni-buddha-and-amitabha-buddha-related
How The Buddha Is Gone Yet Not Gone For Good https://thedailyenlightenment.com/2018/10/how-the-buddha-is-gone-yet-not-gone-for-good
Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!