Sight Of Amitābha Buddha’s Pure Land In This Defiled Land 在此秽土所见的阿弥陀佛净土

Sight Of Amitābha Buddha’s Pure Land In This Defiled Land

In the main Pure Land Sūtras (净土经), there are two incidents of beings in this defiled land (秽土) having sight of Amitābha Buddha’s (阿弥陀佛) Pure Land, as empowered by Śākyamuni Buddha (释迦牟尼佛). They are as summarised with notes below.

Both incidents were near and on Mount Gṛdhrakūṭa (耆阇崛山), which is also called Spirit Vulture Mountain (灵鹫山). The incident recorded in the Contemplation Sūtra《观经》was with the Buddha’s teleportation from it to Rājagṛha City’s (王舍城) royal palace nearby, while the incident in the Immeasurable Life Sūtra《无量寿经》was on the mountain.

For comparative study, in the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sūtra《妙法莲华经》, the Buddha spoke of [i] the same mountain being his Pure Land too, (as he has [ii] another Pure Land elsewhere). For more on this, see [i] (and [ii]

As two out of these three occasions of teaching are with empowered sight of Amitābha Buddha’s Pure Land, while there was no empowered sight of Śākyamuni Buddha’s Pure Land on the mountain, it can be concluded that the Buddha more highly encourages us to seek birth in Amitābha Buddha’s Pure Land.

There is also an incident of the Buddha empowering the assembly to see this defiled land as a Pure Land in the Vimalakīrti Sūtra《维摩诘经》. For more on this, see

Vaidehī’s Sight Of Amitābha Buddha’s Pure Land

In the Contemplation Sūtra《观经》, Vaidehī (韦提希) made the following request to Śākyamuni Buddha.

‘I only wish that the World-Honoured One, will for me extensively speak of the place without worries and afflictions, that I should be reborn in, as I do not have joy in this Jambudvīpa’s defiled and evil period. This defiled and evil place, with hell-beings, hungry ghosts and animals filled fully, is with many unvirtuous ones gathered. May I in the future, not hear evil voices, and not see evil persons.’…


[Note 1: Mainly deeply disheartened by her unfilial son Prince Ajātaśatru (阿阇世王子), who under Devadatta’s (调达) evil influence, imprisoned her husband King Bimbisāra (频婆娑罗王) (and her) to usurp the throne, Queen Vaidehī became disillusioned by life in this defiled land.]

‘At that time, the World-Honoured One emitted light from between his brows. His light golden in colour, illuminated everywhere in the ten directions’ immeasurable worlds. Returning to abide on the Buddha’s crown, transforming to be a gold dais, like Mount Sumeru. The ten directions’ all Buddhas’ pure and wonderful lands, with all within appear. Perhaps having lands, with seven treasures composed. Moreover, having lands, that are purely with lotus flowers. Moreover, having lands, like Ease Heaven’s palace. Moreover, having lands, like crystal mirrors. The ten directions’ lands, with all within appear. Having such and other immeasurable all Buddha lands, majestic, prominent and worth contemplating, enabling Vaidehī to see them.’


[Note 2: The vision of Pure Lands enabled by Śākyamuni Buddha can perhaps be thought of as a one-way three-dimensional light projection, that is superimposed partially upon this defiled land.]

[Note 3: This vision in Note 2 is different from the concept of this defiled land being a Pure Land ‘beneath’ its defilements, that Buddhas are able to perceive directly. For more on this, see (iii) and (iv) at]

‘Then, Vaidehī to the Buddha said, ‘World-Honoured One, all these Buddha lands, even though pure, with all having bright lights, I now have joy for birth in that Land Of Ultimate Bliss of Amitābha Buddha, only wishing that the World-Honoured One teach me to contemplate it, and teach me to rightly receive it.’


[Note 4: Being of royalty, Vaidehī’s giving rise to the aspiration to be reborn in Amitābha Buddha’s Pure Land after reviewing ‘the ten directions’ all Buddhas’ pure and wonderful lands’ (十方诸佛净妙国土) means that Amitābha Buddha’s Pure Land is literally ‘fit for a king’ (and queen), what more ordinary non-royals. In this sense, she helped us, especially those uncertain, to choose a Pure Land that is definitely ‘good enough’ for all in this defiled land, that has only deteriorated on the whole to be more defiled than in her time as this Dharma-Ending Age (末法时期) deepens. Just as her aspiration to reach Amitābha Buddha’s Pure Land is focused and singular, likewise should our aspiration be.]

Ānanda’s Sight Of Amitābha Buddha’s Pure Land

In the Immeasurable Life Sūtra《无量寿经》,  the Buddha instructed Ānanda on how to see Amitābha Buddha’s Pure Land.

‘You should rise, further tidy your robes, and with joined palms reverencing, prostrate to Immeasurable Life Buddha. The ten directions’ lands’ all Buddha Thus Come Ones, constantly together highly praise that Buddha, who is without attachment and without obstacles.’ Thereupon, Ānanda arose and tidied his robes, with upright body to the West faced, reverencing with joined palms, and with five parts of the body thrown to the ground, prostrated to Immeasurable Life Buddha. He said, ‘World-Honoured One, I aspire to see that Buddha, his Land Of Peace And Bliss, and all its Bodhisattvas’ and Voice-Hearers’ great assemblies.’


[Note 5: Just as even all Buddhas greatly praise Amitābha Buddha, all the more should we as ordinary beings do so, mentally (via mindfulness), verbally (via recitation), and physically (via prostrations).]

[Note 6: As Ānanda also prostrated towards Amitābha Buddha, and affirmed his aspiration to see Amitābha Buddha towards Śākyamuni Buddha, his vision of Amitābha Buddha’s Pure Land that follows was empowered by both Buddhas.]

‘Having said these words already, immediately, Immeasurable Life Buddha emitted great bright light, that universally illuminated all Buddha worlds. Vajra Wall Mountain, Sumeru Mountain King, all great and small mountains, all that exists, all had the same one colour. For example, like the kalpa’s water, that fully fills the world, with that within, its ten thousand things sunken, to not appear. With its bright expanse overflowing extensively, only seeing the great water. That Buddha’s bright light, is likewise thus. Of Voice-Hearers and Bodhisattvas, all their bright lights, were all concealed and covered, only seeing the Buddha’s light, brilliant and prominent. At that time, Ānanda immediately saw Immeasurable Life Buddha, with majestic virtues imposing, like Sumeru Mountain King, higher than all worlds above. With forms’ excellences’ bright lights, with none not illuminated. This assembly’s four assemblies, at the same time, all saw them. Those there saw this land, likewise thus.’


[Note 7: This can perhaps also be thought of as a complete three-dimensional light projection, that is superimposed fully with greater brightness upon this defiled land and all its other physical and spiritual lights. However, this is projection is simultaneously like an two-way window (or visual ‘portal’), as beings in the Pure Land seen can see beings in this defiled land too.]

[Note 8: According to Amitābha Buddha’s three vows below, his Pure Land’s beings can immediately and clearly see any and every other pure and defiled lands, even without another external Buddha’s empowerment.

【Sixth Vow Of All Attaining Heavenly Eye With Pervasive Sight】: If I attain Buddhahood, should heavenly and human beings within my land, have those not attaining the heavenly eye, to at least see a hundred thousand koṭis of nayutas of all Buddha lands, I shall not obtain Right Awakening.


【Thirty-First Vow Of Pure Land With Illumination And Sight Of The Ten Directions】: 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. If it is not thus, I shall not obtain Right Awakening.


【Fortieth Vow Of Seeing All Buddha Lands Accordingly As Wished】: If I attain Buddhahood, of Bodhisattvas within my land, accordingly as wished, with desires to see the ten directions’ immeasurable majestic and pure Buddha lands, they will immediately as aspired, within the treasure trees, all be illuminated and seen, similar to in bright mirrors, seeing their faces’ images. If it is not thus, I shall not obtain Right Awakening.


Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an

Related Teachings:

Did Śākyamuni Buddha First Attain Buddhahood Here?

Does Śākyamuni Buddha Have His Own Pure Land?

[00] Preface Section (Of Contemplation Sūtra)

[33] Thirty-Third Chapter On The Land Of Ultimate Bliss Manifesting Presently (Of Immeasurable Life Sūtra)

[07] Seventh Chapter On Giving Rise To Great Vows (Of Immeasurable Life Sūtra)

How To Transcend Your Present Suffering Now 

Verses On Only Choice

Verses On Pure Land Choice

Verses On Moving Forward

Why Do Pure Lands Have The ‘Superior’ & ‘Inferior’?

Śākyamuni Buddha’s Pure Land On Spirit Vulture Mountain (And Related Pure Land Concepts) 

Three Pure Land Questions About The Lotus Sūtra

Sight Of This Defiled Land As A Pure Land In The Vimalakīrti Sūtra

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