Comparative Studies

21 Reasons Why This World Is Not A Pure Land 此土非净土的21个原因

21 Reasons Why This World Is Not A Pure Land
此土非净土的21个原因

The below is with reference to the most concise Pure Land sūtra (净土经), the Amitābha Sūtra《阿弥陀经》, on the most popular Pure Land (净土), as taught about most frequently by all Buddhas (诸佛).

[1] Audience: The Buddha taught, ‘Great Arhats… Great Bodhisattvas… many heavenly great assemblies together.’ (大阿罗汉… 诸大菩萨… 诸天大众俱。)

This means the Pure Land teachings are relevant even to the enlightened and heavenly beings, what more human beings in this land here. If this land is already a Pure Land, there would be no need to give these teachings here.

[2] Location: The Buddha taught that, ‘From here, in the western direction, passing a hundred thousand koṭis of Buddha lands, is a world named “Ultimate Bliss”.’ (从是西方,过十万亿佛土,有世界名曰极乐。)

In contrast, he did not teach that this defiled land (污土) here is a Pure Land with much bliss, what more ultimate bliss.

[3] Bliss: The Buddha taught, ‘That land’s sentient beings, are without all kinds of suffering, and only receive all kinds of bliss’. (其国众生,无有众苦,但受诸乐)

This is different from this land here, which is with all kinds of physical pain and mental suffering, without all kinds of bliss. Dissatisfactions (苦) here include the Eight Sufferings (八苦) of birth (生), ageing (老), sickness (病), death (死), separation from the beloved (爱别离), meeting the hated (怨憎会), not attaining the sought (求不得) and blazing of the Five Aggregates (五蕴炽盛) (of forms [色], feelings [受], perceptions [想], mental formations [行] and consciousness [识]). Such sufferings can manifest in terms of labour pain (for the mother and child), physical weakening, pandemics, long-drawn dying process, premature death, war, starvation, injustice, human-made disasters, natural disasters, pollution, climate crisis and much more.

[4] Treasures: The Buddha taught that, ‘the Land Of Ultimate Bliss has… all with four treasures surrounding’. (极乐国土… 皆是四宝周匝围绕)

This is different from this land here, which is without any place with such treasures surrounding.

[5] Ponds, Waters, Sands, Stairways: The Buddha taught that, ‘the Land Of Ultimate Bliss has seven treasures’ ponds, with eight meritorious virtues’ waters fully filling them within. Their pond beds are purely with golden sand spread on their grounds. On their four sides are stairways, of gold, silver, lapis lazuli and crystal composed.’ (极乐国土,有七宝池,八功德水,充满其中。池底,纯以金沙布地。四边阶道,金、银、琉璃、玻璃,合成。)

This is different from this land here, which is without such combinations of ponds, waters, sands and stairways.

[6] Pavilions: The Buddha taught that, in the Pure Land’s ponds ‘above are towering pavilions, also with gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal, tridacna, red pearls and carnelian thus adorning them.’ (上有楼阁,亦以金、银、琉璃、玻璃、砗磲、赤珠、玛瑙,而严饰之。)

This is different from this land here, which is without such combinations of treasure pavilions.

[7] Lotus Flowers: The Buddha taught that, ‘The ponds within have lotus flowers, as large as chariot wheels, blue coloured of blue light, yellow coloured of yellow light, red coloured of red light, white coloured of white light, refined, wonderful, fragrant and pure.’ (池中莲花,大如车轮,青色青光、黄色黄光、赤色赤光、白色白光,微妙香洁。)

This is different from this land here, which is without such large lotus flowers that emit blessings via lights and fragrances.

[8] Ground: The Buddha taught, ‘that Buddha Land… is with gold as ground.’ (彼佛国土… 黄金为地。)

This is different from this land here, which is without such soft and majestic ground.

[9] Heavenly Flowers: The Buddha taught that, ‘Day and night, during the six periods, raining from the sky are Māndarāva flowers. That land’s sentient beings, constantly in early mornings, each with their clothes’ lapels, fill many wonderful flowers, to make offerings to other directions’ hundred thousand koṭis of Buddhas. Promptly by mealtime, they return to the original land, to eat and do walking meditation.’ (昼夜六时,雨天曼陀罗华。其土众生,常以清旦,各以衣祴,盛众妙华,供养他方十万亿佛。即以食时,还到本国,饭食经行。)

This is different from this land here, which is without such constant raining of rare and beautiful flowers, for making offerings to so many Buddhas, and to learn from them, personally and swiftly, thus accumulating blessings (福) and wisdom (慧) most swiftly, for non-retrogressible (不退转) progress towards Buddhahood.

[10] Birds: The Buddha taught, ‘that land constantly has all kinds of rare and wonderful birds of various colours — White Cranes, Peacocks, Parrots, Śāris, Kalaviṅkas, and Life-Sharing Birds. All these many birds, day and night, during the six periods, produce harmonious and elegant sounds. Their sounds smoothly explain the Five Roots, Five Powers, Seven Bodhi Factors, Eightfold Noble Path Factors, such and other Dharma… Of all these many birds, all are Amitā[bha] Buddha, who desires to enable the Dharma’s sounds to be propagated, with manifestations of them made.’ (彼国常有种种奇妙杂色之鸟,白鹤、孔雀、鹦鹉、舍利、迦陵频伽、共命之鸟。是诸众鸟,昼夜六时,出和雅音。其音演畅五根、五力、七菩提分、八圣道分,如是等法。… 是诸众鸟,皆是阿弥陀佛,欲令法音宣流,变化所作。)

This is different from this land here, which is without such birds manifested by any Buddha, who constantly ‘sing’ all aspects of the Dharma, ensuring the ready availability of the Dharma at all times.

[11] Without Evil Paths And Their Names: The Buddha taught, ‘That Buddha Land is without the three evil paths… even without names of the evil paths’. (彼佛国土,无三恶道。… 尚无恶道之名)

This is different from this land here, with co-existence of the two evil paths, of hungry ghosts (饿鬼) and animals (畜生), and is with many names (and thus negative thoughts) of the three evil paths, of hell-beings (地狱众生), hungry ghosts (饿鬼) and animals (畜生).

[12] Music: The Buddha taught that, ‘in that Buddha Land, gentle breezes blow and move all the lined treasure trees and treasure nets, to produce refined and wonderful sounds. For example, like a hundred thousand kinds of music, at the same time together playing. Those who hear these sounds, naturally all give rise to minds with mindfulness of the Buddha, mindfulness of the Dharma, and mindfulness of the Saṃgha.’ (彼佛国土,微风吹动诸宝行树,及宝罗网,出微妙音。譬如百千种乐,同时俱作。闻是音者,自然皆生念佛念法念僧之心。)

This is different from this land here, which is without such spiritually inspirational music.

[13] Lifespans: The Buddha taught, ‘that Buddha’s lifespan, and that of his people, are of immeasurable and boundless asaṃkhyeya kalpas’. (彼佛寿命,及其人民,无量无边阿僧祇劫)

This is different from this land here, which is without such long lifespans of Buddhas, for receiving and guiding, teaching and blessing, and such long lifespans of its people, for learning and practising the Dharma.

[14] Voice-Hearers: The Buddha taught, ‘that Buddha has immeasurable and boundless Voice-Hearer disciples’. (彼佛有无量无边声闻弟子)

This is different from this land here, which is perhaps without even one Voice-Hearer (i.e. Arhat) to learn from in this Dharma-Ending Age (末法时期), what more to be accomplished as one.

[15] Bodhisattvas: The Buddha taught that, ‘All Bodhisattva assemblies, are likewise thus [i.e. immeasurable and boundless].’ (诸菩萨众,亦复如是。)

This is different from this land here, which is perhaps without even one Bodhisattva to learn from in this Dharma-Ending Age, what more to be accomplished as one.

[16] Avaivartikas And Those In the Position Of One Life To Replacement: The Buddha taught that, ‘in the Land Of Ultimate Bliss, those sentient beings born, are all Avaivartikas. Among them, many are in the Position Of One Life To Replacement, with their number extremely great, that cannot by counting their number be known of’. (极乐国土,众生生者,皆是阿鞞跋致。其中多有一生补处,其数甚多,非是算数所能知之)

This is different from this land here, which is perhaps without even one Avaivartika and one in the Position Of One Life To Replacement to learn from in this Dharma-Ending Age, what more to be accomplished as one of them.

[17] Superior Good Persons: The Buddha taught that, ‘those sentient beings who hear this, should vow, vowing to be born in that land… to attain being with all such superior good persons, together meeting in one place.’ (众生闻者,应当发愿,愿生彼国。… 得与如是诸上善人,俱会一处。)

This is different from this land here, which is perhaps without even one truly superior good person to learn from in this Dharma-Ending Age, what more to be accomplished as one.

[18] Vow: The Buddha taught three times throughout the sūtra for repeated encouragement, along the line that, ‘If there are sentient beings, who hear this said, they should vow, to be born in that land.’ (若有众生,闻是说者,应当发愿,生彼国土。)

In contrast, he did not teach even once that anyone should vow to be reborn in this defiled land (秽土) here. (If reborn here, lacking the above benefits of the Pure Land, not only will all of the Dharma learnt and practised in the past be immediately forgotten, just as what learnt in our past lives are now forgotten, there will be deeper entering of this Dharma-Ending Age, with increasingly less of the Right Dharma [正法] available for learning, thus decreasing the conditions for liberation.)

[19] Five Defilements’ Evil Period: The Buddha taught the teachings in this ‘Sahā Land’s Five Defilements’ Evil Period, with Kalpa’s Defilement, Views’ Defilement, Afflictions’ Defilement, Sentient Beings’ Defilement, and Lifespan’s Defilement’. (娑婆国土,五浊恶世,劫浊、见浊、烦恼浊、众生浊、命浊)

If this land if a Pure Land, it would not be called the Sahā Land, which is where there is ‘Endurance’ of much suffering. There would also be none of the Five Defilements, thus not being in this Evil Period.

[20] Adornments: In summary and conclusion, as the Buddha taught four times throughout the sūtra for emphasis, ‘the Land Of Ultimate Bliss is accomplished with such meritorious virtues’ adornments.’ (极乐国土,成就如是功德庄严。)

It is very different from this land here, which lacks such meritorious virtues and their adornments. For more comparative differences, do study the related Pure Land sūtras fully, as listed below.

[21] All Buddhas’ Mindful Protection: The Buddha taught that all Buddhas are ‘speaking these truthful words, “You and other sentient beings, should believe this ‘Sūtra With Praises Of Inconceivable Meritorious Virtues And All Buddhas’ Mindful Protection’.”‘ (说诚实言:『汝等众生,当信是称赞不可思议功德一切诸佛所护念经。』) Also teaching that those ‘who hear this sūtra, accept and uphold it… will all by all Buddhas, be mindfully protected, and all attain non-retrogression for Anuttarā Samyak Saṃbodhi.’ (闻是经受持者… 皆为一切诸佛之所护念,皆得不退转于阿耨多罗三藐三菩提。)

This means that the meritorious virtues of the Pure Land taught should be believed in, with its teachings of wholehearted mindfulness of Buddha practised to receive all Buddhas’ protection, and for attaining non-backsliding progress for Buddhahood via reaching the Pure Land. This is not about staying in this land here.

相关教理
Related Teachings:

 此土彼土难易十种
Ten Kinds Of Difficulties In This Land Vs Ease In That Land
https://purelanders.com/2012/01/17/ten-comparisons-of-the-suffering-of-samsara-vs-the-bliss-of-pure-land

这个世界能成人间净土吗?
Can This Human World Become A Pure Land?
https://purelanders.com/2022/12/06/can-this-human-world-become-a-pure-land

相关经典
Related Sūtras:

《佛说阿弥陀经》
The Sūtra In Which The Buddha Speaks Of Amitābha Buddha
https://purelanders.com/sutra

《佛说无量寿经》
The Sūtra In Which The Buddha Speaks Of Immeasurable Life
https://purelanders.com/dajing

《佛说观无量寿佛经》
The Sūtra In Which The Buddha Speaks Of Contemplation Of Immeasurable Life Buddha
https://purelanders.com/guanjing

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