What Happens In Pure Land’s Lotus Flowers Before They Blossom?
Question: What happens within lotus flowers in the Pure Land before they blossom?
Answer: There will be conditions for further spiritual cultivation, including repentance (忏悔) for eliminating evil karmas (消业), with the easiest practice being continuous mindfulness of Buddha (念佛). Of course, although without suffering, the supportive conditions will not be as ideal as being out of the flowers and on the actual Pure Land, with the key disadvantages being unable to encounter the Triple Gem (三宝) in person. (The longest stay in the lowest grade’s flower of 12 kalpas [十二大劫] however converts to only 12 days and nights in the Pure Land’s time.)
Question: Are remaining evil karmas (恶业) eliminated before the flowers blossom?
Answer: Not all evil karmas need to be eliminated, while only those which cause delay in blossoming (for experiencing the Pure Land) will be eliminated. If absolutely all evil karmas are eliminated, we will be unrealistically close to being Buddhas right upon blossoming, with little need to further Dharma practice. The Pure Land is supposed to function as an ideal Dharma school for perfecting our learning and practice, to accumulate blessings and wisdom (福慧).
Question: Does staying within the flowers ensure evil karmas will be purified?
Answer: Yes. As mentioned, evil karmas which prohibit blossoming will surely be eliminated. Just as one received stay in a lotus flower by mindfulness of Buddha when departing from the previous life, it will naturally continue within, as taught in the Contemplation Sūtra《观经》, ‘in thought to thought within, eliminating eighty koṭis’ kalpas of transgressions of births and deaths’ (于念念中，除八十亿劫生死之罪). This is possible as mindfulness of Buddha is supremely meritorious in nature.
Question: Is it so that evil karmas cannot be completely eliminated?
Answer: When fully enlightened as Buddhas, having all-knowing wisdom (一切种智) of all past good and evil karmas created, it is possible to know what past evil karmas there are, to not give them conditions to ripen. In this sense, all evil karmas are as if completely ‘eliminated’. However, sometimes, Buddhas might allow the ripening of some evil karmas to teach on the workings of karma. This is to offer cautionary lessons to those who do not uphold the precepts well.
Thus, not all evil karmas have to be eliminated, for there to be Buddhahood. Likewise, not all evil karmas have to be eliminated, to enter (and emerge from) lotus flowers. Only the evil karmas obstructing entry (and exit) have to be eliminated. Both inside and outside the flowers in the Pure Land, there will neither be conditions for new evil karmas to be created, nor for past evil karmas to ripen as suffering. (If there is need to eliminate all evil karmas before reaching Pure Land, there will be little need to reach it.)
Why Are There Nine Grades Of Lotus Flowers In Pure Land?
Should I Worry About Taking A Long Time To Have My Lotus Birth In Pure Land?
The Low Grade’s Low Birth
Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!