The Direct And Circumstantial Rewards And Retributions) Of Pure (And Defiled Lands) 净秽二土之依正二报

The Direct And Circumstantial Rewards (And Retributions) Of Pure (And Defiled) Lands

Question (1): What are direct rewards and/or retributions (正报)?

Answer: Direct rewards and/or retributions are good and/or evil karmas (善恶业) expressed in terms of one’s physical and mental well-being. E.g. Whether one is healthy or sickly, majestic (庄严) or unmajestic, pure (清净) or defiled (污秽).

Question (2): What are circumstantial rewards and/or retributions (依报)?

Answer: Circumstantial rewards and/or retributions are good and/or evil karmas expressed in terms of one’s environmental well-being. E.g. Whether it is harmonious or chaotic, pure or defiled.

Question (3): Is it so that circumstantial rewards and/or retributions are according to direct rewards and/or retributions, as their extended expressions?

Answer: One’s own circumstantial rewards and/or retributions naturally extend from one’s own direct direct rewards and/or retributions. When there are others involved, there are three scenarios.

[1] With Buddha And With Defiled Beings

As a land with a (pure) Buddha, with defiled sentient beings, this was the situation in this defiled land (秽土) in Śākyamuni Buddha’s (释迦牟尼佛) time then, with some only having glimpses of here as ‘Pure Land’ (净土), and a Pure Land elsewhere, as empowered by the Buddha’s blessings. Such ‘pure’ experiences are usually short-lived here, thus unsustainable. As long as one is not totally purified like a Buddha, unless empowered by the Buddha’s blessings, it is impossible for defiled beings to perceive any land as pure.

‘When the mind is pure, then is the land pure.’ (心净则国土净) While this is true, only when the minds of everyone present in this defiled land are totally purified can they experience this land as totally pure like the Buddha all the time. With beings and this land much more defiled than pure, the Buddha could not ‘share’ his pure perception with everyone all the time; he could only show glimpses of how he perceives purely to those with affinity, and teach how to progress towards purity. The easiest way is via birth in an actual Pure Land.

Even in the Buddha’s time, although he was totally pure, this land was not totally pure, because others present were not totally pure. E.g. there were still wars, even with the Śākyan clan (释迦族) almost completely massacred, which the Buddha could not prevent. Thus, in defiled lands, due to defiled beings’ heavy defilements and drastically different affinities, Buddhas’ influences are limited. E.g. there was at most only one-third in India who went to listen to the Buddha’s teachings.

[2] Without Buddha And With Defiled Beings

As a land without a (pure) Buddha, and with defiled sentient beings, this is the situation in this defiled land now, with none experiencing here as a Pure Land, while sentient beings and this land are generally become increasingly defiled as this Dharma-Ending Age (末法时期) deepens. When defiled beings who are relatively more ‘pure’ are in a relatively more ‘pure’ place in this land, that place is still not an actual Pure Land, as it is without the immeasurable benefits described by the Buddha. Such ‘pure’ experiences are usually short-lived here, thus unsustainable.

[3] With Buddha And With Empowered Beings

As a land with a (pure) Buddha, and with sentient beings always tuned towards purity, as empowered by the Buddha’s blessings, this is the situation in all Buddhas’ Pure Lands now, with all experiencing the Pure Lands there. For instance, this is so in Amitābha Buddha’s (阿弥陀佛: Āmítuófó) Pure Land.

The swiftest way to sustainably perceive the land as pure all the time is to reach a Buddha’s Pure Land, where that Buddha’s blessings are directly shared with all present all the time, transforming our direct and circumstantial retributions to be rewards. Only in Pure Lands are the two rewards together pure for all. In this defiled land now, since there is no (pure) Buddha, and since all others are defiled to various extents, what we experience are more of two retributions than two rewards, collectively and individually.

Related Articles:

21 Reasons Why This World Is Not A Pure Land

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

Can This Human World Become A Pure Land?

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

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

Three Pure Land Questions About The Lotus Sūtra

Did Śākyamuni Buddha First Attain Buddhahood Here?

Does Śākyamuni Buddha Have His Own Pure Land?

How The Buddha Is Gone Yet Not Gone For Good

How Pure Lands Transcend The Three Realms

Where Is Āmítuófó’s Pure Land?

How Are Śākyamuni Buddha And Amitābha Buddha Related?

Is Pure Land Within The Mind Here?

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