Do Those In Pure Land Progress Spiritually At Different Speeds? 生净土者有不同速度的修行进展吗?

Do Those In Pure Land Progress Spiritually At Different Speeds?

Question: Will those with lower grades of birth in Pure Land require more time and effort to learn and practise the Dharma before attaining Buddhahood? If so, is this ‘discrimination’ that contradicts how the Pure Land is supposed to be?

Answer: ‘Yes’ is the answer for the first question, and ‘no’ is the answer for the second question. Below are reasons why.

[1] Karmic Obstacles (业障): Those with lower grades of birth naturally require more time to clear their more karmic obstacles before they are born. This accords with the law of karma fairly. (The durations of all grades of birth can be seen at https://purelanders.com/2021/12/04/should-i-worry-about-taking-a-long-time-to-have-my-lotus-birth-in-pure-land. They are all not long in Pure Land’s time though, as its pure conditions [净缘] already shorten them as much as possible.)

This is not discrimination as those who step onto the Pure Land should at least have their evil karmas (恶业) disabled and obstacles cleared. If not, the new beings in the Pure Land will ‘resemble’ the defiled beings in this defiled land (秽土) now. The clearing of karmic obstacles thus prevents discrimination; it does not create discrimination.

[2] Habitual Forces (习气): Those born in the Pure Land do carry some of their previous habitual tendencies (or forces) over. These are not in terms of evil habits (恶习) as the pure conditions there do not condition even evil thoughts to arise, much less evil word and deeds. Evil habits will only be transformed to become pure habits.

Thus, the habitual tendencies left are in terms of the kind of Dharma teachings preferred for learning and practice first, although all will still progress towards Buddhahood as swiftly as possible, according to their spiritual capacities, which will also upgrade swiftly, transforming from the low to the medium, and from the medium to the high. This is not discrimination as it accords with the dispositions and preferences of each being. To ‘force’ all to comply to one highest standard straightaway quickly will be unnatural, unskilful, unfair and ineffective instead.

This also means that the speed of one’s progress in the Pure Land will fairly depend on one’s spiritual capacity before reaching Pure Land, with no once expended time and effort lost. The more well learned and practised one is here, the more efficient one will be with continual learning and practising there, as boosted by its pure conditionsThis is thus anti-discrimination, or it will be unfair to those more well-learned and practiced now.

As an example, just as a primary school student should not be able to unreasonably promote (to skip secondary school) to enter a tertiary school straightaway, a tertiary school student should be able to reasonably promote to enter a university. This is fairness; not discrimination. Functioning like the best school school, the Pure Land offers equal opportunities to all to progress swiftly, but it does not ‘force’ everyone to become equally qualified directly. Regardless of one’s spiritual state, it always expedites progress as much as possible.

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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