Why Are There Nine Grades Of Lotus Flowers In Pure Land?
Question: Why are there nine grades (九品) of lotus flowers (莲华) in Āmítuófó’s (阿弥陀佛) Pure Land (净土)?
Answer: Without sentient parents there, as skilful means, the lotus flowers are vehicles of birth for entering the Pure Land. They represent the blossoming of spiritual purity. They are not the usual small lotus flowers in our world, which require defiled mud to grow. They are large and pure in nature, facilitating the swiftest clearing of karmic obstacles (消业障), so as to emerge from them, to step onto the actual land.
Although there are nine grades of birth stated in the Contemplation Sūtra《观经》: https://purelanders.com/guanjing, ultimately, there are immeasurable grades of birth if there is consideration of the countless sub-grades in between any two grades. For example, between the highest grade (e.g. 1) and the second highest grade (e.g. 2) are many grades (e.g. 1.1, 1.2. 1.3, 1.31, 1.32 and so on).
The nine grades represent the range of beings who are able to reach the Pure Land, exemplifying the truth that the Pure Land Dharma Door (净土法门) is ‘with the three (spiritual) roots universally covered’ (三根普被), thus ‘with those of sharp and dull (capacities) totally gathered’ (利顿全收) too. With immeasurable sub-grades, the Pure Land is thus able to receive immeasurable kinds of beings, who have the Three Provisions (三资粮) (at least).
The grades detail the causes (因) of birth (as practices needed), supportive conditions (助缘) (as received when being born), and effects (果) (upon birth). Generally speaking, the three highest grades represent good practitioners with high roots (上根) or sharp roots (利根), the three middle grades represent average practitioners with medium roots (中根), and the three lowest grades represent below average practitioners with low roots (下根) or dull roots (钝根).
What Happens In Pure Land’s Lotus Flowers Before They Blossom?
Should I Worry About Taking A Long Time To Have My Lotus Birth In Pure Land?
Nine Grades Of Rebirths In Amitābha Samādhi Assembly’s Dhāraṇī Sūtra
Nine Grades Of Rebirths’ Amitābha