Can Those Who Slandered The Triple Gem Reach Pure Land?
Question : If one has slandered (诽谤) the Triple Gem (三宝), will one be able to reach Pure Land (净土)?
Answer: According to Āmítuófó’s (阿弥陀佛) [i] 18th Vow in the Immeasurable Life Sūtra《无量寿经》, which is the vow that sets the lowest criteria for birth in his Pure Land, this was taught,
‘If I attain Buddhahood, of the ten directions’ sentient beings, with the sincere mind of joyful Faith, desiring birth in my land, and even with ten thoughts, if there are those not born there, I shall not obtain Right Awakening. Only excluded are those with the Five Heinous Transgressions, who slandered the right Dharma.’ (设我得佛，十方众生，至心信乐，欲生我国，乃至十念，若不生者，不取正觉。唯除五逆，诽谤正法。)
The Triple Gem consists of the Buddhas (佛), Dharma (法) and Saṃgha (僧). Thus, those ‘who slandered the right Dharma’ (诽谤正法) have slandered the core of the Triple Gem, as the Buddhas practise, realised and teach the Dharma, which is also practised, realised and taught by the Noble Saṃgha (圣僧). Thus, slander of the Dharma essentially slanders the Buddhas and Saṃgha too. The fundamental right Dharma (正法) refers especially to the Pure Land teachings.
Those who have slandered the Dharma (and/or Triple Gem) are excluded from birth in the Pure Land because since there is slander of the Dharma, there is doubt in the Dharma. And since there is doubt in the Dharma, the opposite quality of Faith (信) will not arise. And since there is no Faith, there will be no Aspiration (愿) for birth in Pure Land, what more Practice (行) to do so.
Faith, Aspiration and Practice form the Three Provisions for reaching the Pure Land. With reference to the vow above, ‘sincere mind of joyful Faith’ (至心信乐) is Faith, ‘desiring birth in my land’ (欲生我国) is Aspiration, and ‘and even with ten thoughts’ (乃至十念) is Practice. This is expression of the Three Provisions in their most fundamental forms.
Thus, one who has slandered the Triple Gem cannot reach Pure Land – unless there is utmost sincere repentance (忏悔) for such slander (which is realisation of the untruthfulness of one’s slander), while also giving rise to the Three Provisions in time. If there is Faith, this means there is no more doubt, which is what gave rise to the slander. And with profound Faith (深信), sincere Aspiration (切愿) and true Practice (实行) of mindfulness of Buddha (念佛) should easier arise.
Question : Are there examples on those who ‘slandered’ being able to reach Pure Land?
Answer: According to the Buddha’s teachings on the Low Grade’s Middle Births (下品中生) in the Contemplation Sūtra《观经》, these beings ‘impurely spoke the Dharma’ (不净说法). In other words, they have ‘slandered the right Dharma’ (诽谤正法). Yet, with the meeting of good-knowing friends (遇善知识), who speak of the Pure Land teachings, they are able to give rise to (repentance and) the Three Provisions in time.
According to the Buddha’s teachings on the [ii] Low Grade’s Low Births (下品下生), these beings did the Five Heinous Transgressions (五逆). There is no mention that they slandered the Right Dharma (诽谤正法). However, as the those of Low Grade’s Middle Births (下品中生) already ‘impurely spoke the Dharma’, it is possible that those of the Low Grade’s Low Births did the same or worse. Also, with the meeting of good-knowing friends (遇善知识), who speak of the Pure Land teachings, they are able to give rise to (repentance and) the Three Provisions in time.
(Why does the [i] 18th Vow exclude those with the Five Heinous Transgressions for rebirth in Pure Land, while the [ii] Low Grade’s Low Births include them? Mention of the [i] first serves as a stern preventive measure, by urging to not create the Five Transgressions, which leads to the deepest hell by default. Mention of the [ii] latter serves to offer compassionate hope for those who have created the transgressions, by urging to give rise to repentance and the Three Provisions in time, for avoiding the deepest hell. This does not mean that it is ‘safe’ to create the transgressions now, thinking that one can ‘simply’ repent later, as the more wilfully immoral one is now, the harder is it to be truly repentant later.)
Thus, in summary, one who slandered the Triple Gem is able to reach Pure Land if able to give rise to (repentance and) the Three Provisions in time. When well and alive now, there should be sincere and diligent learning and practice of the Buddha’s teachings to avoid new slandering and to repent for past slandering. (Speaking untruthfully of those who represent the Triple Gem, even in part, such as ordinary monastics and laypersons who present the Dharma is slander too.)
There should be actual remedial actions to make up for one’s slander too, including offering of open apologies for once open slander. This is so as the more slander there is, that remains unrectified, the more karmic obstacles (业障) there will be when dying, which also decreases the possibility of good-knowing friends being able to come, to urge giving rise to (repentance and) the Three Provisions in time.
Can Those With Heinous Transgressions And Dharma Slander Reach Pure Land?
Can Those Without Heinous Transgressions But With Slander Of The Dharma Attain Birth In Pure Land?
 Those With The Five Heinous Transgressions, Ten Evils And Slander Of The Right Dharma, Who Give Rise To Utmost Repentance, With Faith And Aspiration Mindful Of The Buddha, Will Also Receive His Reception And Guidance
Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!