Where Is The Pure Land In This Human World? 人间净土在哪里?

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Question: Some say that Pure Land is in this human world between humans. (人间净土就在人与人之间。) Is this so?

Answer: [1] Where is this ‘Pure Land in the human world’ (人间净土) in current war torn countries? Where is this Pure Land in sites of natural disasters, with recent floods, fires, quakes and such? Why is there continual ageing, sickness and death (老病死) in this world if Pure Land is here? [2] There is no sūtra (经) where the Buddha taught that Pure Land for all is in this human world, as actual Pure Lands are out of the three realms (净土出三界).

[3] If Pure Land is here, the Buddha(s) would not have needed to urge us to reach Āmítuófó’s (阿弥陀佛) Pure Land, in almost 300 sūtras. [4] Here in this world, there are suffering humans (人), animals (畜生), ghosts (鬼) and some earthbound gods (地居神), all unenlightened too.

[5] As there is no Buddha teaching here now, who offers a non-backsliding (不退转) environment for swiftest progress to Buddhahood (佛果), how can this be a Pure Land? [6] For more on the differences between a defiled land (秽土) and a Pure Land, the Pure Land sūtras should be studied in detail.

Question: Some say that if everyone gives rise to pure thoughts without jealousy, resentment, greed, doubt, worry and all kinds of afflictions (烦恼) with great compassion (慈悲) and wisdom (智慧), the ‘Pure Land in the human world’ will appear. (只要有人发大悲愿来体验智慧及慈悲的佛法,甚至仅在一念之间,没有嫉妒、怨恨、贪欲、猜疑、忧虑等种种烦恼,那么,人间净土就在这一念间出现在你的面前;如果每一个念头都能如此,自然一生之中都是在人间净土中了。) Is this so?

Answer: [7] There is a world of difference between having one pure thought, versus being with thoughts continuously becoming more and more pure seamlessly, culminating in Buddhahood. Also, who, as a non-Buddha, can claim that s/he has even one pure thought in daily life, what more many, from moment to moment, to the extent of experiencing Pure Land continuously in this world now, as described in the Pure Land sūtras?

[8] It is exactly because it is difficult to have even one pure thought in this defiled land, that the Buddhas urge us to reach an actual Pure Land, where there are the best supportive conditions (助缘) for complete purification, for this to progress without obstacles. Only the Buddhas have completely pure thoughts without interruption anywhere, including in this defiled land.

[9] Can anyone in this defiled land simply go to the middle of a war torn country and experience it as a Pure Land? Can anyone simply make that place a Pure Land for its suffering people? What about other negative factors like the worsening global climate crisis and such? Can they be eliminated? What about the Buddha’s clear teachings that we have already entered the Dharma-Ending Age (末法时期)? All these and more are reasons to reach an actual Pure Land.

Question: Some say that as Śākyamuni Buddha (释迦牟尼佛) has perfect wisdom and compassion, to him, our earth is not a World With Endurance Of Suffering (娑婆世界: Sahā World) but a Pure Land, so, we should learn to follow his ‘practice’. Is this so? Even if learning just a little, the ‘Pure Land in the human world’ will emerge gradually, to be experienceable by oneself and sharable with others. (释迦牟尼佛是智慧圆满、慈悲圆满者… 对他来说,我们的地球,并不是娑婆世界,而是佛国净土;因此,我们要常随佛学,要修学佛法,哪怕是学一点点,人间净土便会在我们的心中一点一点地展现,不但自己体验,还能够把净土的经验分享给他人。)Is this possible?

Answer: [10] Exactly since the Buddhas have perfect wisdom and compassion, all Buddhas and only Buddhas are capable of perceiving all worlds as pure, including defiled lands, but they also know that we ordinary beings (凡夫) cannot perceive so since we are not Buddhas yet. Even Śākyamuni Buddha could not share his pure perception with all constantly. This is why all Buddhas urge all sentient beings to reach an actual Pure Land to purify themselves.

No Buddha ever taught us to not reach a Pure Land. In fact, in the Amitābha Sūtra《阿弥陀经》alone, Śākyamuni Buddha urges us thrice to aspire to reach Āmítuófó’s Pure Land. All Buddhas of the six directions (六方诸佛) in the sūtra likewise praise his teachings in the Amitābha Sūtra, expressing praise and agreement.

[11] We should all do our best to purify ourselves and the world here and now, with our thoughts, words and deeds (身口意), but there are realistic limits to what can be done in this defiled land with many beings’ collective karma (共业) that is mixed (杂业) with good and evil (善恶). If it is easy to experience this world as a Pure Land or to make it one, believers should simply enter war torn countries to make them pure now, to be free from all pain and suffering instantly.

Question: Some hope that ‘Pure Land in the human world’ will unfold from thought to thought in everyone’s mind, so that everyone will be able to constantly live in Pure Land now. (希望人间净土在每一个人的心中念念展开,也希望每一位都能经常生活在净土里!) Is this possible?

Answer: [12] May everyone keep sincerely learning and practising the actual Pure Land teachings, as taught by the Buddhas. Even as we strive to make this world a better place, starting from our minds, words and deeds, we should also strive to reach the best place (Āmítuófó’s Pure Land) to better ourselves by the end of this life, so as to best train, to perfect ourselves and better all other worlds, including this one. Námó Āmítuófó (南无阿弥陀佛).

Related Teachings:

The Pure Land Tradition’s Five Sūtras

21 Reasons Why This World Is Not A Pure Land

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

Can This Human World Become A Pure Land?

Verses On No Other

How Pure Lands Transcend The Three Realms

Did Śākyamuni Buddha First Attain Buddhahood Here?

Does Śākyamuni Buddha Have His Own Pure Land?

Clarifications On Questions About Śākyamuni Buddha’s Pure Land

Is The Buddha Just A Man?

Should Buddhism Focus On Humans Only?

Verses On The Greatest Noble Ones

Verses On What Would Be Better

Where Is Āmítuófó’s Pure Land?

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

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

Three Pure Land Questions About The Lotus Sūtra

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

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