The Four Standards of Truth (Applied to Pure Land Teachings)

buddha statue in the garden of nan tien temple in berkeley australia
Photo by Kent Kan on Pexels.com

Those who imagine Amitabha Buddha’s Pure Land
to be fictitious and figurative miss the truly and literally best school
created with perfect compassion and wisdom for perfecting their Dharma practice.

— Stonepeace

The Four Standards of Truth (Siddhanta) are another guide to help us understand the Buddha’s teachings.

[1] The First Standard is ‘the worldly.’ The teaching is offered in the language of the world so that those in the world will be able to understand. We have to take into account the contemporary cosmologies, arts, philosophies, metaphysics, and so forth and deal with them. For example, we call the days of the week Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc. We divide time into days, months, and years to express truth relatively, for our convenience. When the Buddha tells us that he was born in Lumbini, it is in accordance with the First Standard.

[2] The Second Standard is ‘the person.’ We must remember as we read the Buddha’s discourses that his words varied according to the needs and aspirations of his listeners. When the Buddha taught, he was deeply aware of the particular assembly, and what was specifically addressed to them.

The Third Standard is ‘healing.’ When the Buddha spoke, it was always to cure the particular illness of those he was addressing. Everyone has some illness that needs to be healed. When you speak to express healing, what you say will always be helpful.

[4] The Fourth Standard is ‘the absolute.’ The Buddha expressed absolute truth directly and unequivocally. He said there is no self even when people did not believe or agree with him. He said it because he knew it was true. Fifteenth-century explorers said the world was round even when the community threatened to imprison them for saying so. We can use these Four Standards of Truth to understand the sutras as we read them.

The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching
(Thich Nhat Hanh)

For Example:

The Amitabha Sutra was taught by the Buddha in a ‘worldly’ language to skilfully describe the cosmically eternal and excellent Land of Ultimate Bliss (Pure Land).
[2] It was widely taught as many need and aspire to go to a better world to perfect their Dharma practice.
[3] It was also taught for completely healing all non-Buddhas (including us humans, gods, Arhats and Bodhisattvas) of their gross and subtle defilements, to bridge them to Buddhahood.
[4] It directly and unequivocally describes a true and reachable Pure Land created by Amitabha Buddha, where absolute truth can be more easily realised.

Related Articles:

Is Pure Land Here or There, Now or Later?

Please Be Mindful Of Your Speech, Namo Amituofo!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.