All Buddhas, who are mindful of all beings from thought to thought, urge and invite all beings to be mindful of Amituofo from thought to thought.
(From the new TDE Press Book: ‘The Faith Factor: The Treatise On Ten Doubts About Pure Land’) There are immeasurable beings, who have perfected their compassion and wisdom, having become Buddhas, with Śākyamuni Buddha being one of them. With immeasurable compassion and wisdom, they would naturally create spiritual schools (Pure Lands) to better guide us to become Buddhas like them. With immeasurable compassion and wisdom, they too would, together, most highly recommend a particular Pure Land to best inspire us – Amitābha Buddha’s (Amituofo) Western Pure Land Of Ultimate Bliss is the one.
All teachings of Śākyamuni Buddha are for guiding us to the True Happiness of Buddhahood. Among them, the Pure Land teachings are especially skilful and precious, as they will be the longest-lasting feasible path to liberation. Thus, among thousands of Buddhas mentioned, Amituofo is the one whom Śākyamuni Buddha spoke the most of. His name represents the immeasurable light of his great compassion and wisdom, and the immeasurable life of his great meritorious virtues, as manifested in his magnificent Pure Land. Interconnected with every other Pure Land, it is truly the finest representation of all Buddhas’ focused compassion and wisdom.
Since most of us will yet to attain liberation by the end of this life, still being subject to rebirth, it makes perfect sense to seek the best place possible, to further our progress towards Buddhahood. In Amituofo’s Pure Land, there are absolutely no distractions from this purpose, only with all kinds of superb expedient means for spiritual advancement in the swiftest ways possible. Unlimited time is also offered there, thus instantly transcending the otherwise indefinite rounds of rebirth. In terms of advantage, as Śākyamuni Buddha taught, even the most splendid worldly heavens cannot compare.
All will have the ideal principal (Buddha), teachers (great Bodhisattvas) and schoolmates (like-minded spiritual friends) in Pure Land, with whom they train blissfully, with no possibility of backsliding, having the guarantee of graduation as enlightened Bodhisattvas bound for Buddhahood. Anyone born there is free to come and go too, while staying connected to Amituofo’s blessings until Buddhahood is attained.
It is a common mistake to imagine that this Pure Land might be ‘too good’ for efficient spiritual cultivation. If this is true, all Buddhas would be sabotaging us by recommending it, which cannot be the case! Conversely, if this saṃsāric realm is so conducive, why are we still so far from liberation? Being able to learn from all Buddhas and see all of Saṃsāra via Pure Land, it is the enlightened realm of the true Middle Way!
Amituofo’s Pure Land is to be reached with the Three Provisions, of deep Faith and joyful Aspiration, as expressed through the wholehearted Practice of being mindful of his name. Although the most noble Aspiration is with Bodhicitta to save all beings, as long as one is not averse to this, Pure Land can still be reached, where it will be nurtured. Practice is best when Samādhi from connection to Amituofo is attained. However, even if this supreme Samādhi is yet to be experienced, it can be cultivated through sincere regular practice, and even when dying, as many cases attest. Of course, it is much wiser to fortify all Three Provisions now.
When mindful of Amituofo, be it in everyday life or when dying, this aligns our Buddha-nature with the great blessings of all Buddhas, cultivating our morality, concentration and wisdom at the same time. (Even the greatest Bodhisattvas on the brink of Buddhahood constantly practise mindfulness of Buddha, to be mindful of the goal to fully awaken their Buddha-nature for becoming Buddhas.) Some classic signs of successful practice were exemplified by the illustrious Great Master Zhizhe, who was able to calmly announce his moment of departure for Pure Land. This state of mind transcends our usual three poisons of attachment (to samsaric life), aversion (to death) and delusion (of where one is going to). Such is remarkable proof of the great efficacy of Pure Land practice!
Due to the relative ease of the main practice of the Pure Land teachings and its advantages seemingly ‘too good’ to be true, Śākyamuni Buddha reiterated that the profound Pure Land teachings are actually ‘extremely difficult’ to have faith in. Yet, they must be taught to benefit many, including us. Precisely for this reason, Great Master Zhizhe wrote The Treatise On Ten Doubts About Pure Land. Although it might sound like a rebuttal against the Pure Land teachings, this cannot be further from the truth. In this renowned text, he ingeniously formulated ten very good questions, followed by even more brilliant answers, with extensive quoting from sūtras and treatises to strengthen our faith in Amituofo.
We sincerely hope you will appreciate this book, and benefit from our efforts to create a more definitive translation of this important text. We would be most grateful for any suggestions to further improve it. Queries on the Pure Land teachings are also welcomed, along with subscription requests for our free Pure Land newsletter. There is also a companion course with this book called The Faith Factor, that further illuminates upon this treatise. Do join us for the next run. As our final wish… May all swiftly reach Pure Land! Namo Amituofo!
If there are beings who hear this teaching, they should vow to be born in that land.
The Sūtra In Which The Buddha Speaks Of Amitā Buddha (Amitābha Sūtra)
Shen Shi’an, MA (Buddhist Studies)
Chief Editor of TDE Team
tde <a> thedailyenlightenment.com
The Faith Factor: The Treatise On Ten Doubts About Pure Land
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Understanding Amituofo Via The Amitabha Sutra [13th Run]
The Faith Factor: Strengthening Faith Through The Treatise On Ten Doubts About Pure Land [4th Run]