[7] Why Not Seek Birth In Tuṣita Heaven? 为何不求生兜率天?

The Treatise On Ten Doubts About Pure Land

Written by Sui Dynasty’s Tiantai Tradition’s Great Master Zhizhe (538–597 CE)
Translated to English by Upāsaka Shen Shi’an (2014 CE)
[This improved version replaces previous versions]

疑: 易生弥勒
The Seventh Doubt: Doubt Of Ease Of Birth To Be With Maitreya Bodhisattva


Question: Maitreya Bodhisattva is in the Stage Of One Life To Replacement99 [of Śākyamuni Buddha], soon to attain Buddhahood. Practising the higher grade of the Ten Good Deeds100 will attain birth in that place,101 to see Maitreya Bodhisattva.


Accompanying his descent [for birth]102 within his three assemblies,103 naturally attained are the fruits of sagehood.104 Why is there need to seek birth in the Western Pure Land [of Amitā(bha) Buddha (Amituofo)]?


Answer: Seeking birth in Tuṣita, within one day, one can listen to teachings of the path and see the future Buddha. These conditions and desires seem similar [to seeking birth in the Western Pure Land of Amitā(bha) Buddha (Amituofo)]. However, if finely comparing, there are great differences of superiority and inferiority. We shall just discuss two kinds.


First, even if the Ten Good Deeds are upheld, as feared, this does not attain birth there. How is this known?


The Sūtra On Maitreya’s Ascent105 says, ‘With practice of many kinds of samādhis, to deeply enter Right Concentration, then can there be attainment of birth [there].’


Further, there are no expedient means of receiving and guiding meant. This is not equal to Amitā[bha] Buddha’s [Amituofo] power of his fundamental vows, and the power of his bright light. As long as there are sentient beings mindful of [Amitā(bha)] Buddha [Amituofo], they will be gathered and not be forsaken.


Moreover, Śākyamuni Buddha spoke about teachings of the nine grades,106 as expedient means for receiving and guiding, enthusiastically and thoughtfully sending107 sentient beings for birth in that Pure Land [of Amitā(bha) Buddha (Amituofo)]. As long as sentient beings are able to be mindful of Amitā[bha] Buddha [Amituofo], there will be correspondence of potential and response, and they will definitely attain birth there.


As an admirer in this world is able to receive the admired when an opportunity agrees with each other, that matter of attaining birth will definitely be accomplished.


Second, Tuṣita’s heavenly palace is in the sphere of desire,108 where those who retrogress are many. It is without waters, birds, groves, sounds of winds and music, with which sentient beings who hear them, are all mindful of [Amitā(bha)] Buddha [Amituofo], and give rise to Bodhicitta, to subdue and extinguish their afflictions.


Moreover, there are women, every one able to increase all gods’109 minds of attachment to the five desires.110 Moreover, the goddesses111 are refined and wonderful, with whom all gods deeply take pleasure, and are not able to encourage themselves [to progress spiritually].112


This is not equal to Amitā[bha] Buddha’s [Amituofo] Pure Land, with waters, birds, groves, sounds of winds and music, with which sentient beings who hear them, all give rise to mindfulness of [Amitā(bha)] Buddha [Amituofo] and Bodhicitta, to subdue and extinguish their afflictions.


Moreover, it is without women or those with aspirations of the two vehicles,113 purely with those of the one Great Vehicle,114 as pure companions with the same goal. Due to this, afflictions and evil karma cannot arise at all, while advancing until the Stage Of Non-Birth.115


Thus comparing, the differences of superiority and inferiority are evident. Why is there need to doubt?


As when Śākyamuni Buddha was in this world, there were many sentient beings who saw the Buddha, although those who did not attain the fruits of sagehood were like the number of grains of the Ganges River’s sand. When Maitreya Buddha appears in this world, it is likewise so, that there will be many who do not attain the fruits of sagehood, as this world will yet to be equal to Amitā[bha] Buddha’s [Amituofo] Pure Land.


So long as born in that [Pure] Land already, all will attain the Patience Of Non-Birth. There is yet to be one person who retrogresses and falls into the three spheres, to still be bound by the karma of birth and death.


Moreover, as known from Records Of The Western Land,116 which says, ‘There are three Bodhisattvas. The first is named Asaṅga. The second is named Vasubandhu. The third is named Buddhasiṃhá.


These three persons agreed, on the goal together, for birth in Tuṣita, with the aspiration to see Maitreya. If one dies first, and attains sight of Maitreya, he must vow to return, for informing the others.


Buddhasiṃhá died first. Once gone, for a number of years, there was no return. Later, when Vasubandhu was approaching the end of life due to impermanence, Asaṅga said to him, “When you see Maitreya, immediately return to inform me.” Vasubandhu, after leaving for three years, then returned.


Asaṅga asked, “Why did you take such a long time to return?”


Vasubandhu replied, “Upon arriving within that heaven, after listening to Maitreya Bodhisattva speak the Dharma in one seating, and circumambulating117 him, I immediately returned to inform you. As that heaven’s days are long, in this place, it has already been three years.”


Asaṅga further asked, “Where is Buddhasiṃhá now?”


Vasubandhu replied, “Buddhasiṃhá, for receiving heavenly pleasures, is amusing himself with the five desires, like an external relative.118 Since his departure, he has not seen Maitreya after all.”’


All minor Bodhisattvas born there are still attached to the five desires, moreover ordinary beings? Due to this, aspire for birth in the West[ern Pure Land of Amitā(bha) Buddha (Amituofo)] for certainty of attaining non-retrogression, and not seek birth in Tuṣita.


99 Eka-jāti-prati-baddha: Bodhisattva in the stage of one life to Buddhahood, to ‘replace’ the preceding Buddha, to guide sentient beings to Buddhahood
100 Ten Wholesome Actions: Abstention from [1] killing [2] stealing [3] sexual misconduct [4] false speech [5] divisive speech [6] harsh speech [7] idle speech [8] covetousness [9] ill will [10] false views (with cultivation of their opposite; wholesome qualities)
101 Tuṣita Heaven’s inner court’s heavenly palace
102 … in this world to manifest his Buddhahood
103 … for Dharma sermons
104 Attainments towards/of liberation of self and/or others
105 观弥勒菩萨上生兜率天经 Discourse On Contemplation Of Maitreya Bodhisattva’s Ascent To Tuṣita Heaven
106 … of lotus birth in Amitā(bha) Buddha’s (Amituofo) Pure Land based on quality of practice
107 … by teaching and encouraging
108 … where the five desires (See Note 110 below) are strong
109 Devas
110 … for wealth, sex (including sensual pleasures), fame, food and sleep
111 Devis
112 … towards Buddhahood
113 … for self-liberation of Arhathood and/or Pratyekabuddhahood
114 … that leads to Buddhahood
115 See Note 10 on Page 15
116 Ancient India
117 Circumambulation: To meditatively walk around clockwise to express reverence
118 … of Maitreya Bodhisattva, being somewhat ‘related’ but outside his heavenly palace, as distracted by his new worldly relations

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Where To Meet Amitābha Buddha & Maitreya Bodhisattva Together

Tuṣita’s Outer Assembly’s Indulgent Attachment To Desires’ Joys

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