We Are Still Buddhists, Not Yet Buddhas!

Just as it is swiftest to master a worldly skill
by enrolling in a good school 
to learn from a good teacher,
it is swiftest to master the transcendental skills to Buddhahood
by entering the most recommended [Sukavati] Pure Land
to learn from the best teacher, a Buddha [Amituofo].

Stonepeace | Books

Both Buddhists (and non-Buddhists) often confuse Buddhists with the Buddhadharma. How do they differ? Buddhists are those who try to learn, practise, realise and share the Buddhadharma, which are the pure teachings of the Buddha that lead to Buddhahood. This is spiritual perfection with all its perks, such as attainment of perfect compassion, perfect wisdom, and of course, True Happiness.

With ‘Buddhists’ and the ‘Buddhadharma’ conflated, there will be instances of mistaking the sometimes less than desired conduct of Buddhists to represent the quality of the Buddhadharma. The Buddhadharma, like the Buddhas, is always perfect, while those yet to be Buddhas are surely still imperfect spiritual works in progress!

Surely, it makes no sense to denounce the worth of an entire apple orchard just because a few bad or not so well grown apples are found. Why should poor examples be taken to mean countless other good apples are not available? The whole orchard is in fact precisely for practising how to cultivate perfect apples, even if it takes many generations of efforts.

When we reflect upon ourselves, we ought to realise we are not perfect Buddhists either. If so, we should learn to give leeway for other Buddhists’ mistakes. Remember… We are Buddhists now, of various spiritual maturities; not matured Buddhas yet. In fact, to expect all Buddhists here to be Buddha-like instantly or quickly is itself a form of spiritual immaturity.

If we too are no perfect role-models for others, we have no right to expect others to be ours. Yet, we do need role models to instruct and emulate, without whom we will have no sense of direction or goal to benchmark with. The good news is that the perfect role model already arrived as Sakyamuni Buddha. The bad news is that it was more than 2,500 years ago.

Instead of grumbling that there is no Buddha-like teacher around, we ought to repent for lacking merits to deserve one now. However, our karma is not so negative yet, for we do have access to the precious Buddhadharma. It is the very substance of what makes each Buddha special, being records of their teachings realised, which led to their Buddhahood. 

Being both an imperfect Dharma teacher and student, I also do not see any single perfect role model to exist in our times. Yet, we do have the Buddha and many ancient great masters as models, while many present Dharma teachers have various virtues that serve as good examples too, even if not fully perfect like the Buddha. We spiritual ‘beggars’ cannot afford to be choosers.

Still, not all hope is lost. Since the issue of lacking perfect teachers is indeed a big concern, we should learn and practise the Buddhadharma to ensure we will meet a Buddha in our next life, so as to best expedite our spiritual progress. This is why it makes perfect sense to master the Pure Land teachings, to reach Amituofo’s (Amitabha Buddha) Pure Land, through which we can meet all other Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, as stated clearly in his vows!

Imagine this great leap – from not being able to encounter a single perfect teacher in this life, towards being able to meet immeasurable perfect teachers in the next life! Such a big gap is however easily closed if we learn to practise the Pure Land teachings well, which connects us to Amituofo’s great compassion and merits, thus enabling entry into his Pure Land. 

With countless Buddhas as our personal teachers then, like ideal spiritual ‘parents’, they can read our minds to meet all our needs. Taking this swiftest path to Buddhahood will end all our spiritual woes. Meanwhile, it is indeed not sensible to expect too much from unenlightened teachers (non-Buddhas) in unenlightened organisations (non-Pure Lands) here.   

Yet, we should still seek to learn from reasonably good teachers, and form Dharma fellowship with other Buddhists. Spiritual friendship is important for encouragement and support, to help one another to reflect too, so as to be better Buddhists. Life is too short to fret on one another’s imperfections endlessly. Be more spiritually diligent instead! The alternative is to lose heart, while not creating affinity to meet the best teachers. This is surely foolish! 

Amituofo’s Pure Land is the best Dharma school,
that ensures swiftest full graduation as Buddhas,
that has a Buddha as the best principal teacher,
that has Bodhisattvas as the best assistant teachers,
that has like-minded Buddhists as the best schoolmates,
that has the best learning environment and facilities to beyond.  

Stonepeace | Books

Related Course:

Introduction To Pure Land Buddhism: Understanding Amituofo Via The Amitabha Sutra

Related Articles:

An Imperfect Student Seeks A Perfect Teacher
The Pure Land For Quickest Enlightenment
How To Most Swiftly Attain Buddhahood
The Fastest Way To Buddhahood

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