Where Should Buddhist Teachers And Students Be Reborn?

The Buddhas wish all beings to swiftly attain Buddhahood
for one and all, by reaching Pure Land.

— Shilashanti (Part 1)

Question [A]: If there is a teacher, who also wrote many Buddhist books, what will happen to him or her after death? Answer: [1] If the person was still unenlightened, which is most likely so in this Dharma-Ending Age, there will be rebirth. [2] If the person did not practise the Dharma to reach Pure Land in time, s/he will remain trapped in the cycle of birth and death. [3] If there was much good karma accumulated by teaching and sharing the Dharma well, the person will be reborn with some ‘good’ conditions.

Question [B]: If all of the above is applicable, will the person continue learning and practising the Dharma, for progress towards Buddhahood? Answer: With differentiation between being a teacher and a practitioner, [i] if the person did practise the Dharma very well, this is possible. [ii] If the person was an average or poor practitioner, (one of which is the case for most), all of the Dharma learnt will be forgotten. There might even be loss of interest in the Dharma due to good karma bearing fruits as worldly distractions, as wealth, fame, food and other pleasures.

This person who passed away should have been aware of this possibility — if s/he did not remember any of the Dharma learnt from a past life when reborn in this life. If there was no such reflection, which should have led to learning and sharing of the Pure Land teachings to prevent these problems, the Dharma learnt and shared was inadequate. As an analogy, one who knows many yet potentially dangerous paths to a destination, but not the safest and easiest shortcut, is yet to be a learned traveller and guide, also likely to fall into the perils of the more difficult paths.

Question [C]: If it is so, as in case [ii], was there no value in learning and sharing the Dharma in the transpired life? Answer: The good karma created is not lost if the Dharma was learnt and shared properly. As above, good karma can indeed bear fruit. However, if there is no reaching of Pure Land, even good karma can bear fruits that condition the spiritually unconducive. Without reaching of Pure Land, where there in spiritual non-retrogression with recollection of all the Dharma learnt and practised in past lives, progress towards Buddhahood will be non-linear and non-exponential, with much backsliding from life to life. This is why, despite being reborn for immeasurable lives already, we are still not liberated.

As most of us are neither excellent teachers nor students, we will fare even worse without reaching Pure Land. All good Dharma teachers and students, as practitioners, should seek the best Dharma teachers to complete Dharma-learning and practice, to realise the Dharma completely, so as to most swiftly liberate one and all, as this is what all Buddhas wish. To be reborn in a Pure Land is to seek the best Dharma school, with the best principal teacher (i.e. the Buddha) and assistant teachers (i.e. Bodhisattvas) to learn from, where ‘graduation’ of enlightenment is assured.

Even if wishing to establish a Pure Land elsewhere, there should still be learning from the Pure Land most highly praised by all Buddhas, to humbly learn how to create one. The Buddhas are like loving fathers and mothers who repeatedly urge their spiritual ‘children’ (i.e. all sentient beings) to reach Pure Land, while those who do not wish to do so are like wilfully immature children, who prefer to skip proper school, to randomly ‘learn’ from the ‘university of society’ (社会大学) by wandering everywhere else. This saṃsāric ‘school of hard knocks’ can lead to ‘waste’ of much efforts over immeasurable lifetimes. Even if some manage to find the path to Buddhahood later, much time would have been lost.

May all beings fulfil the Buddhas’ wish by swiftly attaining Buddhahood for one and all, by reaching Pure Land.

— Shilashanti (Part 2)

Related Article:

Are You ‘Recycling’ Yourself Every Three Lifetimes?

Please Be Mindful Of Your Speech, Namo Amituofo!

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