Should We Stay In This Human Realm To Accomplish Buddhahood? 我们应当留在人间成佛吗?

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From the very first sūtra taught by Śākyamuni Buddha (释迦牟尼佛) in this world, the Flower Adornment Sūtra《华严经》, we learn that even the greatest Bodhisattvas like Universal Virtue Bodhisattva (普贤菩萨) already aspired to reach Āmítuófó’s (阿弥陀佛) Pure Land (净土) to (swiftly) perfect his practice, so as to accomplish Buddhahood. Thus, all other aspiring Bodhisattvas should do so too.

— Shilashanti

Some say that since all Buddhas (佛) arise in human worlds, we should keep being reborn here, so as to accomplish Buddhahoood. Is this right? Well, Buddhas do arise in human worlds as they are a ‘central’ realm, where they can benefit the most sentient beings directly. Not only are human beings (人) here, animals (畜生) and hungry ghosts (饿鬼) sharing the same space can be simultaneously reached too. Even asuras (阿修罗) and heavenly beings (天人) with affinity and interest in the Dharma (法) can approach these Buddhas. (Only hell-beings [地狱众生] need to be visited in the hells to be taught.)

Since the human realm has quite an even mix of worldly suffering and joys, it is relatively easier to point out existing suffering, and inspire with the possibility of attaining the world-transcending bliss of Buddhahood. Due to this, although all beings can do so, humans can more easily give rise to the Bodhi Mind (菩提心), to practise towards Buddhahood accordingly. However, there is a limit to this, especially in this Dharma-Ending Age (末法时期), when the quality of the Buddha’s teachings being learnt and practised is in decline.

Not only did Śākyamuni Buddha (释迦牟尼佛) not urge us to remain in this human realm, together with all other Buddhas in the six directions (六方) everywhere, he encouraged us to seek birth in Āmítuófó’s (阿弥陀佛) Pure Land (净土). This is stated clearly in the Amitābha Sūtra《阿弥陀经》. There is such unanimous exhortation because the Pure Land offers non-retrogressible and swiftest progress to Buddhahood, unlike the defiled land (秽土) here, where we might have been spiritually backsliding for countless lives already.

Reaching the Pure Land does not contradict Buddhahood being manifested in human worlds after. To be born in the Pure Land is likened to going to the most excellent boarding school for the best spiritual education, before graduating with flying colours quickly, to return to ‘society’ to fully benefit many beings like the Buddhas do. Since all Buddhas recommend this school, it makes absolute sense to ‘enrol’ in it. It is through reaching this Pure Land, that we can give rise to the Bodhi Mind perfectly too, while few of us dare to even say we already have this pure aspiration now.

From the very last sūtra taught by Śākyamuni Buddha (释迦牟尼佛) to exist in this world (in this Dharma-Ending Age [末法时期]), the Immeasurable Life Sūtra《无量寿经》, we learn that even the lowliest ordinary beings (凡夫) can aspire to reach Āmítuófó’s (阿弥陀佛) Pure Land (净土) to (swiftly) perfect their practice, so as to accomplish Buddhahood. Thus, all other aspiring ordinary beings (like us) should do so too.

— Shilashanti

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