Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Pure Land as a state of consciousness or a real place?


Question: I was told that the Pure Land is a state of consciousness and not a real place with forms and manifestations. What do you think?

Answer:
States of consciousness do not exclude forms and manifestations. In fact, depending on the states of consciesness one dwells in, various forms appear. Thus, for unenlightened beings, samsaric bodies and realms come into existence as effects of their specific karmic obscurations. When one becomes a Buddha, transcendental manifestations arise (see the article on Three Bodies/Aspects of Amida Buddha) as the effect of Enlightenment and the wish to save all beings.

There will always be forms and manifestations, no matter we are enlightened or unenlightened. When unenlightened conditions are present, unenlightened forms which lead to more attachements and blind passions, appear. When Enlightenment is present, enlightened forms or manifestations appear - this is why all Buddhas assume various trancendent bodies and create special spheres of influence which are called Pure Lands.

Buddhas do not depend on forms and their minds are always free of forms, but this does not mean they reject forms. Only deluded practitioners can fall in the wrong view of attachement to emptiness and negate forms, saying that everything, including the Pure Land is just a state of mind.

In our samsaric world everything is the effect of our unenlightened karma and so, we live in a garden of never ending desires and suffering. Contrary to this, the Pure Land is the effect or the manifestation of Amida Buddha's Enlightenment and of His wish to save all beings. Everything there is conducive to Enlightenment. Shakyamuni Buddha clearly explained the Pure Land of Amida as a real place with various forms which He insisted that they are not the product of unenlightened karma, but the manifestations of Amida (1) So, He indicated that the Pure Land is both an existing place and a place of Enlightenment.

The foundation of samsara is ignorance and blind passions; the foundation (essence) of the Pure Land is Nirvana or Perfect Enlightenment. Both ignorance and Enlightenment are accompanied by forms. Ignorance and blind passions give rise to various samsaric realms, while perfect Enlightenment manifest Pure Lands. Thus, the Pure Land of Amida is the effect of His Enlightenment and the wish to save all beings as expressed in His 48 vows. This is the right teaching on the Pure Land.

If somebody tells you that the Pure Land is only a state of consciousness or that it is only a place, he is not teaching the true Dharma. The first is a variant of the wrong view of “nihilistic voidness" and “attachment to emptiness”, while the second is the wrong view of considering the Pure Land as a mere place of samsara. 
Again, the right way to define the Pure Land in our human language is - the real enlightened realm of Amida Buddha.


Related articles:



__________________

(1)  For example, describing the birds in the Pure Land, Shakyamun said:
“Shariputra, you should not assume that these birds are born as retribution of their evil karma. The reason is that none of the three evil realms exists in that Buddha-land. Shariputra, even the names of the three evil realms do not exist there; how much less the realms themselves? These birds are manifested by Amida Buddha so that their singing can proclaim and spread the Dharma”. 
(The Larger Sutra)


5 comentarii:

Jeremiah Mullica said...

Very helpful..Thanks Sensei

Josho Adrian Cirlea said...

Greetings, Jeremiah! You are welcomed! I hope all is well with you.
You are in my thoughts. Thank you for your support!
Namo Amida Butsu

Dave Kruemcke said...

Namuamidabutsu

Conan B said...

Thank you.

Namu Amida Butsu.

Gassho.

Dave Kruemcke said...

Namuamidabutsu